Proboscis Monkeys, Klias Wetlands
The long-nosed Proboscis Monkey (nickname: Dutch Man) is one of the superstars of Sabah wildlife. This funny-looking creature only can be found in the mangrove and lowland forest of Borneo. The two most famous sites to spot them are at Klias and Sukau.
Since I live in west coast, Klias, located 110 KM south of Kota Kinabalu city, is more accessible for me. To get there by car, it will take about 2 hours and the road condition is good. I overnight in Borneo Proboscis River Lodge, located next to the Klias River and 17 KM before Kuala Penyu town.
All the houses in Borneo Proboscis River Lodge is made of wood and bamboo, like a native village. Basic facilities such as toilet, bathroom, cafeteria, water supply and electricity are available. I stayed there twice and each time got power blackout which lasted from 0.5 to 3 hours, so you better bring a torch light. Insect repellant is a must, as hundreds of hungry mosquitoes will attack you 24×7. One night when I was laying on the bed, a 6-inch centipede crawled on my arm, quite freak out.
If you take their day trip package, you can join their sunset river cruise (about 5 PM) and watch fire flies at night (about 7:30 PM). It was a bad luck to have noisy kids on the same boat. Proboscis Monkey is very sensitive and shy. If the overexcited children see them, they will SHOUT, “WAAAAAH!!!! MOM! LOOK!!! MONKEY!!! MONKEY THERE!!!!!!” By the time I take out my camera, all the monkeys ran away already. I love kids. But when came to that moment I always felt the urge to kick them all into the river.
That is a 100% chance that you will see more than one Proboscis Monkey on the trees along the river, during sunset river cruise. But in most cases, they would be 100 feet away from you or hiding behind the leaves. The human and engine noise will scare them, so they will leave shortly. A binocular is highly recommended, so you can see their long noses clearer. Usually they move in group, with one male leader sit on the tallest spot, while his wives and children busy nearby. If you want to use a 3x optical zoom camera to take their photos, you will be greatly disappointed, coz they are too far away. The best time to spot them is around 6 PM (their bedtime) and 7AM. Long-tailed Macaque Monkey is more common, and they are not quite afraid of us.
Besides Proboscis Monkey, depending on your luck, you would see monitor lizard, kingfisher, eagle, snake, hornbill, etc. You would see crocodile by slim chance. If you look at the trees grow next the river, many of them got high prop breathing root so they can survive the flood. Unlike normal river, Klias River is a peat swamp river. There are tons of death leaves and organic substances under the river, so the water is dark coffee color and a bit smelly. Some even describe Peat Swamp as a carbon sink. And it flows slowly. I saw some catfish in the river. You can have fun fishing at the jetty if you want to.
The most unforgettable experience is to watch the “fire flies Christmas Tree” at night. FYI, the best time to see this is after the rain, and the night without moonlight. They will show you one or two trees where hundreds of fire flies gather, light up the tree like Christmas Tree. Coz it was too dark, my camera couldn’t take the picture. Anyway, I create the picture at the left for you to get an idea how it looks like.