Holidays to Sepilok, Borneo

Sepilok, in the Sabah region of Borneo, is home to the world-famous orangutan sanctuary. The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is unquestionably one of the main draws of Borneo, and rightly so: witnessing these intelligent and eminent creatures is exhilarating. Once you’ve visited, you’ll understand just what all the fuss is about.

Fourteen miles from the town of Sandakan, the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre an area of protected land at the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve. The Centre is home to around 80 orangutans who live freely on the reserve. Injured apes are provided with medical care and those that have been rescued from captivity are rehabilitated.  The orangutans are taught important life-skills such as climbing and nest-building. Their diet is kept purposefully simple to encourage them to learn to forage for more interesting food and prepare for life outside of the sanctuary. The Outdoor Nursery platform is a highlight of the Centre with its jungle-gym on the edge of the forest. It serves as a training ground and play area to help build the confidence of the animals that have been affected by cruelty. Expect to fill your camera’s memory with snaps of these intelligent creatures engaging in cheeky antics, that are sometimes downright hilarious. As one of the closest relatives to humans, orangutans are wonderfully expressive and mothers and their young form close bonds which can be heart-meltingly tender to see. 

As well as seeing the orangutans, there are nature trails around Sepilok to explore the tropical highland rainforest and lowland mangrove swamps and witness other wildlife indigenous to the area like monkeys, lizards and Bornean Pygmy elephants.

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I have lived in Vietnam and travelled extensively in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines.

Map of Sepilok

When to go to Sepilok

Sepilok's climate is split between the drier season from February to August, and the rainy season from September to January. Rainfall can be unpredictable throughout the year so it's best to be prepared and pack your raincoat.