Nosing Around In Bako

Bako National Park is one of the best places to see proboscis monkeys in the wild and is the main reason we went to Kuching in the first place (not b/c it was named Cat). The monkeys, which are endemic to Borneo, are known for their unusual protruding noses and look very much like something Jim Henson would create.

Most people opt to do day trips, but we decided to stay overnight to maximize our time in the park.   We took the shuttle to the Bako jetty in Kuching where we bought our boat tickets and paid our entrance fee.   You can also hire an official park guide there, which we did to give us any hope of seeing wildlife.

Even before we made it off the boat we immediately saw a troop of monkeys crossing the park’s dock on their way into the surrounding jungle.  Our guide Harry proclaimed how lucky we were as these were silvered langurs that rarely come out in the open.   In fact, just walking from the dock to the park HQ we were in animal overload. In addition to the silvered  langurs we saw a bronzeback snake, bearded pigs, pied robin and a blue kingfisher.

Of course we were all interested in seeing the proboscis so Harry’s plan was to take us on the Telok Delima trail and then the Telok Paku trail in search of the monkeys.  Our first stop was to an area of trees next to the park headquarters to show us the green Bornean pit viper.  Isn’t that a venomous snake?

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One of Borneo’s Many Venomous Snake

The Telok Delima trail was a combination of boardwalk, dirt and roots.  We spent the whole time trying to find the proboscis monkeys while staring at the ground to avoid tripping on tree roots or missing boards on the boardwalk.  We got occasional obstructed glimpses of orangish brown fur but only got decent views from a distance over mangroves while standing on a big rock crowded by us and other tourists.  On the way back, we got “lucky” again and saw a flying lemur perched on the trunk of a tree.

After lunch, we went on the Telok Paku trail in search of more proboscis hoping to get a better view of them.  We weren’t successful but we did hear them taunting us.  There was a nice beach at the end of the trail and Sally asked if we can take a swim.  Harry advised strongly against it as they had spotted a crocodile in the water.  We settled for the much safer activity of collecting seashells instead.

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With the light of day fading we walked along the beach in front of the lodges hoping to spot more wildlife.  Naturally, a big male proboscis was sitting peacefully on the beach enjoying the sunset until we rushed at him with cameras clicking and loudly hushed voices.  He scampered up a tree and spent some time there giving us really close up views before he disappeared into the dense foliage.  While searching for him we found another lone male that was in a tree that was much less shy and spent a good 30 minutes following him around.

We signed up for a private night walk tour and got Wilfred as our guide, a local whose lineage goes back to one of Borneo’s indigenous tribes.  He found us a slew of spiders, a centipede, a walking stick, a poisonous tree frog, a rufus-backed kingfisher, some swallow nests and a snake.  Unfortunately the non-private tour mob with their flurry of headlamps and conversations caught up with us.  When our guide found a mouse deer, we had trouble seeing it with all the shifting shadows from all the headlamps and cell phone flashlights.

As the tour ended one of the guides spotted the flying lemur in a tree which just happened to be in front of our lodge.  After allowing some time for picture taking our guide shook the tree.  The critter took off and glided over everyone’s head to the next tree over. It was really a spectacular sight.  We then told everyone to get off our lawn and retired for the night.

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Our lodge

Next morning we were on our own to walk the trails and spot the wildlife. We took the Telok Pandan Kecil trail and spotted macaques on the dock and one more bronzeback snake.

The trail was full of pitcher plants, which G and Sally spent an hour photographing.

The trail ended at a cliff top with stunning views of a beautiful cove and seastacks below.

There were boats offering rides back to HQ but Sally wanted to continue hiking so we took a boat back to the Telok Paku trail end instead. Why did we invite her again? We hiked back to HQ before jumping on a boat taking us back to Kuching.

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Sally on the Telok Paku trail

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Dead Jellyfish

Bako was absolutely amazing and the wildlife viewing was exceptional.  We saw animals in Bako that we would not see in other parts of our trip.

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