If you should come to Sabah, you really must journey to Sandakan. In case you’ve missed my earlier posts, I’ve written about Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary at Mile 19; and Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Borneon Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Rainforest Discovery Centre at Sepilok, Sandakan, Sandakan Orchid House, the Crocodile Farm and Agop Batu Tulug Museum, and believe me, there are still more to see in Sandakan.
You are sure to shed more than a few kilos if you thoroughly explore Sandakan! 😀
Selingan Turtle Islands
Aside from all those places or after visiting all those places, if you still have plenty of time and cash to spare in Sandakan, you could venture to the Selingan Turtle Islands where you can witness turtles laying their eggs. It covers an area of 1,740 hectares which includes the surrounding reefs and seas. The islands are also ideal for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving, though the number of daily visitors is strictly limited.
Gomantong Caves, Sandakan
Another attraction is the Gomantong Caves, situated 32km south of Sandakan. It is home to hundreds of thousands of swifts which build their nests high on the cave walls and roofs. Other than swifts, the caves are also inhabited by millions of bats and creepy crawly creatures such as cockroaches, centipedes, etc. I believe the visit requires strong hearts. Imagine – stepping on living things all the way!
Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary
Probably one of the most wondrous places in the world would be the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary where various species of wildlife may be seen such as leaf monkeys, macaques, gibbons, exquisite insects and birds (including eight species of hornbills, kingfishers, egrets, darters, owls, kites, eagles, broadbills, doves, storm storks, herons, hawks, ospreys, falcon, pheasants, parakeets, bee eaters, woodpeckers, pittas, bulbuls, forktails, babblers, warblers, flycatchers, orioles, flowerpeckers, spiderhunters,etc), slow loris, snakes, crocodiles, monitor lizards, and the proboscis monkeys (which is found only in Borneo). One may also catch a glimpse of a wild orang utan and the Borneo Pgymy Elephants (the smallest known sub-specie of elephants in the world). Aren’t the naturalist in you tempted…?
I was told that in some of the schools in Kinabatangan, the children sometimes couldn’t attend school because the pygmy elephants decided to rest on the jetty that day, so the kids couldn’t get into the boats for their ride to school. Isn’t that just an adorable story? It’s honest truth!
The Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary which covers an area of 26,800 hectares, forms part of the Kinabatangan region which is the largest floodplain in Malaysia covering 16,800 sq. km or a total of 23% of the land area of Sabah. Declared by the State Government as Sabah’s ‘Gift to the Earth’ in 1999, it was gazetted in 2005 as the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary under the state’s Wildlife Conservation Enactment of 1997 – thanks to the conservation efforts of WWF-Malaysia and various stakeholders.
The Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary has an amazingly diverse ecosystem from coastal mangrove swamp, to riparian, freshwater and dipterocarp and oxbow vegetation teaming with wildlife supporting ten species of primates including orang utans, proboscis monkeys, to Borneo pygmy elephants, 50 species of mammals, 20 species of reptiles and over 1,026 species of plants. If you would like to see pictures of some of the wildlife living there, see this ‘Wildlife of Sabah’ brochure.
So, as you can see, Sandakan offers an amazing journey which you definitely can’t find in the cities – and a whole week would not be sufficient if you want to see them all! 😀
– SANDAKAN, The Nature City of Malaysia: Land of Diversity and Conservation Part V