A guide to the Semenggoh Nature Reserve Orangutan Experience
If you’re looking to encounter semi-wild orangutans in Sarawak, Semenggoh Nature Reserve, just outside of Kuching, is the place to go. Although Sepilok Rehabilitation Sanctuary in Sabah might seem like the most popular choice for visitors to Borneo. In my opinion, Semenggoh offers a much less touristy experience. Not forgetting being much less expensive too. Plus if you don’t need to make the trip over to the other side of the country if your plan was to visit only Sarawak.
So without further adieu, here’s everything you need to know about visiting Semenggoh Nature Reserve and what to expect from your experience there.
What’s the orangutan experience like at Semenggoh Nature Reserve?
The orangutan experience and was one of the absolute highlights of my time in Borneo. The encounter was strictly observational, and from a safe distance so as not to scare or intimidate the orangutans. Yet it was still so amazing to see such intelligent, beautiful, rare animals first hand. As the reserve is less well known you definitely get a less crowded experience too, with two whole hours to watch and learn about these majestic creatures.
What time does the reserve open?
The reserve is only open during the orangutan feeding times. This is from 8 am – 10 am and then again at 2 pm – 4 pm every day. Here you can observe the orangutans who’ve made their way out of the jungle to eat.
Where can you observe the orangutans from?
There are two main observation areas where visitors can watch the orangutans feeding. The guides will direct you from one to the other. The first is in a well-cleared area on the jungle floor, whilst the second is a viewing platform hidden further in its leafy canopy. From both locations, you can get a great view of the orangutans in the trees without feeling like you are disrupting them.
Are the orangutans wild?
The orangutans here aren’t wild, they’re semi-wild. This means that they live freely within the acres of the jungle the reserve owns and mostly feed themselves from the jungle. It’s up to them whether they come out for extra food or not. A lot of the orangutans are also rescued after the destruction of their natural home, so will be rehabilitated back into the wild eventually.
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Is it guaranteed you’ll see an orangutan?
As the orangutans are semi-wild, there’s no guarantee you’ll see one on your visit. If you want to increase your chances, plan your visit outside of fruiting season when there is less food in the jungle for them to naturally forage.
How much is entry?
Compared to Sepilok, the entry at Semenggoh Nature Reserve is very reasonable. Entry is just 10 MYR per person. Note that you can only buy tickets at the entrance so there’s no point in arriving before the reserve opens.
How to get there?
You can easily catch the bus to Semenggoh Nature Reserve with buses departing throughout the day from near Kuching Waterfront. Bus numbers 6, 6A, 6B and 6C will take you there with a one way ticket setting you back around 10 MR. Alternatively if there are a few of you in a group it’s easier and not much more expensive to get a taxi from Kuching. Grab operates in the area and a ride will only cost around 40 MR one way.
What else is there to do at Semenggoh Nature Reserve?
There isn’t much else to do at the reserve other than observing the orangutans. However as you will only have two hours to visit, you want to spend all that time seeing the orangutans anyway!