How to get to Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary
“Labuk Bay, in Sabah, Malaysia: ‘It’s the only place in the world to see the Proboscis monkey'”
So wrote the author of the torn out pages of my guide-book. I think what they meant to say was that “Borneo” was the only place to see such a long-nosed sexually hyper active primate, I believe there are some in Sarawak too.
But this is where I’ve spent a lot of time in Sandakan, so let’s see.
To get to Labuk Bay is impossible without private transport, or at least staying out there is. This was the second thing I read in my guide-book.
Let me tell you now, you can.
I picked up the phone and called the Labuk Bay sanctuary.
“No problem, 10 ringgit from Sandakan hotel at 9 am,” the polite man said. “Then 10 ringgit back again at about 5pm, or you can stay here for longer if you want.”
How to get to Labuk Bay on a bus
Sure enough the mini bus appeared before the prearranged time. Omar got out and welcomed me with lots of apologies. Apparently he’d been there a while, but thought I was a guest of the Sandakan hotel.
“In truth, I was only standing in the entrance-way to the up-market hotel to take advantage of their WiFi that had no password.”
The journey took about an hour and Omar had given me the seat behind him. He was nice chap, and kept pointing out various bits of wildlife as we drove on by. At a small entrance gate we had to buy the 50 ringgit entrance ticket, plus 10 for a camera before heading off to the first of 4 feeding platforms.
I really would wish tourist places would stop with this extra charge for cameras. Tt looks stupid on your part. Today, phones have 10MP+ cameras, HD video etc. Just be done with it, up the price, and drop the extras.
Is Labuk Bay better than Sepilok … oh yes …
Well in terms of a wow, large primate factor, no. But in terms of how it’s run on a daily basis, friendly, knowledgeable staff etc, yes. More on this later in the week.
Much like the Orangutans in Sepilok the Proboscis Monkeys were a good 30 feet back from the small crowd of tourists. The alpha male was just about distinguishable with his bright triangle stripped back, elongated rubbery nose and what seemed like a permanent erection.
The star of the show is the alpha male proboscis monkey
First feeding over, back into the mini van and we were all shuttled off to the next feeding platform. Down a dirt road, twisting and turning we were there within 10 minutes.
A long wooden walkway meandered over a swampy mangrove area. This alone was longer and slightly more interesting than Sepilok’s offering. Moreover, everything was administered a lot better.
A huge open area wooden platform was our new area to view the feeding.
This time the Proboscis Monkey’s put on a show.
The Alpha male was having one of his wives courted away by an up and coming male contender. A very similar plot to what the main bus video we had been shown earlier described. Omar confirmed the soap opera drama.
The life of an Alpha Male Proboscis Monkey
“They eat, and have much play time,” Omar said pointing to the Alpha male just as he began some procreation with one of his wives.
The Alpha Male seemed more interested in showing off his recreational abilities to others than to his wife. Not that I watch a lot of animals mate. But, I have had glimpses from the discovery channel. The alpha male might also have watched the odd x-rated movie it seemed.
The drama unfolds …
Almost as if posing for a film shoot, the alpha male had all the rhythm and showboating style of “movie” star in the making. Then, as if on cue, another female crashed down with authority from the branches above … Looks like his co-star wasn’t his wife after all …
Up close with an Alpha Male Proboscis monkey