BEAUFORT: Sabah is a treasure trove of unique flora and fauna. There are just so many distinct species here that you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere, whether in Malaysia or outside.
When visiting Sabah, consider heading down to Kuala Penyu in Beaufort, where an experience of a lifetime awaits.
Here, in the swampy area that is the Klias Wetlands, you can embark on a riverine expedition via the Klias River Cruise. The cruise covers nearly 50km of the Klias River which snakes through Sabah’s largest mangrove swamp.
The cruise is not only relaxing but also allows you to see many native species up close, including the famous proboscis monkey.
But before any monkey business, head down to the “Only in Borneo Klias Base Camp”, where boats and tour guides come for a small fee.
Travellers must abide by two basic rules: the first being to keep the boat balanced, and the second, to refrain from standing up while the boat is in motion.
Now the adventure begins. In fact, the first sights are sometimes just a few metres away from the jetty!
You see, high up in the trees lining the river are troupes of male proboscis monkeys, famous for their absurdly sized noses.
FMT Lifestyle learnt that this unusual look is attractive to female proboscis monkeys, who view it as a desirable feature in a mate. Most proboscis troupes consist of a single male proboscis monkey and multiple female mates as well as their young.
Locals call the proboscis monkey “the playboy of Borneo” due to their intense sexual activity.
While it may sound like male proboscis monkeys live it up, it is not uncommon for troupe leaders to be usurped by rival males before being killed together with their offspring.
The Klias River Cruise often operates close to sunset as this is when proboscis monkeys scale riverside trees before calling it a night amidst the branches.
Male proboscis monkeys apparently have a habit of turning their backs on approaching tourists, having no desire to interact. Understandably so.
Drone cameras are also not appreciated as these often elicit angry hollers from the monkeys.
While the proboscis monkeys may seem safe high up in their perches, they face their fair share of predators.
The clouded leopard, in particular, has few issues with climbing trees and some proboscis monkeys leap into the river to escape them. Despite being strong swimmers, these same monkeys are often at risk of being attacked by crocodiles.
Speaking of crocodiles, you might spot a few while cruising down the river, though they are quite shy creatures. More often than not, you’ll see only their snouts, right before they vanish by submerging into the brackish water.
Do bear in mind that crocodile attacks are almost unheard of here, even more so on loaded boats – so you’re safe.
In darkness, the boat pilot may shine a floodlight at the banks of the river, where the reflective eyes of the crocodiles give away their positions.
In addition to monkeys and crocodiles, this part of Sabah is home to all sorts of other creatures, including monitor lizards and various birds.
Avid birdwatchers will likely have a field day on the river cruise, spotting and identifying the different avian species that thrive here.
Once night has fallen, keep your eyes peeled for fireflies as this is when they emerge to perform their nightly rituals. The best time to watch them is on moonless nights, as they are most active when it is darkest.
With the lack of light pollution, firefly populations thrive here and they are truly a sight to behold.
Hence, if you would like a closer look at nature, get your camera ready and head down to Kuala Penyu, where adventure awaits!
Only in Borneo Tours Sdn Bhd
Ground Floor, Lot G13
Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens
88000 Kota Kinabalu
E-mail: [email protected]