Sepilok is a place located 26 kilometers away from the Sandakan town of Sabah. Unlike Sandakan, Sepilok is pretty much isolated and less developed. However it is also where is best charm lies – it is widely recognized for its orangutan sanctuary and conservation center located at the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. Meanwhile, the temperatures are constant throughout the year, ranging from lows of 24 to highs of 31 degrees Celsius with lots of rainfall.
There are flights to Sandakan from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Kota Kinabalu Airport which are provided by both Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia. Upon touchdown, from the airport, guests can take public transportation such as taxi or bus, rent a car or even request a transfer from their accommodation.
People driving from Sandakan may drive via Jalan Lintas Utara and Jalan Ranau - Sandakan/Jalan Sapi Nangoh/Route 22 for immediate access to Sepilok. The journey could take up to 30 minutes depending on the traffic.
Sepilok Orangutan Reservation Centre is pretty much the major tourist attraction in Sepilok. Located at the edge of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, it has been opened since 1964 to cater to the orphan orangutans who had their habitat destroyed due to development works such as deforestation and illegal logging. Here, they are being fed and taught to be able to live and survive on their own by mixing with the older orangutans who were also orphans. Among the important skills that would be taught to the younger orphaned orangutans are the climbing and foraging skills. Foraging skills are of interest; to develop said skill, the rangers would arrange for dull supplemental meals so that will trigger these orangutans to go look for their own food. The center is about 43 square kilometers big, with about 60 to 80 orangutans living here. What makes this place special is that it provides medical care to these orangutans as well as other wildlife species like sun bears, gibbons, Sumatran rhinos and elephants. While it is also meant as an educational center for the public to learn more about orangutans, Wildlife Department that oversees the center are pretty strict when it comes to prioritizing the orangutan’s rehabilitation process. For instance, visitors are only allowed to walkway areas and are not allowed to feed or handle these apes. It is open daily to the public from 8.45 am to 4 pm, with accommodations nearby so that visitors can choose to stay for another visit the next day.
A recent attraction to the place, Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Center saw its early days from 2008 when the Wildlife Department began accepting orphaned bears and nurturing them to be able to self-sustain on their own. Open to the public in 2014, it is placed next to the orangutan rehabilitation center, which is inside the orangutan complex itself. Similar to the orangutan sanctuary, sun bears here are taken care and rehabilitated till they are able to learn important skills to survive in the woods.
Danum Valley Conservation Area is another terrific ecotourism spot to be visited upon coming to Lahad Datu. Located 82 kilometres away from the town of Lahad Datu, this site holds a unique status in that prior to its status as a conservation area, human settlements are almost non-existent. Therefore, this area is free of hunting, logging and other human interference, hence its form is preserved from development for years. Managed by the Sabah Foundation, the area is 438 square kilometres big, which is not as massive as the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, however there are a lot to see here. There is a lot more diversity here in the context of tropical flora and fauna, including such unique species as the rare East Sumatran rhinoceros, Bornean orangutans, gibbons, mouse deer, clouded leopards and over 270 bird species.