Macaques, Monitor Lizards And More in The Brunei Rainforest
Spot some of this threatened species and other wildlife unique to the island of Borneo in the quiet sultanate of Brunei. Proboscis monkeys are rarely described as beautiful. Their prominent, pendulous noses distinguish them from other types of monkeys, and they are often overlooked by visitors to Borneo in favour of their more famous and more attractive relations, the orang-utan.
In fact, the country and city where there is the most chance of spotting these distinctive creatures, Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei, is also often overlooked by tourists, as most visitors to Borneo hurry eastwards towards the Malaysian state of Sabah, in search of more well-known animal inhabitants of Borneo, Pygmy Elephants and Orang-utans.
Brunei – Home Of The Proboscis Monkey.
This slightly unusual looking primate is endemic to the banks of the Brunei River that snakes lazily through Brunei’s capital city, and is one of Borneo’s many wildlife treats that should not be overlooked. It is not widely known that Brunei has the world’s largest population of Proboscis monkeys and an easy and cheap way to spot these delightful creatures is by taking an early evening boat ride down the Brunei River.
Brunei is a tiny country, so it does not take more than a couple of days to check out the sights that Bandar Seri Begawan has to offer. In the centre of town, book one of the local boatmen to take the trip downriver, as this will be much cheaper than trying to organize a similar trip through a tourist agency. It is easy and quick to organize, and the trip should not come to much more than 10 Brunei dollars per person, (around 7 or 8 USD.)
Kampong Ayer – Brunei’s Water Village
Boats will usually set off from the centre of town, opposite Yayasan Shopping Centre and close to the impressive Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque that dominates Bandar Seri Begawan’s tiny city centre. The trip always includes a brief tour around Kampong Ayer, Brunei’s famous water village, and can sometimes include a look inside one of the village’s typical houses as well, upon request.
The water village itself is a maze of wooden boards and seemingly ramshackle houses, a surprising number of which boast satellite dishes attached to the outside and other evidence of all the mod-cons not usually associated with a water village. The village also has all their own amenities such as several schools, a fire station – manned of course by boats, a police station and restaurants.
Wildlife Spotting On The Brunei River
After the tour around the water village, the boat will head south in the direction of the Malaysian border, past the Sultan’s place and into the thick mangrove tree-lined river that a large number of Proboscis monkeys call their home.
The boat drivers are well trained to spot any animal movement in the trees or pick out even the smallest glimpse of scales resting on the river banks – crocodiles, monitor lizards and snakes can all be spotted easily along the river as well. The engine goes quiet, and the boat driver guides the boat silently into a nook hidden between the mangrove trees until some tell-tale rustling leaves give away a hiding place.
Although animal sighting cannot be guaranteed on most wildlife spotting tours, it is extremely likely that proboscis and macaque monkeys will be spotted along the river banks, and more often than not, a large monitor lizard will be pointed out perched ominously over the roof of the boat on a low hanging branch.
An easy and affordable way to spot some of Borneo’s wildlife away from the large tourist crowds.