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KUCHING > SEMENGGOH NATURE RESERVE
 

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Semenggoh Orang Utan Sanctuary
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LOCATION:
Just outside the municipality of Padungan, some 25 kilometres from Kuching. The best way to get here and return back to Kuching is by private-hire local cabs. But if you wish to ask the taxi driver to wait at the entrance while you are watching the orang utans at the adjoining Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, the waiting time will be an added cost.

I used the Kuching local bus to get here. The best place to look for the Sarawak Transport Company (STC) bus #6 is on the main bus stop along Jalan Barrack. Here you can find most of the STC buses waiting for passengers before proceeding with their scheduled journey. The exact schedule is undetermined, so please ask the STC staff at the nearby bus counter. I suspect bus #6 runs less frequently on weekends. As you board the correct STC bus #6, tell the bus driver to stop you at Semenggoh.

As for the return trip, I flagged down a local mini van (some sort of the bemo service synonymous with Kota Kinabalu, Tawau, and even Indonesia) by the roadside, often seen heading to the city centre. If the van is not full, the driver will stop for you. The journey takes about 30 minutes (much faster than the bus) and cost only RM3 per trip.

DESCRIPTION:
The Semenggoh Nature Reserve is managed by Sarawak Forestry Corporation (the state authority body) as an effort to showcase the biodiversity of Sarawak's tropical rainforests, regarded as one of the world's oldest and the most bio-diversified. There is the park office right at the entrance, right along with a ticket counter at which you will need to pay RM3 entrance fee for all the three attractions, namely Semenggoh Nature Reserve, Botanical Research Centre and Semenggoh Wildlife Centre.

While most of the visitors will prefer to walk directly to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre (about 20 minutes from the main entrance by foot) to see the orang utans, the nature reserve area is something not to be missed altogether. Moreover, with the official feeding times for the rehabilitated orang utans are 0900hrs–1000hrs and 1500hrs–1530hrs, visitors who arrive earlier than the scheduled feeding time can definitely stroll along the beautiful nature reserve to admire the variety of tropical trees and shrubs that the place has to offer.

The main component of the nature reserve is centred at the Botanical Research Centre which consists of an orchid nursery, ethno-botanical gardens, a fruit orchard (with durian trees and the likes), a neat fernarium (Taman Paku Pakis, or Fern Garden), a bamboo garden, etc.

There are also five hiking trails  equipped with wooden planks where you can lose yourself out in the amazing display of Sarawak forest biodiversity. Placards for plant identification are neatly positioned on certain tree specie to provide more information of the things you see. There is also a nice pond with floating pavilion deep inside the botanical centre where you can relax whilst admiring the beauty of Sarawak forest.

MY VERDICT:
A beautiful nature reserve. It surely beats going into the real wilderness. Nonetheless, the key attraction is certainly goes to the orang utans in the adjoining Semenggoh Wildlife Centre.

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