Semenggoh Wildlife Centre (Orang Utan Rehabilitation) Padungan, Kuching Sarawak
Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is a rehabilitation centre in Padungan for Borneo Orang Utan that can only be found in this part of the region in the world. Padungan is roughly 45 minutes drive away from the Kuching Airport and there are sufficient road signs along the way that will lead you to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre. This is the same route that you will need to take to go to the Bau Fairy Caves and Jong Crocodile Farm.
The Semenggoh Orang Utan Wildlife Centre have been established since 1975 and it houses various endangered wildlife in Sarawak such as the Orang Utans and Hornbills. I was quite disappointed that I did not get to see any Hornbills during the trip. Semenggoh was the first forest reserve in 1920 before it was converted into a rehabilitation centre.
There are 2 feeding time which you cannot miss. I would strongly recommend that you get there at least 15 minutes earlier so that you would not be left out. The Orang Utans there can be very aggresive so it is adviceable that you listen to all the DOs and DON’Ts that will be mentioned before the feeding sessions. The feeding time starts sharp at 9am and 3pm which last for about 30 minutes. The Orang Utans will come near you, about 4-5 meters close and you will be guided to move away. During my trip there in October, the leader of the pack who is known as Ritchie but a couple of people and they had to be hospitalised. You will also meet a famous Orang Utan simply known as “Hot Mama” and as her name suggest, she is very hot tempered. “Hot Mama” had a young and it followed her everywhere. Remember to always stay quiet and do not make sudden movements, the orang utans can be very aggresive.
During the feeding sessions, we are taken a few meters into the forest where there is a viewing platform. There are at least 3 feeding platforms are Semenggoh Wildlife Orang Utan Centre. The orang utans spend most of their time eating and looking for food which ranges from sweet potatoes, bananas and I was surprised when they were given coconuts. The orang utans were clever enough to know how to smash the coconut on the tree just enough so that they can drink the water in it. Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre is undoubtedly one of the best attractions in the Kuching area. It offers the opportunity of getting close to some highly mischievous, semi-wild Orang Utan. The sighting of the Orang Utans are not guaranteed, even during the feeding times.
If you’re there early, do have a look at the Crocodile pits that contains 3 sad looking crocs.
Getting there is fairly easy. I had a rented car so it was convinient to get to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre. If you’re familiar with getting around, you would not even need a tour guide, which can cost a bomb. Instead, the centre is highly accessible and only half an hour bus ride from Kuching. You only need to pay RM1.50 to board the Sarawak Transport Company (STC) Bus No.6 from Ban Hock Wharf, Jawa Street. Buses are less frequent during weekends and do ask the driver to drop you at Semenggoh. From there, get a cab to the centre, which is another 3 kilometres away.