Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary - see long-nosed monkeys up close
The Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary is a private facility for the long-nosed monkeys endemic to Borneo. Due to the deforestation of the rainforest, the species is considered endangered. Labuk Bay is roughly 40 kilometres from Sandakan and about 20 kilometres from Sepilok.
The facility is located directly on the sea and includes a mangrove forest. About 60 proboscis monkeys live here. They are fed twice a day at two different sites. You can easily observe the feedings from viewing platforms. Compared to Borneo’s orangutan facilities, you are guaranteed to see long-nosed monkeys here.
Apparently, the monkeys cannot find enough food in the mangrove forest surrounded by palm oil plantations. And so, many proboscis monkeys come to the feedings. Around the feedings, they are also playing and romping around a lot.
The females also give birth to offspring regularly, so you have great chances to see young animals. The monkeys are used to direct proximity to humans. Again and again, they come to the viewing platforms. Sometimes they even let people touch them.
Proboscis monkeys are not the only animals you can find in Labuk Bay. Silver-grey langurs try to steal food from their larger conspecifics. Monitor lizards and some birds, including hornbills, are also regularly spotted.
The background of the facility
The Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary is a private facility owned by the surrounding palm oil plantations owner. The original plan was to clear the rainforest completely. This would have included the land where the current proboscis monkey facility is located. At the time, however, the entrepreneur decided to preserve a piece of the jungle for the monkeys and build a „sanctuary“. Afterwards, they also developed the area for tourism. Viewing platforms, a restaurant, and a lodge were built.
Although the long-nosed monkey centre is labelled a „sanctuary,“ comparisons to orangutan or sun bear facilities in Borneo are misplaced. These stations are all about preparing animals freed from captivity or injured for life in the wild again. Subsequently, they are to be successfully reintroduced into the wild. In addition, the animals receive medical care there, and research is carried out. This is not the case at the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary.
How to get to Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary
The facility is located about 40 kilometres from Sandakan or 20 kilometres from Sepilok. The first part of the journey is on well-paved roads. The last kilometres are on bumpy roads through the rainforest.
There is a shuttle bus from Sandakan via Sepilok directly to the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. The starting point is the Hotel Sandakan. Departure is daily at 09:30 am. At 10:30 am, the trip continues from Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Car Park. Return is at both 3 pm and 5 pm. The ride costs MYR 20 per person each way. We highly recommend registering for the rides at the facility and confirming the departure times and locations before starting the trip.
The turnoff to Labuk Bay Sanctuary is located on the main road between Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu. The facility offers pickup service at the Labuk Bay junction by appointment. So maybe it is also possible to take the buses between Sandakan and KK and ask the bus driver to let you off at Labuk Bay junction. However, we recommend the shuttle bus, as you can be sure to reach your destination.
Accommodations in Labuk Bay
Because of the proximity to Sandakan and Sepilok, there is no need to stay overnight around Labuk Bay. A half-day trip to one or two feedings is quite sufficient. However, there is an overnight accommodation option on the premises with the Nipah Lodge. Available are classic double rooms, family rooms with three double bedrooms, and two dormitories for about 100 people. In addition to the proboscis monkey observations, leisure activities such as fishing or a boat trip are offered.
Due to the proximity to Sepilok, you can perfectly combine a visit to the orangutan or sun bear facilities with a trip to Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. It is important to note that you can only go to the viewing platforms during feeding times. Until then you have to wait in the restaurant. However, you can also observe monkeys from the restaurant. The feeding times are at 09:30 am, 11:30 am, 2:30 pm, and 4:30 pm. There are two feeding places in the centre, with two feedings daily at each feeding site.
The entrance fee of 60 MYR per adult is twice as much as at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre or Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. And even six times as expensive as at the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre in Sarawak. In addition, you have to pay a camera fee of 10 MYR for cell phone cameras, small digital cameras, and the like.
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