My first week of work: Jungle Trekking

I have officially started work! Monday was my first day and let me tell you, it was better than any other first day at work!
I’m in a group that is doing jungle trekking first, we are going out into the jungle and making any notes on new Orangutan nests that appear. A single Orangutan will make up to 3 nests a day and a nest is considered new if it’s between 1-15 days old.
I was really apprehensive about the trekking as I didn’t know what to expect and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up but I’m three days in now and I’m loving it!

DAY ONE
On Monday we set out on our first trek – I was a little nervous, mainly because it’s so hot here and we have to wear so many clothes! A long sleeve top, our work t-shirt, long trousers, socks, leech socks AND big trekking boots! The temperature is usually about 30+ degrees! We got told we would be going on a 3km trek that day and we’d be noting down any Orangutan nests that we found. We started and I was instantly relieved as the pace is slow because we have to be looking up in the trees for nests! We started along a path and then our ranger had to start cutting a path for us to walk along!

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Making notes on the nests

It was amazing to be out in the jungle, the noise of the rainforest is so loud. There are birds and beetles making the strangest noises! We were worried on our first day about leeches, hence the long top and leech socks but our ranger said that there aren’t many at the moment (which we were relieved about!)

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It’s very slippery when you’re walking and there aren’t always places to put your feet, plus there are big spiders nest hanging from the trees! We were a bit wary of touching trees etc on the first day just incase we got bitten or stung by something!

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This tree is over 1,000 years old!

It was great to learn about the habitat, Jomius our ranger is so knowledgable as he’s been working at Sepilok for 25 years and knows about all the different trees and plants in the jungle.
After trekking for a while we came across a natural waterfall, it was beautiful and a nice place to stop for a rest!

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It’s amazing when you’re walking through the jungle because there are lots of old tourist trails that have now been abandoned so we find lots of old rope bridges with slats missing that we have to cross (…think Indiana Jones!) and old feeding platforms etc, one is from when the centre opened in 1964, it’s quite eerie to come across these things in the heart of the jungle.

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We found a total of 4 nests on Day 1 – well I say ‘we’ but Jomius found most of them!

DAY TWO
We trekked for 2km on the second day, we knew what to expect so we weren’t as nervous about it. Although this day the path was a little less clear as we trekked a different route. We did alot more climbing and ducking under fallen trees today.
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There had been alot of rain the night before so we had to jump across some streams too!

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Now, the hill in the above photo doesn’t look very steep but it was difficult to get up! We had to climb up this to avoid crossing a stream, it was a challenge because it was so slippery and there wasn’t anything to grab hold of and as fun as the challenge was… we were so happy when we got to the top!

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I think Jomius our ranger thinks we are crazy because we are always stopping to photograph mushrooms. The plants and mushrooms are incredible to see, it’s crazy how everything looks so overgrown but clearly everything has a place and everything thrives.
Even though day two had been a bit harder than the day before we all loved the challenge!

Here is a short video of us climbing across a log!

DAY THREE
When we went to work on day three we got told that we’d have another job that day. We were taking Ceria and Wulang into the forest to another feeding platform and hoping they’d stay in the forest for a few days as these Orangs are old enough to be living away from the centre now.
We trekked for about 1km with Ceria and Wulang in toe and as we started trekking Kalabatu, another semi wild orangutan from the centre decided to come with us too!
It was amazing to be trekking in the forest with the beautiful orangutans following us, it was such a surreal experience but I LOVED IT!
When we got to the feeding platform we gave the orangs some fruit that we’d bought with us and they were happy to sit up on the platform stuffing their faces!
The beautiful Wulang was hanging from the tree taking it all in, she was absolutely gorgeous!
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DAY FOUR
We trekked a little further away from the Orangutan centre in the Rainforest Discovery Centre. It was really nice to be seeing different sights and to do a few ‘touristy’ things like a canopy walk and walking up the Hornbill Tower which is a spiral staircase 27 metres above the ground – the views from the top were amazing!
We also saw a wild orangutan with her baby which was incredible to see!

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The Hornbill Tower – 27 metres above the ground with LOTS of steps!

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On the canopy walk at the Rainforest Discovery Centre

DAY FIVE
We went out with a different ranger today, it was good to go out into the forest with someone else, he was pointing out lots of things for us. We came across some palm trees, the ones which they grow on plantations for palm oil, and we gathered up the fruit to take back to the centre for the orangutans.
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DAY SIX
Today was our last morning trekking and considering I was so apprehensive about doing it I’ve really enjoyed it. Today we trekked to a new place, we heard some Gibbons ahead of us in the trees. The noises they make are so funny, like little whooping whistle noises.

Also whilst trekking we ended up on the edge of a palm oil plantation. It was so strange to see the landscape change, it goes from dense forest to rows of palms, with gravel walkways and the odd path of concrete. It’s sad to think that the forest was destroyed to make way for the palm oil plantations.

On the way back from the trek we were chatting to Jomuis, he’s been a great guide this week and has really looked after us while we’ve been falling over and trying to balance over logs etc. I’ve hung my trekking boots up for the meantime but they’ll be back on in 2 weeks when I trek again!

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