Orang-utans, Crocodiles, Lizards, Monkeys. And Us!

My time in Kalimantan was not all about orang-utans. The list of animals that we saw in the rainforest reads like something out of The Jungle Book.

Obviously, when you go to one of the two only islands in the world where orang-utans can be found, you expect to encounter the odd orang-utan and so the focus was, indeed, on the orang-utans.

Orang-utans - Borneo Rainforest - Kalimantan, Indonesia Orang-utans - Borneo Rainforest - Kalimantan, Indonesia Orang-utans - Borneo Rainforest - Kalimantan, Indonesia Tanjung Puting National Park

But in fact orang-utans were just one of the exotic species we came across in the rainforest. The truth is, we saw so many animals in the rainforest that sometimes we didn’t know which way to look.

At the moment, The Rainforest is our Destination of the Month on InMyShoesTravel.com and I have been sharing with you tales of my adventure in Indonesian Borneo during this month.

This post is about the wildlife that we encountered in the rainforest. Tell me in the comments if you have ever had any encounter with the following species.


I’m not going to speak much here about orang-utans because I have a whole post dedicated to them, which you can read here.

But as we saw orang-utans every day, I thought they were worth a mention.

Borneo, together with Sumatra is the only island where orang-utans can be found in the wild. Unlike other primates they are native only to Asia.

Orang-utans are intelligent and friendly creatures which, despite being solitary creatures, can be highly social and playful.

Orang-utans - Borneo Rainforest - Kalimantan, Indonesia

Orang-utans are critically endangered and in Tanjung Puting National Park, where I was based, there are many centres and camps dedicated to researching and preserving orang-utans.

I have some fantastic photos of orang-utans, which you can see here.


During the daytime we saw many tarantula holes. Tarantulas live in holes in the ground rather than spinning the typical web (though they can spin webs, just like spiders but it’s used to capture insects, not as a home).

Orang-utans - Borneo Rainforest - Kalimantan, Indonesia

Tarantula hole

Whenever we saw a tarantula hole during the daytime, our guide would prod and poke at it with a stick, to “see if he comes out to say hello”! I knew how I felt about the possibility of a tarantula coming out to say hello, so I wasn’t particularly upset when we didn’t see them.

Our guide told us that tarantulas are nocturnal and sleep during the day. He promised us that we would see some during the night trek. And guess what: we did! You can read about the night trek here.


“Never swim in these waters…”

That is what our guide, Iim, would constantly say to us as we sailed down the river in the rainforest.

Orang-utans - Borneo Rainforest - Kalimantan, Indonesia

Iim would sit at the front of the boat waiting to spot things to point out to us

We did, in fact see a wild crocodile. It was just a small one – only about two and a half metres long.

As we were moving down the river, Iim jumped up and pointed: “Crocodile!” He announced.

As it was the second time he was doing this and after having seen nothing the first time, we didn’t hold high hopes. But when Omar said he’d seen it too, we started to be interested.

Iim made the captain stop the boat and go back. Then we all saw two beady eyes just above the water and the huge jaw lazily swinging open and snapping closed again just beneath the surface.

Iim told us how at night, the crocodiles stay in the water to keep warm, and during the day, if it is sunny, they often bask in the sunshine for the same reason.

“Never swim in these waters…” 

Once, it was stifling hot and we we moving down the river. We were desperate for a shower after having been out in the forest all morning. We had just crossed from the Sekonyer River to the Camp Leakey River and the water was so clean and fresh-looking that it was all we could do to stop ourselves from leaping off for a dip. Iim was firm and wasn’t having any of it, even when we went past another boat that had stopped for all its passengers to jump of and refresh in the delicious water. He was right though: about ten minutes further down the river we saw a crocodile.


Actually, when I saw the lizard, I originally thought it was a crocodile. It was almost as big and walked in the same swaggering way. But it had the face of a snake.

We were moored near Camp Leakey. It was our third day in the rainforest and it was just after lunch. We had been in Camp Leakey in the morning, trekking, and we were waiting for the rain to stop so we could go back out to watch the feeding of the orang-utans.

We were chilling on the boat after lunch. Omar and I were leaning over the side of the boat talking to the inhabitants of another klotok that had moored up next to ours. Suddenly our guide appeared behind us pointing and shouting.

When we looked to where he was pointing in the water we saw it swimming stealthily and elegantly towards our boat. It swam underneath the boat and we rushed to the other side just in time to see it reappear from underneath.


Then it lazily got out of the water and sauntered onto the bank, its tongue constantly darting out and back in.

After a little tour, it obviously didn’t find anything of interest and got back in the water, swam in lazily circles for a few minutes and then headed back towards our boat.

Orang-utans - Borneo Rainforest - Kalimantan, Indonesia

Orang-utans - Borneo Rainforest - Kalimantan, Indonesia


As well as the orang-utans, we saw other primates (or simians, if you prefer) too: various monkeys, which were always high up in the trees when we saw them.

Long-tail Macaques

The very first night that we slept onboard the klotok, we were moored right next to some trees in which, perched up in the highest branches, was a troop of grey long-tail macaques all cackling and babbling away to each other.

As soon as night fell, they grew quiet and started to snooze. The monkeys sleep right there in the branches of the trees.

Proboscis Monkeys

My favourites were the proboscis monkeys: I thought they looked cute with their long, pointy noses.

Again, we always spotted them high up in the trees, swinging about, chatting with each other or grooming each other.

See my photos of the proboscis monkeys below and tell me they’re not cute:

Other inhabitants of the rainforest

Of course, there are many other inhabitants of the rainforest that we did not see, like snakes (thankfully), wild boar, wild deer and wild buffalo, some of which we saw later during our backpacking trip of Indonesia on Komodo Island. I shall be telling you all about that at some point in the future.

In the rainforest, though, we saw plenty of other winged insects, birds and rodents or small animals.

Our guide, Iim, amused and repulsed us all when he picked up a giant ant to show us. It looked just like a normal ant but as if it had been blown up 10 times.

We saw many bright and beautiful butterflies too.

Orang-utans - Borneo Rainforest - Kalimantan, Indonesia

There were also plenty of squirrels and racoon-type rodents around the feeding stations waiting to help themselves to the remains of the bananas once the orang-utans were done. The orang-utans were a bit possessive with the bananas and there was often a chase.

There was one more thing we saw that I haven’t mentioned yet: leeches! Stay tuned and I’ll tell you tomorrow about our encounter with leeches during our Camp Leakey trek…


This is just one post of twenty that make up the Rainforest Blog.
Read the rest of it here.
I would like to remind you that all the photos used on InMyShoesTravel are my own unless otherwise stated.
You can see my whole collection of Travel Photos here.

Filed Under: asiafeaturedIndonesiaKalimantanRainforestWildlife

About the Author: Based in Mallorca, obsessed with the world and have a lot to say about both... Step into my shoes and join me on a journey...

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  1. susan sykes says:

    Very interesting and how lucky you are to have seen so many different species in the wild, the lizard looked a bit big!!
    Looking forward to the leeches post – or am I!!!!!!

    • Lisa says:

      Hmmmm, you tell me… are you? Well you’ll have to wait a little longer than expected for it because it’s not quite ready yet… not long though 😉

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