Proboscis monkeys and fireflies tour

Proboscis monkeys and fireflies tour

Wildlife near the city

More on Kota Kinabalu

While you are in Sabah, you will probably plan to visit some of wildlife areas where proboscis monkeys spend their days, such as the popular Kinabatangan region near Sandakan. However, if you are just on a quick visit to Kota Kinabalu, it’s still possible to see them on a day tour, just a couple of hours outside of town.

Travelfish says:
Just monkeying around. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
Just monkeying around. Photo: Sally Arnold

Proboscis monkeys live in large groups with one dominant male and a harem of females, usually followed closely by individual or groups of males. They become action monkeys at dusk and dawn, but for the rest of the time, are difficult to see.

It’s also possible to see fireflies as well as the monkeys on a trip from Kota Kinabalu. Of the thousands of firefly species in the world, five are recorded to be found in Sabah. The firefly is actually a beetle, and the Sabah species live in mangrove forests, seeming to prefer the berembang tree or crabapple mangrove (sonneratia caseolaris). As darkness descends, they flash in unison to create a wondrous Christmas tree-like phenomenon.

Just monkeying around. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
Just monkeying around. Photo: Sally Arnold

Tours to view both the monkeys and fireflies are available departing Kota Kinabalu late afternoon to several areas: the Kilas and Garama Rivers, both near Beaufort south of Kota Kinabalu, and the Kawa Kawa/Nanamun area near Kota Belud, north of Kota Kinabalu.

The southern area is best for spotting proboscis monkeys, and the northern area better for fireflies, although all can be seen in both places, if you’re lucky. Kilas River is the most popular with tour groups. The river is large, and so are the boats. Be warned that there are reports of boats being overcrowded. Garama River is a smaller, quieter and less popular trip. We did this trip with Only in ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 600 words.)

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Reviewed by

Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.

Tours in Malaysia



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