When to see orangutans

Unlike many other species, orangutans neither migrate nor hibernate, and their two natural homes are free from cyclones and tornadoes.
In theory, orangutans can be seen year-round, especially in the rehabilitation centers and sanctuaries, where the question of when to see orangutans only concerns the set feeding times. November to February can be soggy, though, with most of the rain falling mid-afternoon in monsoon-style downpours, so jungle hikes can end up being pretty miserable in these months, and leeches more prevalent. However, there are savings on both flights and accommodation to be made by traveling in the low season. Shop around, and you might snag a bargain.

Sepilok (Sabah) Weather Chart

 
MIN °C
MAX °C
RAIN (mm)
JAN
23
29
443
FEB
23
30
278
MAR
24
31
188
APR
24
32
120
MAY
24
32
154
JUN
23
32
190
JUL
23
32
184
AUG
23
32
241
SEP
23
32
231
OCT
23
32
230
NOV
23
31
300
DEC
23
30
435

When to watch orangutans

In reality, the best time to see orangutans is all year round as they're not actually going anywhere, especially in the rehabilitation reserves and wildlife centers of Sepilok. If you're hoping to watch orangutans in January or February then make sure you bring an umbrella, as this is still considered to be the tail end of the rainy season for both Borneo and northern Sumatra. However, just because you might get wet doesn't mean you won't see orangutans and there's many a bargain to be found during the traditional monsoon season that tends to stretch from October and November all the way through to March and April. If you're looking for heat then May, June and July never fail to get sun worshippers in a spin, although forest fires can put a cloud over proceedings and make Malaysia and Indonesia really quite unpleasant. September is one of Sumatra, Sabah and Sarawak's wettest months and probably best avoided if you're looking to combine trekking with orangutan watching. Consider southern Kalimantan for a much drier alternative.

Our top Orangutan Vacation

Borneo orangutan vacation

Borneo orangutan vacation

Trekking, wildlife and beach adventure vacation to Borneo

From US $2950 13 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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If you'd like to chat about Orangutan or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

The best time to see orangutans

Nicki Hollamby, a Borneo expert at our tailor made vacation specialists Audley Travel, shares her advice on when to see orangutans: “If you are spending the day at Sepilok, I always suggest you go to the afternoon feeding in your own time because although there are fewer orangutans, there are also fewer people.”
Kate Tyler, from our partner Odyssey World, on when to see orangutans:
“If you are looking to go to the Kinabatangan River area, I would avoid going earlier than about March or April, or in December, because the weather is atrocious. The rain is so heavy. It can be a year-round destination but when the rain is at its heaviest it can really hinder your experience. It can be really humid. Peak is probably from end of April through to October, so it’s perfect for a summer vacation destination – but it does get really busy.”
Tom Hewitt, founder of our supplier Adventure Alternative Borneo, shares advice on when to see orangutans: “It’s an all-year-round destination really. That’s the great thing about it. It doesn’t have huge typhoons like the Philippines, or monsoons like other parts of Southeast Asia. There’s no volcanoes, no earthquakes... If you’re doing serious trekking then you don’t want to go in the rainy season. But other than that it’s great year-round.“
Written by Vicki Brown
Photo credits: [Page banner: DUPAN PANDU] [Intro: TarasK] [Nicki Hollamby advice: Caroline Granycome]
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