If your little monkeys are driving you nuts on the four hour car journey from KL to Penang you may want to swing by the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre on Bukit Merah Orangutan Island.
The island can be found by driving roughly three hours from KL to the Bukit Merah Laketown Resort and then by taking a short boat ride over to the Island.
As soon as you leave the boat you will be met by your guide, who will take you on a 45 minute tour of the Centre. The orangutans are free to go bananas over 15 acres, but unlike some animal encounters it’s the visitors that are restricted to a fenced off tunnel.
During the tour you’ll get to marvel at some of the 17 apes that have been born there since the Centre opened in 2000, along with older orangutans like BJ the alpha male with his charming cheeks. As well as observing these magnificent primates you’ll also have lots of opportunities to ask your guide questions and learn fascinating facts about them, like the fact that adult males are as strong as up to 15 human men.
You don’t need to book your jungle visit in advance, just head to the booth on the jetty to buy tickets for the trip to Orang Utan Island. The cost of the boat trip is included in the entrance fee. The first boat to the Island leaves at 9.00am. They then depart every 45 minutes, with the last boat leaving at 5.00pm.
The fifteen minute boat trip to the island and entry in to the Centre with guided tour costs RM30 for MyKad holders over the age of 12 and RM36 for those without the card. For children over 90cm the cost is RM18 per child.
It’s open Monday to Sunday all year round. As long as the water levels are not too high you can visit between 9am to 5pm. As well as individual tours the Centre also has an education centre offering programmes to schools, universities, corporate groups and a veterinary workshop.
In the interest of full disclosure I think it is only fair to declare that I love monkeys of all shapes and sizes. Yes, even the slightly pesky ones that try and steal food from you. So I was always going to love this experience. The smile on my face observing the orangutans was as big as that of the kids at the end of the tour devouring their ice creams. The boat ride and visit to the Centre was a really peaceful and interesting way to pass 90 minutes. Much more relaxing and enjoyable than rest of the long car journey with my family!
We visited the resort just to do the trip to Orang Utan Island, but if you did want to hang around for longer they offer team building packages such as raft building as well as archery, kayaking and fishing.
And if you feel like splashing out even more, the Bukit Merah Waterpark is here. It is apparently home to, amongst other things, a lazy river, giant tube rides and the first and only boomerang ride in South East Asia. It wasn’t open when we visited, so I can’t tell you whether it is worth the RM48 per adult price tag. However, more information about all the Bukit Merah Lakeside resort has to offer is available online.
If you want to learn more about the sanctuary, visit their website. If you are heading to Taiping, read more about what to in Taiping with kids here and our tips for visiting Ipoh here.
PHOTO CREDITS: Martina Squire