A secluded jungle hike to mangrove: the Kabili trail

Do you like hiking on your own? Do you like the jungle? Do you like mangrove forest? Do you like (a chance) to spot wildlife? Then the Kabili trail in Sepilok (on Borneo) might just be the day hike for you!

The mighty orangutan

Sepilok is most famous for its orangutan sanctuary. If you are lucky enough to spot some of the (semi) wild orangutans during feeding, it’s definitely worth a visit. We were fortunate enough to see some including a mother with baby and a very big male!


Surprised by the Kabili trail

However, there is something in Sepilok that we found even more worth the visit than seeing these apes: the Kabili trail.
We planned to visit the national park in the rainforest discovery centre for some hiking. We knew that there was one trail for which you need a permit, but we didn’t know much else about it. It turns out you can just get the permit at the entrance. The price including park entrance is 30RM each (about 6 euro).


Through different kinds of vegetation the trail leads you to the mangrove forest. To return you have to go back via the same path. Including the part from the entrance of the park to the start of the trail and going back it’s about 18km.
It took us about 4 hours to get there and 4 hours to return. This included lots of stops to check out birds or sounds that could’ve been monkeys. So it’s very important to pack enough water (min. 3L each), snacks and lunch since you won’t be able to buy anything along the way.

Being all alone out there

The thing that really excited us when we signed in was the fact that just one other person had hiked the trail that week. We expected a real off the beaten track hike and that’s exactly what we got. We were completely immersed in nature and only met one other person, the ranger at the end of the trail.


The hike isn’t very technical nor does it require a lot of ascending/descending. It’s also easy to navigate through since the trail is well marked. Still the hike can be somewhat challenging due to the lenght, temperature and humidity.

There are three Gazebo’s along the trail for a short rest and shelter againts rain. Also, the house (Sepilok Laut Reception Centre) at the end of the trek is the perfect place to have your own packed lunch. It looks out over the mangrove and you can see beautiful fish. Apparently you can even have an encounter with a crocodile!


Wildlife spotting

Sepilok’s rainforest is home to many different kinds of animals including the orangutan and sunbear. We’ve seen some very pretty birds, lots of squirrels and some weird looking small creatures.


On our way back we were surprised (or we surprised it) by something near us in the bushes. It made a lot of noise and roared twice. We decided to go on before it would attack us, so we couldn’t see what it was but we suspect it was a wild boar.

Abondoned camp and the mangrove

Just before arriving at the mangrove forest you will stumble upon an abandoned campsite including several buildings. This encounter really felt like being part of an apocalyptic movie or video game, quite bizarre.


If you have never seen mangrove before, the mangrove walkway at the end will amaze you. The trees that grow in brakish water are unique. Also some astonishing creatures including very colorful crabs live in these waters. To us, the mangrove end of this trail was a nice reward during a hike that already won us over.


Backtracking during the hike

We don’t really like it when you have to backtrack during a hike. However in this case it gave us the possibility of looking out for more animals. Also again the feeling of being very secluded in the jungle made it well worth it.

If I have enthused you, one last piece of advice: think about the clothes you’ll be wearing. Because the only downside of this trek is the amount of leeches around.

♥ Thomas

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