Kunang-Kunang simply means fireflies in the local language, and a good place to see fireflies in northern Borneo is at the Klias Peninsular. Lies at the heart of the Klias Peninsular is the mocha colour Klias River, which flows south and eventually reaches the sea at a small town, called Menumbok. At the Klias River, the term Kunang-Kunang is also the name of an eighty feet long house boat, which brings guests on a deluxe cruise to discover the beauty and wonders of the Borneo Mangrove Wetland. Kunang-Kunang is one of the largest boats on the Klias river, and it can accommodate up to fifty persons. Types of animals and primates that one will be able to see along the river include the Proboscis Monkey, Silver Leaf Monkey, Long Tailed Macaque, Monitor Lizard and the Borneo Water Buffalo. Birds are also commonly spotted on the trip.
Proboscis Monkeys are only found in Borneo, and this is a popular destination for the tourists and even locals. The deluxe river cruise is run in the late afternoon. Tour operators will pick up their guests by coach in Kota Kinabalu around 1 pm to 2 pm. This journey will take two hours down south to the Klias peninsular. By 4:30 pm everyone should be on board the Kunang-Kunang, where light snacks, coffee and tea are served. After the simple refreshment, the journey to discover the beauty and wonders of Borneo Mangrove Wetland begins. Guests can sit or stand at the section near the bow or they can climb to the upper deck, as the house boat slowly navigates down the river in search of the Proboscis Monkeys. Guides are also provided to give guests more information about the primates.
Proboscis monkeys will avoid humans whenever possible, but we take advantage of their habitual way of living by always returning to the trees at the river banks in the late afternoons. The proboscis monkeys are easily recognised from their long nose and port belly. They are often spotted sitting quietly high on the tree branches, munching on the young leaves. Nine out of ten one will see the back side of the proboscis monkeys, probably they feel safe so long as they don’t see us, we are not there. Sounds of “uh” and “ah” are often expressed by the guests as they witness some skillful act of the juveniles leaping from one tree to another from a high point.
While on board the Kunang-Kunang, guests will have a much higher view point than those who travel by the ordinary boat. There is also extra advantages as the house boat is quite large and stable so that it is easy for guests to walk from side to side. The Kunang-Kunang upper deck provides an even higher view point, and some of the tree-tops along the river are on the same level as the upper deck. The height and the stable condition of the upper deck also allows guests with a good zoom lens to take some stunning pictures of the proboscis monkeys. Raining happens a lot during the monsoon seasons, guests would be happy that this boat has a long shade on the main deck where they can still continue to enjoy the view, while keeping themselves dry. On nature calls and for the convenient of the guests a washroom is located at the stern.
Apart from the Proboscis monkey, the silver leaf monkey and the fearsome long tailed macaque are also often spotted on the trees along the river. The silver leaf monkey and long tailed macaque are commonly found in the mangrove swamps together with the proboscis monkeys all over Sabah. With the keen eyes of your guides occasionally the monitor lizard is caught resting on the tree branch. For the monitor lizard to come down, it is interesting to know that it will just flip to its side and just let fall to the ground. Although not frequent, but with a bit of luck, water buffalos can be seen on the swallow part of the river bank. These water buffalos like to enjoy themselves by cooling off under the water.
As the guests of Kunang-Kunang, dinner is served on board. A normal menu may include steaming hot rice, sweet corn soup, lamb chop, chicken, vegetable, and local fruits like watermelon and papaya. Guests would have the extra luxury of sitting at the two rows of tables on board the house boat. The timing for dinner is also fabulous, this normally happens when the sun is about to set at the horizon. One would be able to see the ever changing sky at this hour, with many wonderful colours, from the golden yellow to the dark purple. Guests would be happy absorbing the change of colours in the sky, while having a nice dinner and drinks on the house-boat.
After dinner is over, the Kunang-Kunang would slowly navigate back to the base camp in Klias where the journey started. This is a good time to continue enjoying the nature-wonder-shows. On the upper deck, if one is facing the stern which is on the the west side, one will see the colourful purple to orange sky against the dark silhouette of the trees along the river. On the direction facing the bow, and on a cloudy day the sky is often lit up by lighting flashes from a distance, and on a clear moonless night the stars will be shining on you.
As the surrounding areas get darker, human eyes will begin to get accustom to the low light condition while the pupils get larger. Suddenly the best show of the journey begins. Here some of the trees that are favoured by fireflies are illuminated. As we study the blinking of the fireflies on the trees, it reminisces us on the Christmas trees, that were displayed during the holiday seasons. If luck permits, one or two fireflies do sometime drift away from the trees and ended up on the boat. Then one will get a chance to have a closer inspection on this incredible insect that gives out light. After the joy of watching this fabulous fireflies, all good things must come to an end. Three hours of exploring the wildlife at the Borneo Mangrove wetland has finally come to an end. This is time to head back to modern civilization.
How to join this tour? Most travel agents in Kota Kinabalu can help you to book a trip to the Klias river on board the Kunang-Kunang, or one can contact the company Only in Borneo. The price for this trip is RM 189.00 per person which include the transportation from Kota Kinabalu to Klias. Tourists also have the option to make reservations for the boat for private use.
Only in Borneo Pick up Time:
1230 hrs Shangri La’s Rasa Ria / Nexus
1250 hrs One Borneo Hotel’s
1300 hrs City Hotel’s 1330 hrs Pacific / Magallen Sutera
1345 hrs Shangri La’s Tanjung Aru
1415 hrs Kinarut Area
Only in Borneo
Lot G13, Ground Floor, Wisma Sabah
Jalan Tun Fuad Stepehns,
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
tel: +6088 260 506/ +6088 260 507
fax: +6088 261 505 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kunang-Kunang Photo Gallery:
The Base Camp is where the Kunang-Kunang deluxe river cruise starts. It also gives guests a place to rest if they reach the base camp early.
Kunang-Kunang is the name of an eighty feet long house boat, and it is one of the largest boats on the Klias river, and it can accommodate up to fifty persons.
The Klias River is a popular destination at the West Coast of Sabah to catch a glimpse of Borneo unique Proboscis Monkeys. Below is a common view during a late afternoon in the Klias River.
It is a luxury to enjoy a nice dinner on board Kunang-Kunang and watch a beautiful sunset while having dinner at the same time.