After about two and a half hours of traveling, we reached the Camp Leakey jetty about 10am.
The trip here was beautiful. We left our overnight mooring point just before 7:30am while the travelers on nearby kelotoks were barely stirring. It was perfect leaving them all behind because we could travel at our own pace and still have the entire river to ourselves.
The sun rose very slowly and it was 9am before it rose above the tree line and soon afterwards it became overcast which meant that although temperatures became more pleasant, we lost the bright light necessary to photograph the amazing scenery in order to share with you all the absolute beauty of Tanjung Puting.
We passed several groups of probiscus monkeys feeding in the pandanus by the edge of the river. Last night we also passed a group all perched on a dead tree branch which was hanging across the river which would have made a fantastic photo had it been an hour earlier! The groups we passed today were not too impressed to have us so close, so by the time we finally positioned the kelotok with cameras ready, they had retreated behind foliage out of camera range.
Their fur is orangey brown and their long tail in contrast is a creamy colour which perfectly matches the lichen growing on most of the larger trees here.
Other animals we glimpsed included a brilliantly coloured king fisher with blue wings and a bright orange body and beak, a pair of hornbills flying high above us, a crocodile lurking in the foliage by the side of the river, a pair of parrots, an orangutan, a macaque monkey and hundreds of swallows.
At the turn off for Camp Leakey onto a tributary, the water immediately changed colour to become a rich browny red.
With the change in water colour, the flora along the edge of the river seemed healthier, richer in colour and denser on both sides of the river. Until that point, it had seemed that the flora worth looking at was only on what seemed to be the eastern side of the river and the animals too were only on that side of the river. It was like we were traveling along the park boundary with protected lush rainforest on one side and large gaps of vegetation on the other side.
The tea coloured water is so clear that we can see roots and branches below the water surface. The reflections of the trees and sky in the water became sharper too. So beautiful.
As soon as we arrived at Camp Leakey, a family of orangutans strolled out to greet us. As we are tied up on the opposite side of the river to prevent them from boarding the boat to look for food, we have the perfect vantage point from which to watch them uninterrupted as we are the only kelotok here. The mother came and sat on the steps opposite us and we watched her take a drink from the water. Watching her through the binoculars made me wish I had a better camera as I could see the water glistening in the fur on her hand. Up close I could also see that she looked like she had had a bowl cut as her fringe across her forehead was so short and straight! Her young toddler joined her and also scooped up water with his hand to drink and then to wash its face.
It started to rain and they both lazily wandered back to the open air hut off the jetty while the male scampered up a tree.
Soon afterwards the tranquility was shattered with the arrival of another kelotok.
The kelotok engine is what gives it its name. The noise is like a loud ‘tok, tok, tok, tok’ (rhyming with sock)! This kelotok has moored up to the jetty which immediately grabbed the male orangutans attention. Once the pair of tourists had disembarked and headed off up the boardwalk towards the headquarters, he climbed down his tree and walked towards their kelotok. At the last minute the staff on that kelotok finally succeeded in discouraging him, so he climbed a nearby tree, from where he can watch and wait for another opportunity to help himself to the fruit bowl on their table!
While he waits, one of the crew from that kelotok is taking advantage of the lovely clean water to scrub the bottom of the kelotok. Can you see him in the photo above? He is sitting in a lifebuoy to keep himself afloat while scrubbing the black mould off the paint work with a huge scourer. Amazingly he wasn’t deterred when we told him about the crocodile we had seen earlier! And he must have heard about the people who were taken by a crocodile in 2003 however as it is still so early and cool he is no doubt hoping the crocodiles are not yet to be able to move quickly being cold blooded.
The feeding here is at 2pm, so we are enjoying the opportunity to blog and look through our photos while waiting. It is raining off and on and is lovely and cool.