Proboscis Monkey & Kampong Ayer Tour

If you’re here in Brunei and have to choose one out of the many tours around. I’ll say it’s the proboscis monkey tour. These monkeys can only be found on the island of Borneo and the population are decreasing due to the loss of their natural habitat. So i’ll want to catch a glimpse of it while i still can. The tour starts either early in the morning or late in the evening. I personally prefer the late afternoon tour, as it’s not as hot (you should have experience the weather by now if you’re already here) and that’s the time where the monkeys are at their most active, feeding before nightfall. If possible, book for tours that include Kampung Ayer (Malay Water Village) at the time. Killing two birds with one stone 🙂

Other wild life can be spotted along the way in search of the proboscis monkey, such as birds, crocodiles, snakes and  monitor lizards.

Duration of the tour usually takes about 2 hrs. Here are some tour options available:

1) Contact any local agency to book for tour. Tour normally includes: Boat with overhead shelter, hotel pickup, rain jacket, binoculars, mineral water & an experienced English-speaking guide. Price between B$50-$90 per person. Search for a local tour agent for more details.
2) We managed to get a contact of a boatman. His boat has an overhead shelter too but with no English-speaking guide or whatsoever. There were six of us so he was kind enough to only quote B$20 per person. And so, we went along with him. 🙂 He speaks only a little English. Better to get someone who can speak some Malay to help co-ordinate the details. You may contact Ali at +673 8788964. Once you board his boat, the rest of the tour will be on autopilot 🙂
3) Pick a boat from jetty opposite Yayasan/beside Kaisen Restaurant. With just B$10 per ride, they will bring you to the Proboscis monkeys. Do note that these boats has got no overhead shelters.

See jetty (proboscis monkey & Kampong Ayer tour) location on Google map.

Pardon my photos of the Proboscis monkeys below. We were actually right at the base of where the monkeys were, but i didn’t have my camera with me, thus no zoom and photos were taken off my phone 🙂

Proboscis Monkey

The proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) is found only on the island of Borneo (Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia Borneo) in Southeast Asia. Indigenous to lowland habitats like mangrove, dipterocarp and riverine forests. But particularly in mangroves forests near fresh water and rivers.

The proboscis monkey gets its name from its long, fleshy nose. The pot belly is another obvious characteristic. Their stomachs are divided into compartments and filled with cellulose digesting bacteria to ferment their food, giving them the ability to feed on leaves as their main food source. Ninety five percent of their diet is leaves of the mangrove and pedada trees. They prefer young leaves over older ones, and they sometimes feed on fruits and seeds too. Proboscis monkey don’t normally take sweet stuffs like  bananas. Anything with sugar will make the bacteria works very fast, causing fermentation that produces too much gas in their stomach. Their stomach contents make up one quarter of their body weight, thus giving them a permanent pot belly.

Proboscis monkeys usually feed in the early morning and rest for the day. They will then feed again just before nightfall from late afternoon until dark. This is when they are most active. Tours are usually conducted in the late afternoon here in Brunei, knowing that they are in action. Proboscis monkey are excellent swimmers, they can swim across rivers but only when necessary, like in times of danger to escape from any threats from predators like crocodiles.

They reach maturity in 4-5 years and they can live up to about 20 years. Best place to find and see these monkeys are in their natural habitat, and they do not live well in captivity, however, the rapidly disappearing mangrove forests of Borneo has caused loss of the proboscis monkey’s habitat and their population.

Kampong Ayer (Malay Water Village)

Kampong Ayer (Water Village) is situated along the Brunei Bay. Where about 10 percent odd of Brunei population lives today. The settlements at Kampong Ayer are built on silts with wooden walkways above the river. Some refer Kampong Ayer as the ‘Venice of the East’. There are a total of six water village mukims (districts) in Kampong Ayer, each district have a different name to date for administrative purposes.

You can find homes, mosques, restaurants, shops, schools and even hospital on silts. So for those who lives there, the community is pretty much self sustainable. Most of the houses there are well equipped with modern amenities including air-conditioning, satellite television, internet access and electricity. People staying there travels to the main land via private water taxis. Each trip cost them B$1 per person.

Kampong Ayer plays a very important part in the history of Brunei. It’s one of the earliest settlements in Brunei. In order to preserve this valuable heritage, the government has built numerous facilities including concrete jetties, piped water, electricity supplies, telco services and new houses for the people.