Sepilok is about 30 minutes’ drive from Sandakan and is home to the world's largest Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, set up in 1964 to protect orphaned, injured and captive orang-utans and introduce them back into the wild. The centre occupies a protected area of 11,000 acres of virgin equatorial rainforest in Northern Borneo and is the best place on the planet to experience a close encounter with these enchanting creatures. The rehabilitation process starts with the orphaned orangutans attending classes at an enclosed "kindergarten", and they progress through stages until being released into the open forest reserve. Visitors to the centre first watch a short film about the work carried out by the volunteers here, followed by a short walk on raised walkways to platforms located in the rainforest to see the feeding of the semi-wild orang-utans.
Just next door to the orangutans is the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, established in 2010 to rehabilitate sun bears, help grow their numbers and raise awareness about their plight, which has been severely effected by deforestation.
A stay in the Sepilok region also allows travellers the opportunity to visit the nearby Rainforest Discovery Centre, an impressive information centre with an excellent canopy walkway, fun for both adults and children.