Borneo West Coast: Klias River Cruising Notes (nr Labuan)

Published 12 years ago, updated 5 years ago

(Tim & Barb on Rubicon Star share anchoring notes on a little-known area near KK, Borneo Malaysia – July 2012).

Thanks to “Rhumb Do” for providing the entrance waypoints and the ferry skipper who gave them to him!

The Klias River is a small pocket of wetlands near Labuan. It is not as interesting as The Kinabatangan nor does it have the diversity or quantity of wildlife and we found the animals here less used to the sound of the outboard motor. Like The Kinabatangan, it has been heavily logged and there is no upper storey forest left. You can find palm oil plantations right down to the water’s edge in places. There are very small pockets of monkeys who are very shy. It is not a particularly interesting river, but it is a diversion if you have time to spare. We could sometimes hear birds but they are seldom seen in quantities. It is quiet and protected from the wind. We did not experience any log jambs, nor did we see any barges or ferries, just the occasional fisherman. We had good depths all the way and mainly stayed in the middle of the river.

Waypoints Labuan to Menumbok

1. 05.19.000N 115.18.100E

2. 05.19.000N 115.18.780E

3. 05.17.800N 115.20.090E

4. 05.17.580N 115.20.883E

5. 05.17.381N 115.21.804E

6. 05.17.637N 115.22.280E

7. 05.18.230N 115.23.130E

Good anchorage just inside the river: 05.18.141N 115.22.484E

After entering the mouth of the river you can see the jetty at Menumbok to the starboard of the island. Veer starboard before the jetty. We anchored at 05.22.316N 115.25.434E on the first night but did have mosquitoes on dusk. Also, a plague of flying ants was attracted to our lights. So, if possible, screens up and lights out. No traffic around. Just before our anchor point there was an isolated marker – shallow water near here and stay on the starboard side of it.

Next day we journeyed some 18nm to the power lines at 05.26.9N 115.37.4E. This is as far as you can go. We anchored at 05.27.014N 115.37.216E in 10 metres which is the bend before the power lines and after Kota Klias. From here we dinghied up the river and explored many creek branches. We found proboscis monkeys and iguanas.

There are a few tour boats plying this part of the river to keep your boat well lit. We had some fireflies floating around us that night. The main road passes quite close and is sometimes a bit noisy.

The monkeys are easily startled. We were quietly observing macaques when a tour boat came along and everyone on board was chattering and making much noise and the monkeys scurried off.

We did not inquire but it may be possible to join a tour party either at Kota Klias or further up past the power lines. We also believe you can travel from Kota Klias to Beaufort – a small town and once a coal mining centre in the days of British occupation. KK is 90 km north of there.

The next morning we had a proboscis monkey show across the river directly opposite where we were anchored. Quite a large family who did not seem perturbed by our presence.

We then travelled back down to the fork in the river and anchored at 05.25.575N 115.33.596E in 8metres. There is a Forestry Department Information Jetty about 20 metres ahead of us. They are working on repairing and extending the wetlands walkway here. The men told us there was 13km of the river to explore in this area. Many bird calls throughout the day.

At dusk, we headed down the river branch to the fork in the river (Forestry Dept Walkway here on the left-hand side). We headed right and travelled many miles and found several small and isolated pockets of long-tailed macaques, silver leaf monkeys and proboscis monkeys. We also encountered a couple of tour boats – not sure where they are based. We travelled as far as the houses before turning back.

We then went back to the fork (Forestry walkway) and took the left-hand branch. We found three groups of young male proboscis and a large family of silver leaf monkey and one red leaf monkey. We saw many small mangrove birds. Back to the boat and we enjoyed the spectacle of a tree of fireflies winking at us right next to the boat. No insects and no traffic.

Our next anchorage was at 05.22.570N 115.29.100E in 5 metres on a quiet bend well before the mouth of the river. Several kites and cranes and a couple of eagles.

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