Rhinoceros Hornbills on Mount Santubong

My single most amazing experience during several years in Malaysia was watching Rhinoceros Hornbills fly around on my hike on Mount Santubong on Borneo in Malaysia. I stayed in a treehouse cabin at treehouse cabin, Permai Rainforest Resort (in Damai about 45 minutes from Kuching). From there it was a 15 minute ride to the trailhead.

3 Hornbill birds perched on tree branches

The hike of Mount Santubong was amazing itself, and I will post more about it later. It was the longest most vertical hike I have been on. At what I think was the first overlook I stopped and ate a snack and drank some water. And during my stop hornbills started flying around.

Close up of a Hornbill bird on Mount Santubong

I didn’t remember that Bornean Hornbills (Rhinoceros Hornbills) were huge and it was quite surprising how large they were. The Rhinoceros Hornbill grows to 90–120 cm long and weighing 2–3 kg. In captivity it can live for up to 90 years. It is the state bird of Sarawak and the National bird of Malaysia.


It was also amazing how many were flying around. It is hard to judge as they would often disappear behind trees, but I would guess over 8 were flying around.

Hornbill sitting on tree branch

It was hard to get photos. Either they were far away and my camera wasn’t good enough to zoom that far (my new camera would have made a big difference) or they were very close in which case there was only a tiny window of opportunity for seeing them (they were basically just a blur to me, you would hear them and then try to focus there and just catch a blur before they were hidden behind leaves again).

Hornbill in flight

Deeper in the forest I also saw and heard a bunch flying around but it was even harder to get photos that time. I took all the photos included here during the first stop.

Another Hornbill on a tree branch

The range of the Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros) extends from Borneo to Indonesia, peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and into Thailand.

My trip to Kuching also had my best food experience of the year (and of the decade actually).

Related: Magical Day at Glacier-Waterton International Peace ParkCurious Cat Photos of birdsLintang Trail, Bako National Park, Sarawak, BorneoWonderful Hiking in Bako National Park, Borneo

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