Orangutans in Indonesian Borneo

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Orangutans in Indonesian Borneo

from £1,195
Duration: from 2 weeks to 4 weeks
Countries: Indonesia
Join this fantastic once in a lifetime experience where you will be able to work alongside both orang-utans and sun bears in East Kalimantan’s stunning Samboja Lestari Forest.

Orangutans in Indonesian Borneo

Samboja Lestari is an area of restored tropical rainforest near the city of Balikipapan in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Established by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS), the 2,000 hectare orangutan sanctuary here was created with the aim of providing a safe haven for rehabilitated orangutans, whilst at the same time providing a source of income for local people.

Several Forest Schools built here provide natural, educational playgrounds for the orangutans in which to learn forest skills before returning to cages to sleep at night. A new Clinic and Quarantine area has also been established as well as many new forest cages for larger orangutans and a Babies' Room for the little ones.


Day 1

Arrival at Balikpapan Airport in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. A lodge representative will meet you at the airport arrivals and will transfer you to the Eco lodge at Samboja Lestari. Once settled in, you will be given a briefing.

Day 2

Today will be your induction day of the entirety of the facility site. Not only will you meet the resident orang-utans but today you will also meet the facilities sun bears.

Day 3

Today you will begin your project work at Samboja Lestari. A whole day will be spent working on enrichment and husbandry for the orang-utans.

Day 4

Today you will continue your project work, though instead of orangutans, today you will be working with the resident sun bears.

Day 5

Today will involve a forest walk with members of the orangutan release team and a botanist. During this walk, you will learn about the flora and fauna resident here as well as the food that the orangutans like best! Afternoon with the orangutans. 

Day 6

Today will be another orangutan day, where you will continue to create enrichment for the orangs and will also continue with branch collection so that they can make their nests. Tonight we will visit the vibrant night market.

Day 7

Today you will have a relaxed morning off – doing as you like (a lie-in may be needed)! In the afternoon, you will be able to go on a fantastic boat trip along the black river. This boat trip is a fantastic chance to see the iconic proboscis monkey and a typical Indonesian fishing village.

Day 8  

Today you will be able to spend a full day in the city of Balikpapan. Volunteers will be able to visit the local craft market, have a delicious lunch and buy anything they want or need from the local shopping mall.

Day 9

Today is another ‘Orangutan Day’ and you will continue to help out with orangutan enrichment and collection of branches and logs for nests. There will also be the possibility of helping out with minor construction tasks and site maintenance.

Day 10

Today is your time for adventure – a canopy walk in the rainforest. Volunteers here will have the opportunity to walk high up in the forest canopy, keeping their eyes peeled for gibbons and other flora and fauna.

Day 11-12

Today you will continue with project work, volunteering alongside the orangutans on 'Orangutan Days'. During these days you will continue to help out with orangutan enrichment and collection of branches and logs for nests.

Day 13

Departure day for those on the two-week project volunteers. Orangutan sanctuary activities will continue for those on the month long project stint before another excursion to the fantastic night market.

Day 14

Volunteers (on the four-week stint) will either continue with project work at the centre or have a rest day. Those who are leaving after the two weeks, today will unfortunately be your last day of project work - enjoy it whilst it lasts!

Day 15-27

For those volunteers staying for a month, project activities will continue in the style as for the two week stint. New two week volunteers will arrive on Day 15 and will follow the exact same itinerary as the first two week volunteers. Departure day will be on day 27.

Project Activities 

The main activities for volunteers working with orangutans here include husbandry, enrichment, forest plantation, maintenance and construction work for both the orangutans and the sun bears resident here. All volunteers will be treated as pseudo-staff at the orangutan sanctuary, meaning full participation in all of the centre's work.

Orangutan island observation to collect vital behavioural data and monitor the health and behaviour of the orangutans. This is done by doing a circuit of the orang-utan islands on a small boat, offering great chances for some beautiful photographs.

Creating enrichment to stimulate and benefit those orangutans resident within enclosures, whilst also helping to encourage natural behaviour. You will also be preparing the food and delivering this into the cages for the orangutan islands.

Cleaning the orangutan cages and the fruit store where food for the orangutans and sun bears is prepared. Leaf collection (for the orangutans to build their nests). This will involve regular treks out into the jungle - make sure you have packed your walking boots!

Construction and Maintenance
Any construction or repair work which may need to be done – depending on the needs of the sanctuary. Please note that maintenance and construction are on-going tasks at the centre, and always require orangutan volunteers to help out. You may be involved with the building/maintenance of orangutan cages (after the quarantine period), the maintenance of the rainforest environment and the upkeep of the sunbear enclosures. Maintenance is a continuous task of painting, cleaning, varnishing and gardening - there is always work to be done and you will be helping wherever it is needed!

Working with the Sun Bears
You will also be able to work within the sunbear area during your time here, where around 50 sunbears reside. Helping with enrichment and general enclosure maintenance will be the main activities you will be involved with whilst working alongside these magnificent bears - one of the world's rarest bear species.

Canopy Walk
A popular excursion from the centre. Volunteers will have the opportunity to walk high up in the forest canopy, keeping their eyes peeled for all kinds of fauna and flora. There may even be the chance to spot a pair of singing gibbons!

River cruise
A wonderfully relaxing afternoon is spent on the black river. Volunteers will board a local boat and travel along the winding river in search of the endangered proboscis monkey famous for its oversized nose. During your journey you will travel through a local fishing village, which will offer you the chance to see how local people lived and then we will travel briefly out to sea where we will watch the sunset.

Interested in this; ready to enquire?

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Further Details

More information about this gap year opportunity...

Price details:

from £1,195

What's included?

• All airport transfers to and from Balikpapan (Sultan Aji Muhamad Sulaiman Airport)
• Accommodation
• Three meals per day
• Tea, coffee and drinking water at the lodge
• All volunteer activities at the project site
• Conservation donation to Samboja Lestari Orangutan Sanctuary

What's not included?

• All flights
• Any vaccinations
• Visa Fee (volunteers must have a 60 day Social and Cultural visa to carry out volunteer work). This fee as of April 2014 was £35.00 – please note that this is subject to change however.
• Airport taxes (as of April 1st 2014 - IDR 75,000 for domestic and IDR 200,000 for international).
• Travel insurance (though this can be purchased through The Great Projects)
• Soft or alcoholic drinks and extra snacks
• Laundry service (washing and tumble drying – this can be purchased at a cost of U$10 per person per week)

What inoculations should I have?

Please note that this information is VITALLY important! Although we are not able to legally provide you with medical advice, ALL volunteers MUST have Hepatitus A and Hepatitis B injections, as well as an HIV and HCV test (to check for Hepatitis C) before they arrive. They must also make sure that they have a chest x-ray (to check for TB) and a BCG injection before they come if they have not had it already. This is ESSENTIAL.

*Please note that if you do not have the correct vaccinations/tests and the results from them with you, you will NOT be able to join the project. If you would like any more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


ALL volunteers require a Social and Cultural visa to join the project. This will need to be arranged before you travel, as the ‘visa on arrival’ that you receive as you enter all Indonesian airports will NOT be acceptable. More information on this will be provided within the pre-departure information.

About The Great Projects

Here at The Great Projects we believe that there is a better way to holiday. Our award winning wildlife volunteer projects and signature tours present you with a truly life changing experience alongside the chance help animal conservation efforts all around the world. Whether you want to work with Orangutans in Borneo, Cheetahs in Namibia, or Tigers in India, we have the perfect project for everyone, and with donations made for each trip, your travel with have a lasting impact on local wildlife and the communities living alongside it.

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Interested in this; ready to enquire?

Find out more by filling out the form below and clicking send. The Great Projects should then be in touch shortly to help with your enquiry.

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