While a lot of people will go to Indonesia this year wanting to see beautiful beaches and go diving or snorkeling, many don’t realize that right in that neighborhood is the ideal opportunity to see orangutans in their natural habitat in Borneo.
On the island of Borneo, where the Indonesian side is called Kalimantan, is Tanjung Putting National Park – a preservation and rehabilitation center for orangutans centered around the infamous Camp Leakey. Now, more than ever, with their habitat being destroyed, these centers are needed and visitors get a unique, and guaranteed, view of these wonderful animals.
The best way to visit is on a houseboat, or klotok, tour.
Over a few days, you’ll be treated to gourmet meals on your own private houseboat where you’ll sleep on the deck at night listening to the sounds of the jungle as the nocturnal animals take their turn in the territory.
During the day, you’ll ply the rivers looking for wild orangutans, proboscis monkeys and gibbons, as well as crocodiles. Then you’ll dock amongst the reeds and after a moderately challenging hike through the jungle, you’ll find yourself at a feeding station where dozens of orangutans will show up.
While these are mostly rescued orangutans, and they are somewhat habituated to humans, they are by no means trained or controlled by them. You are in their habitat and they are in charge. Close encounters are entirely possible, and they do happen. A retired queen orangutan had something to prove and she came within arm’s reach of my husband. She was all attitude (and no threat).
We did a three day/two night tour and wish it had been longer. We stopped at three feeding stations, including Camp Leakey and it was amazing every time.
This tour to observe orangutans is a trip you want to do now. Before their habitats are gone. Before climate change ruins their environment even more, and before this endangered species becomes so rare that they’re impossible to find.
Go. Support the conservation effort. Learn. Spread the word.