If you love the enchanting eyes and tufty rust-coloured fur of the orangutan, then get involved in this project! Samboja Lestari is an area of restored rainforest in East Kalimantan and the proud home of over 137 bird species and nine primate species. Malay for “person of the forest”, the orangutan is a highly intelligent, gentle giant that calls Borneo, Indonesia home. Established by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, this project offers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help rehabilitate orangutans and sun bears.
You will spend your time observing the behaviour on the 'orangutan islands' (six natural areas established for orangutans unable to return to the wild) - primetime to snap mementos of these picture-perfect primates. Other duties include: husbandry, journeying through the jungle collecting leaves for nests, constructing and repairing enclosures and even getting to know the rarest bear species, the sun bear. In your spare time you can clamber through the forest canopy to catch a glimpse of the wildlife and enjoy a relaxing cruise before watching the sun set over the Black River. This project not only enables you to get up-close and personal with these beautiful, inquisitive animals, but also to do so knowing you’re helping provide an income for the local community and aiding the preservation of the orangutan’s rainforest home.
If this sounds good, why not choose a longer stay and really immerse yourself in the world of orangutans? To see the longer version of this project, click here!
What We Love
Monkey Around with Orangutans: Become 'one with the orangutan' and get to know each of their independent personalities. Savour every moment you spend with these endangered orangutans and help to encourage their natural behaviour.
Relax and Roam the River: Cruise the beautiful Black River in search of the proboscis monkey with its peculiarly large nose. Appreciate authentic Indonesian culture as you travel through a local fishing village before sitting back to watch the stunning sun set.
Clamber the Forest Canopy: Clamber high into the treetops on an amazing 'canopy walk' to view the forest from a unique perspective. Learn about the orangutan’s natural home and the importance of its preservation for the species' survival.
This experience has achieved a Gold World Rating!
This experience delivers a high level of sustainability!
What makes this experience sustainable?
The endangered orangutan’s survival depends on the preservation of its forest habitat; the Bornean orangutan population has halved over the past sixty years with 55% of its rainforest home being destroyed. However, this project provides a safe haven for incredible animals by helping sustain and enrich the wildlife population. Samboja Lestari is a safe area of rainforest in Borneo and is home to the most renowned rehabilitation centres for orangutans. The project has effectively aided the rescue and rehabilitation of many orangutans whose lives have been threatened by both deforestation and poaching.
The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’s mission is to rescue and rehabilitate orangutans whilst ensuring they maintain their natural instinct and forest skills, so they can be reintroduced to the wild safely. This project aims to spread understanding about the conservation of Bornean orangutans to encourage the protection of the ever-reducing population of these magnificent animals. The sanctuary is also aiding the local people not only financially (by providing salaries for those working in the rehabilitation areas) but also by increasing income through land and fruit sales. On this project, you'll be helping to support and protect all the people of the forest!
After landing in Indonesia, you will be met be a project representative at the Balikpapan Airport in Kalimantan, Borneo, before being transferred to Samboja Lestari Eco Lodge. Relax and settle in, before receiving your project briefing.
Dedicated to your induction, this day gives you the chance to get acquainted with the entire facility site. There is no hard labour today, but a tour of the centre and the moment you’ve been waiting for - the chance to meet the resident orangutans and sun bears! In the afternoon it’s time to get stuck in – you’ll be split into two groups, with half making enrichment for the orangutans and the other half helping to collect leaves for the orangutans’ nests.
Now you’ve been introduced to the centre and its inhabitants, you can continue your project work at Samboja Lestari. Again, the group is generally split into two, with half helping with orangutan husbandry and enrichment, and the other half doing the same for the sun bears!
A role reversal day, you will swap with the other group after breakfast: those who worked with the orangutans on day three will have their opportunity to assist with the husbandry and enrichment of the sun bears. You will also get the chance to help feed the orangutans on the islands!
To mix things up, this morning gives you the opportunity to participate in a forest walk in which you will meet the orangutan release team and a botanist to learn about the orangutan’s rainforest home. This provides an opportunity to further understand the other wildlife that inhabit Samboja Lestari and discover the favourite food of the orangutans (a far cry from your doughnut predisposition). The afternoon consists of working on enrichment, something the project aims to provide on a daily basis to keep all of its 250 orangutans happy!
This day consists of a different type of enrichment; this time you will be able to volunteer with the leaf collection for the orangutans to create their nests. The evening offers the opportunity to get to know the locals and try some typical cuisine with a visit to the bustling night market.
Make the most of your final morning working in orangutan husbandry and enrichment. The afternoon will consist of an unmissable boat trip along the Black River, allowing you to search for more wildlife and also get an insight into Indonesian culture as you pass through a typical fishing village.
Bid the centre and all its inhabitants (animal and human!) a fond farewell as you travel back to Balikpapan Airport for your onward flight.
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Choose your perfect itinerary, then book safely and securely through Eco Companion.
- Airport transfers to and from Balikpapan (Sultan Aji Muhamad Sulaiman Airport)
- 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
- All flights
- Any vaccinations
- Visa Fees and travel insurance (click 'Ask a Question' to chat to the operator about this)
- Soft or alcoholic drinks and extra snacks
- Laundry service (washing and tumble drying – this can be purchased on site and the cost is per item. Costs are roughly: 75p for trousers, 50p for t-shirts, 25p for underwear.)
- Anything else not mentioned in inclusions - if in doubt, 'Ask a Question' to the operator!
- The rate shown is a 'from' price per person
- Click 'Ask a Question' up above to enquire about full project dates, availability and costs
- To secure a place on this project a 20% deposit is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.