Hello, this trip was something I wanted to do in 2019 when I was first in Indonesia, but it wasn’t possible at the time as fires were blazing in the area.
With strict restrictions in July 2021 around the country, I had to wait to visit this place. At the end of August news came out that the park would open again in mid-September 2021.
At the beginning of September, I went on a road trip with my KLX 150 from Canggu, Bali to Surabaya, Java. After spending a little bit of time exploring Surabaya, I booked a flight from Surabaya to Iskandar Airport in Pangkalan Bun, Kalimantan. Kalimantan is the Indonesian portion of Borneo, the third-largest island in the world.
The reason to go there is to visit the “Taman Nasional Tanjung Puting” a national park where Orangutans live. In Indonesian language, Orang means “man” and Utans means “Forest”.
This park is only accessible by the river, so you have to get on a tour boat to get there. I highly recommend Varada Borneo Tour. The tour was great, and the staff was VERY helpful. I had some logistics issues and they did everything they could to help out. I chose a 3 days 2 nights tour.
All my camera images are here. You can take a look at my Instagram highlights to get more. Click a few times to get to the related stories.
After driving down to Kumai you will get on the boat, the Klotok, to the entrance of the park on the river.
In the park there are 3 camps, they are there to take care of the orangutan’s needs. Their mission is mainly to preserve the species in the area. The area is a very complicated place with a lot of politics and criminal activity, mainly illegal tree logging and palm oil tree plantations. Creating a lot of issues for nature in the area.
Anyway, you can watch this documentary if you want to know more.
I will try to avoid more political talk on this post 😉
Each camp has a feeding station, the most popular camp, Camp Leakey Borneo was still closed in September 2021, but there were 2 more camps that were open. The feeding station attracts mainly orangutans that were treated for various reasons in the camps previously. They are free to roam anywhere but they like to come back to known places, and it’s easier to get food at the feeding stations.
Keep in mind I was the first foreign tourist to visit the park since the pandemic began, and I was alone on my boat with a guide, cook, and captain. Your experience may vary.
This is a view of the river a few meters after the entrance.
Quiet and beautiful nature.
The locals doing their things.
After a few kilometers down the river, we saw the first Orangutans, quite an experience to see this wild animal in his natural habitat. This was very far from any camp.
On the way to the first stop, the onboard chef served me this great dish, you can also see where I slept.
This is the boat I was on for 3 days and 2 nights, the ancestral boats used in the region, they are called Klotok.
This was at the first camp, Pondok Tanggui, we stopped to watch the 3PM feeding. After a short walk in the forest, which is also beautiful. You will get to the feeding station, an opening in the forest with a man-made wooden platform where camp workers drop fruits for the orangutans.
Here are a few photos of the Orangutans eating and playing.
This is the alpha male of the area, Roger.
A newborn, a mom, and another sibling probably.
After this amazing interaction, it was time to get back on the klotok and enjoy the peacefulness of the river.
Then it was dinner and sleep time.
This is how you sleep on the boat, this was the next morning. Really nice to sleep on that calm river.
Great breakfast with a view, wow.
Next, it was time to visit the second camp, Tanjung Harapan. This one was flooded and we had to walk in the water, knee-deep, for about 30 meters, to get on to the feeding station.
At the feeding station.
They then brought me to a local village along the river to walk around, there was some nice house. Very quiet place with friendly people.
Afterward, I was very fortunate to get another viewing at the feeding station of the Pondok Tanggui camp, usually, they don’t allow two visits in two days but I was the only tourist there at the time.
It was quieter than the previous day but Roger, the alpha male was around.
After that, we started going back in the direction of the exit of the park.
The river banks are beautiful.
The small boat passed us.
The sun was coming down.
The water of the river is very dark and you can barely see 5cm deep.
Saw some little friends along the river.
After sunset, dinner was very good again.
And breakfast was great again with a nice view of the river.
After that, it was a short ride back to the city where I visited a few local spots with my guide.
This is a traditional hall of the local people.
A part of Pangkalan Bun that is getting rapidly underwater.
All in all, it was an amazing experience, I do recommend it to anyone who loves animals. If you follow my Instagram (check the story highlights) you know I had some crazy stories coming back from Kalimantan to Java, but I don’t want to write about it again here since that bad experience was 100% related to covid and it shouldn’t affect anyone going after the situation,