Borneo, I do not even know where to start with this post, which is why I think it has taken me so long to write about our time there. Seeing the wild Orangutans in Borneo is something I have always wanted to do, but never actually thought it would happen, when I was there it was three days where I really realised how grateful I am for the life I have and that I have the opportunity to see these incredible places.
We decided to the best place to see the Orangutans in Borneo was in Indonesian Borneo, as opposed to Sumatran Borneo. It is a lot quieter in Indonesian Borneo, meaning not only is it cheaper, it is a much more personal experience seeing the Orangutans in the wild. If you have the choice, I would really recommend choosing Indonesia to see the wild Orangutans. You can also incorporate the trip into a two week trip to Indonesia.
We visited the Tajung Puting National Park in Indonesian Borneo with an independent local tour company called Jenie Subaru after a recommendation from family who visited a few years prior. Our tour consisted of a three day – two-night tour on a private Kelotok (wooden boat) with our own crew, you live, eat and sleep on the kelotok and spend three wonderful days surrounded by nature with no phones or the internet.
From the moment our kelotok entered the national park via the water entrance I knew the following three days would be unforgettable. With only two places left in the world that you can see wild Orangutan they are obviously the main attraction but there is also a whole world of other incredible wildlife inside the park such as Gibbons, Aye-Ayes, Crocodiles, Hornbills, Probiscus Monkeys.
The Kelotok’s all follow the same route and stop at various stations over the course of three days, the most famous being Camp Leaky, at these points you alight from the boat and trek into the Jungle for a chance to see the Orangutans. I wish could explain the feeling when you first see them emerge from the trees and into full view, their sheer size and intelligence is really something that needs to be witnessed, I actually came away from the first station feeling quite emotional. As we visited in November, we were lucky that we only had around ten people observing them at the same time as us, but the guide did mention that during summer there can be up to thirty people and the experience is not as nice. So this maybe something to bear in mind if you are planning a visit.
In between stations you relax and lounge on the Kelotok, and in our case eat all the amazing food our crew prepared for us. There is a part in the new Jungle Book film after Baloo whistles Bare Necessities, and he explains it is ‘ a song about the good life’ and it completely sums up our time in the Tajung National Park.
I believe that everyone has a happy place somewhere on earth, and mine is on a wooden boat in the middle of the Borneo Jungle at dusk.
In the evenings we observed the playful Probiscus Monkeys, found only in Borneo and listened to the sounds of the jungle as night fell. Our tour also included a night trek, where we spotted various nocturnal wildlife guided only by head torches, this also included tarantulas, much to my dismay.
Despite the constant noise of the jungle, sleeping on the deck of the Kelotok provided a great night’s sleep, although I would suggest ear plugs for light sleepers. I will say there is not much that beats the feeling of waking up on the river in the middle of the Jungle.
The crew on our Kelotok made our trip, not only were they constantly there to ensure we had the best possible time, they were so knowledgeable and passionate about the Orangutans and the park, it made all the difference being with people who care about the future of the Tajung National Park and took time to tell us all about the threats the Orangutans are facing due to Palm Oil.
If you are planning a trip, please consider booking with Jenie Subaru , they are honestly the best and most importantly they care about the Orangutans, with a large percentage of their profits going towards buying land in the park to help stop palm oil deforestation.
Our private trip cost £150 each and included – transfers, all meals and drinks, national park entrance and conservation fees, and private guide. For what we received I would have happily paid more than that.
How to get to the Tajung National Park to see the Orangutans in Borneo: Pangkalan Bun Airport via Semarang or Jakarta.
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