Seeing Orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park

orangutans-tanjung-puting-national-park.pic by Agung Hartamurti

If cruising on a Borneo river surrounded by lush jungle, the sound of orangutans and other amazing inhabitants sounds like a perfect way to unwind, then keep on reading. I’ll share one of my most memorable trips to the home of orangutans, in Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesia. It is one of the best places to see orangutans in the wild with a guarantee of seeing them.

As a writer for a digital agency I got the chance to travel to remote places in Indonesia. One of these trips was to visit Tanjung Puting National Park on Borneo. This national park is famous for its long-term effort through the Orangutan Research and Conservation Program based at the landmark Camp Leakey. It turned out that all the photos I made didn’t do any justice of how peaceful it was being present with nature.

Meet the Orangutans

tom-at-camp-leakeyIsn’t it amazing to know the fact that deep in the Borneo forest lives a gentle red ape that shares nearly 97% of the same DNA with humankind, the orangutan. Borneo and Sumatra are the only places in the world where you can see orangutans in the wild. If you are looking for a more intrepid destination, then Gunung Leuser National Park on Sumatra and Kalimantan, are your cup of tea. Sabah and Sarawak on Sabah are easier to get around.

pondok-tangguiI was fortunate to see this special creature during a 4 day-cruise trip that took me through the dense Borneo jungle of Tanjung Puting National Park. This park is one of the best places to see orangutans with much fewer tourists. Tanjung National park is now home to 5.000 orangutans. Besides the orangutan you also have great chances to see other animals like the Proboscis monkey (a large monkey you will only find in Borneo), long tail macaque, horn bills, kingfishers, Malayan sun bear and crocodiles.

orangutans-tanjung-puting-national-park.pic by Agung Hartamurti-1

Photo credit Agung Hartamurti

Cruising the Sekonyer River

The only way to see the orangutan in Tanjung Puting National Park is via a boat cruise. The cruise took me to three main orangutan conservations: Tanjung Harapan, Camp Leakey, and Pondok Tanggui where I could witness the beauty of this endangered animal in their natural habitat. Ideally, it takes around 3 – 4 days to explore those three main conservations via a Klotok (local boat) and it requires a bit of trekking in order to reach their feeding area.

Feeding time is the only way you get to see them, so it’s either in the early morning or evening. The boat is open on both sides so you can really get close. It was a blessing to watch them eat, mingle, and enjoying life in a safe environment without being threatened by giant corporates who burn down the forest for the palm oils. It was truly an eye-opening experience for me to be able to see them living life peacefully, jumping from one tree to another. It also hosts over 230 species of birds, so it surely will be a heaven for bird-watching enthusiasts!

sekonyer-kids-taking-showerA trip on a Klotok includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner served by the boat crew (if you’re a vegetarian, make sure to arrange all meals with the agent), bed with a mosquito net, local rangers, mineral water & soft drinks, boat parking, entrance permit, and small bathroom. We booked the trip via Cinta Indonesia Tour.

Alternative place to stay

sekonyer-village-by-fransisca-angelaIf you’re looking for alternative accommodation, the only place to stay around Tanjung Puting National Park is in Rimba Eco Lodge. I got a chance to stay two nights in Rimba Eco Lodge and one night on a Klotok. Usually, a standard room can accommodate two persons.

How To Get There

1. Board a morning flight from Jakarta, to Pangkalan Bun (approx. 2.5 hours). Suggested airplanes: AirAsia, Batik Air, Garuda Indonesia

2. Go straight to Pelabuhan Kumai and hop on a traditional boat called Kelotok where you can spend the rest of 4 days living in the heart of Borneo forest.

The trip to Tanjung Puting National Park had opened a whole new perspective about how important it is to be aware of other creatures who live alongside us in this universe. Being closely with nature is something I need once in a while. I hope to be back someday!

What has been your most amazing natural encounter?

This blog post has been written by Fransisca Angela a photographer and travel blogger who lives in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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