04-07 Borneo and Indonesia:00/00 Master - Audley Travel


04-07 Borneo and Indonesia:00/00 Master - Audley Travel

Mother and baby orang-utan, Tanjung Puting, Kalimantan, Indonesia

Critically endangered, with a population thought

to have dropped from 30,000 in 2000 to as low

as 15,000 today, Orang-utans are now found on

only two islands in the world: Borneo and

Sumatra. With the equator running almost right

through the middle of these islands, the 4th and

6th largest in the world respectively, this is the

heart of the tropics and contains some of the most

important wildlife habitats on the planet.

For all visitors planning a trip here the first question is which

country to choose? Unlike many regions in Southeast Asia,

combining the wildlife areas of Indonesia and Malaysia in one trip

is not easy, unless you have plenty of time, so we would suggest sticking

to one country – you can always go to the other one next year!

There is a diverse array of wildlife in these regions but the main draw to

both islands is the orang-utan. Here we look at the opportunities to see

these animals in their natural environment and assess their respective

merits, while picking out of a few of our favourite places to stay.


View from Klotok boat, Tanjung Puting, Kalimantan, Indonesia

Indonesia or Borneo?

Male Orang-utan, Bukit Lawang, Indonesia


There is no other way to say it – getting to see orang-utans in Indonesia is a

challenge. Flights, boats and 4x4s are par for the course but despite the

problems in reaching your end destination, the rewards far outweigh the effort.

Gunung Leuser, Sumatra

The area of Bukit Lawang in northern Sumatra is home to many orang-utan

who were rehabilitated and released in to the wild from the former orang-utan

sanctuary of Bohorok. The sanctuary closed in 2005 when the surrounding area

was considered ‘saturated’ with orang-utan and an alternative quarantine and

rehabilitation centre was opened on the outskirts of Medan. Since the centre

was opened in 1973, over 200 orang-utans have been released, meaning that

close encounters are regular occurrences on half to full day circular walks

through the protected rainforest of the Gunung Leuser National Park. The area

sees few visitors and outside of local holidays you will normally be on the trails

with just your guide for company, along with an orang-utan or two hopefully!

Pros: The least visited of the four orang-utan ‘hotspots’ worldwide,

stunning lowland mountain scenery of waterfalls, rivers and rainforest.

Cons: No current rehabilitation programme and difficult to see other

wildlife while exploring on foot.

Jungle Lodge, Gunung Leuser National Park, Indonesia

This is one of the most simple yet picturesque lodges in the country and a

real hidden gem. Just getting here requires a bumpy three hour land transfer

followed by a short longboat journey across the Alas River. The seven wooden

chalets dotted around a jungle-clad river valley are a nature enthusiasts dream

with large balconies giving you prime position to soak in the sights and

sounds of the rainforest. The remote location means that facilities are simple

and there is no hot water available but a natural hot spring on the opposite

bank of the Bamboo River gurgles into a rock pool and feels like a bath!

A nearby waterfall also gives you the option of a ‘jungle shower’!

Tanjung Puting, Kalimantan

Visitors to Tanjung Puting National Park usually spend three days

traversing the narrow jungle rivers on your private house boat, known

locally as a Klotok, stopping two or three times a day to venture into the

rainforest with a knowledgable guide. The park is unfenced throughout

and is home to over 5,000 orang-utan,therefore offering a great chance to

see these intriguing creatures in their natural habitat. While in the area,

Camp Leakey offers the chance to see conservation work at close quarters.

Established in 1972, this rehabilitation centre has released hundreds of

Orang-utans back into the wild over the years.

Pros: All but guaranteed sightings of wild orang-utan while travelling by

boat gives a great chance of spotting orang-utan and other wildlife on the

river banks, excellent rehabilitation programme on site.

Cons: Flights here from central Java are often delayed, so patience and

humour need to be packed with your tooth brush!

Rimba Lodge, Tanjung Puting National Park,


Located in the jungle of Kalimantan and set right on the edge of the gently

flowing Sekonyer River, Rimba Lodge is the ideal base for anyone that

wants the very best chance to see orang-utan in the wild. The 35 room lodge

is also famed for its resident population of macaque which can get a little

over enthusiastic with their play time at night and wake people up by

bounding across the roofs! A bird watching tower increases your chance to

see hornbill and other endemic species while the short nature trail leading

from the lodge into the jungle is a good introduction to the flora of the area.


Restaurant view, Borneo Rainforest Lodge

Gibbon, Danum Valley, Malaysia


Toucan shot was wrong proportion

for this box, so have put that into

Fact File and will need a new

square-ish pic for this space

Asian pygmy elephants, Kinabatangan River, Malaysia Deluxe chalet, Borneo Rainforest Lodge xxxxxxxxxxxxx


Borneo is a much more established place to see orang-utan and as a

result provides people with a range of good range of quality rainforest

accommodation along with highly experienced guides.

Kinabatangan River, Borneo

The Kinabatangan River flourishes with wildlife; protected reserves have

been created in the lower basin and these now form an almost continuous

narrow strip along a 200 kilometre stretch of river. This has attracted and

sustained large populations of orang-utan as well as pygmy elephants,

proboscis monkey, crocodile and all of Borneo’s native hornbill species.

Throughout the day you will take trips in your own private boat that gives

access to narrow tributaries hemmed in by banks overhung with thick

vegetation, providing the perfect opportunity to soak up the sights and

sounds of the jungle. As you sit in your boat drifting slowly down on the

gentle current, the keen eyes of your local guide will help spot the telltale

signs of animals hidden in the dense vegetation.

Pros: Arguably the best birdlife in Southeast Asia, easily accessible just

an hour boat ride from the city of Sandakan. By boat you have the chance

to get very close to pygmy elephant on the river banks.

Cons: There are few trails in to the rainforest so orang-utan are normally

seen high up in the trees from the river and binoculars are vital.

Abai Jungle Lodge, Kinabatangan River, Borneo

Only accessible by boat and with no other lodges within an hour, Abai has

proved to be one of the most renowned locations in Borneo to see a prolific

amount of wildlife in a quiet environment. Behind the lodge is a small

jungle trail that you can take at any point to try and see the wildlife that can

sometimes get remarkably close to the lodge. There is even a photo on the

lodge wall by a recent guest who managed to capture a photo of Southeast

Asia’s most elusive predator, the cloudy leopard, while on the trail.

Danum Valley, Borneo

Orang-utan are abundant in the Danum Valley; recent studies put the

number at around 500 with possibly 17 resident to the immediate Borneo

Rainforest Lodge vicinity. You will do your wildlife spotting on foot with

a private guide; there are over a dozen trails through the surrounding

rainforest that cater for all levels of fitness and the impressive canopy

walkway gives a unique birds eye view.

Pros: One of the last remaining areas of primary rainforest in Borneo,

sizeable population of orang-utan within close reach of the lodge,

stunning location on the bend of a river valley.

Cons: Two hours of very bumpy roads to reach your lodge base.

Borneo Rainforest Lodge, Danum Valley, Borneo

Southeast Asia’s only potential rival to some of the luxurious wildlife

lodges found in Africa. For such a remote location the quality of the rooms

and service is superb. The 28 spacious chalets overlook the river or the

rainforest and some boast oversize outdoor spa bathtubs. Guests can attend

evening talks, slide shows and see films about the conservation of the

surrounding area. The small bar and outdoor terrace offers the chance to

enjoy a drink, admire the jungle view and chat with other guests about the

day’s events. Due to the remote setting of the lodge right in the heart of

orang-utan territory, we have recently had had client reports of an

orang-utan coming straight through the lodge restaurant and of another

making its nest above one of the chalets!



Orang-utan, Semenggok Sanctuary

Responsible Travel

While seeing orang-utan in the wild is an amazing sight, sanctuaries offer

the chance to see these endangered animals while learning more about

rehabilitation initiatives. Such projects can be found at Shangri La’s Rasa Ria

hotel, near Kota Kinabulu; Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre near

Sandakan and Semenggok Orang-utan Centre near Kuching. All of these

centres offer close encounters with younger orang-utan and it is great to

combine a trip here with time in the rainforest. If you are planning to visit

Sepilok Orang-utan Centre, you can choose to ‘adopt’ an orang-utan before

you travel, with a chance to see it when you visit. The cost is £30 and

provides much needed financial help in maintaining and improving Sepilok,

so it can continue its great work. We are pleased to have adopted a

recently rescued orang-utan called Michelle. If you would like to learn

more about the project, visit www.orang-utanappeal.urs.uk

Rhinoceros Hornbill, Kinabatangan

River, Borneo


Audley’s 13 day ‘Discovering Java

and Kalimantan’ itinerary costs

from £2,925 per person and

includes three nights in Tanjung

Puting (all meals and guiding) as

well as other highlights of

Indonesia. Adding in a four night

tour of northern Sumatra

(including all meals, transfers

and guiding as well as the extra

flights required) would cost an

additional £800 per person.

■ Start or end your trip at the

Jimbaran Puri Bali on Bali’s

stunning southern beach of

Jimbaran Bay where you can stay

for five nights in a Garden view

Cottage Suite for £600 per

person including airport.


Audley’s 13 day ‘Orang-utan and

islands of Borneo’ itinerary costs

from £2,540 per person and takes

in two nights on the Kinabatangan

River (all meals and guiding) as well

as other highlights of Borneo.

Adding in an additional two nights

in the Danum Valley (including all

meals, transfers and guiding) costs

from £650 per person.

■ Start or end your trip on the

private island of Pangkor Laut off

Malaysia’s west coast where you

can stay for five nights in a Garden

Villa for £750 per person

including transfers from Kuala

Lumpur airport and daily breakfast.

■ For more information, please

call our Indonesia and Borneo

specialists on 01993 838 100.

Jimbaran Puri Bali swimming pool

Beachview cottage suite,

Jimbaran Puri Bali

Orang-utan Sanctuary, Malaysia


Emerald Bay, Pangkor Laut Resort, Malaysia

Gunung Leuser National Park, Sumatra


Find out more about

orang-utan experiences, the best

places to go, itinerary ideas and

our travel tips.


Pool at the Spa Village, Pangkor Laut Resort


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