Sumatra and Borneo are, sadly, the only two places left on earth where orangutans remain in the wild. Any travel fan, or animal lover, intent on seeing these rare and majestic beasts in their natural habitat, needs to do so now, as unfortunately, the rainforests are dwindling more and more each day.
If there ever was a bucket list item that needs to be ticked off urgently, watching wild orangutans in Borneo is undoubtedly it. Let’s take a look at everything you should know, before arranging this once in a lifetime trip.
Preparing your Adventure
As orangutans neither hibernate nor migrate, it is theoretically possible to visit them all year round. Unlike other destinations in South East Asia, Borneo experiences its dry season in the summer, which means March to October witnesses the mass arrival of tourists from across the globe.
Bear in mind, that costs are significantly higher during this period, and if you don’t mind stomping through a soggy rainforest, savings can be made by travelling in winter.
Consult your GP before embarking, to ensure your vaccinations are up to date, and to discuss the option of anti-malaria tablets.
The island of Borneo hosts a variety of rehabilitation centres, and sanctuaries, plus acres of forest reserves and national parks. Visiting, and perhaps even volunteering, at one of the many conservation centres helps give back to the community, and offers much-needed investment to keep the orangutans from extinction. This is also the best way of getting a glimpse of the animals.
Borneo’s most famous sanctuary is at Sepilok, where feeding times invite ample photo opportunities, as the animals emerge from the dense jungle. Of course, Sepilok is subsequently teeming with tourists, so consider venturing off the beaten track, to areas such as Camp Leakey, Batang Ai and Semengoh for a more authentic orangutan experience.