Tours

The Orangutan and Tribes Tour

From £1,195.00

Become immersed in tribal life, whilst working towards the conservation of magnificent orangutans

Borneo,

Orangutans

Project Description

On this orangutan tour you will take unforgettable jungle treks through the Borneo rainforests and get the chance to experience the beauty of orangutans in the wild. This tour also features two visits to the region's orangutan centres – the award winning Matang Wildlife Centre and the Semenggoh Nature Reserve, as well as three breath-taking national parks – Bako, Kubah and Batang Ai. Both Bornean orangutan sanctuaries and all three national parks are managed by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation, who play an active role in the ongoing conservation of the area's orangutans.

This tour is designed to raise awareness of the conservation efforts made in Sarawak, to restore the harmony between people and orangutans that has become strained in recent years. This tour is a voyage of discovery for all of the travellers whom take part, giving them access to the rehabilitation efforts at Matang Wildlife Centre, the released, semi-wild orangutans of Semenggoh Nature Reserve, the seven different habitats of Borneo in the amazing Bako National Park and a one week trip into the rainforest. This tour will also involve meeting the descendants of the legendary Borneo head-hunters – the Iban tribe – who are now the custodians of the wild orangutans of Batang Ai. This will be an experience you certainly won't forget in a hurry!

This is the perfect opportunity for anyone who has always wanted to see orangutans, go in search of them in the wild and aid their conservation.

Why This Project Needs Volunteers

Volunteers on this project will be interacting with local tribes, providing a cultural exchange. This will benefit the locals as it provides them with an opportunity to increase their knowledge and understanding, as well as giving them a platform to teach others about their ancient ways of life.

Throughout your time on this project you will also visit two wildlife centres to assist with conservation activities such as; providing enrichment items for the orangutans, husbandry and should the centre require it, assistance with construction and maintenance work.

Itinerary

Day 1:
You'll arrive into Kuching Airport, where you will be met at arrivals by your guide before taking a short transfer to the guesthouse for your first night. Here you will settle in and freshen up before having a full tour briefing over dinner with your guide and the rest of your group. Take some time to enjoy the amenities (hot water, air conditioning and a swimming pool) before retiring to bed as it’s back to basics from here on out!
Day 2:
After breakfast, you will make your way to Matang Wildlife Centre, which is situated in Kubah National Park and is home to 30 orangutans, sun bears and many other animals. On arrival, you will receive an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour from the team who run the orangutan conservation project here. After lunch, you will get involved in an activity such as creating enrichment for the orangutans. This will give you the chance to see what it is like to work with orangutans on a daily basis. Keep an eye out for the centre’s residents, such as the sun bears or the mighty Aman, who is thought to be the world’s largest orangutan!
Day 3:
Spend today getting to know more about the wildlife centre through conversations with members of staff, lectures (subject to availability) and husbandry activities. You may also be invited to help feed the animals, such as macaques, binturongs, sun bears and of course the orangutans, or assist in more enrichment making. The process of making and providing enrichment is a key activity when it comes to the rehabilitation process, as it helps to promote natural behaviours, therefore enhancing the potential for release. If there’s time, you may explore the centre’s surrounding areas of Kubah National Park: this will be a gentle introduction to rainforest life, and could be your first opportunity to test out your trekking abilities!
Day 4:
Bid farewell to the orangutans before heading to Bako National Park at midday. This transfer will be split by one hour in a car, and 15 minutes on a boat as you approach the park’s entrance. Bako is the oldest national park in Sarawak, and is also home to the third-largest troop of proboscis monkeys in the world! The park also boasts a number of interesting trails (varying between 2km and 10km each) and tonight you will take a walk along one of these trails in search of nocturnal animals. Keep your head up, your eyes peeled, and your torch shining bright as you walk through the jungle…you might just spot a few pairs of eyes staring back at you!
Day 5:
Wake up to the sounds of Bako National Park. With its abundant wildlife, jungle streams and waterfalls, Bako National Park offers an excellent introduction to the rainforests and coastline of Borneo. As one of Sarawak's most famous locations for wildlife, Bako will not disappoint. You will spend the morning trekking through the rainforest admiring the interesting flora and fauna and going in search of the famous proboscis monkey. In the evening you will transfer to the Malay community of Telok Serabang.
Day 6:
Take your time getting to know Telok Serabang, as there’s much to do and see! Activities here can include assisting with beach clean-ups and a fledgling turtle conservation project run by the locals (you might even have the opportunity to help out on night patrols!). In addition to enjoying the area’s beautiful beach area, you may spend some time working alongside the local community on a number of activities, such as maintenance, painting of the local school, and crafting traditional jewellery. Finally, you’ll go trekking in the neighbouring national park, Tanjung Dato, where you’ll be on the lookout for wild gibbons, flying lemurs, bearded pigs and other fascinating wildlife!
Day 7:
Say goodbye to Telok Serabang as you transfer to yet another new destination. Your next stop is Padawan, an area which is home to the indigenous Bidayau community. Here, you’ll spend time in a wooden longhouse made from bamboo, which is just one of the ways in which you’ll connect with the Dayak traditions of old! From being taught about the tribe’s history and culture to being encouraged to join in with traditional dancing, you’ll surely feel welcomed by this friendly community.
Day 8:
Another day in Padawan and another opportunity to put your trekking skills to the test! The area is home to an area of rainforest not often visited by tourists, and during one of the treks you’ll receive a rare invitation to visit a sacred place where human skulls are kept. While unusual, these skulls represent a bygone era of cultural significance, so take the time to learn more about this ancient practice. You’ll also learn about the use of bamboo, arguably one of the most integral materials in the lives of the community due to its versatility, and experience just one of its uses by taking a journey down the river atop a bamboo raft! En-route, your guides will collect food and prepare a meal for you in the forest, which will of course be eaten with bamboo utensils!
Day 9-12:
Your time with the Bidayau community has sadly come to an end, but there’s still much for you to look forward to as you head toward Batang Ai, the largest national park in Sarawak and home to the state’s last remaining wild orangutan population. Your journey is split between bus and boat, civilisation versus pristine rainforest, so be sure to keep your camera on you to capture the ever-changing scenery as you go! The next four nights of the tour will be spent in Batang Ai, with some of your time being spent with another community, this time the Iban tribe. The Iban live across the river from your accommodation and have resided in the area for generations, so there’s always plenty of stories for them to tell about the days gone by. By the time you arrive in Batang Ai, you’ll have hopefully built up strength to undertake some serious trekking. Steep ridges, untrodden terrains and wide rivers are each found across the trails here, and while the treks may be tough, you might be lucky enough to spot wild orangutans or other species native to the area. Keep an eye out for orangutan nests, claw marks on trees, or creatures moving between canopies!
Day 13:
Your time spent in Batang Ai’s raw surrounds has now drawn to a close, so it’s time to head on back to the city. On your way to Kuching, you’ll stop off at Semenggoh Orangutan Centre, Sarawak’s first-ever orangutan rehabilitation centre and home to a number of semi-wild great apes. There are around 20 orangutans here at Semenggoh, each of which are free-ranging, and you may even be lucky enough to spot the residents as they approach their feeding platforms. Your day draws to a close back at the Basaga Guesthouse, where you’ll enjoy a farewell dinner with your group while reminiscing about your time on the tour.
Day 14:
Sadly, your adventure has come to an end! Say goodbye to your new-found friends before being transferred back to Kuching Airport, either to embark your return flight home or to continue with your own independent travel plans.

Additional Information

Group Size Up to 14 People
Meals All Meals Included
Duration 13 Nights
Start Dates 3rd of every month
Minimum Age Minimum Age 17 (Or 14 With An Adult)
GETTING THERE

You will need to arrive into Kuching Airport(KCH) between 9am and 5pm on the start date of your tour where you will be met by a representative at arrivals who will take you by private transfer to the Basaga Guesthouse for your welcome dinner and first nights stay.

If you would like help booking your flights please feel free to contact our Flight Partner via our flights page.

VISA REQUIREMENTS

There is no prior visa required for most nationalities to enter Malaysia as a 90 day tourist visa is granted on arrival. However, please check the Malaysian Immigration website for detailed information.

MEALS AND BEVERAGES

Three meals a day and drinks are provided throughout the tour. Meals will typically consist of noodles, rice, vegetables and meat, however, vegetarian options are always available.

FITNESS AND SKILLS

This tour does not involve a lot in the way of physical labour, but it will involve trekking in the rainforest on the tour - usually in fairly humid conditions. Therefore, you should have high enough levels of fitness to be able to partake in regular treks on slippery mud trails.

CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE RATES

The Malaysian currency is the Ringgit. The conversion rate is around 1 GBP to 6.42 MYR. For up-to-date conversion information click here.

What's included in the price of the Tour?

• Airport transfers
• Overland transportation
• Accommodation and meals as indicated
• All traveling activity equipment
• Local guides
• English speaking project leader
• Conservation donation

What's not included?

• All flights
• Vaccinations and anti-malarials
• Travel insurance
• Alcoholic beverages

No Contact Policy

We are often asked whether or not travellers will have the chance to touch or play with the orangutans whilst at the wildlife centres. Our answer to this question is, and will always be no, and this is for good reason.

Orangutans are highly susceptible to human diseases and something as minor as the common cold can prove fatal to these Great Apes. Also an environment of constant change, with new people going to the centre every month and being in contact with the orangutans would be very detrimental to the Orangutans wellbeing. With no consistency in their lives behavioural problems arise. They also have a tendency to begin to trust humans which is damaging should they be released back into the wild, as they will become easy targets for poachers. Finally, an orangutan is around 7 times stronger than an adult male human so a no contact policy is just as crucial for your wellbeing as orangutan welfare.

That is not to say that you will have no interaction with the orangutans, it simply means that you will have no direct contact with them. You will still observe them on a daily basis and see how your contribution to their husbandry and enrichment makes a real difference in these great apes' lives. For more information please view our article on hands on contact with orangutans here.

Reviews

Meg Phillips - 2019

We had the most incredible experiences: drinking rice whiskey with the Iban tribe in the middle of the Batang Ai jungle, waking up to boar piglets on our front doorstep and baby Silverleaf monkeys with their mothers on the beach at Bako, making toys for the orangutans at Matang, and swinging from vines off our bamboo rafts into the river in Padawan like Tarzan!

Steven Richmond - 2019

This trip is the perfect combination of contribution to conservation and time to experience how three very different tribes live in Borneo. Working at the sanctuary with orangutans and bears was awe-inspiring, but coupling that with the experience of staying with tribes was unbelievable. This trip will change you forever!

Craig Macpherson - 2018

My wife and I absolutely loved our trip and it's very difficult to pick a favourite moment. However, we would have to definitely say that seeing wild orangutans was our favourite moment. We also thoroughly enjoyed our time at Bako and Minhad's place.

Emma Burkinshaw - 2018

My favourite moment was living in a longhouse in the jungle and having the most amazing guide, Alvin teaching and guiding us about the orangutans and the entire ecosystem that is affected by deforestation.

Heidi Burgoyne - 2017

We had a great group, great guides and all in a great country! I've been on a number of similar'ish trips and can vouch that the Orangutan & Tribes Voluntour has been one of my most memorable. There isn't ONE favourite moment I have from the trip, there are many! I left our last location: Batang Ai, with a tear in my eye.

Jasmine Woods - 2017

The entire trip will stay with me forever! Most of all being in the jungle and being with the locals. Such a fantastic experience I will never forget and I will do again if I can make it happen! A huge thank you to all the staff who have hearts of gold overflowing with compassion for the wildlife and their environment . You taught me a lot.

Carla Magari - 2016

The main memory I will be bringing home with me is spotting semi-wild Orangutans enjoying and living their lives exactly how they choose to. I loved spending time with the different tribes, being invited into their homes and meeting their families. I felt truly honoured to be invited into their homes. It was fantastic to listen and hear how passionate the local people are about the crisis their country is in due to deforestation for palm oil. It is great to see that they are motivated towards conservation of their forests and wildlife. We all stand together for the same purpose.

Dawn Vickery - 2016

I will never forget the overwhelming beauty of Telok Serabang. When we arrived off the long boats and waded into the warm South China Sea, I was completely transfixed by the beauty of this magical area. Listening to the jungle at night time was mesmerising, exciting and unforgettable - so much so I was too excited to sleep! The simple lifestyle of this awesome community will remain with me always and will inspire me to seek a more simplistic way of life for myself and my family.

Rebecca Dahlquist - 2016

My best memory from the trip was drifting through a stream in life vests in the middle of the rainforest. It was so amazing!

Sophie-Mae Smith - 2016

I had many memorable moments including the amazing stars at night, the trees filled with fire flys, watching the sunrise over turtle island, and seeing the sun ears rip open my enrichment within 5 mins when it took me over 2 hours to make. My overall favourite moment has got to be seeing a semi-wild dominant male orang about 10 ft away from me swinging freely, it was incredible!