The Great Projects

Orangutan Sanctuary Assistant

Kalimantan Tengah, Indonesia show on map
Help to care for stunning endangered apes by volunteering at this orangutan sanctuary where you will help to provide enrichment and more for both orangutans and sun bears This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Singles
Couples
Groups
50+

Volunteer at this Orangutan sanctuary in Borneo, where you could play a direct role in the rehabilitation of orphaned, injured and displaced orangutans, as well as providing a life of comfort and refuge for the apes who will never be able to be released into the wild. This orangutan sanctuary is home to the largest number of captive orangutans in the world and is the spear head of the most successful orangutan release program there is. Come and join this exclusive orangutan volunteer project to play an unparalleled part in the process!

About The Project

Founded by the Bornean Orangutan Survival Foundation, this orangutan sanctuary is home to more than 390 orangutans along with a small population of sun bears. All of the animals require the generous helping hands of volunteers to provide them with the best life possible, even helping to give some a shot at independent life in the wild once more.

Orangutans end up in sanctuary care due to the illegal pet trade, and also after becoming orphaned, displaced or injured during their search for food and shelter throughout farmlands – something which occurs as a direct result of mass deforestation in Borneo. The sanctuary’s main aim is to rehabilitate the apes and release them back into protected areas of the rainforest where they belong, but due to trauma and injuries, this is not always possible for some, and so the sanctuary provides a forever safe haven for these great apes. Volunteers play a direct role in this process by completing animal husbandry which helps to ensure the animals are comfortable, preparing food for the animals, and most importantly, creating and distributing enrichment materials to the apes and the bears which stimulates natural behaviours and keeps their minds engaged.

You have the opportunity to watch and observe orangutans at various stages in the rehabilitation process. Whether it be juveniles enjoying their playground and learning to climb, or how to use items in the forest as tools after a day in orangutan jungle school, or watching the adults put their wild skills to the test out on the pre-release islands where the apes reside during their final stretch of rehabilitation – watching these intelligent animals is simply unfathomable. So come and see it for yourself!

Prior To Arrival

  • You must ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from your project start date in order to gain entry into Indonesia.
  • You will need to organise flights which arrive into Palangkaraya Airport between 9am and 5pm. If this is not possible, you will need to arrive the day before and book an additional night’s stay in a nearby hotel. Most international flights will arrive into Jakarta International Airport, from where you can catch a domestic flight to Palangkaraya.

During Your Stay

We are often asked whether or not volunteers will have the chance to touch or play with the orangutans whilst on this project. 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 volunteers going to the project every two or four weeks 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 as a volunteer 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.

Typical day

Arrival
You will be met at the airport and transferred to the sanctuary by a project representative. You will then settle in and get to know your fellow volunteers after a brief orientation by the project facilitator.

Project Days
A typical day will involve a morning and an afternoon activity with breakfast lunch and dinner provided. Enrichment will be the primary activity that you will complete on this project, but you will also take part in many other exciting activities too! Take a look below to see what you could be getting up to should you volunteer at this orangutan sanctuary.

Enrichment
As already mentioned, enrichment is a major part of life for the resident animals at the sanctuary. It’s a major part of the rehabilitation process, and also helps to keep the minds of permanent animal residents at the sanctuary stimulated. You contribute in many ways, whether it be collecting leaves for the orangutans to build their nests, wood for the sun bears to rip apart, or hiding treats inside bamboo and other materials for the animals to forage through, be prepared to get your hands dirty! Also, don’t be shy – if you come up with a brand-new enrichment activity, put it forward because the team love new ideas! Another truly rewarding aspect of enrichment, is that you will also help to distribute it and watch the orangutans reap all the benefits of your hard work!

Orangutan Observation
You will have ample opportunities to observe the beautiful great apes. You'll, of course, see the orangutans everyday but the best way to see them is on the pre-release islands! You'll board a small boat with the technicians and head out to the feeding platforms and will help to ensure they are happy, healthy and adapting to life in semi-wild conditions. While there is no hands-on contact, you will be in very close proximity to the apes, so much that not only will you watch them, but they will watch you! 

Animal Husbandry
You will help to clean the enclosures of the orangutans and sun bears. While this may not be the most glamorous of activities, it is essential for providing the apes and the bears with cleanliness and comfort during their time at the sanctuary! You may also be required to help with small construction or maintenance tasks, but this is dependent on the needs of the sanctuary during your stay.

Bukit Tangkiling
It’s not just some stunning wildlife this project has to offer,  jungle life is simply beautiful. You’ll get to take in the authentic sights and sounds of the rainforest, as well as have a taste of ancient Indonesian culture as you take a trek to a hilltop known as Bukit Tangkiling. Along the way, you’ll pass relics of old religious buildings, and your expert guide will impart knowledge to you about the surrounding rainforest and how the locals live.

Traditional Night Market
You will be doused with another authentic taste of Indonesian culture with a trip to the traditional night market. With its lack of tourists, this is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in Indonesian life by interacting with locals and also tasting the delicious variety of street foods on offer! 

Details on Arrival

This project has set start dates and runs for 6 months of the year between March and August. Arrival day at the project site falls on a Monday.

Upon arrival in Indonesia, you will need to organise a tourist visa which currently costs around $35 for a 30-day visa. If you are staying for longer, it is possible to extend your visa but please enquire for more information on this. You must also retain your arrival card to present to immigration on the day of your departure. 



Free-time activities

Volunteers will have free time during the day every Saturday before heading to the night market in the evening. Use this time to take in your remote jungle surroundings, take a trip to the village shop, or simply sit with a good book. Beer can be purchased at the sanctuary at the expense of the volunteer during your free time, but it can only be consumed within the volunteer accommodation. We kindly request that volunteers dot pack alcohol from home, particularly with regards to spirits.

Sightseeing
Shopping/Souvenirs
Hiking

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 17 years old on the program start date.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
No specific skills are required to join this project, however, there are some physical activities involved. Therefore we ask volunteers have a moderate level of fitness.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday

Included Services

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Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if The Great Projects cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by The Great Projects.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
The Great Projects (your host organization) provides consulting and is keen to answer all your questions. Once you reserved your spot, you will receive the contact details of your volunteer project.
Online preparation course (optional, from $49)
Prepare yourself and become a confident and well informed traveler. Global Travel Academy takes you on a journey before you leave home, helping you to become one of the world's greatest travelers. Our trusted partner for online learning offers courses in "International Volunteering", "Travel Health & Safety" and "Travel Safety Abroad".

On-site services

Services by The Great Projects
What’s Included? 
  • Three meals per day
  • Accommodation
  • Drinking water
  • Airport transfers
  • River cruise
  • Hilltop trek
  • Visit to the night market
  • Conservation donation

What's Not Included?
  • All flights
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance
  • Snacks
  • Alcohol and soft drinks

Airport Pickup at Tjilik Riwut Airport

You will need to organise flights which arrive into Palangkaraya Airport between 9am and 5pm. If this is not possible, you will need to arrive the day before and book an additional night’s stay in a nearby hotel. Most international flights will arrive into Jakarta International Airport, from where you can catch a domestic flight to Palangkaraya. Upon arrival, you will be met by a project representative and transferred to the project base. You will also be escorted back to the airport by project staff on the day of your departure.

Accommodation

You will be staying in a traditional style long house based on a twin share same sex basis. Each room is fit with its own western style bathroom, mosquito net, fan and bed linen but please bring your own towel. A communal kitchen and social area is available for the use of all volunteers. Two double rooms for couples are also available but these are on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Bedroom (Double)
Food & Beverages

3 meals a day along with drinking water is provided throughout your time on the project. Volunteers will prepare breakfast together which will consist of staples such as toast, cereals, eggs and noodles. Lunch will be prepared for you, consisting of tasty typical Indonesian food, like rice, noodles and fried vegetables. Vegetarians can be catered for, but please be sure to let us know way in advance so we can assure your dietary needs can be accommodated to in time for your arrival. 

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Tjilik Riwut Airport (PKY) in Palangkaraya. We assist you to find cheap flights to Indonesia.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Indonesia provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Indonesia you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Indonesia.
Costs: Prices in USD
2 weeks (min. stay)
$ 1,550
3 weeks
$ 2,004
4 weeks (max. stay)
$ 2,457
Average fees
$ 695 /week

You can volunteer at the project site in Kalimantan Tengah/Indonesia between 2 weeks and 4 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. The Great Projects will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Indonesia.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with The Great Projects during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
  Asia South-Eastern Asia Indonesia  Kalimantan Tengah, Komplek Arboretum Nyaru Menteng,

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Reservation
The project site is open in: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

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