IAR Orangutan Sanctuary

Work at International Animal Rescue's orangutan sanctuary on the rehabilitation of these great apes! 15% Off for travellers going between August-October!

About the Project

International Animal Rescue (IAR) is an organisation dedicated to the rescue and safe rehabilitation of animals worldwide. Through this particular project, IAR have directed their efforts towards Indonesian Borneo’s orangutan population, which is constantly under threat from deforestation and capture by humans.
In order to attempt to reverse this worrying trend, in 2010 IAR devised a plan to construct an orangutan rehabilitation centre in Ketapang, in the middle of the Borneo jungle. This centre was to exist for the purpose of housing, rehabilitating and hopefully releasing injured and abandoned orangutans back into the wild. Construction began in August 2011, and the centre is gradually taking shape. However, there is still a lot of work to do, the completion of which relies partly on the involvement of volunteers. This project is ambitious to say the least, but the work already completed has proven incredibly important in the rehabilitation of orangutans, who may otherwise have perished. The completion of this centre is vital in the on-going battle to keep orangutan numbers from falling in this part of Borneo. Volunteers are crucial in this process, providing much-needed manpower, enthusiasm and support to the staff and construction team at the centre. 

Prior to Arrival

In order to join this project you will need a tourist visa. You will be able to get one of these on arrival into the country of Indonesia, but please note that you will have to pay for this there and then when you arrive at the airport. The cost is currently $25 for a 30-day visa.
You will need to arrive at Ketapang Airport on the start date of your project between 7am and 5pm, where you will be met by a project representative in the arrivals hall and transferred by road to the volunteer house. Ketapang Airport can be reached via Jakarta and is serviced by Garuda Airlines.

First Day

Arrive at Ketapang Airport in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo where you will be met by a member of the team and transferred to the volunteer house which will be your home for the duration of the project. Upon arrival there will be a welcome dinner and orientation with the project staff and your fellow volunteers.

Regular Days

During this time you will be working six days a week at the centre and getting involved with a variety of activities. The work varies greatly month by month due to the unpredictable nature of what takes priority on a day to day basis.
One of the most important tasks while on site is the construction of the much-needed, new orangutan sanctuary. With the centre expanding, you may partake in helping to erect electric fences and mix concrete to make bases for new cages to stand on. Also the building of boardwalks and bridges to make access easier for personnel and new climbing towers and feeding platforms for the orangutans in the forest school areas may be required. Due to the damp tropical nature of the area and the boisterousness of the orangutans, boardwalks and towers often need general upkeep and repair. 

The insides of buildings need repainting and cages regularly need their structural enrichment changed. All the cages at the centre need regular maintenance, especially in terms of changing the fixed enrichment of hammocks, ropes and tyres. The orangutans in the large socialisation cages can be particularly destructive and enjoy taking things apart. All new cages always need to be fitted with various items along with hammocks in all the night cages. You will often make the new hammocks and swings and fit them into the various cages.

You will also be involved in the process of producing enrichment for the resident orangutans. This promotes natural behaviours and will enhance the potential for rehabilitation to release as well as improve the lives of the orangutans. Please note that there will be NO direct contact with orangutans during this or any other activity but you will get the chance to watch them from a safe distance enjoy the enrichment you have created.
To help keep the food bills down the centre is growing it's own local produce to help feed the orangutans. This involves activities from planting fruit trees and harvesting vegetables to making organic compost. As more land is being bought some areas of it need may also need reforesting.

Last Days

After saying farewell to the orangutans on your last day of work you will enjoy a farewell dinner with the project facilitators and the rest of your group. The next day you will take a private transfer to Ketapang Airport for your return flight home or to commence your onward independent travel plans.

Suitable for


Typical day

The work involved in this project consists of both construction of the centre, and enrichment and care of its resident orangutans. Volunteers find themselves laying roads, building enclosures, building holding-cages and erecting electric fences and walls. The work on site varies a lot depending on the seasons, but in general those who take part will require a high level of fitness, ability to work in a team and an infectious enthusiasm for the project and its aims. 

Program Requirements

Minimum Age
18 years
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Health Declaration
Other Skills
This project requires a fairly high level of fitness, as the majority of the volunteer work involves physical labour in fairly high and humid temperatures.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Do you have any questions concerning this volunteer opportunity in Indonesia? Volunteer World directly connects you with The Great Projects

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Free-time activities

On your day off each week you will get to explore other areas of Ketapang. Hutan Kota is a natural park where you may get the chance to see wild proboscis and macaque monkeys as they make their way to the rivers edge to settle for the night. There are also local beaches where you can watch the sunset while drinking from a coconut. The town of Ketapang also has markets, a Buddhist temple and numerous local shops. You will also get the opportunity to visit the old Transit site, though no longer in use by IAR you can see what the centre has evolved from.

Water Sports


What's included?
What's included in the price of the project?
Airport transfers
Overland transportation
Accommodation and meals as indicated
All volunteering activity equipment
Local guides
English speaking project leader
Conservation donation
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.

No worries, Volunteer World supports you in raising funds, checking your visa regulations and travel insurance. We also assist you in finding the cheapest flights for your journey.
Airport Pickup

You will need to arrive at Kuching Airport on the start date of your project between 7am and 5pm, where you will be met by a project representative in the arrivals hall and transferred by road to your first nights accommodation.


On arrival you will stay at the Basaga Guesthouse in Kuching and then another hotel in Pontianak, before being transferred to the project accommodation, which consists of locally-rented houses near the centre site. These will be shared with other volunteers, and provide toilets, showers and bed linen, as well as communal areas. There are also cooking facilities in the volunteer houses where meals can be prepared. Please note that whilst this accommodation is far from luxurious, it is practical

Dorm Room Guesthouse Hotel
Food & Beverages

Three meals per day will provided for you during your time here. Breakfast will consist of cereal, fruit and tea and coffee, where as lunch and dinner will be more prepared meals. Please note that if you have a day off at the weekend you will need to pay for a meal in a nearby restaurant. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are not included, so you will need to make sure that you have enough spending money for these and other snacks.

Internet Access
Sorry, no access at the project site
2 weeks (min. stay)
3 weeks
4 weeks (max. stay)

You can volunteer at the project site in Ketapang/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 tell you your final price during your application process.
Average Fees
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.

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What's next?

The nearest airport is Kuching (KCH) in Kuching. We assist you to find cheap flights to Indonesia.
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Packing our bags is important to prepare your trip, but often turns into a last minute horror. Make sure you don't forget the essentials by creating a personalised packing list for your volunteer program in Indonesia upfront.
Borneo, Ketapang, Indonesia