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Batu Kapal Conservation

Jungle and Wildlife Conservation Assistant

bukit lawang, Indonesia show on map

Join us on a 1 to 8 week jungle adventure to help protect the habitat of the endangered wild Sumatran Orang-Utan and other animals in one of the worlds oldest rainforests

About the Project

Our aim is to protect and conserve the rare and endangered native fauna and flora that occurs in this important buffer zone and Wildlife Biolink at Batu Kapal which adjoins the Gunung Leuser NP in North Sumatra. Our project site is located just 15 minutes by motorbike from the village of  Bukit Lawang.

Working with our new project partner in North Sumatra, the Batu Kapal Conservation Program, you will be assisting on a vital conservation project to protect the endangered Orang-utan and stunning rainforest ecosystem. You will also trek into the jungle to see the incredible rainforest and wildlife it hosts. We are surrounded by nature and geological formations, with frequent visits from the local population of wild orangutans and sightings of porcupines and civet cats. We have resident wild populations of thomas leaf monkeys, dusky monkeys, macaques, water monitors, geckos and slow loris on the property as well as many birds, butterflies, dragonflies, frogs and insects

Sumatra represents the last remaining natural habitat for Orang-utans in Indonesia. the Sumatran Orang-utan is now classified as critically endangered.

Forest cover in Sumatra was reduced by 61% from 1985-1997 due to logging, infrastructure development, internal migration, and plantation development. The Sumatran Orang-utan population has decreased by 86% over the past 100 years.  The most recent estimate places the figure around 7,300 left in the wild, with steady losses occurring every year. 

Program Highlights

  • Immerse yourself in the jungle. Wake to the sounds of gibbons calling every morning!
  • Be amazed by the abundance of wildlife in this rare and beautiful Biolink area adjoining the Gunung Leuser national park.
  • Make memories and friendships that last a life time.
  • Immerse yourself in the local culture. Meet the locals, they will make you will feel like one of their family!
  • Explore the jungle, rivers, markets and surrounding villages in your free time.
Batu Kapal Conservation Program activities include
  1. Surveying, mapping and monitoring the area, habitats and animals with GPS. To identify existing landholdings, their primary land use and the extant native vegetation.
  2. To map orangutan habitation and food forage areas. To map known orangutan movement pathways with GPS.
  3. To develop a full species list for fauna and flora. To identify the ecosystem service provided by each subject. With a view to developing a better understanding of what is missing. To establish recovery programmes for threatened and vulnerable species.
  4. Create wildlife corridors to reconnect orangutan and animal habitats between the national park and the nature buffer zone on private lands as per the project plan
  5. Develop best practice ecotourism activities which have minimum impact on the surrounding environment

Our Respect Jungle Guidelines are designed to help you understand and enjoy your time in the jungle in an environmentally sensitive and respectful way. Let's help protect this fragile ecosystem so your children and grandchildren can enjoy this natural wonder for many years to come!

Respect Wildlife – Keep wild animals wild!Never feed wild animals or birds.
  • Feeding wildlife damages their health alters natural behaviours, and exposes them to predators and other dangers. Store food and rubbish securely. Wild animals have adapted over time to the food found in nature. Human food can make animals sick.
  • Feeding can also make animals reliant on humans for food, which may lead to aggressive behaviour.
  • Keep your food and wastes in a secure container. Plastic bags are not secure, animals can easily rip these open
Observe wildlife from a distance.
  • Do not follow or approach wild animals. Keep a respectable distance (5 metres) and if the animal shows signs of fear or aggressiveness, back off immediately and give the animal plenty of space to move on.
  • Avoid chasing or following wildlife that is attempting to escape.
  • Keep watching times to a reasonable length to avoid stressing the animals.
  • Move slowly, quietly, and in full view to avoid scaring or stressing animals.
Avoid touching wilds animals.
  • To minimise the spread of disease to wild animals, familiarisation with humans and for your own safety from injury and bites
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, and raising young. Touching nests or young animals may cause their parents to abandon them.
  • Report any injured animals to the local land managers. Do not attempt to handle the animal.
Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.

All native plants, animals, geological features, historical and cultural remains are protected by law in national parks. Ensure that they remain undisturbed.

Avoid activities with large groups

Large groups have a greater impact and affect the natural experience for both the groups and other park users

Stay on the track!

Tracks are carefully designed to allow people to visit natural environments while minimising the impact on the environment. Staying on track minimises erosion, limits spreading of diseases and weeds, and helps you from getting lost

Dispose of Waste Properly
  • “Pack it in, Pack it out.” Inspect your campsite and rest areas for rubbish and spilled food.
  • Pack and carry out all rubbish and leftover food including organics.
  • Do not burn or bury rubbish. Rubbish that is half-burned or buried will attract animals and make a site unattractive to other visitors
  • Be careful not to drop rubbish while walking on tracks.
  • When available use established toilet facilities.
  • In other situations, carry a trowel and deposit solid human waste in catholes dug in topsoil – usually 10-15cm deep and at least 100m from water, camp and tracks. Cover and disguise the hole when finished.
  • Pack out all hygiene products in a suitable container.
  • Be careful of improper cigarette butt disposal. Take all cigarette butts out with you.
  • Plan meals to avoid generating messy, smelly rubbish. It is critical to wildlife that we pack out kitchen waste and leftover food. Don’t count on a fire to dispose of it. Rubbish that is half-burned or buried will attract animals and make a site unattractive to other visitors. Overlooked rubbish is litter, and litter is not only ugly — it can also be deadly to the wildlife.
  • Animals scavenging a meal from a tasty smelling morsel can ingest bits of dropped food packaging damaging their digestive system. Plastic six-pack holders and plastic bags kill birds, fish and animals. Fishing lines, lures and nets ensnare, kill, injure and maim wildlife, so be careful not to leave any behind in rivers or streams. Pack in plastic bags to carry your rubbish out (and maybe someone else’s).
  • Before moving on from a camp or resting place, search the area for “micro-rubbish” such as bits of food and rubbish, including cigarette butts and organic litter such as fruit peel, egg and nut shells.

Typical day

Your Itinerary

Phase 1 Day : Introduction Day!

Arrive at Medan (KNO) airport, Sumatra, to be picked up and head to the jungle to begin your adventure at the Batu Kapal conservation project site!  You can also make your own way to  Bukit Lawang by public bus and we will meet you at the bus stop. Please note there is an additional charge for airport pickup in a private car.

Phase 2: Orangutan Habitat Restoration

The base for your volunteering placement is the Batu Kapal Conservation Project site, just 20 minutes into the jungle from the village of Bukit Lawang, the last settlement before entering the Gunung Leuser National Park. Gunung Leuser has one of the most concentrated population of Orang-utan in the Southern hemisphere but deforestation and encroachment of their habitat has destroyed their environment and displaced them from the natural forest.

With the help of local staff and guides over your volunteer placement you will learn about the famous Leuser ecosystem and experience the ecology of the Sumatran Jungle first hand!

Activities include:

Wildlife Biolink Corridor Program

  1. Nursery Activities – Establishing and maintaining a tree and plant nursery is an important component for the creation, restoration and maintenance of the Wildlife Biolink Corridor Project. You will be collecting seedlings, seeds and fruits for nursery, and also learn how to prepare and cultivate tree saplings or seeds in the nursery
  2. Planting and Establishing Wildlife Biolink Corridors - Through this activity students will understand about as well as directly involved in enrichment tree planting to create wildlife corridor needed by wildlife including critically endangered Sumatran orangutan and other primates and animals.
  3. Tree Maintenance - Maintaining trees in the biolink and conservation area is a crucial part of wildlife corridor program, to ensure a higher survival rate of planted trees.
  4. Accelerated Natural Regeneration Methods - Besides planting trees, we also encourage natural regeneration as a part of restoration method. You will be introduced to ANR as an important component of restoration program.

Batu Kapal Orangutan Health and Welfare Program

Working alongside our  team, your activities will include monitoring the isolated population of wild Orangutans at Batu Kapal, occurring in isolated rainforest fragments, abutted by palm oil, rubber plantations and farm land. With the longer term aim to develop and conduct an education program in schools near this Orangutan habitat

Animal Surveying, Monitoring and Data Collection Program

As a volunteer you will have the opportunity to help monitor, survey, record and track movements of some of the forest’s most elusive wildlife! 

Activities include:

Conducting animal and bird monitoring and surveys

  • Locating, observing, identifying, monitoring, photographing and GPS recording areas with wild populations of orang-utans and other animals and birds in the Batu Kapal conservation project area and at specified GPS points of interest in the program
  • Survey, GPS, photograph and collect data of sightings of Orang-Utan’s Nests
  • identifying, GPS recording and monitoring orang-utans and other primates daily activity pattern, including migration paths and feeding, resting and travelling patterns

Biodiversity identification

  • Learning to identify tree species
  • Insect identification (eg butterflies, drogon flies etc).
  • Keeping a photographic record of animal and bird sightings, as well as plants identified
  • Compiling, identifying and analysing data collected

Cleaning and maintaining work at the base

ROAR COMMUNITY PROJECT – (Reduce or Activity Recycle Project)

The primary driver of deforestation in the Gunung Leuser National Park forests is subsistence agriculture by local farmers. Activities on the ROAR project include: 

  • Helping with recycling project and sorting at the conservation site and at the local guesthouse 
  • Helping at the project site with composting to produce organic compost and fertiliser 
  • Helping plant and weed and harvest edible garden, fruits and vegetables 
  • Teaching English to children at Selang Pangeran volunteer English school Monday to Wednesdays 3pm to 5pm 
  • Helping to teach the children about the Environment and English at the Gotong Royong Green School on Thursdays at 3pm to 5 pm 
  • Reducing plastic waste through the ROAR program. Stage one – zero plastic bottles project 
  • Leading by example – help set up demonstration areas on the project site to assist with the education of the community and local farmers (ie signage and information on projects).

Details on Arrival

Volunteers are welcome to join are program throughout the year at times that suit you!

Prior to Arrival

Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Indonesia. Entry to Indonesia will be refused and airlines may not carry passengers holding passports with less than six months validity. You are required to retain your arrival card for presentation to Immigration upon your departure.

In order to join this project you will need a tourist visa. You will be able to get one of these on arrival into Indonesia, but please note you may have to pay for this on arrival, however it is now free for many countries. Please check with the Indonesian embassy  website for tourist passport information.

If you plan to stay longer than 30 days in Indonesia, you will need to arrange a 60 day tourist visa in advance. The cost for the 60 day visa can vary depending on which Indonesian embassy you are applying through.

You need to fly into Medan airport (KNO) on the project start date between 9am - 5pm. Please check with your doctor regarding the latest on the vaccinations required to travel to Sumatra

Free-time activities

Batu Kapal is in a beautiful jungle location in mountains adjacent to Gunung Leasur National Park on the Landak RIver and just 15 minutes from  the village of Bukit Lawang - prime wild Sumatran orangutan country.

In your spare time on the weekends you will have the opportunity to visiting some nice places around Bukit Lawang and Selang Pangeran. Or stay on afterwards to explore Sumatra and Indonesia.

We are happy to arrange to take you on day activities (at your own cost) around Bukit Lawang, Batu Kapal, Batu Katak and Tangkahan on weekends or after your volunteering placement has finished at our special volunteer prices and you can also visit Lake Toba and Berestagi (volcano lands).

Choose from any of the optional activities below

1. ½ day, 1 day, 2 and 3 day jungle treks to Adi Back camp and Batu Gajah camp in the national park (POA).

2. Hot springs day trip by 4wd including lunch ($120pp min 2)

3. White water rafting full day trip on the Wampu River. 2 hour drive to Wampu River rafting start point in open

air pick up truck (cost $195 pp min persons 2. Lunch included)

4. Nature and wildlife walk (3 hours) to look for birds, animals, monkeys and orangutans in the trees along the Landak River ($45 pp).

5. On Friday, visit Gotong Royong rubber fruit and flower market for a walk around the market learning about the local spices, fruits and vegetables and enjoy the hustle and bustle of people going about their weekly shopping($45pp includes motor bike transfer).

6. 3 hour motor bike tour of the villages and rice fields, visit cottage industries, rice hulling and drying, palm sugar, tofu, bamboo weaving(price $55 pp).

7. Indonesian cooking lesson with Masno at 4pm in the afternoon with a shared dinner afterwards($45pp min 2).

8. Traditional dance lesson ($30 pp. in 2)

9. Traditional massage ($20 pp).

10. Rock scrambling open caving adventure at Batu Kapal Cave ( 2-3 hours. $45 IDR pp).

11. Relaxing, swimming and exploring the Landak River.

Water Sports

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Health Declaration
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Other Skills
Tasks are not particularly physically strenuous, but a fair level of fitness is advised.
No specific skills or experience are required, just a commitment to the project and its aims, a passion for wildlife conservation, an ability to work as a team or by yourself and an upbeat, positive attitude.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 07:00 - 19:30

Suitable for


Included Services

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Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Batu Kapal Conservation cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Batu Kapal Conservation.
Services by Batu Kapal Conservation

Includes accommodation, three meals per day, tea, coffee and drinking water at the project site and all volunteer activities at the project site.

Airport Pickup at Medan KNO Airport can be arranged if required ($750.000 IDR per car one way)


Accommodation during your time will be hostel style accommodation and shared bathroom with cold water shower and a western-style toilet. Please don’t worry about being too cold in the shower - as it is hot and humid here all year round, you will probably welcome the respite! We provide a mattress and mosquito net for your stay. You will need to bring along a sleeping bag or sleeping bagliner/sleeping sheet, a pillow if you need one and your towel and toiletries.

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages

You will have three meals per day provided for you whilst on this project. Breakfast is usually a choice of pancake, omelette, eggs and rice/noodle dishes or fresh fruit. Lunches and dinners are delicious and typically consist of noodles or rice with either chicken, seafood, egg and vegetables. Tofu and Soy bean dishes are also provided for vegetarians. Each meal is a buffet. Free tea and water. Soft drink and alcohol extra cost.

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. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Kuala Namu International Airport (KNO) in Kuala Namu. 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.
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)
1 week (min. stay)
2 weeks
3 weeks
8 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees

You can volunteer at the project site in bukit lawang/Indonesia between 1 week and 8 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Batu Kapal Conservation 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 Batu Kapal Conservation during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
  Asia South-Eastern Asia Indonesia  Bukit lawang, Batu Kapal
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