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The Great Projects

Samboja Lestari Orangutan Sanctuary

Balikpapan , Indonesia

This project offers you the chance to work on enrichment with captive orangutans and sun bears at the world renowned Samboja Lestari rescue centre.

Samboja Lestari is an area of restored tropical rainforest near the city of Balikipapan in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Established by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS), the 2,000 hectare sanctuary here was created with the aim of providing a safe haven for rehabilitated orangutans and sun bears, whilst also at the same time providing a source of income for local people. Since 2001, the surrounding area has been planted with more than a million trees covering more than 1000 different species. With the growth of the forest, the density and diversity of wildlife returned. So far 137 bird species and nine primate species have been recorded.

About the project

At Samboja Lestari Orangutan Sanctuary, one of Indonesia's most prestigious and renowned orangutan rehabilitation and rescue centres, and one of the main focal points of BOS ('The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation'), the emphasis is on the rehabilitation and release of orangutans, many of whom were rescued from atrocious situations. The overriding goal is to reintroduce orangutans back to secure natural habitats in order to establish new viable long-term populations to bolster the conservation of the species within the wild. A number of orangutans have been already been successfully released by BOSF.

Several Forest Schools built here provide natural, educational playgrounds for the orangutans in which to learn forest skills before returning to cages to sleep at night. A new Clinic and Quarantine area has also been established as well as many new forest cages for larger orangutans and a Babies' Room for the little ones. Six orangutan islands have also been created to accommodate orangutans suffering chronic hepatitis B or other disabilities which prevent them from ever being released into the wild. For these orangutans, the sanctuary provides them with a safe haven where they can live out the rest of their lives away from the threat of deforestation and human destruction. 

Samboja Lestari Orangutan Sanctuary also includes a 58 hectare area put aside for the 50 + sun bears resident here which have all been rescued from the illegal pet trade or from areas of major deforestation.

Your work as a volunteer on this project will be to help rehabilitate these orangutans and sun bears and help with enrichment, husbandry and general sanctuary upkeep. Each year since 2012 orangutans have been able to be released by the foundation and your work as a volunteer will help ensure more orangutans can continue to be released.

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. The cost is currently $35 for a 30-day visa.

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 Balikpapan on the project start date between 9am - 5pm. Most volunteers traveling to the project will need to stop and change via Jakarta international airport (Soekarno-Hatta International Airport). There are numerous daily flights departing Jakarta for Balikpapan (Sultan Aji Muhamad Sulaiman Airport). Air Asia or Garuda are generally the cheapest. Once in Balikpapan, you will be met by a project representative who will then transfer you to Samboja Lestari.

Also in case you are not aware, to volunteer here you must have Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B Vaccinations, as well as an HIV and HCV test (to check for Hepatitis C) before arrival. A chest x-ray or skin test(to check for TB) - or if you have previously had a BCG injection and can provide proof of this, that will be sufficient. 

Typical day

Day 1-2 - Arrival and Induction:

Arrival at Balikpapan Airport in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. A lodge representative will meet you at the airport arrivals and will transfer you to the eco lodge at Samboja Lestari Orangutan Sanctuary. Once settled in you will be given a briefing by Kate your project facilitator. Your induction day which consists of a tour of the entirety of the facility site. Not only will you meet the resident orangutans but you will also meet the facilities' sun bears.

Day 3-4 - Orangutan Enrichment and Husbandry/Project Work with the Sun Bears:

Today you will begin your project work at Samboja Lestari Orangutan Sanctuary. The group is usually split in two with half spending a whole day working on creating enrichment items for the orangutans and assisting with husbandry and the other half doing the same for the sun bears. The second day the group will reverse role with those who helped with the orangutans, now working with the sun bears and vice versa. There is also the opportunity to help feed the orangutans on the islands for some(everyone will get this opportunity during the project).

Day 5 - Forest Walk:

For a change of pace and an education, on this morning you will take part in a forest walk with members of the orangutan release team and a botanist. During this walk, you will learn about the flora and fauna resident here as well as the food that the orangutans like best! ?The afternoon is spent working on enrichment for the orangutans, after all there are 250 at the centre and enrichment is something the project tries to provide to each of them every day.

Day 6 - Orangutan Enrichment and the Night Market:

Today will be another orangutan day, where you will continue to create enrichment but of a different type for the orangutans and you may also help with leaf collection. These leaves are given to the orangutans so that they may make their nests. Tonight you will have the opportunity to visit the local vibrant night market.

Day 7 - Morning to Relax & then a Boat Trip:

Today you will have a relaxed morning off – doing as you like (a lie-in may be needed)! In the afternoon, you will be able to go on a fantastic boat trip along the black river. This boat trip is a fantastic chance to see the iconic proboscis monkey and a typical Indonesian fishing village.

Day 8 - Tour the City of Balikpapan:

Today you will be able to spend a full day in the city of Balikpapan. You will be able to visit the local craft market, have a delicious lunch and buy anything you want or need from the local shopping mall.

Day 9 - Another Orangutan Day:

After a little break, today, you will be back working with the orangutans, assisting with making enrichment and bamboo and leaf collection. You will also have the possibility of helping out with minor construction tasks and site maintenance.

Day 10 - Canopy Walk in the Rainforest:

Today is your time for adventure by means of a canopy walk in the rainforest. You will have the opportunity to walk high up in the forest canopy, keeping your eyes peeled for gibbons and native flora and fauna.

Day 11 - 12 - Project Work with the Orangutans:

This will be the final day for 2 week volunteers and the last chance to work alongside the orangutans assisting with anything that needs to be done. In the evening you will have time to speak to the facilitators, view a slide show from your stay and if you fancy enjoy a few drinks as a group before transferring to the airport the next day.

Day 13 - Final Day or continuing with Project Work:

Departure day for those volunteers on the two-week project. After a fond farewell you will be transferred to Balikipapan Airport for your flight home or onward travel plans. If you are staying for a month you will be engaged in an afternoon activity before having the opportunity to once again visit the fantastic night market. All volunteers staying for 4 weeks will continue project activities in the style as for the two week itinerary with new volunteers arriving on Day 15 to join you.

Details on Arrival

Start dates for a 7 night duration 


2017 - October 15th 
2018 - June 3rd, July 29th

Start dates for a 12 night duration 

2017 - October 22nd

2018 - March 18th, April 1st, April 15th, April 29th, May 20th, June 17th, July 1st, July 15th, August 19th, September 2nd, September 16th, October 14th

Start dates for a 26 night duration

2018 - March 4th, April 1st, July 1st, September 2nd, September 30th

All start dates are subject to availability. Please contact us to check whether your preferred start date is still available!

Please note: This program is fully booked until October 2017.

Free-time activities

Canopy Walk
A popular excursion from the centre. You will have the opportunity to walk high up in the forest canopy, keeping your eyes peeled for all kinds of fauna and flora. There may even be the chance to spot a pair of singing gibbons!
River cruise
A wonderfully relaxing afternoon is spent on the black river. You will board a local boat and travel along the winding river in search of the endangered proboscis monkey famous for its oversized nose. During your journey you will travel through a local fishing village, which will offer you the chance to see how local people lived and then we will travel briefly out to sea where we will watch the sunset.

Water Sports
Safari/Zoo
Hiking

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).
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Health Declaration
required
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
The construction work undertaken on this project will involve physical labour, often in humid conditions, and so this requires a moderate level of fitness. The other tasks however 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 and an upbeat, positive attitude.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Suitable for

Singles
Couples
Groups

Any questions? Just ask. We at The Great Projects are happy to help you.

Contact Project Coordinator
Contact & Reservation
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Included Services

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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by The Great Projects.
Services by The Great Projects

Airport transfers to and from Balikpapan, accommodation, three meals per day, tea, coffee and drinking water at the lodge, all volunteer activities at the project site, conservation donation to Samboja Lestari Orangutan Sanctuary

Airport Pickup at Sultan Aji Muhamad Sulaiman Airport

You need to fly into Balikpapan on the project start date between 9am - 5pm. Once in Balikpapan, you will be met by a project representative who will then transfer you to Samboja.

Accommodation

Accommodation during your time at Samboja will be within twin-share rooms at the Samboja Ecolodge where all of the interior and exterior walls are built out of recycled materials. Each room comes equipped with fully working air conditioning, mosquito nets and an en-suite bathroom with cold water and a western-style toilet. Please don’t worry about being too cold in the shower - as it is very hot and humid here all year round, you will probably welcome the respite!

Bedroom (Double)
Food & Beverages

You will have three meals per day provided for you whilst on this project. Breakfast is a variety of cereals, eggs and rice/noodle dishes alongside fruit and fresh fruit juice. Lunches and dinners are delicious and typically consist of noodles or rice with chicken, seafood, mutton or beef and vegetables. Tofu and Soy bean dishes are also provided for vegetarians. Each meal is a buffet.

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 Sultan Aji Muhamad Sulaiman Airport (BPN) in Balikpapan. 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)
1 week (min. stay)
$1,006.00
2 weeks
$1,430.00
3 weeks
$1,853.00
4 weeks (max. stay)
$2,277.00
Average fees
$788.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Balikpapan /Indonesia between 1 week 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.
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