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.
The 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 sunbears 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
You WILL require a Social and Cultural visa to join this project. This will need to be arranged before you travel, as the 'visa on arrival' that you receive as you enter all Indonesian airports will NOT be acceptable. More information on this will be provided within the pre-departure information you receive upon booking.
You need to fly into Balikpapan on the project start date between 9am - 5pm. Most volunteers travelling 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 Samba.
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. 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. 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.
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!
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.
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 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!
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.