Batu Kapal Conservation

Wildlife Biolink and 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 This volunteer program is especially suitable for:

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 occurring on private lands at Batu Kapal which adjoins the Gunung Leuser NP in North Sumatra. Our project site is located in the jungle, a 15-20 minute motorbike ride or a 50 minute walk from the village of  Bukit Lawang.

Working with our new project partner in North Sumatra, the Batu Kapal Conservation Sanctuary, you will be assisting on a vital conservation project to protect the endangered wild Orang-utan population and other rare and endangered animals that occur in this critically important national park buffer zone and wildlife corridor occurring on these private landholdings in the area.

We are surrounded by nature and geological formations, with frequent visits from the local population of wild orangutans and sightings of porcupines, slow loris and civet cats. We have resident wild populations of thomas leaf monkeys, silver monkeys, macaques, water monitors, geckos and slow loris in the project area as well as many different species of birds, reptiles, frogs, butterflies, dragonflies 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 along the river in the 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 and primate habitation and food forage areas. To map known orangutan and priate 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 fragmented habitat for orangutans, primates and other animals between the national park and the nature buffer zone occurring on private lands as per the project plan
  5. 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 and map them on google earth pro
  • identifying, GPS recording and monitoring orang-utans and other primates daily activity pattern, including migration paths and feeding, resting and traveling patterns
  • observe, map, monitor, survey, photograph and GPS record the large corridor trees and other significant flora and fauna in the Batu Kapal conservation project area, including orang-utans, silver monkeys, other animals and birds
  • dusk, dawn and night walks by spot light to gps, photograph and record sightings of slow loris, civet cat, leopard cat, sun bear, bats and porcupine
  • taking samples of fruit trails to analyse the orang-utan’s  and other primates food in the specific area
  • gps, record and map every ficus, trembesi and pakam tree in the area and record when fruiting, as these are important trees for orangutans and other primates and map them on google earthpro
  • identify individual orangutans, taking photos of individual orangutan face for records
  • preparing, consolidating and analysing point of interest data sheets on excel spreadsheet data base
  • GPS trail mapping

Our Respect Jungle Guidelines are designed to help you understand and enjoy your time in the jungle in an environmentally sensitive and respectful way. We follow a strict no contact of wild animal policy.  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 either travel by public bus and we will met you at the bus stop to transfer you by motor bike ($5US per motor bike one way) to the project site as we are in the jungle, not on a road , or we can arrange a private car transfer from the airport to the project site ($60 US or 700.000 IDR one way car transfer plus $5US per motor bike one way)

Phase 2: Orangutan Habitat Restoration

The base for your volunteering placement is the Batu Kapal Conservation Project site, just 20 minutes by motor bike 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.

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. Establishing Wildlife Biolink Corridors to reconnect the fragmented forest occurring on private lands to the Gunung Leauser National Park. Through this activity volunteers will gain an understand, as well as be directly involved in creating wildlife corridors needed by wildlife (including critically endangered Sumatran orangutan and other primates and animals), through tree and bamboo plantings and establishing rope bridge crossings.
  3. Tree Maintenance - Maintaining trees and tree plantings 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 with our  team initially and then in small groups as you come familiar with the project area, your activities will include Monitoring the isolated population of wild Orangutans at Batu Kapal, occurring in isolated rainforest fragments on private lands, 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. Please note we have a strict no human contact or feeding policy of  wild animals. Our aim is to keep wild animals wild through the protection and reforestation of their 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, primates and other animals and birds in the Batu Kapal conservation project area and at specified GPS points of interest in the program
  • See detail of other activities undertaken in the section above

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
  •  Developing a species list of fauna and flora occurring in the conservation area

Cleaning and maintaining work at the base

Assist with cleaning and rubbish removal on trails, in the conservation site and along the river once a week.

Volunteers are responsible for cleaning and maintaining their volunteer dormitory and bathroom,  helping with the cooking meals and washing their dishes.

ROAR COMMUNITY PROJECT – (Reduce or Activity Recycle Project)

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 
  • Reducing plastic waste through the ROAR program. Stage one – zero plastic bottles project 

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 a beautiful jungle location in mountains adjacent to Gunung Leasur National Park on the Landak RIver and just 15-20 minutes by motorbike or a 50 minute walk 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. 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. Traditional dance lesson ($30 pp. in 2)

8. Traditional massage ($20 pp).

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

10. Relaxing, swimming and exploring the Landak River

11. Optional Jungle art. Get your inspiration from the jungle, drawing landscapes, mountains, river, animals, jungle scenery. Pencils and art paper provided

12. River stone sculptures. Stacking and making pebble towers along side the river.

13. Learn some Indonesian language with our team

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)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
We are looking for volunteers that are passionate about wildlife conservation, have an upbeat, positive attitude and committed to achieving our projects goals. Tasks are not particularly physically strenuous, however a fair level of fitness is advised as the climate is hot and humid. Our volunteers are highly motivated and keen to work independently or as part of our team.
Your personal motivation and drive will be the key to your success and enjoyment at our volunteer conservation project.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 09:00 - 17:00

Included Services

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Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Batu Kapal Conservation cancels your trip
Support & Mediation
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Batu Kapal Conservation.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
Batu Kapal Conservation (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 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 ( $60US per car one way)

Motor bike transfers into the site $5 US one way per motor bike (Note the conservation project site is located in the jungle, we are not situated on a road, its a 20 minute motor bike ride from the village of Bukit Lawang)

Please note volunteer fees are non refundable, however we are more than happy to change your start date.


Accommodation during your time will be tree house style dormitory 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 for your stay. You will need to bring along a light sleeping bag or sleeping bagliner/sleeping sheet, mosquito net, a pillow 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 and vegans. Each meal is buffet style. Free tea and water.

Soft drink and alcohol i available at an 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
The project site is open in: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

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