Personally, I was really looking forward to explore one of the river that runs through dense forest in Borneo on a boat for 3 days and 2 nights. It’s like Jennifer Lopez in Anaconda, the movie :p.
And I’d get to see Orangutans!! I got more ecstatic because I never spent nights on a slow-moving boat before. It’s like cruising in a small cruise ship. The river across Tanjung Puting National Park is called Sekonyer river. We literally spent most of our time during the trip on the boat, eating, sleeping, etc, on the boat. To me.it was great!! The boat crews were very friendly and one of them also acted as guide that led us to Orangutans feeding ground. You don’t have to worry about logistics. If you rent the “cruise ship”, it included breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 2 times snack a day.
The cook on our boat was great. The foods were satisfying. You’d get fruits, juice,quite luxurious if you think that you are actually cruising in a middle of a forest in a national park. O..the rent expense is also includes entering fee to the national park (you’d probably need to confirm on this first). The toilet, well, we were on a slow-moving boat, right? The fresh clean water available was to be used for cooking. For toilet, they provide water from the river. So you’d better prepare lots of toilet tissues and probably hold yourself from taking a bath.
First stop, the guide took us to Tanjung Harapan. We expected to see some orangutans here in a feeding area. To reach the area, we took a small hike through the woods. Oh.don’t forget to apply mosquitoes repellent or wear long sleeves and trousers. Once you hit he ground, you’ll be receiving “welcome greetings” from the mosquitoes. And I tell you something, they’re fierce. So make sure you protect yourself from their bites. FYI, Borneo is still one of the regions with high malaria prevalence. But hey! Don’t let the bugs disturb your adventure. Unfortunately, due to sudden rain, we did not get to see many orangutans. We only get to see 3 orangutans at the feeding area.
One thing that was amazing was….during our lazy cruise along the river, we could see many Bekantan (proboscis monkey) hanging out on trees by the riverside in the early evening. We also saw owls, and were expecting to see some crocodiles, but hadn’t much luck. Along the river, you’ll see many signs trying to remind us that we should reserve and safe the forest.
Next stop I remember was Camp Leakey. To reach it, we went into some kinda different part of the river. The water looked blackish, but when you really observe it you’d find that it is really colored like dark bronze. It is different with other parts of Sekonyer River which colored brown. The guide said the color came from certain roots that found many in the area.
Camp Leakey is legendary. And I think this is the main attraction. We were welcomed by two orangutans when we got there. I suggest that you approach them only with the guidance of local guide, because they can be unpredictable. And surely, you cannot underestimate the strength of an adult orangutan.
After a little hike deeper into the forest, you’ll find a small community…small houses and one big house nearby a yard. That big house is dedicated for orangutan museum. There, you can see the family trees of orangutans at Camp Leakey and get some knowledge on orangutans. Hike more, and you’ll find more orangutans in feeding areas. The caretakers were spreading bananas on a wooden stage and the orangutans will come rush in to get ’em.
See the orangutans, especially the mother and the child…was touching. There were issues on orangutan slaughtered in Borneo at the time. And watching the orangutans in the camp.. I can’t help thinking that how could someone slaughter that gentle being?? It’s wicked!! That orangutans watching experience really brought tears to my eyes. Hope they’ll be fine…hope they wont vanish…hope that I get to bring my children in the future see orangutans in their habitat, not in zoo or worse…only a picture in encyclopedia.
This trip is suitable for all age. No heavy hikes need, so bring along your children and parents. We encountered many tourists with children during the trip. If you want a one day trip, then it is better to rent a speed boat that will take you directly to the orangutan’s spots.
To me…I truly recommend you to experience several days and nights on the cruise boat. Experience how time seemed runs slower as you cruise along the river…see the Bekantan hanging out….see thousands of fireflies alongside the river as you cruise on night. It was totally amazing.
By Hara C.
(Copywriter at Visitingjava.com)