In light of this month's offer (where you can save 15% off of your volunteer trip to Samboja Lestari!), we thought it would be a good idea to give you all a volunteer's insight into this incredible orangutan project. As one of our most well-loved trips, the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Volunteer Project frequently receives first-class reviews from previous volunteers. Today's guest blogger to Alys - read on as she shares a few words about her unforgettable volunteer experience!
What was the highlight of your trip?
I love animals, especially primates. So, to be able to interact even from a distance, and be so close to this intelligent species was amazing. It was my turn to go in the boat and watch the island orangutans being fed. I had my camera ready, waiting patiently for anyone to show themselves. After no orangutans appeared in sight, I felt disappointed and started packing up my camera.
But when I did see them, it was all the more precious. A mother and her baby emerged, literally just a metre away, scoffing down pineapple. I actually started shaking whilst trying to reassemble my camera - the experience was just so surreal. I had no idea I would react so strongly to that moment. It was like seeing them in the wild.
Would you go back, or to any other projects?
I would do both. The people who are a part of this project are wonderful beings! They make you feel very welcome and are good fun. When it’s time to go home it’s like leaving new friends behind. So, I would definitely go back to see everyone again.
Also, I would love to see the progress that’s been made since the last time I went. During my time, I was working on an island, which is intended for an orangutan named Papa. The work was hard but so rewarding: we were digging out concreted iron wood. I would so love to come back and see Papa clinging onto one of those tall trees, and I can proudly say I contributed to that.
I’m also excited to explore the other projects on offer!
What are your tips for new travellers?
If the distance aspect is putting you off this adventure – don’t let it! I’m 18 and travelled alone for the first time, so it’s definitely possible. Try and avoid being so harsh on yourself. It’s completely natural to feel anxious. Allow yourself at least a couple of days to settle - it’s okay if you’re not having an amazing time straight away! The project is so well-organised and you’re constantly in safe hands; at no point did I feel unsafe.
If you had to describe your trip in 3 words, what would they be?
Eye-opening, surreal, rewarding!
Did the trip inspire you to help animal conservation in any other ways?
This trip has made me certain that I want to work with animals, and to help sustain their habitat and gene pool. It’s inspired me more than ever to work hard in completing my zoology degree and contribute to conservation.
Why do you think people need to travel?
It makes such amazing memories and you meet such diverse and friendly people. You really are immersed in a new culture and it widens your comfort zone. I’ve come home so much more confident in myself and my capabilities – everyone should challenge themselves with an adventure.
Want to get involved with orangutan conservation? Head to the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Volunteer Project page to find out more. Remember, you can save 15% on the price of this project until the end of September, but be quick - spaces book out fast!
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