Nikita's 'Need To Know' Tips For Orangutan Volunteers!

Nikita's 'Need To Know' Tips For Orangutan Volunteers!

Posted by Leanne Sturrock on 17th Nov 2016

Volunteer holidays are wonderful, aren't they? No other kind of trip will allow you the opportunity to witness stunning exotic landscapes, meet fascinating locals, and absorb captivating cultures all while working towards the greater good. Sure, you can head to a nice beach-side hotel and relax with a cocktail in hand...but aren't the animals and natives of distant lands all the more alluring? And, as such, don't you want to play a part in preserving these other-worldly locations?

It's safe to assume that the answer to the above question is 'yes' - or, at the very least, you're curious about the world of volunteering. In either case, there is so much to know about making the very best of this already fabulous experience. Whether you're still trying to decide whether this sort of trip is right for you, or if you've got your heart set on the idea but need advice on how to make the most of your holiday, we've got you covered! Our travel expert (and real-life Doctor Doolittle) Nikita is here to help you out, with a quick-fire list of her top tips for any budding volunteer...

Tip #1 - Be Prepared To Get Dirty

There's no avoiding the fact that you'll get a little grubby when volunteering, especially when working with animals or in the depths of the rainforest - but it’s all part of the fun! Whether exploring vast canopies in expedition of flora and fauna, or getting hands-on with all manner of construction and maintenance, odds are you’ll get at least a little bit of jungle muck on you in the meanwhile. The best bit of advice we can give you is to wear comfortable, lightweight clothing that you don’t mind sacrificing to stains and scuffs! You want to make sure that you’re not constricted by tight clothes, and any favourite pieces are best left at home. When volunteering, appearances stand for naught – so get involved, get grubby and free yourself from all inhibitions!

Tip #2 – Don’t Expect Home Comforts!

Borneo is gorgeous. It’s impossible not to appreciate the overwhelming, abundant tropical surrounds of your camp, and with opportunities to take jungle treks and river cruises, you’ll soon discover how at peace you are with the natural world. That said, we have to put the emphasis on the word ‘natural’ – you really are at one with your environment, and with this privilege comes a bit of a reality check. We’re not saying you’ll have to let go of using the toilet or sleeping in comfortable beds (your accommodation has you covered!), but you’ll have to have flexibility when it comes to the little things, like tasty cups of tea. Hot beverages are something that haven’t quite yet been mastered in Borneo, so if you love a good brew, don’t forget to bring some PG Tips! You might also want to bring things like dry shampoo, non-perishable food stuffs (be careful to check government websites for what’s allowed), and a little money to spend on nice things whilst away from the camp itself. The last thing we should mention is, while your accommodations are lovely, be prepared to take colder showers than you’d have at home...that said, Borneo is incredibly hot and humid, so you’ll probably appreciate the respite!

Tip #3 – Bring Something For The Whole Team

In addition to bringing enough PG Tips to share, you might want to consider more ways to bond with your team. Volunteering is unlike any other type of holiday in that you really do have to get to know, and interact with, those around you…and for many individuals, this is a known and appreciated part of the trip! Chances are, volunteers will have more common threads than those on a beach-type holiday are likely to have, so making friends for life is a bit of a given. There’s always ways to make the most of team spirit though, so by compiling music playlists for everyone to get down to and enjoy, you’ll be creating an awesome atmosphere for everybody! Again, you can share snacks and creature comforts with the gang, but things like board games, playing cards and the opportunity to listen to music will really bring out the best in your group.

Tip #4 – Remember, This Is A RAINforest…


…so be sure to bring waterproofs! Keeping a poncho on your person is always imperative (and if you’re feeling charitable, maybe carry a spare in case anyone has forgotten to bring their own!) As previously mentioned, Borneo is very humid so you’re likely to feel a bit of condensation at times and, more likely, will experience daily rainshowers. Arriving prepared is the best way to prevent the weather from dampening your spirit, and a little bit of creative initiative can go a long way too. For example, carrier bags on shoes are considered as the height of jungle chic…and will protect your feet from getting soggy in the event of losing or breaking your wellies! Basically, try to think of ways to stay dry without hindering yourself – you won’t be able to juggle an umbrella during your daily activities, so consider hands-free, waterproof options instead.

Tip #5 – Open Your Mind, Not Just Your Heart

We’ve already touched on the fact that volunteering is very different to other types of holiday, but there is no reason why ‘different’ can’t mean ‘better!’ For many, the idea of conservation and working towards the greater good is enough – some folk dedicate their lives to making a difference. For some people, the spirit of adventure is the main draw; others are simply looking to shake up the traditional ‘holiday’ outlook and try something new. No matter your motive, you’re bound to have a brilliant time just so long as you open your mind. Mild inconveniences like slightly colder showers should be water off a duck’s back, if you’re willing to prioritise the beauty and splendor of your chosen volunteer location instead. And what do British teabags matter when you’re sharing delicious native cuisine with your new friends and the welcoming locals? Here at The Great Projects, we believe in a better way to travel…and to get the best out of any situation, you have to be open to new opportunities, a different outlook on life, and the spirit of adventure.

Think you’re ready to volunteer? Awesome! Head on over to our project pages to discover what’s in store for you…and be sure to check out our current 15% off sale on all orangutan trips!


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