IAR Orangutan Project

Work at International Animal Rescue's orangutan sanctuary on the rehabilitation of these great apes

From £1,250.00

  • Up to 7 Persons
  • All Meals Included
  • 28 Nights
  • Orangutans
  • 5th of every month
  • Minimum Age 18

Project Details


This orangutan volunteer programme is designed to support International Animal Rescue, by helping with the build of a fully functional orangutan rescue and rehabilitation sanctuary in the middle of Indonesia's lush jungle.

New Construction at the centre
New Construction at the centre
Volunteers work at IAR’s temporary wildlife conservation and rescue centre in Ketapang, on the construction of the much-needed, new orangutan sanctuary. With the centre expanding, volunteers may partake in helping to erect electric fences and mix concrete to make bases for new cages to stand on. Also the building of boardwalks and bridges to make access easier for personnel and new climbing towers and feeding platforms for the orangutans in the forest school areas.
Due to the damp tropical nature of the area and the boisterousness of the orangutans, boardwalks and towers often need general upkeep and repair. The insides of buildings need repainting and cages regularly need their structural enrichment changed.
Volunteers may also be involved in the process of producing enrichment for the resident orangutans. This promotes natural behaviours and will enhance the potential for rehabilitation to release as well as improve the lives of the orangutans. Please note that there will be NO direct contact with orangutans during this or any other activity.
Farming and planting
Farming and planting
To help keep the food bills down we are growing our own local produce to help feed the orangutans. This involves activities from planting fruit trees and harvesting vegetables to making organic compost. As more land is being bought some areas of it need reforesting.
Cage Maintenance
Cage Maintenance
All the cages at the centre need regular maintenance, especially in terms of changing the fixed enrichment of hammocks, ropes and tyres. The orangutans in the large socialisation cages can be particularly destructive and enjoy taking things apart. All new cages always need to be fitted with various items along with hammocks in all the night cages. The volunteers often make the new hammocks and swings and refit all the various cages.
Day Off
Day Off
On your day off each week you will get to explore other areas of Ketapang. Hutan Kota is a natural park where you may get the chance to see wild proboscis and macaque monkeys as they make their way to the rivers edge to settle for the night. There are also local beaches where you can watch the sunset while drinking from a coconut. The town of Ketapang also has markets, a Buddhist temple and numerous local shops. You will also get the opportunity to visit the old Transit site, though no longer in use by IAR you can see what the centre has evolved from.


Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is only a rough guideline.

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
Arrive at Kuching Airport. Transfer to temporary accommodation in Kuching. Enjoy a welcome dinner with the project leaders, and other volunteers. Volunteers arriving earlier in the day are free to explore Kuching.
Day 2 - Visit two Orangutan Rehabilitation Sanctuaries:
Today after departing from Kuching, you will visit two orangutan rehabilitation sanctuaries in the local area (Semenggoh and Matang) guided by experienced team members. This is a fantastic first insight into the orangutan, as you will be able to watch them feeding.
Day 3 - Transfer from Kuching to Pontianak by Bus:
Passing over the mountains that separate the borders of Indonesian and Malaysian Borneo, cross the border at Tebedu interior road crossing. Spend the evening in Pontianak.
Day 4 - Transfer to Project Site:
Today you will transfer to the project site by means of a 7 hour sea journey on a jet boat. 
Upon arrival, settle into accommodation which is a locally rented house close to the project site. After dinner, meet the rest of the team and some of the orangutans. In the evening, receive a detailed safety briefing and information about the project tasks and activities.
Day 5-28 - Project Days:
You will be working six days a week at the centre doing mainly physical labour. The work varies greatly month by month due to the unpredictable nature of what takes priority on a day to day basis.

Projects the volunteers have worked on to date include; construction of climbing towers, feeding platforms, boardwalks and bridges, mixing cement for bases of new cages, filing new cages and erecting fences. Voluteers have also assisted with the planting and upkeep of the farm area where food is being grown for the orangutans, tree planting on new land, creating structural enrichment for the cages and enrichment for the orangutans. Maintenance of pre built structures has also been an on going task.

All of these are essential tasks to help the centre function and grow.
Day 29 - Final Day:
Unfortunately today is your last day and you will transfer to Kuching Airport for your return flight home or to commence onward independent travel plans.

Availability & Price

To secure a place on this project a deposit of £195 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.

Duration Price
Please choose a trip using the select menus to the left.

*Rates other than GBP are estimates based on today's exchange rates. All payments are made in GBP.

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Updates & Outcomes

IAR is currently using a temporary centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan to care for rescued orangutans while they work to establish a permanent orangutan rescue and rehabilitation facility. Volunteers taking part in this orangutan project are vital in moving forward the construction of this orangutan sanctuary. Their hard work and positive attitude drives the work towards completion.

Phase one of the new centre is now complete with all the buildings operational, but the centre is growing. With the purchase of adjacent land to be used as pre-release islands and the ever increasing numbers of rescued orangutans, volunteers taking part in this project are vital in expanding and improving the centre and continually moving it forward as a centre in which abandoned and injured orangutans can find a home, temporary or otherwise.

Alan Knight OBE, the CEO of IAR is very excited to be working with volunteers who take part in this endeavor through The Great Projects, and told us "I am delighted that we will be working closely with the team at The Great Projects and look forward to the IAR Orangutan Project volunteers helping us build a future for orangutans in Ketapang, West Kalimantan through their award-winning orangutan volunteer programme."

Is this trip for you?



On arrival volunteers will stay firstly in a hotel in Kuching, then another hotel in Pontianak, before being transferred to the project accommodation, which consists of locally-rented houses near the centre site. These will be shared with other volunteers, and provide toilets, showers and bed linen, as well as communal areas. There are also cooking facilities in the volunteer houses where meals can be prepared. Please note that whilst this accommodation is far from luxurious, it is completely practical.

Meals and Beverages

Meals and Beverages

Three meals per day will provided for you during your time here. Breakfast will consist of cereal, fruit and tea and coffee, where as lunch and dinner will be more prepared meals. Please note that if volunteers have a day off at the weekend then they will need to pay for a meal in a nearby restaurant. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are not included, so you will need to make sure that you have enough spending money for these and other snacks.

Fitness & Skills

Fitness & Skills

This project requires a fairly high level of fitness, as the majority of the volunteering work involves physical labour in fairly high and humid temperatures. All volunteers will also need a positive mental attitude, commitment to the cause and its aims and ability to work well as part of a team.



Vaccinations required will depend entirely on the medical history of each volunteer. Therefore it is essential that you consult your GP regarding this issue prior to departure. We also thoroughly recommend that you check Fit For Travel’s website in conjunction with visiting your GP.

No Contact Policy

No Contact Policy

We are often asked whether or not volunteers will have the chance to touch or play with the orangutans whilst on this project. Our answer to this question is, and will always be no, and this is for good reason.

Orangutans are highly susceptible to human diseases and something as minor as the common cold can prove fatal to these Great Apes. Also an environment of constant change, with new volunteers going to the project every two or four weeks and being in contact with the orangutans would be very detrimental to the Orangutans wellbeing. With no consistency in their lives behavioural problems arise. They also have a tendency to begin to trust humans which is damaging should they be released back into the wild, as they will become easy targets for poachers. Finally, an orangutan is around 7 times stronger than an adult male human so a no contact policy is just as crucial for volunteer wellbeing as orangutan welfare.

That is not to say that as a volunteer you will have no interaction with the orangutans, it simply means that you will have no direct contact with them. You will still observe them on a daily basis and see how your contribution to their husbandry and enrichment makes a real difference in these great apes’ lives. For more information please view our article on hands on contact with orangutans here

Project Details

Getting There

Volunteers should arrive at Kuching airport on the project start day between 7am - 5pm, where they will be met by a project representative and taken to each of the sites and accommodations in turn.

If you would like help booking your flights please feel free to contact our flight partners via our flights page.

Visa Requirements

Volunteers joining this project will need to apply for a Social/Cultural visa for Indonesia before travel. You will need to send your completed application form, along with all relevant documentation, to your nearest Indonesian Embassy and you will receive a visa for 90 days which will be valid from the date of issue.

We will provide volunteers with an invitation letter from our charity partners, International Animal Rescue, which they will need to attach to their visa application.

For help with your visa application please click here.

Currency and Exchange Rates

The currency in Indonesia is the Indonesian Rupiah. 1 IDR is approximately 0.00006 GBP, 0.00009 USD and 0.00007 EUR

What's included in the price of the project?
  • Airport transfers
  • Overland transportation
  • Accommodation and meals as indicated
  • All volunteering activity equipment
  • Local guides
  • English speaking project leader
  • Conservation donation
What's not included?
  • All flights and visas
  • Vaccinations
  • Travel insurance
  • Alcoholic beverages

Project Reviews

Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Sales Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
Heron House,
Ferry Lane, London, N17 9NF
United Kingdom

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987

Australian Sales Office
The Great Projects,
39 Cairngorm Street,
Carrara, 4211

T: +61(0) 755020457