IAR Orangutan Project

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

From £875.00

  • Up to 8 Persons
  • All Meals Included
  • 11 - 22 Nights
  • Orangutans
  • 9th & 20th of every month
  • Minimum Age 18

Project Details


This programme is designed to support International Animal Rescue by helping with the build of a fully functional orangutan sanctuary and rehabilitation centre in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.

New construction at the centre
New construction at the centre
You will 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, you 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 may be required.
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.
You will 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 but you will get the chance to watch them from a safe distance enjoy the enrichment you have created.
Farming and planting
Farming and planting
To help keep the food bills down the centre is growing its 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 may also 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. You will often make the new hammocks and swings and fit them into 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 whilst enjoying a relaxing drink from a coconut. The town of Ketapang has markets, a Buddhist temple and numerous local shops, and 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:
You will arrive at Ketapang Airport in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo where you will be met by a member of the team and transferred to the volunteer house which will be your home for the duration of the project. Upon arrival there will be a welcome dinner and orientation with the project staff and your fellow volunteers.
Day 2-10/21 - Project Days:
During this time you will be working six days a week at the centre and getting involved with a variety of activities. The work varies greatly month by month due to the unpredictable nature of what takes priority on a day to day basis, however, for a guideline of the activities you may be a part of, please check the tab above.
Day 11/22 - Final Day:
This will be your last full day at the project site and after saying goodbye to the orangutans you will enjoy a farewell dinner with the project facilitators and the rest of your group.
Day 12/23 - Transfer to Ketapang:
Today is your last day and you will take a private transfer to Ketapang Airport for your return flight home or to commence your onward independent travel plans.

Dates, 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.

Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!

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.

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 project are vital in moving forward the construction of this orangutan sanctuary. Hard work and a 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, by taking part in this project you will be 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.

Over the last 11 years, the need for sanctuaries such as this one has grown massively. The development of palm oil plantations in West Kalimantan has resulted in this becoming one of the most heavily deforested areas of Borneo, and as a result the orangutans have fewer and fewer locations which to call home. From 2004 to 2009 up to 43 orangutans were rescued in Ketapang, and between 2010 and 2015 more than 150 of the Great Apes were rescued by IAR.

This work would not be possible without the help of volunteers, as the work they complete at the centre enables the rescue teams to venture out and save many more orangutans.

Amy The Orangutan Is On The Road To Recovery Thanks To IAR!

Amy The Orangutan Is On The Road To Recovery Thanks To IAR!

Amy's story was one of an incredibly tragic nature as this poor orangutan was found trapped in a small cage in a local's garden. Thankfully, the team at the IAR Orangutan Project in Borneo got involved and after a dramatic rescue, Amy was brought back to the sanctuary and is now recovering well under the care of the team. Here story is one that has to be read to be belived, so take a look at todays blog and learn more about this brave orangutan.

Read More

Is this trip for you?



The volunteer house which will be your home for the duration of the project is a locally-rented house near the orangutan centre site. This is shared with other volunteers, and provides toilets(traditional drop toilets), basic wash facilities, and bed linen, as well as communal areas. There are also cooking facilities in the volunteer house 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 be provided for you during your time here. Breakfast will consist of cereal, fruit and tea and coffee, whereas lunch and dinner will be other pre-prepared meals. Please note that if you have a day off at the weekend you 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 volunteer work involves physical labour in fairly high and humid temperatures. You will also need a positive mental attitude, commitment to the cause and its aims and have the ability to work well as part of a team.



The vaccinations you require will depend on your medical history. We recommend that you consult your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would also recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.

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 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 your wellbeing as orangutan welfare.

That is not to say that 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

What is the best time to volunteer?

As this project is based at a rehabilitation sanctuary there are orangutans and sun bears here year round. Therefore, regarding wildlife there is no preferred time to volunteer.

Weather, however, can have an impact. Whilst it can rain all year round, the distinctive rainy season is between November and January. Therefore, generally the best time to volunteer is between February and October.

Getting There

You will need to arrive at Ketapang Airport on the start date of your project between 7am and 5pm, where you will be met by a project representative in the arrivals hall and transferred by road to the volunteer house. On the first night there is a welcome dinner where you will meet all of your fellow volunteers and the project facilitators. Ketapang Airport can be reached via Jakarta(with a change over in Pontianak) and is serviced by Garuda Airlines.

If you would like help booking your flights, please visit our flights page and fill out the form. A member of our team will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.

Visa Requirements

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 the country of Indonesia, but please note that you may have to pay for this on arrival at Ketapang Airport.

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.

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

Speak To A Travel Expert

Enquire and receive this project's Guide for Free!

Give Us A Call


+44 208 885 4987

If you have any questions about this project or would like help finding the perfect project for you then please feel free to give us a call or send us through your enquiry and we will be happy to help.

Nikita & team.

Project Reviews

Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 9BX
United Kingdom
Opening hours: 9am–5pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987