IAR Orangutan Project

Volunteer at the International Animal Rescue's orangutan sanctuary, working towards the rehabilitation of these great apes.

From £875.00

  • Up to 7 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, as well as mixing concrete to make bases for new cages to stand on. You will also contribute to the building of boardwalks and bridges, making access easier for personnel. You will also work on the construction of 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, the boardwalks and towers here often need general upkeep and repair. The insides of buildings need repainting and cages regularly need their structural enrichment changed as this keeps the orangutans entertained. Maintenance is a crucial task and the help volunteers provide is invaluable, so just be prepared to get your hands dirty!
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 improving 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, enjoying 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. This is a very hands-on task which gives you the chance to see the difference you are making first-hand.
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 of 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 river's 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 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 place 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.

Is this trip for you?



The volunteer house (your home for the duration of the project) is a rented property located around 30 minutes' drive to the orangutan centre. You will be sharing the house with your fellow volunteers and you will each get an individual bedroom to relax in. The other facilities in the house include toilets (traditional drop toilets), basic washing amenities, bed linen, and cooking facilities where you will be able to prepare food should you wish to. Please note that whilst this accommodation is not luxurious, it is completely practical and will give you the chance to truly immerse yourself in the jungle lifestyle.

Meals and Beverages

Meals and Beverages

Two meals per day will be provided for you during your time here (Monday-Saturday.) Breakfast will be of the volunteer's own cost, whereas lunch and dinner will be other pre-prepared meals. With regards to breakfast, it is suggested to buy cereals, bread etc from the supermarket. Please note that on Sundays, you will need to pay for a meal in a nearby restaurant as no food is prepared for volunteers on this day of the week. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are of the volunteers' own cost, and may be found in the local town.

Fitness & Skills

Fitness & Skills

This project requires a fairly high level of fitness, as the majority of the volunteer work involves physical labour in hot and humid temperatures. You will also need a positive mental attitude, commitment to the cause and its aims, and 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. The Great Projects are not qualified to provide you with medical advice.

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. In addition to this, 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' well-being. With no consistency in their lives, behavioural problems arise. They also have a tendency to begin to trust humans which could be 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 well-being 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 here all year round. Therefore, regarding wildlife, there is no optimal time to volunteer.

Weather, however, can vary a little. Whilst the temperature is consistant and it can rain all year round, the distinctive rainy season is between November and January.

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 served by Garuda Airlines.

If you would like help booking your flights, please visit our flight 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. Visas are of the volunteer's own responsibility.

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. Please check www.xe.com for live exchange rates.

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

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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.

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