Help to rehabilitate the largest number of captive orangutans in the world by volunteering at this orangutan sanctuary!
In the midst of Borneo’s verdant tropical rainforest lies the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary. Founded by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) in 1999, this orangutan rehabilitation centre has become home to the largest number of captive orangutans in the world – and The Great Projects are proud to host the centre’s only volunteer programme.
Nyaru Menteng is currently home to 393 orangutans and 12 sun bears. The centre's primary aim is to rehabilitate orphaned and displaced orangutans, including those who have fallen victim to habitat loss and the pet trade, with the ultimate goal of releasing as many of these orangutans as possible.
In recent years, mass deforestation has taken place across Borneo to make way for agricultural development. Borneo’s great apes consequently have no choice but to wander far and wide in search of food and shelter – all too often straying into unsafe areas such as palm oil plantations, where they are killed or captured by humans. The incredible team at Nyaru Menteng have, for many years, taken in as many of these orangutans as possible in the hopes of providing them with a better future through rehabilitation – but the time has come where they now need your help.
Your help with activities such as enrichment will help to stimulate the minds of the orangutans, equipping them with the necessary skills to survive in the wild for years to come. The rehabilitation centre began releasing orangutans in 2012, with 267 of these great apes finding freedom since then, and your efforts can help even more orangutans find their way home!
Please note that some activities mentioned in the itinerary may be subject to change during the time of your stay depending on weather conditions and the requirements of the project at the time. Below is a guideline of a typical two-week itinerary
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, but please be aware, the volunteer program only runs between March and August.
Since its inception back in 1999, the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary has worked tirelessly towards orangutan conservation, and has developed one of the most renowned and successful rehabilitation and release programmes in the world. The orangutan release programme began back in 2012, when the sanctuary was home to some 600 orangutans – by 2018, a staggering 267 orangutans have been released into the local national park, and serve as to the project’s phenomenal efforts.
The hard work of BOSF and the sanctuary staff is plain to see: the rehabilitation of an orangutan can take up to 7 years, and with so many orangutans still resident at the sanctuary, the team’s efforts are impossible to ignore. The sanctuary carries out orangutan releases every 2-3 months, and rescue efforts take place regularly with at-risk orangutans being brought in for further protection. If the rescued orangutans are found to be in good health, the BOSF team will translocate the animals back into protected areas of rainforest, allowing the animals to resume their lives in the wild as normal; should they need further help, however, they will be brought to the sanctuary to be treated at the onsite clinic.
We are thrilled to be a part of this exciting conservation programme and look forward to seeing how our volunteers can continue to support the hard work undertaken at Nyaru Menteng. Thanks to the team at the Bornean Orangutan Survival Foundation, countless orangutan lives have been improved over the years – become a part of the story by contributing your efforts as a volunteer!
Following the exciting launch of our new project at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary, we'd like to show off some of the incredible work carried out by the amazing project team thus far! The project had its most recent release on the 14th of August - read on to 'meet' the orangutans finding freedom once more as they head back into the wild.
Volunteers will stay in either an authentic longhouse, or one of two houses situated opposite in the jungle surroundings of the sanctuary's grounds. Rooms are based on a twin-share, same-sex basis with two double rooms available for couples at request (only available on a first-come, first-serve basis). Each room comes complete with bed linen, a fan, and mosquito nets. All rooms have their own en-suite bathrooms, complete with a western toilet, shower, sink and mirror.
There is a kitchen and communal area in the longhouse, which is free for all volunteers to use. The communal area also has Wi-Fi available (at no additional cost), but please bear in mind that the signal can be sporadic. There is a free, regular cleaning service if you wish for your room to be tended to and there are also laundry services available, though these come at a small fee.
Volunteers can enjoy three meals per day at the project, with all meals and drinking water included in the project fee. Breakfast will be prepared by the volunteers themselves and will consist of staples such as toast, cereals, eggs and noodles. Your lunches and dinners will be prepared for you by a member of staff and will either be eaten in the guest area of the sanctuary or in the canteen, depending on the day’s activities. These meals will consist of typical Indonesian food, such as rice, noodles, and fried vegetables. While vegetarians can be catered for, it is important that you inform us of any dietary requirements in advance of your project start date as the sanctuary is quite remote, therefore it can be tough to obtain certain foods at short notice. Snacks are not currently available onsite, but they can be purchased from a small local store (around 15 minutes’ walk away from the accommodation).
Beer can be purchased at the sanctuary at the volunteers’ own expense but should only be consumed within the volunteer accommodation. We kindly request that volunteers do not bring their own alcohol, such as spirits, onto this project.
There is a moderate level of fitness required to take part in this project. There may be small construction tasks that will take place in humid conditions, as well as short walks which involve walking uphill. The other tasks are not too physically strenuous, but for the reasons mentioned above we advise that you ensure you can cope with the few physically demanding tasks involved. There are no specific skill sets or experience that are required to join this project, but volunteers must always be willing to work as part of a team and follow the project code of conduct.
To volunteer here you must have Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B Vaccinations, as well as an HIV and HCV test (to check for Hepatitis C) before arrival. A chest x-ray or skin test will need to be provided to prove that you do not have TB. Alternatively, if you have previously had a BCG injection and can provide proof of this, that will also suffice. Please can you either email a scanned copy of your vaccinations card and test results to email@example.com or upload them to your project account as soon as they have been completed.
This is ESSENTIAL, as without the above you will not be granted access to the volunteer areas on sites.
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 your 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.
There is no real preferred time to volunteer, the only factor which could affect this is the weather. However, the project runs between March and August, and so avoids the rainy season. This rehabilitation centre houses orangutans and sun bears all year round, so the help of volunteers is always needed!
You need to fly into Palangkaraya on the day of your project start date. Most international flights arrive into Jakarta international airport (Soekarno-Hatta International Airport) and from there, it is possible to catch a connecting flight to Palangkaraya Airport. You will then be met at the airport by a member of the project staff and transferred to the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary, which is approximately a 40-minute drive away. Please note you will need to arrive between 8am and 5pm to get the transfer.
If you cannot find flights which arrive into Palangkaraya between 9am and 5pm, then you will need to arrive the day before your project start date and book an additional nights’ stay in a hotel in Palangkaraya at your own expense. This charming city offers various amenities and hotels, but please let us know if you would like any suggestions.
To join this project, you will need a tourist visa, which you can get on arrival into Indonesia. The cost for this visa is approximately US$35.
If you plan to stay in Indonesia for longer than 30 days, you can get a 30-day tourist visa on arrival and then extend your visa for a further 30 days by taking a trip to an embassy while in-country. Alternatively, it is possible to arrange a 60-day social/cultural visa in advance of your arrival and we can provide you with the correct documents to support your application.
We advise that you speak to the embassy in your country to see if there are any requirements for travel. Please note that your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months from your date of entry into Indonesia.
The currency in-country is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). As of July 2018, the exchange rate was roughly £1 to IDR 19,000, however, it is important to note that this is likely to fluctuate, so it is best to check XE's website for the most up to date exchange rates.
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.