Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary

Help to rehabilitate the largest number of captive orangutans in the world by volunteering at this orangutan sanctuary!

In the midst of Borneo’s 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 over 280 orangutans, the largest number of captive orangutans in the world – and The Great Projects are proud to host the centre’s only volunteer programme.

The 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 back into the wild as possible.

In recent years, mass deforestation has taken place across Borneo to make way for agricultural development. Consequently, Borneo’s great apes 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 taken in as many of these orangutans as possible in the hope of providing them with a better future – but the time has come when they need your help.

By assisting with activities such as enrichment, you will help to stimulate the minds of the orangutans and enable them to learn the necessary skills they need to survive in the wild for years to come. You will also work with a number of the sanctuary's orangutans that, unfortunately, can never be released. Since 2012 the BOSF team have released nearly 500 orangutans back into the wild, and your efforts will help even more find their way home!

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Lauren Mackinnon

Activities

Volunteers Creating Enrichment at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary
Enrichment With the largest number of orangutans in the world living under the care of a single organisation, the team try their hardest to provide the animals with the most stimulating enrichment as possible. Enrichment, being the backbone of this project, helps the orangutans maintain their forest school skills which are vital in order for them to be released. As a volunteer, you’ll be a part of this important process by helping the on-site team collect, prepare, create and distribute all different types of enrichment to the orangutans. There’s no greater feeling than seeing a great ape interact with something you’ve made!
River Cruise at Nyaru Menteng
River Cruise To start your volunteering journey, you'll embark on a river cruise around the spectacular orangutan islands to catch your first glimpse of the great apes. The orangutans spend time on these islands prior to their release and are given the space to put their forest skills (acquired through the rehabilitation programme) to the test. This will be a great opportunity for you to learn a little more about the project and the many successful releases BOSF have undertaken, as well as learning about some of the characters on the islands!
Orangutans at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary
Orangutan Observation After spending much of your volunteer experience creating enrichment for the orangutans, you'll have the opportunity to get back to boating around the pre-release islands. This activity will really highlight what you've been helping to work towards! Here you’ll be able to observe the orangutans behaving naturally and freely, and witness first-hand the value of BOSF's work - alongside that of you and your fellow volunteers. This is the perfect picture opportunity for any photography enthusiasts!
Volunteers Trek Bukit Tangkiling
Hilltop Trek You will take a trip to a local hilltop called Bukit Tangkiling, where you will be able to take in the stunning views of the surrounding area. You will walk up a steep hillside where you will see many traditional Dayak buildings and shrines along the way, learning about their indigenous religion as you go. While there are no longer any traditional tribal people living in the area, the locals still have fascinating customs with regards to religion and burials.
Night Market in Central Kalimantan
Night Market On one evening you will take a trip to a traditional local night market which is the perfect opportunity to really experience how the people here live. Given its lack of tourists, you will have the chance to interact with the locals, explore souvenir stalls and taste some unique local cuisine! Most of the local people in the area come here to purchase their groceries amongst other things, so this really is a great insight into Indonesian life.

Itinerary

Below is an example of a typical two-week itinerary. Please note however, some activities may be subject to change during the time of your stay, as they are dependent on weather conditions and the requirements of the project at the time.

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins: You will fly into Palangkaraya Airport where you will be met by a project representative and transferred to the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary. Upon arrival, you will be able to settle into your accommodation and meet your fellow volunteers. In the evening, you'll have dinner before being given a full orientation by the volunteer coordinator.
Day 2 - Orangutan Islands: After breakfast, your morning will begin with an incredible river cruise around the orangutan islands. Here you will have the chance to see the orangutans that are in the final stage of rehabilitation before their eventual release. After lunch, you will take part in your first enrichment activity for the orangutans.
Day 3 - Orangutan Enrichment: In the morning you could be preparing food for some of the 280+ orangutans who reside at the sanctuary, including those with special dietary requirements or collecting bamboo to create enrichment for the orangutans. After lunch, you'll head out to collect materials for the orangutans to build their nests with!
Day 4 - Bukit Tangkiling: In the morning you will work on food preparation or enrichment for the orangutans before heading to Bukit Tangkiling after lunch. Here you will embark on a hilltop trek to take in the scenery and learn a little about the local history and culture.
Day 5 - Orangutan Enrichment and a Trip to Town: Every two weeks the volunteers travel into the local town to purchase items for enrichment making. You'll sit down for a lunch in town before visiting a nearby tourist market. Once finished, you'll make your way back to the volunteer house to relax before enjoying dinner with your group.
Day 6 - Back to the Orangutans: After breakfast, your group will split into two to work on either enrichment or husbandry, today will be a day that opens your eyes to the ins and outs of taking care of almost 300 orangutans. In the afternoon, your group will be split into two once again, to work on either enrichment or collecting nesting materials for the orangutans.
Day 7 - Relax and a Visit to the Night Market: Today is Saturday, so take the day to enjoy your free time as you please! In the evening, the whole group will head to a traditional local night market, where you will get a real taste of Indonesian culture…and of course the incredible food! This is also the perfect opportunity for buying souvenirs.
Day 8-9 - Reforestation and Orangutan Enrichment: In the mornings you will take part in vital reforestation work around the sanctuary in areas that have been affected by many things, including forest fires. In the afternoons, your group will be split into two to work on either enrichment or collecting nesting materials for the orangutans.
Day 10 - Babies at Play: After breakfast, your group will split into two to work on either enrichment or husbandry before an afternoon you will never forget. After collecting nesting materials you'll head over to the baby playground to watch the young orangutans return from their day in jungle school!
Day 11-12 - Orangutan Observation: On these days, you will get back into the boats to enjoy orangutan observation! You will work on daily enrichment tasks before venturing out to the orangutan islands to watch these beautiful apes in their semi-wild conditions. This rewarding experience will really highlight what you've been working towards!
Day 13 - Final Day: Sadly, your final day at the project has arrived. Enjoy a lie-in this morning before packing your things and bidding farewell to the project staff, your new-found friends and of course, the animals! You will then transfer back to the airport for your flight home, or to commence your onward travel plans.

Start Dates & Prices

To secure a place on this project, a deposit of $245 is required at the time of booking. The remaining balance is due 60 days before your start date.

Flexible Payment Options: If you select a start date more than 3 months in advance, we offer convenient payment plans, allowing you to pay off your balance in instalments.

Select a duration below to see the available start dates and book your place today!

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

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Payment breakdown


Accommodation

Accommodation

Volunteers 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 1 double room available for couples at request. 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, and has free Wi-Fi available, but please bear in mind that the signal can be intermittent. There is a free, regular cleaning service if you wish for your room to be cleaned and there are also laundry services available, though these come at a small fee.

Meals & Beverages

Volunteers enjoy three meals per day at the project, with all meals and drinking water included in the project fee. Your lunches and dinners will be prepared for you and will consist of typical Indonesian food, such as rice, noodles, and fried vegetables. Breakfast, however, is prepared by volunteers, but the food, such as cereal, yoghurt, bread for toast and eggs is supplied. Vegetarians can be catered for but please let us know in advance so the appropriate food can be purchased. (If you have any severe nut allergies, please contact us prior to booking.)

Alcohol is permitted and beer can be purchased at the sanctuary but may only be consumed at the volunteer accommodation. Snacks are not currently available onsite, but they can be purchased from a small local store which is a 15 minutes walk from the accommodation.


Project Details

When Is The Best Time To Volunteer?

This project is based at a rehabilitation sanctuary, and there are orangutans here year-round, meaning there is no real preferred time to volunteer regarding the animals.

The weather is also quite constant throughout, and whilst it can rain at any time of the year due to the rainforest climate, you can expect mostly dry weather with temperatures averaging 32°C (90°F) in the daytime and 23°C (73°F) at night.

Average Monthly Weather in Palangkaraya, Indonesia

Getting There

You will need to fly into Palangkaraya Airport on your project start date, arriving between 8am-5pm, with most international flight routes going via Jakarta International Airport (Soekarno-Hatta International Airport). Upon arrival into Palangkaraya Airport, you will be met by a project representative in the arrivals hall who will then transfer you to the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary. This transfer takes approximately 40 minutes.

If you arrive a day early and stay in a hotel close to Palangkaraya Airport, we will be able to arrange your transfer to Nyaru Menteng from there.

Visa Requirements

To join this project, you will need a Volunteer Visa (C6B), which you must obtain prior to arrival in Indonesia. This visa permits a stay of up to 60 days and can be applied for with ‘My Visa Indonesia’. We will provide all the necessary documentation you require and the cost of this visa is approximately $250.

Please note, your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months from your date of entry into Indonesia.

Fitness & Skills

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.

Vaccinations & Medical Requirements

To volunteer on this project, you must provide negative test results to show you do not have HIV or Hepatitis B or C prior to arrival. A chest x-ray or QuantiFERON blood test to show you do not have Tuberculosis is also required. These are ESSENTIAL, as without them, you will be unable to join the project.

Due to Covid-19, additional safety measures have also been introduced to ensure the safety of all volunteers, staff members and the orangutans. These can be viewed by clicking here and may change at any time.

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 always will be no, and this is for good reason.

Orangutans are highly susceptible to human diseases, many of which are far more dangerous to an orangutan than they are to us. 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' well-being. 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 safety as theirs.

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 to the lives of these apes. For more information, please view our article on hands-on contact with orangutans.


Videos

Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary - Project Video
Discover the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary

See how you can volunteer with over 350 orangutans at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary and help rehabilitate them. By providing enrichment you help the orangutans develop vital forest skills that they need in order to be released back into the wild. 

Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary - Reviews 2019
Volunteers Review Their Experience at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary

Volunteers talk about their recent experience at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary in Borneo.



News & Stories

6

Volunteer Achievements in June

UPDATE | Jun 2024

This month volunteers have planted 100 trees on the new island, cleaned, renovated, and repainted the jungle gym, and have consistently achieved enrichment targets!

7

The First Volunteers of 2024 Arrive!

UPDATE | Apr 2024

The first volunteer groups of 2024 arrived at Nyaru Menteng this month, and they have been getting stuck into a whole range of different activities. These have included planting trees on one of the orangutan islands, creating various forms of enrichment, hammock making, boat cruises to observe those orangutans in their final stage of the rehabilitation process, and a unique opportunity to attend a traditional Dayak wedding.

ARTICLE | Nov 2023

12 more orangutans have been successfully released back into the wild from the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary and the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Sanctuary thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF). Check out the release video in today's blog!


Reviews

Sophie White, 2024
         

I absolutely loved my time at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary. The accommodation is basic but it has absolutely everything that you need.. a comfortable bed, shower and it’s in an amazing location in the middle of the forest. The food provided by Mama Mona was absolutely delicious.


Ryan McCullough, 2024
         

The whole experience was beyond what I had hoped for. Momma Mona's food was five star jungle. The first group of volunteers were all from different backgrounds, James pulled us together with our common interest and created a tribe. We are all still in contact and plan to visit each other. Cess gets it and has a passion for the job as well. The work was difficult in the heat but the small ventures we did through the week brought us into the community, who welcomed us wholeheartedly. The night market, the wedding, Ramadan celebration, even shopping for groceries was a real experience. The enrichment really had a positive effect on the orangutans. They were excited when we appeared and were boosted by the treats we prepared. You could see it in their eyes. By the second group I knew the protocol and bonded well with the Lasse. I wasn't looking for a vacation. I really felt I made a difference and we all had a great time doing it. It all was truly a fulfilling experience.


Kitty Moulton, 2024
         

The Great Projects were incredibly helpful, informative and responsive from the outset which was a wonderful sign of things to come. Our project coordinator James was brilliant; engaging, knowledgeable and constantly ensured we were happy and knew what we were doing. The BOS staff Melda and Oyo were lovely and also beyond helpful with issues regarding flights and the enrichment team were welcoming and friendly. Seeing the orangutans in every stage of their rehabilitation was difficult, eye opening and fulfilling. Knowing our money is going to helping these incredible creatures find freedom again is very special. A wonderfully humbling experience and one I will never forget!



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What's Included

  • Accommodation
  • Three meals per day
  • Airport transfers
  • River cruise
  • Hilltop trek
  • A visit to the night market
  • Conservation donation

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Soft and alcoholic drinks