Samboja Lestari Orangutan Volunteer Project

This project offers you the chance to work on enrichment with captive orangutans and sun bears at the world renowned Samboja Lestari rescue centre.

From £795.00

  • Up to 12 Persons
  • All Meals Included
  • 7 - 26 Nights
  • Orangutans
  • Set dates - enquire for details
  • Minimum Age 18

Project Details

Activities

Your main activities whilst volunteering with orangutans at Samboja include husbandry, enrichment, forest plantation, maintenance and construction work for both the orangutans and the sun bears resident here. You will be treated as pseudo-staff whilst on the project, meaning full participation in all of the centre's work.

Observation
Observation
Orangutan island observation to collect vital behavioural data and monitor the health and behaviour of the orangutans. This is done by doing a circuit of the orangutan islands on a small boat, offering great chances for some beautiful photographs.
Enrichment
Enrichment
Creating enrichment to stimulate and benefit those orangutans resident within enclosures, whilst also helping to encourage natural behaviour. You will also be preparing the food and delivering this to the orangutan islands.
Husbandry
Husbandry
Cleaning the orangutan cages and the fruit store where food for the orangutans and sun bears is prepared. Leaf collection (for the orangutans to build their nests). This will involve regular treks out into the jungle - make sure you have packed your walking boots!
Construction and Maintenance
Construction and Maintenance
Any construction or repair work which may need to be done depending on the needs of the sanctuary. Please note that maintenance and construction are on-going tasks at the centre, and always require volunteers to help out. You may be involved with the building/maintenance of orangutan cages, the maintenance of the rainforest environment and the upkeep of the sunbear enclosures. Maintenance is a continuous task of painting, cleaning, varnishing and gardening - there is always work to be done and you will be helping wherever it is needed!
Working with the Sun Bears
Working with the Sun Bears
You will also be able to work within the sunbear area during your time here, where around 50 sunbears reside. Helping with enrichment and general enclosure maintenance will be the main activities you will be involved with whilst working alongside these magnificent bears - one of the world's rarest bear species.
Canopy Walk
Canopy Walk
A popular excursion from the centre. You will have the opportunity to walk high up in the forest canopy, keeping your eyes peeled for all kinds of fauna and flora. There may even be the chance to spot a pair of singing gibbons!
River cruise
River cruise
A wonderfully relaxing afternoon is spent on the black river. You will board a local boat and travel along the winding river in search of the endangered proboscis monkey famous for its oversized nose. During your journey you will travel through a local fishing village, which will offer you the chance to see how local people lived and then we will travel briefly out to sea where we will watch the sunset.

Itinerary

Please note your itinerary will depend on the requirements of the project and is subject to last minute changes due to weather or ground conditions.

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
Arrival at Balikpapan Airport in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. A lodge representative will meet you at the airport arrivals and will transfer you to the eco lodge at Samboja Lestari. Once settled in you will be given a briefing by Kate your project facilitator.
Day 2 - Induction Day:
After a breakfast buffet at the lodge you will start your induction day which consists of a tour of the entirety of the facility site. Not only will you meet the resident orangutans but you will also meet the facilities' sun bears.
Day 3 - Orangutan Enrichment and Husbandry:
Today you will begin your project work at Samboja Lestari. The group is usually split in two with half spending a whole day working on creating enrichment items for the orangutans and assisting with husbandry and the other half doing the same for the sun bears.
Day 4 - Project Work with the Sun Bears:
After breakfast the group will reverse role with those who helped with the orangutans, now working with the sun bears and vice versa. There is also the opportunity to help feed the orangutans on the islands for some(everyone will get this opportunity during the project).
Day 5 - Forest Walk:
For a change of pace and an education, on this morning you will take part in a forest walk with members of the orangutan release team and a botanist. During this walk, you will learn about the flora and fauna resident here as well as the food that the orangutans like best! ?The afternoon is spent working on enrichment for the orangutans, after all there are 250 at the centre and enrichment is something the project tries to provide to each of them every day.
Day 6 - Orangutan Enrichment and the Night Market:
Today will be another orangutan day, where you will continue to create enrichment but of a different type for the orangutans and you may also help with leaf collection. These leaves are given to the orangutans so that they may make their nests. Tonight you will have the opportunity to visit the local vibrant night market.
Day 7 - Morning to Relax & then a Boat Trip:
Today you will have a relaxed morning off – doing as you like (a lie-in may be needed)! In the afternoon, you will be able to go on a fantastic boat trip along the black river. This boat trip is a fantastic chance to see the iconic proboscis monkey and a typical Indonesian fishing village.
Day 8 - Tour the City of Balikpapan:
Today you will be able to spend a full day in the city of Balikpapan. You will be able to visit the local craft market, have a delicious lunch and buy anything you want or need from the local shopping mall.
Day 9 - Another Orangutan Day:
After a little break, today, you will be back working with the orangutans, assisting with making enrichment and bamboo and leaf collection. You will also have the possibility of helping out with minor construction tasks and site maintenance.
Day 10 - Canopy Walk in the Rainforest:
Today is your time for adventure by means of a canopy walk in the rainforest. You will have the opportunity to walk high up in the forest canopy, keeping your eyes peeled for gibbons and native flora and fauna.
Day 11 - 12 - Project Work with the Orangutans:
This will be the final day for 2 week volunteers and the last chance to work alongside the orangutans assisting with anything that needs to be done. In the evening you will have time to speak to the facilitators, view a slide show from your stay and if you fancy enjoy a few drinks as a group before transferring to the airport the next day.
Day 13 - Final day or continuing with Project Work:
Departure day for those volunteers on the two-week project. After a fond farewell you will be transferred to Balikipapan Airport for your flight home or onward travel plans. If you are staying for a month you will be engaged in an afternoon activity before having the opportunity to once again visit the fantastic night market.
Day 14 - Project Work or rest:
All 4 week volunteers will either continue with project work at the centre or have a rest day.
Day 15 - 26 - Project Work and Final Day:
For those volunteers staying for a month, project activities will continue in the style as for the two week itinerary with new volunteers arriving on Day 15 to join you.
Day 27 - Final Day:
This will unfortunately be the final day for all volunteers with transfers arranged to Balikpapan Airport for your onward 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.
Price:

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

Updates & Outcomes

At Samboja Lestari Orangutan Sanctuary, one of Indonesia's most prestigious and renowned orangutan rehabilitation and rescue centres, and one of the main focal points of BOS ('The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation'), the emphasis is on the rehabilitation and release of orangutans, many of whom were rescued from atrocious situations. The overriding goal is to reintroduce orangutans back to secure natural habitats in order to establish new viable long-term populations to bolster the conservation of the species within the wild. A number of orangutans have been already been successfully released by BOSF so please keep an eye on our blog for any further release stories.

Sadly, some of the orangutans resident here cannot ever be released back into the wild because of injury or illness. For these orangutans, the sanctuary provides them with a safe haven where they can live out the rest of their lives away from the threat of deforestation and human destruction.

The sanctuary also includes a 58 hectare area put aside for the 50 + sun bears resident here which have all been rescued from the illegal pet trade or from areas of major deforestation.

Is this trip for you?

Accommodation

Accommodation

Accommodation during your time at Samboja will be within twin-share rooms at the Samboja Ecolodge where all of the interior and exterior walls are built out of recycled materials. Each room comes equipped with fully working air conditioning, mosquito nets and an en-suite bathroom with cold water and a western-style toilet. Please don’t worry about being too cold in the shower - as it is very hot and humid here all year round, you will probably welcome the respite!

Meals and Beverages

Meals and Beverages

You will have three meals per day provided for you whilst on this project. Breakfast is a variety of cereals, eggs and rice/noodle dishes alongside fruit and fresh fruit juice. Lunches and dinners are delicious and typically consist of noodles or rice with chicken, seafood, mutton or beef and vegetables. Tofu and Soy bean dishes are also provided for vegetarians. Each meal is a buffet.

Fitness & Skills

Fitness & Skills

The construction work undertaken on this project will involve physical labour, often in humid conditions, and so this requires a moderate level of fitness. The other tasks however are not particularly physically strenuous, but a fair level of fitness is advised. No specific skills or experience are required, just a commitment to the project and its aims, a passion for wildlife conservation, an ability to work as a team and an upbeat, positive attitude.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations

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(to check for TB) - or if you have previously had a BCG injection and can provide proof of this, that will be sufficient. Please can you either email a scanned copy of your vaccinations card and test results to info@thegreatprojects.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.

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 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. For more information please view our article on hands on contact with orangutans here

Project Details

Getting There

You need to fly into Balikpapan on the project start date between 9am - 5pm. Most volunteers travelling to the project will need to stop and change via Jakarta international airport (Soekarno-Hatta International Airport). There are numerous daily flights departing Jakarta for Balikpapan (Sultan Aji Muhamad Sulaiman Airport). Air Asia or Garuda are generally the cheapest. Once in Balikpapan, you will be met by a project representative who will then transfer you to Samboja.

Please note that if you arrive a day early, you will need to stay at a hotel in Balikpapan. Please speak to us if you would like any suggestions.

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

Visa Requirements

You WILL require a Social and Cultural visa to join this project. This will need to be arranged before you travel, as the 'visa on arrival' that you receive as you enter all Indonesian airports will NOT be acceptable. More information on this will be provided within the pre-departure information you receive upon booking.

Currency and Exchange Rates

The currency of Indonesia is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). As of June 2015, the exchange rate was £1 to IDR20,958. Please note that this is likely to fluctuate, so it is best to check XE's website for the most up to date exchange rates.

What's included in the price of the project?
  • Airport transfers to and from Balikpapan (Sultan Aji Muhamad Sulaiman Airport)
  • Accommodation
  • Three meals per day
  • Tea, coffee and drinking water at the lodge
  • All volunteer activities at the project site
  • Conservation donation to Samboja Lestari Orangutan Sanctuary
What's not included?
  • All flights
  • Any vaccinations
  • Visa Fee (you must have a 60 day Social and Cultural visa to carry out volunteer work). This fee as of October 2015 was £40.00– please note that this is subject to change however.
  • Travel insurance (though this can be purchased through The Great Projects)
  • Soft or alcoholic drinks and extra snacks
  • Laundry service (washing and tumble drying – this can be purchased on site and the cost is per item. Costs are roughly: 75p for trousers, 50p for t-shirts, 25p for underwear.)

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Give Us A Call

Harriet

+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

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

T: +61(0) 755020457