There are few species of animal that enthrall as much as the orangutan, partly for the fact that, with the “old man of the forest” only found in the jungles of Borneo and Sumatra, sightings in the wild are a real treat for those lucky to experience one. It’s no wonder that trips to see wildlife in Borneo are becoming a popular vacation, particularly given that numbers of these animals are falling to critical levels. To stand the best chance of seeing them in their natural habitats, check out these five tips for an orangutan holidays in Borneo.
Research the best orangutan rehabilitation centers for a guaranteed encounter
Given the rapid decline of orangutan populations, one of the best ways of guaranteeing a sighting of this majestic creature is by visiting a rehabilitation center or sanctuary in Borneo.
- The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center on the Malaysian side of Borneo is the largest of its kind in the world. It is a refuge for trafficked, injured or orphaned orangutans who are prepared for being released back into the jungle.
- Tabin Wildlife Reserve, also in Malaysia, is where they release the rehabilitated orangutans from Sepilok making it another top place to visit on orangutan holidays in Borneo.
But don’t miss out on seeing them in the wild
While rehabilitation centers can guarantee a sighting, nothing quite beats seeing the russet fur of wild orangutans swinging through the rainforest canopy above. Some of the best places for observing them in their natural habitats include:
- The Maliau Basin conservation area in Malaysia. As yet barely discovered by tourists, your chances of encountering an orangutan are high.
- Tanjung Puting National Park on the Indonesian side of Borneo is home to orangutans as well as a variety of other monkey and ape species. The only way to explore the park is on foot or by boat.
Plan your trip at the right time of the year
As with any wild animal, your chances of seeing an orangutan on a vacation in Borneo are greatly increased if you visit during the right season.
Borneo’s “dry” season, March through October, is wildly considered the best time to travel to the island. During this period, more fruit is present on the trees meaning that the orangutans are found in lower parts of the forest canopy, thus increasing your chances of sightings.
The high season, May through September is another top time for orangutan holidays in Borneo. However, prices are higher and it’s essential to book far in advance to secure your jungle lodge and tours.
Be prepared for the jungle
Now you’ve planned exactly when and where to go, it’s important to consider what items you need to pack for your trip. Expect to spend time exploring the rainforest, whether on foot or by boat so we recommend you include the following in your packing list:
- Insect repellent with DEET
- A light, cotton hat
- Light, loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothing to protect you from the sun and insects
- Comfortable shoes for trekking through the jungle
- Mosquito net (if not already provided by your accommodation)
- Small rucksack for day hikes
- Malaria pills (after consultation with your doctor about the risks)
- Light, breathable rain jacket
- Thin towel (that can dry quickly in a humid climate).
And don’t forget to bring patience on orangutan holidays!
Although you can plan as much as possible to see the orangutans in Borneo, there’s ultimately no guarantee you will be successful in spotting this creature in the wild.
Instead, remember that, whatever encounter you do have, seeing this majestic ape in in the jungles of Borneo is surely one of the most incredible experiences on the planet.