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Orangutans of Sumatra and Borneo

THE SUMATRAN ORANGUTAN

Located in the far north of Sumatra Island, the park is roughly 150 km from north to south, and 100 km from east to west. While an orangutan sanctuary is located inside the park close to the village of Bukit Lawang, the best way to see the orangutans is to take a 2 or 4 day hike with a local guide. Pay a higher guide fee to be in a group on only 1 or 2 persons which is better than a group of 5 or 6. Your guide and helper will take a tent, and a live chicken for dinner.

In addition to orangutans, watch out for many species of monkeys, gibbons, Sumatran elephant, Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhinoceros, leopard cat and deer. Do not allow your guide to feed any of these apes. After the hike, stay in one of several guesthouses in the village of Bukit Lawang along the Bohorok river.

Public mini-buses leave from Pinang Baris bus station in Medan for the 2 to 3 hour trip up north. While tourist minibuses are significantly more expensive and less frequent, its faster and more convenient. See more photos here: INDONESIA


THE BORNEAN ORANGUTAN

Native to the island of Borneo, the Bornean orangutan is a bit larger than the Sumatran orangutan from the Indonesian island of Sumatra (see page 176). The best place in Borneo to have a close-up of these magnificent primates is the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

near Sandakan town in the northeast of the island. However, a more interesting way is to hire a guide and travel by canoe up and down the rivers and do some jungle hiking and soon you will be surrounded by the big apes. They are very human-shy so it takes some effort to get close to them. Bring your long lenses to get good shots at the boss! Never ever try to feed them otherwise they soon will be waiting on us for their survival.

Fly into Sandakan in northeastern Borneo Island. Take a local taxi to town and stay at a comfortable guesthouse, preferably out of town. Guesthouses arrange a car and driver to the entrance of the Rehabilitation Centre. Also arrange a day trip with canoe up and down the rivers. Do the river trip before visiting the Rehabilitation Centre.