Guide with recommendations so that you can organize and enjoy the best safari admiring the wildlife of Borneo in an unforgettable orangutan tour in klotok.
How do I reach Tanjung Puting National Park? You need to fly to Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan, in the Southern part of Indonesian Borneo. There are a couple of airlines flying there from cities in Kalimantan, and cities in Java at the moment. Reaching Pangkalan Bun from other destinations requires taking connecting flights. Are flights in and out of Pangkalan Bun reliable? Most flights leave on the day they are scheduled, but the time they leave is often dependent on the weather that day. For example, if there is a storm somewhere on the route, there are likely to be delays taking off, while they wait for clearer skies. If you’re taking connecting flights, play it safe, and book connections a few hours apart at least. During the rainy season, many flights are delayed, so we recommend that you book a flight to arrive in Pangkalan Bun the day before your tour starts. This way, if your flight is delayed, you wouldn’t miss any of your tour. There are plenty of cheap hotels to stay at in Pangkalan Bun, and we can often help you book.Are tours scheduled to depart on certain, set dates? All tours are private, and customised for guests, so you can book whatever start date and end date that you want, depending on availability. Occasionally we have private tours booked with guests who are open to sharing their tour with others. Please enquire if you are a single traveller and would like to join a group.Can you arrange travel or trip extensions to other parts of Indonesia? We currently focus on arranging tours within the Pangkalan Bun area. We feel it’s best to specialise in one area and give an excellent service.Can you arrange our flights? We are currently not licenced to arrange flight tickets for our guests, but we can point you in the direction of a good website allowing straightforward online bookings. What are the visa requirements and fees? Please check with your local Indonesian Embassy in your home country for advice before you travel to Indonesia. Visas are available on arrival for some nationalities, at the price of $25 US dollars per person. What type of medical or travel insurance should I have? Make sure you have good insurance covering medical evacuation, as health care of an international standard is not available in the Pangkalan Bun area. Make sure your travel insurance covers airline cancellations, as if your flight is cancelled and you miss your tour, you would not receive a refund of your tour payment.
When do tours start and finish?Tours are customised, so you can start your tour at whatever time suits you. Most guests choose to be met at the airport on their arrival, and transfer to their klotok to start their tour straight away. Most guests also finish their tour at the airport on their last day.
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How much should I tip the boat crew and guide, assuming everything is satisfactory? Tippig is not compulsory, or expected, so it’s completely up to you. some guests do tip if they can afford to, and if they are particularly happy with the staff on their tour.
How physically demanding are the tours? There are no hills or mountains in Tanjung Puting, and many of the main trails in the park are flat. Some trails have uneven wooden planks/board-walks to walk on, and some are just dirt over roots. You can do as little or as much trekking as you decide, after discussing your wishes with your guide. If you have young children with you, you may decide to do the minimum amount of walking, and only take short treks out to the feeding stations. If you are very fit and adventurous, you may choose to take some whole days of trekking with your guide.What does the tour price include? Prices include airport OR hotel transfers by car, park tickets, camera permits, accommodation and travel by klotok which is supplied with a western toilet, mandi bucket shower, mosquito nets, mattresses, pillows, bedding, mineral water, tasty food, basic first aid kits, life jackets, and staff (Boat driver, cooks, your guide). All guided trips within the forest, breakfast, lunch and dinner as specified in itineraries (full board).What isn’t included in the tour price? Flights; travel, medical or accident insurance; airport taxes/passenger service charges; alcoholic drinks; personal expenses; and tips (only if you wish) are not included.Is there a minimum age for participating in a tour?No, although anyone under 18 years old must be accompanied by a responsible adult.Will someone be at the airport to meet us? If your tour has been arranged to start on your arrival, your guide will be waiting for you in the arrivals area of Pangkalan Bun airport, holding a sign with your name on.
Our guide is english speaking guide, they are is local people based in Kumai and Pangkalan Bun who has a guide certificate and license by the Government under the Forest Departemen of Tanjung Puting National Park.
Can I shower when on the klotok? There is a traditional mandi bucket ‘shower’ in Indonesia. It consists of a large bucket of water, and a plastic scoop (looks like a saucepan) which you use to pour the water over yourself to wash. As the standard klotoks have no electricity for powering a shower, this is the only option. On the large klotoks, there is a small power source which can power the shower, which means an automatic overhead shower is possible – but this is still unheated water, and not a powerful shower like on land.Is there access to clean water on the klotok? All water for washing is taken from the river, and is brown in colour. There is no white/purified water available for washing with, as no klotoks on the river have facilities to carry water for washing from Kumai. Water for drinking purposes is constantly available in the form of bottled drinking water.What is the difference between a standard and a larger klotok? Larger klotoks are longer and wider, accommodating up to 12 people. Due to their size, they tend to be more steady in the water, feeling more stable when moving around. They also include a basic overhead shower in the bathroom – nothing fancy, but an ‘upgrade’ from using the traditional mandi bucket and scoop. A fan can also be included if requested.How do we sleep on the klotok? After dinner, the top deck of the klotok is cleared and set up for night time. You would have mattresses and clean bedding set up, under mosquito nets. Your crew would be sleeping below deck. Please be aware, you would be sleeping on the open top deck of the klotok, and there is little in the way of privacy on a tour.
What type of food is included on a tour? Our cooks provide wholesome, delicious local Indonesian cuisine. This is adapted slightly to suit western taste, being less spicy, but if you prefer to eat spicy food please let us know! Drinks include bottled mineral water, cartons of fruit juices (usually including sugar), and tea and coffee. There is little in the way of dairy products used in Indonesian cooking, so milk is usually either tinned sweetened and condensed milk for things like deserts or coffee, or coconut milk in cooking. Snacks are also provided, in the way of dishes such as french fries or friend bananas.
Is there beer available? If you wish to have alcoholic drinks on board, you may bring your own, or you can request some when you book. It is sometimes possible to source beer to take on trips. These would be charged at the cost price and added on to your tour price (currently very expensive, at 60,000 Rupiah per bottle). Please note that whether you bring your own drinks or order some in advance, there is no fridge on board, therefore beer could only be served warm! Alcoholic drinks can not be ordered on arrival, as they are difficult to source, so therefore need time to arrange before you arrive.
What do we need to bring for our trip? Mosquito nets are on board correct? Do we need sleeping bags? Torch? Special clothing? Footware? There are mosquito nets on board for everyone. There is also bedding, so you don’t need a sleeping bag – but you may like to take a lightweight blanket, as in the rainy season, or during storms, you may be a little chilly at night. Also an extra towel, in case it rains a lot and towels don’t dry as quickly as usual. Torch – yes, advisable – head-torches are easiest, but any will do. Clothing – some with long sleeves and legs to cover your arms and legs for early morning and evening when there are more mosquitoes around. A rain coat or even better, a rain poncho – which would cover all of you and a day pack if carrying one. Insect repellant too (lots of it!). Shoes…good to bring old comfy footware, trainers are best as they dry quickest if they get muddy or wet. A spare pair is a good idea too, to change into for when you’re on the klotok and want to feel clean and dry.What form of money should I bring with me? It is best to bring enough cash, in Indonesian Rupiah, to cover your time in Kalimantan. You can either bring it with you into Indonesia, or change currency in Jakarta airport, or withdraw it from an ATM in Jakarta airport. ATMs in Pangkalan Bun and Kumai are not reliable. Travellers cheques are not recognised in Pangkalan Bun or Kumai. Please note, that if staying at the Rimba Lodge, there is no ATM, and credit cards are not accepted.
Tanjung Puting malarial? Are prophylactics needed? Yes it is malarial. Please seek advice from a health professional before you travel. There are alternatives available to minimise the risk, but it is advisable to take advice from different sources before you decide whether to take anti-malarial drugs or not.What vaccinations are required for the area? None are compulsory, but your medical professional would advise you to have some if visiting Indonesia. Contact your local travel health clinic for up to date advice.
As December is in the middle of the rainy season – how much rain can one expect on an average day? This is hard to say, as there’s not usually a regular amount each day. You may be lucky and have 3 days with light rain once or twice, or just one storm one night. You may also be unlucky, and have a whole day of rain, and a storm each afternoon.Are there quite a few tourists during this time? How busy is the river with boats? During July to September, you may find 6 to 8 klotoks at Camp Leakey for a feeding, but during the low season you may only find 2 or 3 there at one time, with another 2 or 3 at different parts of the National Park. It depends on the tour start dates as to where the klotoks are at one time.
Will we have the opportunity to see free/wild orangutans, or are all the orangutans mostly saved/subdued orangutans? The majority of the orangutans you would see would be rehabilitated / saved and reintroduced orangutans. There is a wild population in the national park though, and there are also orangutans which were wild born in the park, but whose parents were rehabilitated orangutans, reintroduced back into the forest many years ago. There are a couple of orangutans at Camp Leakey (Siswi and her son Samson for example) which enjoy spending
a lot of their time around the humans, breaking in to camp buildings when they can, but most others spend most of their time out in different parts of the forest, and just return to the feeding station now and again when they are in the vicinity and hungrier than usual. This is pretty much the same for the other sites you would visit too – with a few orangutans often hanging around the jetty or camp buildings, but the wild and rehabilitated orangutans being seen out in the forest, or at the feeding sites.How far away will we be from orangutans / how far away is the feeding platform?.
The feeding stations are less than half an hour walk away from the jetties. The orangutans could be anywhere though. You can often be lucky and find orangutans on the jetties when you arrive, just hanging around interested in meeting you, wanting to steal something off the klotoks (soap is a favourite!)!What level of camera zoom would you recommend? (we only have 18-55mm)
Most times you can see an orangutan or two fairly close up somewhere or other, allowing great close-ups with just a standard camera lense. Other times you may see wildlife such as gibbons or Proboscis monkeys further away, on the banks of the river perhaps, and would need a good zoom for a decent shot. So, if you are thinking of purchasing a stronger zoom lense in the future, I’d say get one before your tour – or you’ll no doubt wish you had got one earlier if you don’t.
When viewing orangutans the following guidelines MUST be followed.
NEVER INITIATE CONTACT
Never approach an orangutan. If an orangutan attempts to make contact, retreat slowly. If an orangutan grabs you; stay calm and avoid sudden or jerky movements. If you can’t gently twist your arm free – call for help. Never travel alone in the forest. An orangutans may seem gentle, however they can bite so do not be tempted to initiate contact.
NEVER FEED ORANGUTANS
Do not eat or drink near orangutans. Do not give orangutans food. If you see anyone feeding orangutans, politely ask them to stop as it this encourages the orangutans to steal food and can lead to confrontations.
AVOID ORANGUTANS IF YOU FEEL UNWELL
Colds, flu or any respiratory or gastrointestinal diseases can be passed on to the orangutans (and vice versa). Avoid coughing near orangutans. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. N.B Women who are menstruating should be particularly careful. Sub-adult and adult males have been known to forcibly examine women during their periods.
LEARN TO RECOGNIZE MALE ORANGUTANS
Sub-adult and adult males are much larger in size, have large cheek pads and beards. Unlike wild males, ex-captives are less afraid of humans. If, on a rare occasion, a male ex-captive charges – run.
BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR BELONGINGS
Brightly coloured bags are particularly attractive to orangutans (fruit is often brightly coloured). Keep water bottles and plastic bags in your backpack. If an orangutan takes something from you – let them keep it (ask a guide or a member of staff to negotiate its return). No belonging is worth fighting over with an orangutan.
VIEWING THE FEEDING OF EX-CAPTIVES
Do not approach the feeding platform. Keep back from the orangutans – as this can cause unnecessary stress to the orangutans.
These viewing guidelines are written by the Orangutan Foundation UK.
Listen to the advice of your guide and rangers at all times – they are experts and will make your visit an enjoyable and safe experience!.