Ok, ok, let’s not completely dismiss Bali just yet, it’s got it’s own hidden wonders to explore but we’ll get to that later in my Indonesia series. Today I want to talk to you about one of the hidden gems of Indonesia – Borneo. You probably wouldn’t think of the jungle when planning a trip to this part of the world. The humidity, the mosquitoes, the not so conventional sleeping conditions but this should 100% be on your list if you’re planning on visiting South-East Asia and here’s why…
(Epic shot by the super talented Mallory on Travel)
Have you ever been somewhere that feels like you’re the first to wander there? A place that completely blows you away and envelopes all your senses? This was Borneo for me. If you had told me three months ago I would be sailing along the black river in a traditional wooden boat, nearly being bowled over by a fully grown orangutan female and sleeping under a mosquito net in the middle of the jungle, I wouldn’t have believed you. This isn’t my usual kind of travel and I was petrified before my arrival – so many unknowns, unanswered questions. But the time we spent in the Borneo jungle surrounded by wildlife and new friends was one of the highlights of my #WonderfulIndonesia Trip and is something I would recommend for everyone to put on their life bucket list.
We arrived in Tanjung Puting
and took a bus to the river where we were greeted by traditional dancing and a lot of smiling faces. Flights from Jakarta to Pangkalan Bun range from around £70-120 return depending on airlines and when you fly so it’s incredibly easy and cheap to hop over
as part of your trip. Once our welcome was over we were led over to the river and our accommodation for the night – a group of traditional wooden boats called Klotoks
. No flushing toilets, no beds, and just a few pillows on the deck to lounge on. Deep breaths.
We climbed and jumped over and through the other boats to get to ours and met our boat buddies we’d be spending the next two days with. I don’t think any of us had an idea of what was to come and just how much it would stay in our minds for weeks, months, even years to come. We waved goodbye to the shore (and our phone signal) and sailing off down the river for a once in a lifetime experience with nature.
There are only two places left in the entire world that you can see wild orangutans, the National Park in Tanjung Puting, Borneo is one of them. We set off down the river to visit three orangutan conservation camps over our time in the Borneo Jungle including probably the most famous Camp Leaky. Leonardo DiCaprio was there just a few months before us so I was sold. Sailing down the river we saw a plethora of wildlife – Hornills, Proboscis Monkeys, Crocodiles, Water Snakes and more – it was like nothing I’d ever done or seen before and it certainly shoved going on Safari right to the top of my travel bucket list, I loved it.
The orangutans have feeding times in all of the camps so you can gather to watch every day with a pretty good chance of a sighting. If you’re lucky like we were you might be able to see some on your trek through the jungle too, they get pretty close so be aware at all times. Leaky Camp had the most information about the animals, conservation and the threats that the apes face, it was fascinating to read and made the visit a little more interactive.
Cruising down the black river in the middle of the jungle, cut off from everything and cut back to a basic creature comfort level was life changing for me. Despite the 2km treks through the uneven jungle floor and our uncomfortable and noisy (take earplugs!) night’s sleep I haven’t felt this relaxed and my mind this clear in a long time. Travelling by Klotok is 100% the way to do this part of your trip, and yes, I have to admit I was a little jealous when a boat cruised passed us with their four poster bed, champagne and luxury beanbags – you can do it in style if you like – but I wouldn’t have changed our experience for the world. We had three meals a day cooked for us by the cabin staff and each was more delicious than the last. Couple that with a few beers bought from the speedboats that drive up and down the river and you’ve got yourself a lovely evening ahead!
If you’re visiting Indonesia I’d highly recommend taking an internal flight and vising Tanjung Puting for a river cruise – it truly was one of the highlights of my trip and I’ll remember it for years to come. I used to think that adventures like this were a once in a lifetime unreachable dream, but they can actually be done quite easily…so what are you waiting for?
A 2 day 1 night tour with Orangutan Days ranges from £150-350 and includes transport from the airport, local tour guide on your boat, 3 traditional indonesian meals a day, entrance to the camps and both Ranger and Conservation fees.
Thank you to the Indonesian Tourist Board for hosting us on this incredible trip – It was truly the most incredible adventure I’ve ever experienced!
Follow @indtravel on Twitter and search the hashtags #WonderfulIndonesia #TripofWonders for more incredible photos from our journey