Samboja Lestari Orangutan Volunteer Project

Company : The Great Projects
Activities: Animal Volunteer Projects / Tours / Expeditions / Conservation Volunteer Projects / Wildlife Tours
Country: Indonesia
Location : East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo
Duration: 2 weeks to 4 weeks
Approx Costs: 750 to 1500 £ Pound (UK)

Work on enrichment and husbandry with captive orangutans and sun bears in this world renowned rescue centre. 

Samboja Lestari is an area of restored tropical rainforest near the city of Balikipapan in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Established by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS), the 2,000 hectare orangutan sanctuary here was created with the aim of providing a safe haven for rehabilitated orangutans, whilst at the same time providing a source of income for local people.

Several Forest Schools built here provide natural, educational playgrounds for the orangutans in which to learn forest skills before returning to cages to sleep at night. A new Clinic and Quarantine area has also been established as well as many new forest cages for larger orangutans and a Babies' Room for the little ones.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All 4 week volunteers will either continue with project work at the centre or have a rest day.

Day 15-27

For those volunteers staying for a month, project activities will continue in the style as for the two week stint. New two week volunteers will arrive on Day 15 and will follow the exact same itinerary as the first two week volunteers. Departure day will be on day 27.

Start Dates

Set dates - enquire for details.

Costs / Benefits

Prices from £795

What's included in the price of the project?
• All 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 (volunteers must have a 60 day Social and Cultural visa to carry out volunteer work). This fee as of April 2014 was £35.00 – please note that this is subject to change however.
• Airport taxes (as of April 1st 2014 - IDR 75,000 for domestic and IDR 200,000 for international).
• 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 at a cost of U$10 per person per week)


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 commitment to the project and its aims, a passion for wildlife conservation, an ability to work as a team and an upbeat, positive attitude.

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