Orangutans and Tribes Tour

Company : The Great Projects
Location : Malaysian Borneo
Duration: 2 weeks to 2 weeks
Approx Costs: 1000 to 1250 £ Pound (UK)

Become immersed in tribal life, whilst working towards the conservation of magnificent orang-utans. 

Volunteers on this orangutan volunteer project will take an unforgettable jungle tour through the lush Borneo rainforests to experience the beauty of orangutans in the wild. The programme also features two visits to the region's orangutan centres – the Matang Wildlife Centre and the Semenggoh Nature Reserve, as well as three breathtaking national parks – Bako, Kubah and Batang Ai. Both Bornean orangutan sanctuaries and all three national parks are managed by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation, who play an active role in the ongoing conservation of the area's orangutans.

This 'voluntour' is designed to raise awareness of the conservation efforts made in Sarawak, to restore the harmony between people and orangutans that has become strained in recent years. This rainforest trip will involve meeting the descendants of the legendary Borneo head-hunters – the Iban tribe – who are now the custodians of the wild orangutans of Batang Ai. This will be an experience you certainly won't forget in a hurry!


Day 1

You'll arrive at Kuching Airport (KCH) between 9am and 5pm where you will be met at arrivals before taking a short transfer to the guesthouse where you can settle in and freshen up. You will then have a full tour briefing with your guide over a welcome dinner with your fellow travellers.

Day 2

After breakfast, you will make your way to the Matang Wildlife Centre. The facilitator will take you on a full tour of the facility, where you will have chances to see a wide range of species from birds, to reptiles and gibbons, and of course the amazing orangutans. You will also see the famous Aman, the huge male orangutan for the first time. It will be love at first sight.

Day 3

Continue your behind the scenes experience with the staff at the busy rehabilitation centre and orangutan sanctuary. Get your hands dirty assisting with husbandry for the orangutans, sun bears, macaques, binturongs and other animals. This will include feeding the animals and cleaning the wildlife cages and enclosures. Enrichment making is also a very important activity here as it promotes natural behaviours and enhances the potential for rehabilitation and release, as well as improving the lives of the animals at the centre.
Please be aware there is no physical contact allowed with the apes. Excessive habituation to humans is nothing but detrimental to rehabilitation and conservation goals. To read more about this please click https://www.thegreatprojects.com/blog/hands-on-contact-with-orangutans.

Day 4

You will have one final morning working with the orangutans before at mid-day heading to Bako National Park by boat- make sure you watch out for the crocodiles! The day will end with an optional night walk in the jungle where there are opportunities to see some of Borneo's fascinating nocturnal species, so this is not to be missed! Shine your torch up into the trees and keep an eye out for the little eyes staring back at you as Borneo truly comes alive at night-time.

Day 5

You will spend day 5 in Bako National Park. With its rainforest, abundant wildlife, jungle streams, waterfalls, interesting plant life, secluded beaches and extensive network of trekking trails, Bako National Park offers an excellent introduction to the rainforest and coastline of Borneo.

As one of Sarawak's most famous locations for wildlife Bako will not disappoint, you will spend the morning trekking through the rainforest admiring the interesting flora and fauna and going in search of the famous proboscis monkey. In the evening you will transfer to the Malay community of Telok Serabang.

Day 6-7

You will spend two full days in Telok Serabang. Telok Serabang is a Malay community that is situated in a beautiful coastal area of Sarawak. You will have opportunities to snorkel with the chance to see green turtles in their natural habitat, assist with beach clean ups, and work with the local school. You will also participate in night-time turtle patrols, get sweaty on jungle treks with amazing opportunities to see wildlife such as gibbons and flying lemurs and even make traditional jewellery with the community.

Day 8

This is an opportunity to spend time with a Bidayau community, one of the indigenous Dayak groups from Sarawak. Your accommodation will again be in a traditional wooden longhouse, with shared bedrooms and amenities. You'll get to learn about the traditional culture of this tribe, and perhaps even see human skulls in their longhouse, kept from the head-hunting days of the past. You may also be encouraged to take part in cultural dancing through the evening!

Day 9 -12

These days are spent in Batang Ai rainforest which is still home to wild orangutans. When in Batang Ai, as well as always being in search of orangutans high up in the trees, there are a lot of different activities to get involved in. These include learning traditional handicrafts, cooking, fishing, picnics amidst breath-taking scenery, swimming in jungle rivers and waterfalls and interacting with the tribespeople. Interacting and building bonds with the indigenous people is essential in repairing the fractured human – orangutan relations in this region. You and your fellow traveller's attitude towards the host community is paramount to the success of this project.

Day 13

Transfer back to Kuching and visit the Semenggoh Rehabilitation Centre along the way. The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre was established in 1975 to care for wild animals which have either been found injured in the forest, orphaned, or were previously kept as illegal pets. 
As a result of its success, Semenggoh’s role has changed and it is now a natural haven for dozens of semi-wild orangutan and graduates of the rehabilitation programme who you can see as they come to the platforms to eat. You will spend one final evening at the Basaga Guesthouse where you will enjoy a warm shower and a farewell dinner with your guide and all of the new friends you have made along the way.

Day 14

Time to say your farewells. Today you will be transferred to Kuching Airport for your return flight or to commence your independent travel plans.

Start Dates

3rd of every month.

Costs / Benefits

Prices from £1,195

What's included in the price of the project?
• Airport transfers.
• Overland transportation
• Accommodation and meals as indicated
• All volunteering activity equipment
• Local guides
• English speaking project leader
• Conservation donation.

What's not included?
• All flights
• Vaccinations and anti-malarials
• Travel insurance
• Alcoholic beverages


This project does not involve a lot in the way of physical labour, but it will involve trekking in the rainforest on the tour - usually in fairly humid conditions. Therefore, all volunteers should have high enough levels of fitness to be able to partake in regular treks. No specific skills or experience are required, just commitment to the project and its aims. You must be prepared to work alongside other members of the team, and to bring an upbeat, positive attitude to the endeavour as a whole.

Booking / Enquiry

The Great Projects Orangutans and Tribes Tour Reviews

So Happy I Booked the The Orangutan and Tribes Tour

Playing a role to try to conserve and protect not land and the Orangutans who live in the jungle was such a special experience. The trip is fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone interested in helping conservation efforts. Sometimes it was quite heartbreaking to see the reality of deforestation but I highly recommend this trip, I had the best time!

By: HAyley
Nationality: British
Age: 27

You get to see the real Borneo,

I entered a competition and was so lucky to win a place on the Orangutan tour in Borneo! This tour really opened my eyes, you get to see so many places, meet lots people, sample local food and go off the beaten track see spectacular locations. I'm vegan and had worried before arriving but the food was so good, possible the best vegan food I have ever eaten in my life - everything was so fresh.

This trip directly contributes to help rescued orangutans and sunbears at the sanctuary and there are so many highlights including going by boat to a tree house in the jungle meeting local tribes and also seeing the beautiful turtle island to see baby turtles hatching. You will get so many amazing memories. I honestly couldn’t this trip highly enough!

By: Raphaella Ruggiero
Nationality: British
Age: 21

You will have an experience you will never forget

I definitely recommend The Great Projects and this trip!

By: Ryan Cookson
Nationality: British
Age: 26

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