The Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project is home to over 200 orangutans, and as a volunteer you will play a crucial role in helping the sanctuary to care for these great apes and give them a chance at rehabilitation. The sanctuary was created with the aim of providing a safe haven for rehabilitated orangutans as well as a source of income for local people.

When on the project you will take part in a number of exciting activities, essentially becoming a pseudo member of staff whilst here. Some of the things you could be helping with include: creating enrichment and feeding it to the orangutans, working on construction and maintenance jobs that need completing around the sanctuary, and observing these great apes. This is a project you won’t forget in a hurry, so what are you waiting for?


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

You will arrive into 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 begin 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 and learn a lot more about what the next two weeks will entail.

Day 3

Today project work begins. To get work done in the most efficient way, 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, this morning you will take part in a forest walk with members of the orangutan release team. During this walk, you will learn about the flora and fauna here as well as the food that the orangutans like best! The afternoon is spent working on enrichment for the orangutans, and as there are so many at the sanctuary this is a pretty important job.

Day 6

Today will be another orangutan day, where you will continue to create enrichment, but this will be a different type of enrichment compared to yesterday. You may also help with leaf collection, and 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 great opportunity to see the iconic proboscis monkey and a typical Indonesian fishing village up close and personal.

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 it is time for an 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

This is the 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.


Throughout your stay you will get involved in a number of important conservation tasks and they include:


You will take a boat journey around the orangutan islands to carefully monitor and observe these fascinating animals.


Enrichment is a crucial part of this conservation project as it helps to stimulate the orangutans that are in enclosures at the sanctuary. Without volunteer help it would be impossible for the staff to provide this to all of the orangutans each day, so your work is definitely appreciated!


Some of your time will be spent cleaning the orangutan cages and fruit store. It may not be the most glamorous job, but it has to be done.

Construction and Maintenance

You will be helping with whichever construction and maintenance tasks need completing at the sanctuary when you arrive, and this could be anything from building an orangutan cage through to building a climbing platform!

Working with the Sun Bears

Whilst on the project you will also be able to work with the sun bears, helping with enrichment and general upkeep.

Canopy Walk

A very popular excursion from the site, you will have the chance to go on a canopy walk amongst the trees!

River Cruise

Take a cruise on the Black River, keeping your eyes peeled for Proboscis Monkeys in the trees!