Orangutan conservation in East Kalimantan, Indonesia

Hands-on volunteering holiday at a prestigious centre for orangutan conservation in East Kalimantan. Enjoy an unforgettable and deeply rewarding trip, gaining valuable experience in a wide range of tasks at a centre that rehabilitates orangutans and sun bears while creating employment for local people.
Volunteer at the renowned Samboja Lestari orangutan sanctuary Prestigious conservation project in the heart of the Bornean jungle Hands-on involvement in every aspect of the centre’s important work Work with endangered sun bears too
£1395To£2195 excluding flights
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13 Days
Borneo, Indonesia
Small group
Group size
Up to 12 people
More info
13-27 days
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Description of Orangutan conservation in East Kalimantan, Indonesia

A fantastic opportunity to volunteer at one of the most prestigious orangutan rehabilitation and rescue centres in Borneo, this holiday sees you spend nearly a month at the Samboja Lestari orangutan sanctuary in the very heart of the Bornean jungle.

Whether you’re looking to gain valuable practical experience in conservation to help your career, or you simply want a more meaningful holiday that makes a tangible difference to wildlife, orangutan conservation in East Kalimantan is immensely rewarding. You’ll be welcomed to the 2,000 hectare centre as a colleague, and trained in a range of important daily tasks from enrichment to husbandry, forest plantation to maintenance and construction work. This is a hands-on volunteer placement, and there is never a shortage of things to do!

And you’ll never lose focus on the impact your efforts are making here. Bornean orangutans face many threats, from poaching to habitat destruction, as do the endangered sun bears that are also resident at the sanctuary. At the centre you’ll be working alongside many local people – it provides employment and income that ensures surrounding communities feel invested in protecting wildlife and the jungle that it depends on.

The animals here are rescued and rehabilitated, and as many as possible are released back into the wild. That rehabilitation work involves Forest Schools, where the apes learn important skills they’ll need to live in the wild, and maintaining a Babies House for the very young. Watching as youthful orangutans learn what they need to survive is a heart-warming experience, and one you’ll be directly involved with through your enrichment work.

If you want a genuine orangutan conservation project in Borneo where you’re a fully-fledged participant, not just a spectator – look no further.

Price information

£1395To£2195 excluding flights
Convert currency:
13-27 days
Make enquiry

Check dates

2024: 31 Mar, 14 Apr, 28 Apr, 12 May, 2 Jun, 16 Jun, 30 Jun, 14 Jul, 4 Aug, 18 Aug, 1 Sep, 15 Sep

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1 Reviews of Orangutan conservation in East Kalimantan, Indonesia

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 05 Nov 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Every second was amazing. No part was less memorable that another. Not exactly a holiday. You are there to work and provide enrichment and stimulus to the Orang Utangs and Sun Bears.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take plenty of mosquito repellent ! Plenty to spare wellington boots at the Lodge. Be prepared for cold showers.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. That is the purpose of the project - especially as far as the animals are concerned.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Ten out of Ten. Great group of people to be spending 2 weeks with..
Local team very good to work with. Team leader and project coordinator very professional and knowledgeable.

Responsible Travel

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.


Samboja Lestari is one of Indonesia’s most prestigious and renowned orangutan rehabilitation and rescue centres, and one of the main focal points of BOS (‘The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’), who have a mission of:

1. Accelerating the release of Bornean orangutans from ex-situ to in-situ locations
2. Encouraging the protection of Bornean orangutans and their habitat
3. Increasing the empowerment of local communities surrounding the orangutan’s habitat
4. Supporting research and education activities for the conservation of Bornean orangutans and their habitat
5. Promoting the participation of and partnership with all land stakeholders
6. Strengthening institutional capacity for education programmes

At the centre, the emphasis is on rehabilitation of orangutans – many of whom were rescued from atrocious situations. The overriding goal of this is to reintroduce orangutans back to secure natural habitats in order to establish new viable long-term populations to bolster the conservation of the species in the wild.

Each orangutan is placed through a rigorous quarantine process before the rehabilitation process and subsequent release can begin. This is very important, as many rescued orangutans have been exposed to human diseases which they would not normally encounter in the wild.

Sadly, many of the orangutans resident here cannot ever be released back into the wild because of injury or illness. For these orangutans, the sanctuary provides them with a safe haven where they can live out the rest of their lives – away from the threat of deforestation and human destruction.

Aside from the 200 or so orangutans being rehabilitated here, Samboja Lestari is also the home to 52 sun bears that were all rescued from the illegal pet trade or from areas of major forest deforestation. The sanctuary includes a 58 hectares (0.22 sq mi) area put aside for the bears including a 55 hectare patch of fenced secondary forest with maturing fruit trees, a river and a second area of approximately 3 hectares.


What’s more, the local people are gaining both financially and environmentally from this sanctuary and from the presence and support of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. They receive income from the sale of the land, from salaries working in the rehabilitation area, from the money made by selling the fruits and vegetables grown in between the planted trees, and from money from the sugar palm activities and from the salaries they receive every month for protecting the area. However they also benefit through less fire hazards, improved health conditions, the creation of local industries, the year-round supply of better water for irrigated rice fields and less flooding or severe water supply problems during wet and dry season.

What's more, the presence of BOS has also promoted forms of farming that do not involve burning and destroying forests, switching to agriculture combining rattan, sugar palms, pineapples, papayas, beans, and corn along with other fruits and vegetables. As a result, a community of 2,000 local Indonesians has developed who can now support themselves on this land.

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