And when is a conservation vacation not a vacation? When it is in Sarawak. Because in general, they are referred to as ‘projects’ or ‘volunteering placements’. As extraordinary as they are, in that conservation volunteers are making a difference between life and death, they are not vacations in the conventional sense of the word. They are all-hands-on-deck trips to save this ‘old man of the forest’ – which is how the word orangutan translates from the Malay. JUST 100 years ago over 300,000 orangutans roamed the forests of Borneo and the neighbouring island of Sumatra. Today, 20 percent of these iconic gorgeous ginger creatures remain. That is about 54,000 in Borneo in total, most of them lost due to habitat destruction for logging, forest clearing for farming and forest fires. So, this is serious conservation work, where volunteers won’t be able to have direct contact with orangutans, due to the high risk of them catching human disease; even a common cold could kill a baby orangutan. However, the work is invaluable, ranging from cleaning cages that house injured and rescued orangutans, planting fruit trees to re-establish all important habitats or building structures for them to swing on. So vacations they are not. Heroic acts of conservation, they certainly are.