Orangutan photography in Borneo

“This trip is a very special blend of sighting wild orangutans, close-up meetings with the extraordinary primates and expert advice on how to capture them perfectly on camera.”

Highlights

Jakarta | Kumai | Tanjung Puting National Park | Forest walks | River safaris | Camp Leakey Research Centre | Orangutan feeding sites | Bird watching | Evening river cruise

Travel Team

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Check dates

2021: 7 Nov, 22 Nov
Our top tip:
It'll be hot and humid - pack light and use the laundry service at the lodge.
Trip type:
Small group, max. 7 people.
Activity level:
Leisurely.
Accomm:
2 nights hotel, 7 nights rainforest lodge.
Solos:
Solo travelers welcome. No surcharge for single rooms except at hotels.
Meals:
7 breakfasts, 7 lunches. Dinner at lodge approx. £6.
Included:
Lodge accommodation, transfers, transport, permits, local guide, all tuition.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your vacation will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
We only make use of local suppliers and services. These include locally owned and run accommodation and food from local produce. This ensures that the funds generated from these stay within the country and filter to the local economy. We also only employ local guides and boatmen in order to contribute to the economy of the local community.

£350 per person from the Orangutan photography vacation is donated directly to the Orangutan Foundation to help them conserve the Tanjung Puting national park. Through their work they have created numerous local jobs in this area such as at the research center, the orangutan care center and at a network of guard posts in the Tanjung Puting national park. Some of these jobs are at guard posts at strategic points along the rivers. Only Indonesians are employed on these guard posts and they are paid above the local rate. They are an important way in helping to conserve this national park as they stop people such as illegal loggers entering the area. A park entry fee is paid for each visitor which directly contributes to the running of this national park.

For distribution of tour information and pre and post booking we only use the internet and email. Where ever possible we try and run a paper free office. Our office only uses green electricity and we keep consumption as low as possible. All lights are energy efficient and computers are turned off at night. Everything that can be recycled is recycled and all green waste is composted. The majority of our food consumed at our office is organically grown in our garden. Other produce is fair trade where possible.

The accommodation we use in the Tanjung Puting national park has an emphasis on environmental protection through education of both guests and staff. They recycle water and waste, use solar power and have a worm farm for composting.

Each tour group is limited to just 7 people to minimize the impact on the local eco system. Any areas we visit are to be left as we find them. No litter is to be left behind and nothing is to be removed by us or our clients. We will avoid damaging vegetation, flora and fauna. We will only introduce our clients to areas where the community welcomes them and we will provide accurate pre-trip information on the social and political situation in the destination.
Community
Climate

14 Reviews of Orangutan photography in Borneo

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Reviewed on 25 Nov 2019 by

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


Every day seemed to have its own standout highlight, from the initial speedboat ride into the jungle, the first encounter with the Orangutans, the amazing colours of the Kingfishers, the big male Orangutan strutting his stuff a few feet from us, wonderful food on the boat, the coffee (its an experience all of its own), evenings spent chatting surrounded by the jungle noises, our terrible song to the local village kids, but for me the most memorable was the Proboscis monkeys doing Tom Daley drives into the river.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


It's a rain forest - it does rain occasionally and when it does, it really does! A simple rain poncho is probably a better option than the expensive rain jacket I took - you can get your camera under that was well if needed. Also DEET works !

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


Absolutely, to begin with as part of this vacation a donation is included to the Orangutan Foundation of about $500 each. There is a clear desire by Ian to not only support the Foundation but minimise the environmental impact of our visit, and support the local populations, for example avoiding single use plastic, and sourcing locally as far as possible. Most of the those employed by the River Lodge and the boat were from the local village and as part of the trip we were able to visit the local village and encouraged to donate a few small gifts to the school children.

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


Absolutely Loved it! I have been lucky enough to visit a number of rain forests and this combination of slow boat travel and short walks to the feeding stations seems by far the best way of seeing wildlife. Much of the action is generally up in the canopy but here the river is a draw for the animals and the boat a perfect platform for viewing. In addition you have wonderful company and Ian has clearly been doing these trips for a long time and they have been refined to perfection.

Reviewed on 26 Nov 2019 by

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


Never expected my first close encounter with Orangutans to be THAT close! For a novice 'photographer' that's a bonus.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


None really. As the headline suggests - would take a relatively good camera.

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


Yes, enjoyed the village visit. Yes, bring a refill-able bottle - good idea. Yes, really loved the plant a tree hour (quite emotional).

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


Very good. Particularly liked the small group and having a host who has so much experience and attachment to the local community and conservation
activities is always an advantage. Being center based means not having to pack and unpack.

Read the operator's response here:

Thanks for your lovely feedback Elizabeth ...
along with planting your tree we also donated
£350 each from every person on this trip
which went towards the massive tree planting
project in Lsmandau so you also contributed
to the planting of many hundreds of other
trees there too.

Reviewed on 06 Dec 2018 by

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


There were many but to narrow down my top 3. The mother and baby at the
feeding station that had 4 of us females in tears when she left as it was just one of those amazing magical moments. My nicknamed Missy Attitude teenage female who blocked us from walking down the path but gave us an amazing show and stole a little piece of my heart and finally the troop of Probiscus monkeys diving (well belly flopping) into the river and swimming across. Just got to love nature.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


It is very very humid so definitely no cotton. Take quick dry T-shirtís and long
sleeves for the rainforest walks and mozzie time! I took a pack of micro fibre cloths - brilliant for wiping sweat (sorry!). Play with your camera before!

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


Yes definitely. Donations to the Orangutan foundation, planted a tree, visited a
school with useful gifts and filled water into our own drink containers so no plastic bottles.

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


A fantastic trip with like minded people, great playing with the camera daily - Had good tuition from Ian when asked and everyone shared tips too. Learnt more tips of the trade! Food at the lodge and on the boat was superb and the boat crew, guide and cook were brilliant! Throw in unbelievable wildlife daily and the magic of Orangutans - how could you go wrong!!

Reviewed on 04 Dec 2018 by

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


Itís difficult to pinpoint just one highlight of this wonderful trip. Seeing nature at its finest is always such a privilege, but those wonderful Orangutans stole my heart.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Try and get to know your camera well and everything will make sense under Ianís expert tuition. Also plenty of mossie spray!

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


I was delighted to make a donation to the Orangutan Foundation (included in the
cost of the trip) give the local school children useful gifts, plant a tree in a conservation area and the fact that we all refilled our own water bottle must have saved a considerable amount of plastic.

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


Time spent together with likeminded people who have a combined love of wildlife and photography resulted in a week of many memorable moments and fun. Ian was always there to give as much photographic support as we needed, from
those of us just at the beginning of our photography journey to the more advanced.

Reviewed on 20 Nov 2018 by

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


Watching the Orangutans in the wild.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


do not think about it, get it booked its an amazing experience!!

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


Yes definitely

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


Fantastic, an amazing experience

Reviewed on 03 Nov 2017 by

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


We had the privilege of seeing orang-utans, and a whole host of other wildlife, up close and personal on a daily basis. A wealth of magical moments that I shall
treasure forever! There were only 7 of us on the trip, so we got the chance to get to know each other really quickly, so it more like you were sharing the
experience with friends after a few days together which added to the experience!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Get the camera out and start practising for a few weeks before the trip so you're ready to go! Check out Ian's website for some inspiration and to get even more excited about what you're going to see! Pack lots of long sleeved tops (the mosis are a little bothersome!)

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


Absolutely! There was a significant donation from the cost of the trip, given to The Orang-utan Foundation and we had the pleasure of visiting some of the
sites of the foundation to see first hand what an incredible job they are doing. Ian is also clearly incredibly passionate about wildlife and conservation and
endeavours to support it with his trips whenever possible.

My only worry was that we were only drinking from plastic water bottles the whole time and I am doubtful that this plastic would have been recycled.

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


An absolutely magical experience. A full immersion into the Bornean wilderness, it's wildlife, beautiful scenery and an introduction to a really incredible wildlife photographer! Thank you!

Read the operator's response here:

Thanks for your lovely feedback Nikki. Totally agree with your comment about plastic drinking bottles ! We've been looking into the solution to get people to bring their own re-usable drinking bottles which they can then fill up as and when needed from a large mineral water deposit.

Reviewed on 17 Nov 2015 by

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


My ambition was to see both orangutans and proboscis monkeys and this trip fulfilled this every day and more with such close and intimate sightings. A real highlight was watching the interaction between orangutans at Camp Leakey one day. But we saw so much other wildlife too including macaques, gibbons, hornbills and crocodiles. I also very much enjoyed our visit to the village and the interaction with the local children. On a personal level I also learnt a lot about photography which Ian always explained in a fun and easy to understand way.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


To just travel with an open mind and heart.

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


Yes, yes and yes. And in many ways too. As part of this vacation we all made a donation to the Orangutan Foundation of about $500 each so together we really helped to raise some money for this cause. Ian gave a moving presentation one evening about the plight of orangutans and the hopes and fears for their future. All the local people employed such as boat crew and guides were from the local village. As part of the pre-trip information Ian asked us all to bring items that the village needed too. So we all arrived there with things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, books and toys for the children. To see the happinness in the children faces was unforgetteble and uplifting.Ianís friendship with the local people really makes this trip extra special.

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


Overall just absolutely amazing. As a nature lover, traveler and with an interest in knowing new cultures and interacting with local people I really appreciated the
program of the trip. As a beginner in photography I really appreciated the patient and willing attitude that Ian had on this tour. It was for me an incredible
experience and new knowledge in every aspect despite the difficult situation we faced at the end of our trip from the fires and smoke in Borneo. In such a situation, it is crucial to have an experienced guide with good contacts with local people especially who speaks the local language which Ian does. When we arrived at the airport to take our flights back to Jakarta it was closed due to the level of smoke from the forest fire. Ian was able to present to our group and to realise possible solutions for safe and quick return to Europe. Thanks to his professional approach and personal engagement he handled this situation with compassion and humour. We all felt safe and returned back to Europe enriched by this adventure. I cannot praise Ian enough and will be booking future tours with him. Thanks !

Reviewed on 11 Nov 2015 by

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


Nothing vacation totally disappointing and expensive a total waste of time ,effort and money. Due to the forest fires I personally arrived back to the UK four days late. As a result of the forest fires being known about and the degree of smoke prior to the start of the vacation, the vacation should have been cancelled, and with being known , this is outwith the terms of force majeure or act of god on you policy guidelines as this would have been preventable if the vacation was cancelled

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Don't if lead by Mr Iain Wood

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


Yes this would have benefitted the local people. Rimba Lodge from what we could see because of the smoke was good, I could not fault the staff at the lodge in any way.
Rooms very clean even though they were a bit basic, staff excellent and very friendly and helpful.

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


Total disaster, vacation should have been cancelled due to the level of smoke from the forest fires tour guide knew about this before the party left their homes to go on this tour, in my opinion this breaches health and safety as the tour guide has a duty of care to his clients supplying industrial face masks against the smoke does not constitute duty of care. There was supposed to be tuition on the best way to take photographs on this vacation( there was no tuition given).Tour leader. also failed to see his clients back to Jakarta, he left with his son to go diving on another part of Borneo thereby not fulfilling his contract with the clients. In all this vacation which was supposed to be a memorable and enjoyable tour reduced to a five day very expensive and dissapointing vacation .This review has been submitted after discussion and agreement with the majority of the party who were on this vacation. With reference to your star rating wich does not go low enough for this vacation, the star rating
needs to go into the minus range, TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE

Read the operator's response here:

I'm so sorry if Greg genuinely felt like this. He gave me no indication throughout the trip of his feelings so I'm afraid to say that I have found this review very odd. Where to start in a reply !? Let's focus on a couple of hard facts that might put his comments in some sort of perspective. For example number 3 ) Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation? Greg knows that one of the main purposes of these trips is to raise money directly for orangutan conservation. He is fully aware that he donated £350 directly to the Orangutan Foundation which I have then doubled using the Big Give project. I gave a presentation to the group on our last night thanking them for their donations and showed them some photos showing exactly how their money has helped orangutan conservation.

Over the the ten years that I've been running these trips I've raised tens and tens of thousands of pounds towards protecting these forests. This money has all been donated to the Orangutan Foundation whose work ticks all the boxes in conservation. Ie very few overheads with nearly all of the money going directly to projects in Borneo which empower the local people to protect, what is after all their land. The director of the Orangutan Foundation is Mrs Ashley Leiman (OBE) and she can be contacted directly here to verify this: ashley@orangutan.org.uk

Also as part of this trip people get full pre-trip information where they are encouraged to bring a selection of gifts that the local village need. These include items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, books, pens, pencils and clothes. Everyone on this trip brought such items and were really touched (apart from Greg !?) when we went to the village and were welcomed by the head along with all of the children. So I guess my question to Greg is why have you not mentioned any of this as a response to this question ... very very bizarre !?
Greg also states that the other people on this trip felt the same as him. I think all I need to say on this subject is to refer Greg to another review here from someone else on this trip. My website has a review section for each trip that I run and you'll also find unedited reviews from scores of people who have traveled with me.

I'm genuinely moved by how many of these have become close friends over the years and how many people come on future trips with me to many parts of the world. Right at the end of this trip we were affected by the fires that have been so tragic in many parts of Indonesia this year. We lost 1 day at the end of the trip and were then held up in Borneo as the airport was closed. Other people on the trip have personally thanked me for how I dealt with this situation. Again I'd refer you to another review on this site from someone on the same trip.

Reviewed on 07 Jan 2014 by

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


Too many to pick just one! Getting so close to the orangutans and other wildlife, the great photo opportunities, the sounds of the forest, being so well looked after by the boat crew and guide, the food, the friendliness of the people on the trip, the peacefulness of the rivers, learning so much about the wildlife and the conservation issues from Ian who runs the trip and Edy the local guide.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


It is hot and humid so do bring tropical clothing. Use the laundry service at the lodge as it is relatively cheap and fast so you can pack light and only bring 2-3 days changes of clothes. The walking isn't that demanding but the forest paths can be uneven so bring good, supportive walking shoes. Food is really good both on the boat and at the lodge but if you do have any special requirements then say so before you go. Bring spare batteries for your camera as you will take a lot of pictures!

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


Absolutely. There is a substantial donation included in the cost of the vacation to the Orangutan Foundation which supports conservation through a wide range of initiatives with local people. Your presence will provide local employment at the lodge and of the boat crew.

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


This is a great vacation. Whether you are a first time photographer or experienced photographer you will love this vacation and will come back with great photos and memories, as well as having learned a lot. If you are not a photographer you would still love this trip. We were so impressed with the organisation and thought that has been put into this trip that we are already planning on taking one of Ian's African trips as our next big trip and after that we will go on this one again!

Reviewed on 16 Oct 2014 by

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


The first sighting of the great male orang-utan swinging through the trees and then the look in his eyes as he eyeballed anyone who looked at him, his hands and the strength in his arms -- completely awesome. By contrast a little later observing the tenderness and care shown by the mother to her tiny baby who doesn't leave her side until he is seven years old.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take a good camera and watch every movement you can --- unless you are very fortunate this is a one off opportunity. Don't miss all the other wildlife that abounds in the jungle. Watch out for crocodiles and don't go swimming!!

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


Very much so. They are very aware that tourism is important and realise that they have to protect the environment that the great apes live in. It was good to know that we contributed to the orang-utan foundation

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


A very educational trip from learning more about photographing wildlife to the environment that they inhabit.

Reviewed on 12 Nov 2013 by

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


The opportunity to take photos of orangutans and proboscis monkeys in such a unique and beautiful setting. Spending early mornings chugging along the river with breakfast, early morning light highlighting the start of the primate day.
Amazing lunches on the boat that are perfect for vegetarians, gluten free and meat eaters too!
Contributing to the preservation of the forest and orangutans.........did I mention the hilarious antics of the baby orangs....watching them from just a couple of feet away was the most amazing privilege. Great tuition from Ian really helped me to learn to use my camera to maximise the results. Everything was so well organised I could just sit back and enjoy!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Travel light, the laundry facility is amazing and all clothes returned the next day, take good mosi spray just in case (we were mostly fine), try to be familiar with the basics of your camera so you can really improve and move to the next level and make the most of the guidance given - don't worry whether you have basic point and shoot or huge DSLR - it doesn't matter - you will be still improve and feel you had an amazing time. The accommodation is good, has hot showers and air con but only electricity between 4pm and 10am so an extra camera battery is useful. No need for very smart clothes, it is high humidity so a vest and then long sleeved top are sensible when out in the boat / walking, light weight walking boots and waterproof for sudden downpours - maybe soft non slip slippers for comfort on boat while enjoying lunch!

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


Yes it did, the guides are all local, we visited a a project that allows you to buy and plant trees to help re-forestation to support orangutans (we actually planted our trees by hand), a large amount of money goes to the orangutan foundation UK, as well as being mindful of the environment and locals generally we visited a village, took gifts for the children and had the opportunity to shop for their local handcrafted gifts.

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


Totally brilliant, great food, great organisation and most of all a great wildlife experience that felt unique and very privileged.

Reviewed on 30 Oct 2013 by

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


Close encounters with endangered orangutans. Great local food prepared on our boat by 'chef'. Fire flies @ night

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Wet weather gear, sound footwear and a sense of adventure

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


Yes definitely - stayed at local resort with green credentials, local people used for guiding and boat crew etc.

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


Very good! Wonderful experience and something out of the box!!

Reviewed on 26 Oct 2012 by

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


Getting up close asnd personal with orangutans - well close enough to take good photos, anyway!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be prepared for hot, humid weather!

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


Yes. Local guides were used and interaction with local communities was respectful.
Yes, we were advised on ways to reduce environmental impact of our visit.
Yes, we were educated on the plight of orangutans and the devistating effect man has had on the species and their habitat.

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


5 star! Excellent in all respects!

Reviewed on 04 Nov 2012 by

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


Seeing our first wild Orangutan, very exciting. Realising that the forest is not only about the Orangutans but the whole diversity of Tanjung Puting National Park, the endangered Proboscis monkeys, other monkeys, insects, reptiles, bird life, trees and plants.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Firstly book your trip, great experience. Take mosquito repellent, sunscreen, hat, lots of memory for your camera. Long sleeve, light weight shirts and socks which can be rolled over long light weight pants (help prevent mosquito bites). Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration from excessive perspiration.

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


Our trip raised $4000 for the UK Orangutan Foundation. We visited a nursery and bought trees to be replanted. We chose ones which produce fruit, are fast growing and will give food to the Orangutans. A visit to a local village and purchasing souvenirs to support the local economy. We also collected a small amount of rubbish as we walked through the jungle.

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


It was a truly an amazing experience and would thoroughly recommend it to other travelers.

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