Photos do not do justice to the beauty we were surrounded by for the last 3 days. Flying into Borneo we were beyond excited for a trip we have been looking forward to for months - traveling by boat (and living on said boat!) to see the jungles of Borneo and see the Orangutans. We took too many photos to count (and unfortunately our zoom function doesn't do these amazing animals justice) but here's the best of what we have.
I divided into sections. So, first and foremost, pictures of the Orangutans. We saw most of these at the various feeding platforms that are set throughout the park but our last day while eating lunch we also saw some wild ones eating at the river.
Orangutans are vegetarians that weigh around 90kg and have the strength of 8 men! The don't live in familial groups, and instead live in certain geographic areas with one male who is the alpha male and then the females. The alpha male has wider cheek pads that grow to reflect his role. He also can produce the long call to communicate across his territory with a large "turkey neck" (for lack of a better word). The women nurse their young for 7 years and in the first few years of the baby's life, the baby never touches the ground. They also have 4 hands and 4 feet, as each of these function as both hands and feet. It's how they are able to climb anything and distribute their weight so well when swinging from tree to tree.
We did everything on our boat, called a klotok. What a fun home for 3 days! We had 360 degree views with a staff of 5 to take care of everything, including guiding us, preparing amazing meals, and navigating the boat. At night they'd set up our bed and mosquito net and we'd be surrounded by nature on all sides. My favorite was waking up to the proboscis monkeys that would make the most fun sounds - wow woooooow. I always wondered what was exciting them at such an early hour!
Two highlights stand out from our time on the boat, the first night we got to eat a candle lit dinner surrounded by fireflies and the second night we slept on a black river. Such unique experiences that we so special to share together.
As beautiful and fun as this experience was, the facts are depressing about what humans are doing to their habitat. Orangutans used to be all over SE Asia but now are only found on Boreno and Sumatra, and even those numbers are drastically smaller than years prior. Palm oil exports and illegal logging are quickly destroying fertile jungle that is the 3rd most biologically diverse in the world. Indonesia's forests have 10% of the world's plants, 12% of mammal, and 17% of reptile and amphibian, and 17% of bird species. A really amazing sanctuary for all these animals and an astounding amount of plant life that needs protection. We were glad to do our part with eco tourism but will be looking at what other things we can do to help this really special area.
We were lucky to have a great guide, Arif, who was intelligent and deeply caring about the habitat that he works in. He shared so many facts with us and it was fun to learn more from him about not only orangutans, but all primates in the area, vegetation, and his life and customs. I would highly recommend him for your tour, contact him directly at: email@example.com. He was the best! You can also find him (and his gorgeous photos!) on facebook at BorneoPrimate Tour.