A Trip of a Lifetime: Part 2 (Travel Diary in Borneo)
Last year we hosted a major competition for “A Trip of a Lifetime” with our friends at The Orangutan Project. In October 2018, our lucky winner, Cathy Parker, went on an 8 day Orangutan Odyssey Riverboat Adventure in Borneo hosted with Sumatra Orangutan Odyssey Tour!
In our Part 1, the Parker Family documented their journey from Australia to Borneo (The Rimba Lodge) and their first monkey sighting! Follow along for Part 2 of their amazing travel experience…
An early start saw us back on the klotoks to head deeper into the national park.
As we head further down the river we notice the water which had been brown up to this point begins to take on a distinctive black colour. We are told that this is the sign of a healthy waterway in a rainforest caused by the nutrients from the dense foliage. The grey colour we had been seeing was runoff from a nearby gold mine.
The unfortunate part of this mine runoff is that it has put a lot of mercury into the water poisoning the eco-system. We saw many fishing villages along our trip where fishing was how they made their living and of course fed their family. The fish they were eating had dangerous levels of mercury.
As we moved down the river, we met many other klotoks.
… and sometimes it looked like we might not find a way through…
When we ventured into the rainforest on foot we were immersed in a land of ancient trees, giant tree roots, moss covered everything, and we could even hear Indonesian cicadas which have a different pitch to ours.
After lunch we arrive at Camp Leakey, an orangutan feeding station. These feeding stations are a point of contention for our guide Leif Cocks. The feeding stations have been designed to help former captive orangutans reintegrate back into the forest, however as there is free food on offer every day it doesn’t help teach wild orangutans how to hunt for their own food.
However, for us it is the best opportunity we have to see orangutans up close.
And that’s exactly what we got…
But first to get a feed was a Gibbon. He obviously wanted to get some food and disappear before the orangutans arrived. The gibbon has a funny way of walking with its extra-long arms and legs, he came down two or three times and each time he did, he got a laugh from those watching.
All then went quiet. The Indonesian handlers tried calling the orangutans to let them know food was ready. After about ten minutes we heard the noise of branches bending and breaking as the big apes moved closer from all angles, first of all these sounds were distant and gradually they got closer and closer.
Before long we were surrounded by orangutans in the trees….
As we watched, the orangutans came down one at a time. We later learned that an orangutan troop has a distinct pecking order and the more senior orangutans get first go at the fruit.
As they come down they keep one eye out for a more senior member of the troop which if they come down from the tree, the junior one will scamper for the trees.
After the excitement of seeing so many orangutans, we were back on the klotok, only this time we will be sleeping on it. As we travel towards darkness we see monkeys in the trees on both sides. We learn that monkeys come to the rivers edge every night to sleep as it means that danger can only come from one side giving them some piece of mind with their sentries only needing to watch for enemies coming from the land side.
The guides quickly set up our bedding complete with mosquito nets. We slept to the noise of all the nocturnal animals. At first light we were woken by the gibbons, the roosters of the jungle.
To be continued…
Wow! Day 3 was a jam-packed adventure full of orangutan sightings and total immersion in the rainforest. We hope you picked up a fun fact about orangutans from Cathy’s diary entries! Did you enjoy following along?
Continue reading about the Parker Family’s Orangutan Adventures here – Part 3.