This story is taken from a 4 days, 3 nights Orangutan Voyage, March, 10th-13th 2013.
After collecting our guests from Iskandar Airport in Pangkalan Bun we drove to notch a 25 minutes car ride where we were welcomed by the crew of the Klotok that was going to be our guests home for the next 4 day s. The weather had turned for the worse with strong winds and heavy rain making steering the Klotok againts the river current a challenging job for the Captain.
Whilst taking in the scenery on both side of Sekonyer River, our guests were served a delicious lunch followed by fresh fruit and plenty of cold drinks. This was our guests first trip on a Klotok and their first visit to Tanjung Puting National Park but they were already adapting to life on board.
The rain ceased and sky gradually brightened to reveal the sun and after just over 1 hour we reached one of the existing Orangutan rehabilitation centre in the National Park Tanjung Puting, here we were lucky enough to see groups of long-tailed macaques grooming each other and mother’s breast-feeding their babies. A pair of black hornbills flew over the Klotok which according to the local Dayak community is a symbol of good luck.
Another 2 hours on and we arrived at the feeding station of Tanjung Harapan, bananas and milk (milk powder mixed with water) are placed onto the paltform by one of the staff members and every now and again he would shout to the Orangutans to come down. Hearing sounds above in the trees is a clear sign that the Orang Utans are on their way. An adult female with an infant just over 2 years old were the first to arrived followed a few minutes later by the others, 1 adult female with baby,1 adult male, 2 adolescent females and 3 adult females all with infants. They all enjoyed tucking into bananas and milk and some put as many bananas as possible into their mouhts and moved to a safer area to enjoy in peace.
It was starting to get dark although still
only 4-30pm mainly because we were under canopy, so we returned to the Klotok to resume our journey. From a distance we saw several groups of Proboscis monkeys or Dutch monkey on the branches over hanging the river. Some were still moving from tree to tree but others were stting back watching a chase that had
developed. The Proboscis is one of 9 species of primate that exist in Tanjung Puting National Park and endemic to the island of Borneo. As it was now dark we stopped at the side of the river and tethered the Klotok to tree.The Klotok crew prepared the beds and mosquito nets while the guests listened to the sounds of the nocturnal animals while enjoying dinner by candlelights. After dinner everyone went to bed early tired from the first day’s activities.
After an enjoyable breakfast, we proceeded d
own the river to visit the other Orangutan rehabilitation camp whilst observing other wildlife thaat exist on both sides of the river and rainforest vegetation in Tanjung Puting National Park. After approximately 1 and half hours we arrived at Pondok Tanggui and visited the camp to watch the Orang Utans feeding for 09:0am. Sounds camp staff Tarzan calls the rehabilitated Orang Utan and their wild borned infants to come down from trees, his call resonates all around the forest and this he does over and over again. After about 15 minutes and adult female and her baby start ro make their way down, slowly moving for tree to tree the mother and baby are great photo opportunity for our visitors. After an hour we headed back to the Klotok and proceeded back to Pondok Tanggui which is locatedin the headwaters. Meanwhile snacksa and soft drinks are served on board and our visitors can enjoy the vegetation on both sides of the river.
The captain slowed the Klotok down and stopped by the river side as Orng Utan were spotted in a grey tree about 25 meters up to on the right side of Sekonyer River. The wild Orang Utan looked a little scared and he hid behind the trees watching us, every now and again he would make a noise like the sounds of kiss (kissquick) and he snapped the twigs in anger because we were there. A few minutes after another wild Orang Utan was spotted grabbing tree branch to eat the fruits. These were the first wild Orang Utan that our guests had seen and another good opportunity to take photographs, soon the wild Orang Utans had disappeared into the forest to get away from the noise of the Klotok and the human visitors, and we continued our journey to Camp Leakey.
Reaching the river crossing the waters change colour form a murky brown to black. The river water on the right of the intersection shows the contamination by illegal mining (murky brown), the river water on the left of the
intersection where the rehabilitation camp is and where the famous Camp Leakey is situated is tea-coloured because it is a peat swamp forest that contains a high acid content which indicates that the river is not contaminated. This part of the river is narrower and the Klotok Captain had to extra careful because there a lot of fallen
trees underneath and he did not want to catch the bottom of the Klotok on the trees. On this part of the river we saw a variety of Birds and animals including a Stork-billed Kingfisher, Black and Red Broadbill, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Black Hornbill, Pied Fan-tail, False gharial, Long-tailed Macaque, and three heads of wild Orangutans who were looking in the direction of Camp Leakey.
On our arrival into Camp Leakey we enjoyed lunch and a rest before going to the feeding platform 2:00pm which is almost 2 miles away on foot.
Leaving the camp behind us we started on our walk to the feeding platform along a 200 metre long and 1 metre wide walkway. The bridge is made from ironwood which is very hard and sturdy and endemic to the island of Borneo. The walkway was constructedin 2003/2004 by foreign volunteer funded by the Orangutan Foundation International where volunteers pay to stay for 1-2 months to work on different projects in and around Tanjung Puting National Park a great way to spend part of a Gap year.
On arrival at the feeding station the visitors were very excited to see many Orangutans hanging from the trees some were running along the ground to get to the paltfrom as fast as possible so they could tuck into the milk and fruits. There was a tense moment when an adult male approached the platform some of the Orangutans ran off but a couple stayed on the platform. This large male was Tom, the dominant male at the camp; he weights approximately 120kg(264lb or nearly 19 stone). His mother was called Tut one of Camp Leakey’s rehabilitated Orangutans. The staff were still placing food onto the platform but our guests had taken many photographs and so they said enough then we made our way back to the Klotok where we continued on our journey to Pondok Ambung and on arrival we had an Indonesian dinner again by candlelight. Afterwards we went to explore the forest at night accompanied by camp staff and field officers from Tanjung Puting National Park Authority. The birds were were all asleep and the camp staff made sounds similar to that of nocturnal animals of the the forest. We walked for almost an hour looking at the mushroom that glowed in the dark, tarantula, deer and porcupines. The trekking paths that we used were also used for research purposes. On our return to the Klotok the crew had prepared the guest beds and mosquito nets and this gives our guests an opportunity to check the images they had taken on their cameras. Two hours later it was dark because the Klotok’s electricity was off and replaced with candle therefore time for sleep.
We were waken by the melodious sounds of the gibbon calling to each other in the forest,also the sounds of different bird on the trees. The air was very fresh and the various species of plants and trees gave of a distinctive smell makiing Tanjung Puting beautiful place to be in early morning. Breakfast sered on Board as we made our waydown river to Pesalat a 2 hours trip as the Klotok slowly navigates the river, it is the other opportunity to take in the sights and sounds along the river bank. Arriving at Pesalat which is a reforestation site we walked aloong a 900 metre walkway (bridge) that connects the swamp forest and the lowland forest where you can see various species of ferns in the swamp forest and other plant species.
arriving at the site we were greeted by a member of the field staff, a Friend of the National Park Foundation. He inform us of the names of many trees species that had been planted in nursery nd our guests helped plant seeds in specially prepared area of Pesalat. This was a great experience for our guests as they could participate in the preservation of the rainforest at ground level and not just to enjoy the beauty, nature and wildlife alone. After lunch we visited Sekonyer River village which is around the edge of Tanjung Puting National Park, the vilaggers sell crafts including Orangutan sculptures,bracelets,rings and crafts made from plants and t-shirts with various motifs including the Orangutan. The shop assistants are always very pleases when visitors buy their gifts as it help their village.
Back on the Klotok continuing the journey down river taking in the wildlife at the forest edge and after another delicious dinner our guests sit back and relax on their last night, a spectacular show of thousand of twinkling fireflies a wonderful sight to see before going to sleep. It was so amazing! Last morning we were up early to enjoy a relaxing breakfast and coffee and to soak up the atmosphere whilst proceeding to Kumai where our guests are escorted to the Airport to continue either to other destinations or home.