Going Ape: Tanjung Puting, Central Kalimantan

Wa wa wee wah! “Jules” came to visit and Borat was there in spirit!

After seven years of not seeing each other, Jules and I soon realized that we were just as childish as ever.

Our trip was in two parts. The first to Central Kalimantan (Kalimantan tengah) to visit an orangutan conservation center. Here was our itinerary:

Day One

Early breakfast at Pontianak’s Peony hotel, where we met eccentric Alex, our tour organizer. He drives us to the dock where we are to catch the speed boat to Melano.  The ride was stunning, a river dividing two thick banks of jungle. We embarrassingly got off at the wrong stop and had to get back on the boat ashamed.

From Melano to Ketapang, we took a local bus for two hours: cramped, bumpy and stiflingly hot, but surprisingly enjoyable. We spent the night in Ketapang.

Day Two

Flight Ketapang to Pangkalabun. We immediately took a taxi to Kumai harbour where our guide Majid introduced us to his crew. I loved being on the klotok (our boat house for the trip to the national park).

The klotok was called Satrio 03 and it was double decked with a bathroom at the back We lived on the top deck, under a canopy, and the crew lived down below.

What a life! The chef was excellent! We feasted like queens on giant prawns, friend chicken, rice and veggies.

Our first site was Haparan Village.  Majid lead us into the forest and, en route to the feeding station, we caught our first glimpse of the orangutans, high up in the trees.

About four other groups arrived at the station before the rangers began calling the apes.  Soon, they started to appear: first a lone female, then a mother of two, followed by the king himself:Tom.

Tom was amazing.  And due to this arrival, none of the other men could visit the station.

What was on the menu? Bananas! Duh!

Back at the klotok we had an amazing dinner and spent the night playing cards with Majid and the Captain.  I slept soundly under our (my and Jules’) shared mosquito net.

Day Three

An early morning wake up call (monkeys, birds, etc) was followed by a generator driven, water-pump shower and breakfast.  Camp Tagui was the next stop and was equally amazing.  Jules and I were sitting on a bench when King Tom came up right beside us.  He was only a meter away!

BACKTRACK: Before we got off the klotok, Laura asked if I was scared.  “No” was my answer, confused as to what there was to be scared of.  But when Tom came that close to us, and the guides, with panic filled eyes, told us to move away, I understood.

It wasn’t a hoax… the apes were wild! There went my mental image of a photo op with me caressing a baby orangutan…

We moved on to Camp Leaky, the main site, and the klotok parked at the boardwalk for lunch, There, Tuut and Thomas (King Tom’s mother and brother) greeted us.  We disembarked for a photo session.

I was terrified, ruining my own picture. BAH.

We saw tons of orangutans here, maybe because the menu was better (sugarcane for dessert). King Tom tried his luck with the ladies, but none being to his satisfaction, he clumsily climbed a tree that was far too skinny to carry his weight and disappeared into the jungle.

The rain started and that lead us to return to our kolotok, where a storm followed. (It rained on Jules’ bed that night). :(

Day Four

We flew back to Pontianak stinky, tired, bug eaten, but extremely satisfied.

Yesh Mesh, Great Succes!

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  1. Pingback: See Simi Travel Blog » I get around: ten non-traditional means of transportation

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