Trip up the Sekonyer River

We just got back from a two day/one night trip up the river near Kumai (Borneo) to see the orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park. This is the main, and only, tourist attraction in this part of Borneo, and it was one of the things we have most anticipated on our tour through Indonesia. We signed on with “Herry”, a local tour guide operator who has a very good reputation among other sailors who have been here in previous years, to take a tour up the river on a local klotok (a wooden boat – see pictures we have posted).

The boat has a big deck on top, open, except for a canopy overhead to protect you from the sun and rain, that was our private space while our “crew” including a guide, a pilot, a cook and a “boat boy” worked mainly on the lower deck to take care of everything we needed on the trip. The klotoks are very simple, but felt quite luxurious to us as we are so used to doing everything ourselves and suddenly we had people making us food, steering the boat, cleaning up after us, serving us tea, etc. The boat ride takes you up a narrow river, lined by thick vegetation up into the national park where the orangutans live. The ride is lovely with many types of monkeys in the trees overhead, tropical birds and even some crocodiles and large lizards. Our guide was named Seapon and he is a native Dayak (an indigenous ethnic group in Indonesia) who spent 11 years working at Camp Leakey (the main site for the orangutans).

We stopped at three places over the 2 days and hiked into the jungle to view the orangutans who come down to specific feeding sites. They were pretty amazing and we took lots of great photos. In between orangutan viewings we were entertained by our guide Seapon and were fed wonderful meals. We anchored in the river at night and the crew set up our beds for us – thick mats on the floor of the deck – and covered each bed with mosquito nets. The crew sat and fished from the boat while Mark and Hannah and I had dinner and just sat in the candlelight talking and listening to the wonderful jungle sounds. At dusk there were hundreds of monkeys in the trees lining the river – including the fantastic proboscis monkeys ( they have huge long noses) and then after dark the trees were just filled with fireflies. It was a terrific trip.


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