We are delighted to share this post written by Justin Wateridge, Managing Director of Steppes Travel.
“Can we hold one of the baby orangutans?”
“You can’t hold them. That wouldn’t be right. They need to be released into the wild when they are older and they must not become too habituated to people.” I beamed with pride at the grown-up and correct response from my eight-year old son.
Just hours earlier we had flown into Pangkalan Bun, the southernmost airport of the massive island of Borneo and the access point to Tanjung National Park, home to the man of the forest, the orangutan. Before journeying into Tanjung Puting we were fortunate enough to be visiting Lamandau Wildlife Reserve at the personal invitation of the Orangutan Foundation UK.
Yet at the time, standing at the dock in Pangkalan Bun, I sense the mood of the team was not one of being lucky. The vagaries of flight timings in a remote part of Indonesia and our misconceived western obsession with punctuality meant that we were late and tired. Our mood reflected the grey skies above. The four speedboats bobbing precariously in the water did little to alleviate the temper of the Mums, the drops of rain only further dampened spirits.
However, twenty minutes out of Pangkalan Bun we turned off the brown sludge of the wide and featureless Kumai River and headed up the much smaller and altogether more exciting Arut River. The speedboats raced along the black tannin river which was only several meters wide, hemmed in by a riot of vegetation. Slaloming through the foliage of the forest in the hope that the river did not have a two-way traffic system was adrenalin-charged. Parents likened it to the Bond film ‘Live and let die’ and children to Willie Wonka’s glass elevator; both found it exhilarating. Read more...