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>  Volunteer Projects Asia  >  Tribe volunteer in Borneo

Experience the local culture and volunteer to help save the Orangutans from £1095/ per person

Take an unforgettable orangutan jungle tour on the island of Borneo and visit 2 orangutan centres; the Matang Wildlife Centre and the Semenggoh Nature Reserve; as well as 3 national parks - Bako National Park, Kubah National Park and Batang Ai National Park. Both orangutan centres and all the national parks are managed by Sarawak Forestry Corporation.

This voluntour is crafted to raise awareness of the conservation efforts made in Sarawak, Borneo, to bring harmony between people and orangutans. The 14-days/13-night voluntour is a voyage of discovery, giving you one-day "back stage passes" to see captive orangutans being rehabilitated at Matang Wildlife Centre, the released semi-wild orangutans of Semenggoh Nature Reserve, the seven different habitats of Borneo in the amazing National Park at Bako and a one week trip into the rainforest. Here you will meet the descendents of the legendary headhunters of Borneo - the Iban tribes - now the custodians of the wild orangutans of Batang Ai National Park.

This project gives you a great opportunity to spend time up close with orangutans to see the conservation efforts behind their rehabilitation. Followed by a trek to surround yourself with the culture of the Iban tribes and hopefully see some wild orangutans on the way if you're lucky!


Project Summary

Focus: Orangutan & Tribes

Location: Sarawak Malaysian Borneo
Duration: 2 weeks

Arrival and starting point: Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

Start Dates: 
3rd of every month 2014(please note that August &  October 3rd are full)
17th of the month, May - October 2014
(please note: August & October 17th are full)
Minimum age: 18


Day 1(3rd): Arrive in Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo (airport code KCH). You will be met at the airport and transferred to the guesthouse for a welcome dinner and to meet all your fellow volunteers.

Day 2 (4th): Orangutan & Animal Wildlife Centre. You will have breakfast and then transfer to the wildlife centre to meet the centres’ English facilitator and of course all the animals at the centre including the amazing orangutans.

Day 3 (5th): Work at the Orangutan centre. Today you will get the opportunity to work behind the scenes with the staff at a busy rehabilitation centre to help with everyday tasks such as the feeding of the animals, the cleaning of enclosures and the orangutan enrichment. Please note there will be no touching or holding of orangutan or other animals for their safety and yours.

Days 4 & 5 (6th & 7th) Bako National Park. You will work with the orangutans in the morning and at mid-day head for Bako National Park having lunch on the way.

After a short boat ride you will reach Sarawak’s oldest national park and settle into the chalets provided. There is an optional night walk in jungle. The jungle trails at Bako are varied and beautiful, taking visitors through 5 different kinds of rainforest. There are numerous idyllic sandy beaches that are safe to swim from against the backdrop of lush tropical rainforest. 

Day 6 (8th) Bako National Park and Damai beach. After a final morning you will transfer to Damai beach. Here you will spend the night in the very comfortable accommodation of Permai Rainforest Resort.

Day 7 (9th): Sarawak Cultural Village. Visit the cultural village, a ‘living museum’ to the Dayaks (indigenous tribes) of Borneo; including the famous head-hunters and fearsome. All are represented in colourful traditional dress in a realistic representation of how these tribes lived their lives inside a rainforest; there are demonstrations of their crafts, dances and traditions.

In the afternoon transfer back to Kuching, for your final night in the guesthouse before departing for Batang Ai.

Day 8 (10th):Transfer to Batang Ai National Park- Orangutan country! When you reach the mountainous border with Indonesia, you will transfer to light weight traditional longboats and begin a boat journey into the heart of Borneo through the untouched tropical rainforest looking out for the wildlife that lies within. That evening you will find yourself in the vast garden of the remaining wild orangutan.

Day 9-12 (11th-14th): Batang Ai rainforest. Regular activities include walks into the surrounding rainforest in search of its elusive inhabitants - the orangutan and other wildlife. You can also learn traditional handicrafts, cooking and survival or fishing as well as have the opportunity to talk (with translation) with the tribes people. There will be picnics amidst breath-taking scenery; a night out in the open jungle for the more adventurous; or swimming in crocodile-free, jungle rivers and waterfalls. 

Day 13 (15th): Transfer back to Kuching and for those who want to see more orangutans there is an opportunity to visit the Semenggoh rehabilitation centre on the return journey. This is an amazing photograph opportunity and a chance to really observe how the largest arboreal animal in the world navigates through the trees.Then back to beds and a warm shower at the guesthouse before getting some sleep ready for your departure tomorrow. 

Day 14 (16th): Departure. Transfer to Kuching airport for your return or onward journey.


On this tour you will discover more about the positive conservation efforts being made, uncovering some of the existing problems and some of the solutions to sustaining orangutan populations in the safe havens of Malaysia.

With the extinction of orangutans being predicted in 20 years, you can help be part of a possible solution. On this project your money goes directly into supporting the rehabilitation of the orangutans that you will visit. You will also be helping to support the Iban tribes with ecotourism money. This gives them the means to protect their native jungle where wild orangutans live in peace and harmony, it helps them afford education and healthcare for their children and allows them to live in a traditional manner within their long house communities whilst still meeting their modern aspirations.

Since this a voluntour, you should go with an open mind, appreciating the opportunity to discover new lifestyles and cultures, enjoying yourself, learning more about orangutans and their conservation and interacting with your fellow travellers.

Your actions and attitude towards your host community are paramount to its success. You will be entering a culture and lifestyle very different to that which you are used to. By adopting your responsibilities and being open to everything this tour has to offer, you will not only improve the quality of your experience but, more importantly, improve the quality of life for the host destination.


Your tour employs local guides and supports local communities wishing to live in harmony with their rainforest home and demonstrates that orangutans and forests are worth more alive than chopped down. This is a virtuous circle, generating interest within the local community and authorities to place value on their natural heritage and virtually guarantees the protection of orangutan populations in this area.

You will gain an insight into the world of the orangutan and learn more about conservation. You will experience a meaningful holiday that you will be able to share with others, increasing the awareness of this amazing great ape.


Is there an age limit?
Travellers should be aged 18 or over though there are no upper age restrictions. The only provision is that you are fit and healthy. 

What level of fitness is needed on this placement?
The small amount of work you will be involved with for the first 2 days at the wildlife centre is physical and the temperature high so volunteers should have a decent fitness level. Please note that the terrain in the National Parks is hilly and you will be expected to be able to jungle trek in hot and humid environments, if you cannot you will be left behind so it is worth undertaking a fitness regime beforehand.

I don't like bugs, will I see many?
You are entering the Rainforest. You will see a large selection of bugs, insects and reptiles alike. An open mind is all that is needed to maximise enjoyment of this programme. The guides are there to ensure your safety.

During jungle trekking there will always be a guide leading you, ensuring the pathway is safe and there will be a guide following your group. If you return to your accommodation to find an unwanted visitor go to your guide who will help.

Where will my donation go?
Donations are spent on: 
1. On-going project work at Matang Wildlife Centre, which is the location of the flagship volunteering program The Great Orangutan Project
2. Wider conservation efforts undertaken in partnership with Sarawak Forestry Corporation
3. Reforestation - helping to create more species diverse forest by planting primary rainforest species under the pioneer tree canopy ( such as dipterocarpaceae, fabaceae and malvaceae) in certain areas. You may also be adding fruiting tree species to wild orangutan habitat.

Is insurance needed?
Yes, insurance is compulsory and without it you will not be allowed to go jungle trekking. You should specifically mention to your insurance company that you will be jungle trekking and spending time around semi wild animals. We can offer insurance if needed.

Can I talk to previous volunteers?
Yes, and we encourage you to do so. If you have a Facebook account you can join our The Great Projects' page where many of our previous volunteers post photos and talk about their experiences. You can also find out more in by visiting our reviews section.

How do I go about booking my flights?
Please try to book your flights as far as possible in advance of your departure as flights become more expensive with time. We will provide you with some additional information in the 'Know Before You Go' pack that we send when we have received your deposit. If you have any difficulties feel free to contact our support team.

Do I need a mosquito net?
Volunteers sometimes leave behind their mosquito nets but we cannot guarantee availability so if in any doubt please bring your own.

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