Go on an Ecotour

ECOTOUR OPPORTUNITIES STILL AVAILABLE (BUT FILLING UP)

Join OURF founder Gary Shapiro and his wife Inngriani Shapiro for an ecotour in Borneo! Our many destinations on this special, 14-day trip (May 18-31, 2021) are within and between the forests of Central & East Kalimantan (Borneo) where we'll see orangutans in their natural environment, visit the local people, and witness the changes to the rainforest ecosystem. You will be co-hosted by Dr. Gary and Inggriani Shapiro, a couple who know orangutans and Indonesia very well. Gary has been studying orangutans for over 47 years, and Inggriani is an Indonesian who is a practitioner in the eastern healing arts, including meditation, yoga, and massage therapy. Gary is co-hosting this expedition as part of his 70th birthday year celebration. Throughout the expedition, you will have the opportunity to attend lectures on orangutans and yoga therapy sessions to engage your mind and restore your body. 

Our first stop is Tanjung Puting National Park, where your co-host Gary spent time 40+ years ago studying orangutans and helping rehabilitate ex-captive orangutans. At Camp Leakey, we may come across Tom, the dominant male at the feeding station. We'll see both reintroduced and wild orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii), as well as a host of other rainforest animals. Tanjung Puting National Park is home to rare and interesting species including the proboscis monkey and the false gavial, a strange-looking crocodile. But, it's the orangutan that most people come here to visit. Its sheer beauty and gentle demeanour endears one of our closest relatives to our hearts.

After visiting this wonderful animal's natural environment, we'll head to Palangka Raya, the capital of Central Borneo, to visit the peat forests of Sebangau National Park. We'll meet the staff at the field station operated by a partner organization, the Borneo Nature Foundation, and learn about the research and conservation activities at this important ecosystem.  

We'll also travel upriver to visit the orangutan islands operated by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, another partnering group. Later we will visit their education center at the famous Nyaru Menteng reintroduction center.

Next, we'll fly to Balikpapan in East Borneo, then drive to Samarinda for the night. Along the way, we'll observe the changing landscape of this wealthy province, which is currently making preparations to host Indonesia's new national capital. 

From Samarinda, we'll head to the Mahakam River, which is known for being the habitat of the critically endangered Mahakam river dolphins. We'll go on a day cruise on the river, search for dolphins, and witness the busy activity on the river. Later we'll visit a traditional burial site and begin our trip to Sangatta, the gateway to Kutai National Park. Along the way, we'll stop to visit the equator monument and have lunch at a Buddhist restaurant in Botang Kuala. 

The next day we will begin our jungle trekking in Kutai National Park, home of the wild orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus morio). This darker-haired subspecies of the Bornean orangutan is only type found in this part of East Borneo and Sabah. We'll spend the day in the forest guided by local rangers and witness orangutans make their nests for the evening before returning to our hotel. 

After breakfast, we'll begin our journey overland to Berau and the Dayak village of Merasa. Along the way, we'll stop at Bukit Pelangi Hills to see the biggest coal mine in Indonesia. We'll also see palm oil plantations and witness the environmental challenges facing this developing country and its natural heritage with our own eyes. One we arrive at Merasa, we will experience a welcoming ceremony and meet our host families, who will provide us with a homestay experience for the next two nights. During our stay, we will participate in normal Dayak life but, take excursions by motorized canoes to the orangutan islands operated by the Center for Orangutan Protection (COP) to see the orangutans and the other sights along the river. 

On our last full day in the field, we'll say goodbye to our Dayak hosts and visit the COP Orangutan Center to learn about the process of rehabilitating and reintroducing orangutans to the wild. Later we'll transfer to our hotel in Berau town for a final dinner and a walk around town in search of exotic fruits. 

We will make our way back to Jakarta via Balikpapan the next morning or stay in the region for a post-tour excursion to the beautiful Derawan Island or the island of Maratua. Both are enjoyable for 2 ½ days of snorkelling, swimming, exploring, and relaxing. 

Your special guest hosts

You will be co-hosted by Dr. Gary and Inggriani Shapiro, a couple who know orangutans and Indonesia very well. Gary has been studying orangutans for over 46 years and Inggriani is an Indonesian who is a practitioner in the eastern healing arts, including meditation, yoga & massage therapy. Throughout the expedition, you will be given the opportunity to attend lectures on orangutans and yoga therapy sessions to engage your mind and restore your body. 

Gary talks tours

Hello! I have now completed several Orangutan Odysseys Eco-tours to Tanjung Puting National Park. On each one, we all had a great time, learned all about the orangutan's habitat, met old orangutan friends, made new human friends, and most importantly, raised awareness and much-needed funds to help save this endangered species. In the complex world of conservation and animal behaviour, it's difficult to fully grasp the realities of what we see on just a short tour. That's why I feel that the members on this tour, being able to discuss the deeper insights of conservation and behaviour, will enjoy the trip so much more. Plus we will be visiting several locations, including a place I've never seen before-Kutai National Park. That will be my birthday present. The more you know about something, the more interesting it gets! With any holiday, travelers waste a lot of time getting from one place to the other, but time can fly when you have the opportunity to discuss what you've just seen and what you're about to see in a holistic and in-depth context. It would be great to have you on board!
 
Gary says "Want an enjoyable holiday, but want it to be something more? Why not see what's really going on, connect with one of the most intelligent fellow beings on the planet, meet the people working on the environmental frontlines, and become part of the solution!" 

What to expect

You are embarking on an adventure to places and amongst people whose lives are very different from your own. Many aspects of life in Indonesia will seem unusual. Remember that these are often the same aspects that make an area an exotic and attractive destination. While boat expeditions are considered easy, no trek is easy - even those rated "easy" or "moderate." In addition to the physical challenges you might face, travel conditions can present unexpected obstacles, such as rough and bumpy roads and changeable weather. To prepare for this, "pack" a flexible and relaxed attitude. Bring a spirit of adventure and inquiry, a healthy sense of humour, and a willingness to encounter the unexpected and your trip to Indonesia will be the adventure of a lifetime!

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