Sign Up for Our Monthly Explorer Newsletter
The Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra are the only places on the planet where orangutans can be seen in the wild. As fellow great apes, orangutans share about 96% of their DNA with humans, and join gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos in this category. They are also arboreal, spending most of their time in the rainforest’s many trees.
Local tour operators such as River Junkie — which is based in Malaysian Borneo — and international tour operators including National Geographic Expeditions have the expertise to put clients in the best positions to see these magnificent but critically endangered species. Several local organizations, such as Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, are among those doing vital work to keep these “people of the forest” from becoming extinct in the wild. (“Orangutan” is derived from the Malay/Indonesian words “orange” for man and “hutan” for forest.)
Pro tip: If clients are in need of human creature comforts during their stay in Borneo, Sukau Rainforest Lodge on the banks of the Kinabatangan River, as well as the Borneo Rainforest Lodge deep in the Danum Valley, are ideal places to rest before venturing forth — with a camera or binoculars in hand.