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Indonesia - Orangutan Conservation Expedition

Discover the tropical rain forests of Indonesia while conducting vital research to ensure the survival of the endangered orangutans in the region.



Fast Facts

Location of ProjectSumatra, Indonesia
Project Costs$990 USD for students with valid ID and $1,290 USD for non-students
Project Length13 days
Arrival AirportKuala Namu International Airport
Volunteer WorkResearch, observation, and data collection
Age18 - 80

What's Included

AccommodationBasic bamboo huts
FoodThree meals a day
SupportLocal in-country team and 24hr emergency support
Airport TransfersKuala Namu International Airport
Pre-Departure Kit Full project details will be sent following registration
Orientation All necessary training and introductions provided upon arrival

What's Not Included

Flights, travel health insurance, personal expenses, visa (about $30 USD), departure tax (about $8 USD)


The project is located on the beautiful island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Sumatra’s tropical rainforests dominate the landscape and contain diverse populations of plant and animal species, including the Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Orangutan, and Dhole, to name a few.

The project base is located in the rice fields of Timbang Lawan, a village in the north of Sumatra.  This project also conducts research in Bukit Lawang, Ketambe and Suaq on Sumatra, and Sebangau and Tuanan in Kalimantan.


About the Project

The project is run through a dedicated organization that aims to investigate the special behaviors and ecological conditions necessary to maintain the health of wild orangutans. It strives to create an understanding of the instinctive behaviors of the orangutan species directly related to health and disease, namely parasite ecology, self-medicative behavior, and the effects of human contact on orangutan health. This information directly helps with biodiversity conservation, increasing the success of primate reintroduction programs, and implementing sustainable tourism into the region.

The research this organization conducts is also crucial to increasing public knowledge of orangutans and the threats to their survival, and could potentially develop new ways of managing the threats of disease in wild primate populations.

Most of the research is carried out in three main locations within Sumatra, all within the protected Leuser Ecosystem, which spans from North Sumatra to Ache. 


Volunteer Work and Contribution

Volunteer programs run for a 13 day cycle every month. Participants will start with general field and office task orientation, later moving onto more intense activities, such as forest treks and visiting the feeding platform. On the 5th day of the project, volunteers will be mostly trekking and staying overnight in the forest for observation and data collection purposes.  Alternatively, volunteers will do long day treks, looking for signs of populations numbers while observing the orangutan in its natural habitat and collecting data on certain behaviors.

It is important to note that there is no physical contact with the orangutans during the expedition.  

Volunteer tasks will include: 

  • Orangutan behavioral data entry
  • Processing (cataloguing, weighing, inventorying) fecal or plant samples;
  • Preserving plant samples in our herbarium
  • Preparing new plant samples for our herbarium;
  • Shopping for project supplies in town or at the local market;
  • Updating weather and climate data
  • Helping with maintenance of headquarters and project equipment 
  • Locating areas with significant wild orangutan populations
  • Finding and following wild orangutans for individual identification and to collect behavioral data.

Living Arrangements


On base: While at the research base, you will stay in a very basic, shared bamboo huts. You will be provided with a mattress and a mosquito net, and there is small bathroom with squat toilet facilities (there is no running water). Volunteers are required to wash with cold water and a bucket or in the nearby river.

Camping: During longer treks, you will camp in the forest for up to 5 nights, relying on tarpaulin and a thin pad. Food during this time will be cooked over an open fire and safe drinking water will be collected from the river and boiled. 

Food: Meals are provided three times a day. The food will consist of basic Indonesian cuisine (rice, noodles, vegetables etc.) with plenty of fruit.

Internet: The base has electricity with minimal outages and there is free WiFi available as well. 

Laundry: No laundry facilities are available. Expect to hand wash your clothes. 


Travel Highlights

The project schedule allows for volunteers to have free time to explore the surrounding area, providing the opportunity to get familiar with the culture and environment. Some of the activities that are available for an additional cost include:

  • River rafting, tubing, kayaking and swimming
  • Cooking classes
  • Massage
  • Elephant trekking
It is also possible to organize a day trip with the staff to see a local school, visit an oil palm plantation, try out traditional bamboo rafting, and explore the area on motorbikes.

Minimum Requirements

  • Minimum age 18
  • High level of fitness
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Interest in wildlife conservation
  • Open mindedness and ability to live in basic conditions
  • Ability to adapt to surroundings


Here's an excerpt of Jeannine's experience:


"Another trek we did was for two days in Batu Kapal. In this area we were very lucky because we got rewarded with wild orangutans. It was so impressive and beautiful to observe them and to see how they were acting and communicating with each other. It was definitely a memory that I will never forget."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Sonia's experience:


"For the first five days, we helped the staff with data entry, maintaining the bamboo huts, and drying plants collected in previous jungle treks. We were also provided detailed information about the orangutans biology and palm oil plantation problematic in Sumatra and Borneo."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


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