Volunteering in Indonesia – Impressions I Will Never Forget

Posted by: Jeannine

When I arrived at the project base for the Orangutan Conservation Expedition project I met the lovely three staff members. Because it was quite late, we just ate something together before we all went to bed. The next day I got an organization session to learn some facts about the research and the goals from the project. Then we were cooking silica for the electronics – that helps to protect them from the humidity.

The following days I was helping with the data entry, checking the dates of chemicals, doing the inventory of the plants and maintaining the huts by lacquering the wood. In between all this work the staff taught me about the biology, the behavior of the orangutans and the difference between the semi wild and the wild ones. I also learned a lot about the current palm oil and rubber plantation problem.

I did five day treks in different parts of Bukit Lawang. The goal of all these treks was to collect a list of plants for the laboratory located in Czech Republic. On the first two days we were trekking around Berkail River. It was very intense because we crossed many times the river and walked for a few hours in a stream (it was quite slippery and took a lot of concentration to cross). 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.

In all these day treks we had a guide with us. He was so nice and knew a lot about the animals, plants and the nature. We had many interesting topics to discuss and I learned a lot from him during the treks. Other activities included relaxing in the Hot Springs, talking with the staff and locals in Bukit Lawang, or tubing and swimming in the river. The staff helped a lot and gave good ideas of how to spend my day off. In general the three girls were lovely. It was always funny with them but also very informative and interesting.

The last day of trekking we went to the national park. Obviously we saw some semi wild orangutans. Even being semi wild, it was very fascinating to watch them. Seeing the differences in their behaviors compared to the behaviors of the wild orangutans was especially interesting. I can say that I had amazing time on the Orangutan Conservation Expedition project. It was a great experience to join the project and one of the best travel decision I’ve made.