Today we left our hotel to take the journey to our next destination.
This week, we are working with the Orangutan Foundation in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Kalimantan, the very south of Borneo.
Our journey began with a flight from Jakarta to Pangkalan Bun, which unfortunately was delayed by nearly two hours. When we eventually arrived, we were met by our guide and translator, Dimas. He works for the Orangutan Foundation as a vet, therefore should be very helpful to us as we learn more about these animals.
From the airport, we were driven to the Orangutan Foundation central office, where we met their project manager Hendra Gunawan along with some others. We discussed our project aims, and they helped us to understand what to expect.
After all the pleasantries, we were driven to a small river. Here we waited for our speed boat. When it arrived, it reminded us of a small James Bond boat, except as the river was so shallow and narrow the driver was stood at the front with a long pole pushing the boat along. Amazingly all of our luggage fitted on the boat! We came out of the narrow river onto a wider deeper river where we were able to use the motor. About 5mins into our speedy journey, we dropped our heavy bags off on another boat, to prevent us sinking! Once all the stuff had been passed over, we sped at top speed up river. It was a crazy journey, which only got more crazy as we went on!
Some way up the big river, we came off onto a smaller narrower river. Even though this river was very winding, and lots of the undergrowth and logs were sticking out into the river, our driver didn’t hold back with the speed. Instead we sped though the undergrowth, ducking occasionally, and slowing up every now and then to prevent the motor going across a log. There was one hair-raising moment where the motor wasn’t slowed in time and with a loud crunch, it went over the log and we ended up in the undergrowth! After a very quick recovery we continued our journey, still at break neck speed!
When we reached and stopped at the 1st Base Camp, we were informed we were heading to camp 3 and that we would be waiting here for our stuff and a new boat to arrive. Whilst we were waiting, we saw a beautiful golden and blue kingfisher. We were also informed that only last month, a 2m saltwater crocodile, had been released there to add to the growing population found in this river. Not terrifying at all!
Eventually, the boat with all our stuff turned up, and we were able to transfer the contents to a different boat, along with ourselves. Our driver arrived and we were able to continue our journey. This boat was far more basic, simply a wooden long boat with a motor and no seats. We sat amongst our stuff on the wooden floor.
This part of the journey wasn’t particularly smooth, as the was motor playing up due to having hit a log previously. It cut out 4 or 5 times along the way, and when we arrived at our camp, JL, it was very close to being dark.
The logs alongside the river, which were giving us grief, are there from illegal logging in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Another sad thing we learnt as we headed up stream, was that the orange/grey haze in the sky was from the forest fires up river. As we went further up river, lots of ash fell from the sky, and when we reached camp, we could just about smell the smoke. This, along with the red glow in the sky was haunting.
After being shown to our room, we set up our beds and mosquito nets and enjoyed a meal, prepared for us by camp staff, before turning in for an early night. We’ve been told that bedtime is early, at 8pm as the days start really early at 5am!
We can’t wait to see the Orangutans tomorrow!