Where to find Orangutans in Borneo - Wild Voyager Blog
Where to find Orangutans in Borneo

Where to find Orangutans in Borneo

Viewing orangutans in their natural habitat is a sight to behold. They are among the most intelligent primates and have distinct behavioral characteristics. 

There are only two species of orangutans in the world, both found in South East Asia. On the island of Borneo, Bornean orangutans reside while their cousins, Sumatran orangutans live on the island of Sumatra. 

A baby orangutan with its mother
A baby orangutan with its mother

Borneo is one of the top destinations to spot orangutans, and the region is split between the countries of Malaysia and Indonesia. The protected areas and national parks are abundant in wildlife, flora, and fauna of Borneo. There are several tours and conservation centers that allow tourists to see orangutans from up close.  

But there are a few essential things to keep in mind while going on an orangutan tour. These great apes are considered to be critically endangered as their numbers keep on decreasing. The severe decline in their population and ranges is due to human activities. Threats to wild orangutans include poaching, illegal pet trade, and habitat destruction. 

While going on orangutan tours, tourists need to make sure that their viewing experience does not cause any harm to the apes. Moreover, the tour you select must be part of a legitimate ecotourism company. 

Keeping these crucial points in mind, here are the top five national parks in Borneo that offer a safe and eco-friendly experience to see orangutans:

1. Kinabatangan River, Sabah 

Kinabatangan River is one of the best places to watch Borneo’s wildlife. It offers a chance to see orangutans in Sabah and Sarawak. A three-to-four-day tour at Kinabatangan River will guarantee not only sightings of orangutans but also various other endangered species like the pygmy elephants. 

A boat tour in Kinabatangan River, Sabah
A boat tour in Kinabatangan River, Sabah

An estimated number of 1,100 orangutans live in the lower region of the river. Instead of trekking through the rainforests in search of the apes, you can easily spot them from boats. Kinabatangan River is preferable for any type of tourist as viewing orangutans become comfortable by a boat tour. 

Sightings of orangutan occur along the main riverbank, its tributaries, oxbow lakes, and the Menanggul River. 

Kinabatangan River has the highest chances of seeing orangutans and is a comfortable option.  

2. Danum Valley, Sabah 

Danum Valley also goes by name of the Borneo Danum Valley Conservation area. An estimated 500 orangutans live in the undisturbed and pristine forest of Danum. 

The conservation area is vast and features the exquisite wildlife of the rainforest. It is also one of the top places to have a rainforest experience. Along with orangutans, clouded leopards, Sumatran Rhino, Malayan sun bear and many other distinct species can be seen.

The beautiful rainforest of Danum Valley
The beautiful rainforest of Danum Valley 

There are several trails in Danum Valley including a suspended walkway that can be easily undertaken. It is recommended to stay in Danum for at least 3 days if you want to have guaranteed sightings of orangutans. The lodges in Danum valley have strict guidelines to minimize tourists’ effect on wildlife. 

Danum Valley is a must-visit destination due to its beautiful rainforest, eco-friendly rules, and conservationist ethics. 

3. Tabin wildlife reserve, Sabah 

Tabin wildlife reserve is a massive protected area that houses 1,400 Orangutans. It is situated in the Eastern part of Sabah, on the island of Borneo.  

The chances of seeing these apes are relatively moderate along with other exotic wildlife in the reserve. There are several bird species and vulnerable animals that can be spotted at Tabin. 

The off-beaten paths of Tabin Wildlife Reserve
The off-beaten paths of Tabin Wildlife Reserve

The reserve can be accessed by logging roads and planktons. There are wildlife jungle trekking and few night safaris offered by Tabin.  

You can only visit the wildlife reserve through an organized tour. For accommodation, Tabin Wildlife resort is the sole place to stay and has hill and riverside lodges. 

4. Tanjung Puting National Park 

Tanjung Puting National Park is located in Central Kalimantan and is regarded as one of the world’s natural wonders. It has a vast and dense rainforest spread over 4000 sq. km. You can spot wild orangutans resting on treetops and mangroves in the national park. 

One of the best ways to see these apes is by travelling to the Sekonyer River by a Klotok, a type of riverboat. Although a Klotok is used by locals, tourists can travel by it to get around the park. 

Orangutans spotted at Tanjung Puting National Park
Orangutans spotted at Tanjung Puting National Park

Klotok also helps tourists to get to Tanjung National Park easily. A local guide will equip you with all the information you need about the Bornean orangutans living in Tanjung. 

Tanjung Puting also accommodates Camp Leaky, a well-known research facility. Here, you can meet up with wildlife researchers and get close to orangutans in rehabilitation centers.  

5. Kutai National Park 

Kutai National Park in East Kalimantan of Indonesian Borneo was once a green wonderland. Unfortunately, a forest fire devasted a large part of the national park, leaving only 30% of the regional forest behind. Yet, the national park is recovering and growing steadily. 

The National Park has around 2000 orangutans dispersed all over the area. One of the main access points of Kutai, known as Sangkima offers perfect photography opportunities for orangutans and other creatures. 

Orangutans sitting on top of a tree
Orangutans sitting on top of a tree

Sangkima also has a boardwalk and walking trail which leads to the biggest trees found in the forest. 

 Another area in Kutai called Prevab is a secluded section of the park where the forest is preserved in a good condition. Here, you can catch sight of wild orangutans against the rich flora and fauna. Sun bears, long-tailed macaque, and flat-headed cats are also seen. 

Trekking through the Kutai National Park requires a local guide and a permit. 

Seeing orangutans is a special experience but must be performed with caution. Tourists should also help such local national parks and create a safe environment for endangered orangutans.  


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Wild Voyager Team

The blogging team at Wild Voyager. We are explorers at heart and we love to share our travel stories and destination knowledge with you, which often serve as an inspiration for the life changing journeys we curate. When you decide to embark on one such life changing journey, our travel experience designers at letstalk@wildvoyager.com will be happy to get you started.

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