The Ultimate Guide
About Tanjung Puting National Park
One of the best destinations in the world to see orangutans is Tanjung Puting National Park. In a beautiful setting in a wooden boat, called “Klotok”, you cruise through the jungle for several days.
The park has 3 regions with different levels of accessibility. The Nucleus Zone is the most inner part of the park where most animals are and the most unique plants grow. This area is only accessible for research activities.
The Buffer Zone is basically the transition area from the inner Nucleus Zone to the outer Utilization Zone, in which only selected paths are accessible for common visitors, for which supervision by a ranger from the National Park is mandatory. We provide long jungle treks with rangers in this part of the park with our 5D4N Orangutan Tour.
(click on the tab “Orangutan Tours” above the image slider)
The Utilization Zone is the outer area of Tanjung Puting National Park that visitors can access. Although almost all visitors only see this part of the National Park in their multi-day visit, the Utilization Zone only covers a tiny part of the National Park. The most famous sites of this zone are described below.
The 3 Days/2 Nights Orangutan Tour is the shortest and most popular tour, during which you visit all three orangutan feeding stations.
- Tanjung Harapan has historically been a site of the Sekonyer Village, while today it is a ranger’s post and an orangutan rehabilitation center. The feeding takes place at 3pm, and therefore this site is visited already on the first day of the Orangutan Tour. As it takes 3-4 hours to get from Pangkalan Bun to Tanjung Harapan, visitors should arrive before 11:30 am at the airport in Pangkalan Bun in order to do visit this site.
- Pondok Tanggui is a relatively new rehabilitation center for orangutans. This is also a popular place to start treks into the jungle. The feeding at Pondok Tanggui starts at 9am.
- Camp Leaky is a world famous research facility set up in 1971 by Louis Leakey and is the single reason behind the successful preservation of orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park. Louis Leakey was the teacher of a few young primatologists, amongst whom were Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey who went on to become known worldwide for their research on chimpanzees and gorillas, respectively. Another student, Birute Galdikas, is currently the president of the Orangutan Foundation International. The feeding at Camp Leaky starts at 2 pm.
There are several other sites of interest that you may visit with the 4D3N or 5D4N tours. Camp Pesalat is a reforestation site which has been of indispensable value to the park after the fires in 2015. You can plant your own tree here for a donation, while this is also a good starting/ending point of a longer jungle trek. The Sekonyer Village is the only local village around Tanjung Puting National Park. The Palm Oil Factory is sadly still one of the main economic driver of the local community, and you could take a look at how such factory works.
What are the best orangutan tours
There are 3 different orangutan tours with a tour length of 3, 4 and 5 days, respectively.
- We advice to take the 3D2N orangutan tour if you want to see as much as possible in as little time as possible. It is fantastic value for money as you get to see all feeding stations in Tanjung Puting. Unfortunately, you will not have any time for jungle treks beyond walking to the feeding stations.
- The 4D3N orangutan tour is for travellers that wish to combine visiting the feeding stations with jungle treks, a night trek, or even want to visit a reforestation site or the Sekonyer village.
- The 5D4N orangutan tour is for the outdoors and adventurous travellers that don’t mind getting a little bit dirty. Additional to the 4D3N itinerary, you will do one long jungle trek together with rangers in a very remote and untouched part of the jungle (the “Buffer Zone”). At the end of the jungle trek, we return to our boat by a canoe through a small river in the dense jungle. There are no other activities in Tanjung Puting that will take you further away from the crowd than this trek, but be prepared to get a little bit dirty. With this tour, you will also have the option to visit a palm oil factory.
- With the Orangutan & Dayak Tours you combine an orangutan tour with a one or two night stay at the Dayak village which is 5 hours driving from Pangkalan Bun. Overnight in a traditional longhouse or in a tent in the jungle near a waterfall.
Below is a description of the 3D2N Orangutan Tour. You will find the day-to-day itineraries of the 4D3N and 5D4N orangutan tours as well as the Dayak Tours on the Tanjung Puting Tour page (click on the corresponding tab above the image slider).
Itinerary for 3D2N Orangutan Tour in Tanjung Puting
DAY 1: Pangkalan Bun – Kumai – Tanjung Harapan (L D)
Transfer service from Pangkalan Bun Airport (or at your hotel) to Kumai, where you’ll board the Klotok boat and meet your staff.
We use traditional Klotok wooden river boats of which the size depends on your group size. We only make use of boats with a Western toilet (not a squat toilet) and a Western shower (not a mandi).
There is a bottom deck for the crew and a top deck exclusively for you. The boats are open on the sides for the view, but in case of rain they can be closed. All your meals, snacks and drinks will be served in the boat. At nights your mattresses and mosquito nets are prepared.
It takes about an hour to get from the harbor in Kumai to the entrance of Tanjung Puting National Park. The first stop is at Tanjung Harapan where the orangutan feeding takes place at 15h.
We continue the cruise as the jungle is at its noisiest. We hear Proboscis monkeys, Macaques, Silver Langurs and colorful birds. Finally, it is time for a candle light dinner, and an exciting night in the jungle.
DAY 2: Pondok Tanggui – Camp Leakey – Nipa Area (B L D)
Included: entrance fee, boat, guide & boat staff, meals as mentioned
After breakfast, we cruise through the habitat of the Proboscis monkeys and the crocodiles as we go to Pondok Tanggui.
We visit the orangutan feeding here at 9 am. Then, we continue the cruise, turn in a junction of the river where the water color changes and gives a surreal dark reflection of the jungle.
We arrive at Camp Leakey, a research- and rehabilitation center for orangutans. The feeding takes place at 2 pm. If you are lucky you will meet here the “King of Camp Leaky”: a male orangutan named Big Tom.
After Camp Leakey, we cruise down slowly to the Nipa Palm Area, where we may see fire flies in the evening depending on the weather. We will have candle light diner and spend the night in this area.
DAY 3: Nipa Area – Kumai – Pangkalan Bun (Airport) (B)
Included: drop-off by car, entrance fee, boat, guide & boat staff, meals as mentioned
After breakfast we cruise through the lush jungle back to Kumai. You say goodbye to your staff and will be dropped off by car at Pangkalan Bun airport or at your hotel (around 10-11 am).
How to get to Tanjung Puting National Park?
The gateway to Tanjung Puting National Park is Pangkalan Bun. The most common way to get to Pangkalan Bun is by flying to the airport in Pangkalan Bun (Iskandar Airport). Currently, there are direct connections from Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya in Java, and from Ketapang and Palangkaraya in Kalimantan.
A popular destination near Pangkalan Bun is Banjarmasin. There are no direct flights currently, and the most common way to get from Banjarmasin to Pangkalan Bun is by flying via Semarang. The more adventurous option is to first take the bus to Palangkaraya (±5 hours) and then continue by air.
You could use SkyScanner to search and book both the international flights to Indonesia as well as the domestic flights to Pangkalan Bun.
Where to stay in Pangkalan Bun?
The best hotel in Pangkalan Bun is Grand Kecubung Hotel (link to booking.com). Especially when you are with kids or you want to rest well in a luxury hotel for a relatively low price, this is the place to be. While the best around, Grand Kecubung Hotel is less luxury than resorts in popular destinations like Bali.
What is the best period to visit Tanjung Puting?
You can visit Tanjung Puting all year round. The temperature is rather constant and while it is often raining in Kalimantan, historically the most dry period has been July-August and the most wet period has been January and February. However, in recent years the rainfall has been unpredictable, so the above should not be delt with too strictly.
Partly for the above reason, the most popular period to visit Tanjung Puting is July-August. However, we want to emphasize that besides the weather advantages of this period, there are several downsides doing the Orangutan tour in July-August:
- It is very crowded
- It is relatively expensive as you are charged the high season price.
- Although it is called a 3D2N tour, all boats (for any operator) will leave the national park on the last day already in the morning.
- Under the event of a force majeure break-down of the boat engine, it is difficult for tour operators to hire another boat (which can easily be done for months outside July-August).
Considering the crowds and the value for money, in our opinion the best time to visit Tanjung Puting is in the shoulder months September-October and April-June.
Most travellers however do not have much flexibility and are restricted to the high season period. As long as you manage your expecations that it will be crowded and that you return early on the last day, you will still have a wonderful experience!
Which tour operator to choose for the Orangutan Tour?
There are many tour operators for the Tanjung Puting Orangutan Tours. The tour itineraries are fairly similar across tour operators so it can at times be difficult to make a choice.
We advice you to select the tour operator based on the boat quality, guide experience and of course the reviews they get.
We are obviously biased, but we believe that our Tanjung Puting Orangutan Tours are among the best. We only use boats with Western facilities, we are known for working only with licensed guides that have a terrific track record and we have a user-friendly booking system and require only a relatively small deposit. Check out our reviews from travellers.
Packing essentials for the Tanjung Puting Orangutan Tour?
- Comfortable, closed shoes
- Light trousers & shirts with long sleeves
- Towel and shampoo
- Insect repellent (DEET 40%)
- Small backpack for the treks
Also, while there are sockets onboard, we advice not to use them for charging electronic devices because the power is not constant and could break your device. Instead, bring a mobile charger with you! Consult your doctor about whether malaria pills are necessary. In case you wish, bring alcoholic beverage with you into Pangkalan Bun, as you cannot purchase it here.