Meeting orangutan

Tanjung Puting National Park, on the southern coast of Central Kalimantan, is famous for orangutans, who only live on Kalimantan and Sumatra. Dr. Birute Galdikas began studying the primates in 1971, becoming the third of paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey's “angels” (along with chimpanzee scientist Jane Goodall and mountain gorilla researcher Dian Fossey).

Today one can take a slow houseboat called a klotok about 25 miles up the Kumai and Sekonyer rivers to Camp Leakey, the research and education facility founded by Galdikas and her former husband, Rod Brindamour.

Although some 60 klotoks are in operation, the trip feels amazingly remote and wild. In addition to orangutans, in two days and nights on the boat we saw mouse deer, wild boars, gibbons, hornbills, long-tailed macaques, silver and maroon leaf monkeys, proboscis monkeys, carnivorous pitcher plants, tarantulas, a freshwater crocodile, a dung beetle and an owl.