Sailing Story - Orangutans in Kalimantan, Indonesia

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    Orangutans in Kalimantan

The Prince of Kumai
    A long journey again with some sailing, some motor sailing and once again the endless avenue of squid fishing boats to pass through. On entering the mouth of the Kumai River we were chased by a massive thunderstorm, which turned the muddy waters into the colour of gold with the blackest backdrop I’ve ever seen. Lots of lightning and wind giving us a great sail in!

We anchored the first night behind a spit just into the entrance of the river then headed up the next day.

As you head up the river the banks are edged with large Nipas palms. Sadly the river is dirty and littered with rubbish and huge ferries and tugs trudge up and down all day.

There were lots of yachts here from the Darwin Rally which was fortunate for us, as SV Scadadal again shared their photos with us as my camera was still a problem.
    We chose to tour with “The Prince of Kumai” who seemed to be the struggler of the two operators and our skipper was Yadi, a man we are glad to have met.

    We headed up an inlet off the main river and it was gorgeous from the moment we entered. We passed some villages and police posts set up to deter poachers and saw lots of birds, a few monkeys, a live croc and sadly a dead one on the way home.

    They have an information centre for the Orangutans, which is very well set up and run mainly by young local Dayaks who study in Jakarta to qualify for positions there.

The park fees go to the government but most of the funding comes from The Orangutan Foundation International, whose website gives a comprehensive guide to the park.

They feed the orangutans bananas once a day which enables people like us to see them. There are no barriers as they just come in from the forest.
    Yadi told me that two meters is a good figure to keep in my head, as that is the longest arm span! The guides are great but some have been attacked so they keep a keen eye on us tourists who I am sure at times have less sense than the orangutans!

    The male was huge and stretched himself out to show us who was in control! Many flew in from the surrounding trees, whilst others meandered up the path.

    They get a lot of the babies from nearby villages whose mothers have been killed. Sadly they are fighting a losing battle as forests are being cut down to make way for palm oil plantations. It was wonderful to get the opportunity to see the orang-utans in their own environment.

We were also taken to an area of reforestation of ironwood forest, this being the timber they have and still use for boat building.

We saw lots of monkeys and kingfishers and our guides waited on us hand and foot for two days and the meals were delicious.
    This trip is well worth the effort and the more people that come, the better chance they will have to protect this unique species and its habitat.

    The day we went to leave Kumai Whimoway decided to blow her main oil line, so Yadi took Mike to a local Chinese man who fixed it and all was well.

That morning I had to go to see the Harbour Master and explain that we may not be able to leave as planned and I found myself lost or certainly a long way from where I should have been.

Then I heard a friendly voice being Yadi so I jumped on the back of his bike. He joked with Mike that he found his isteri (wife) lost!
    We visited a larger town nearby for the day and purchased some stunning plywood for Whimoways fitout.

    We spent the last night at the mouth of the river to get away from the noise then headed off on our last leg through Indonesia to the Karimata Islands and Singapore.

Map of Kalimantan, Indonesia