Before our anchor hit the mud, we were approached by several little speedboats each with guys offering to take us up the river on their Kloktok. We knew that Harry Rosterman came highly recommended from several sources, so we looked him up and he definitely knew his stuff. He was full of information, friendly and helpful, and we had our plan working in just one day.
Here comes our kloktok, right on schedule. Our crew was great. Fardi was our guide and he couldn't have been more gracious and helpful. He was well trained and could answer almost any question we had about the orangutans, the river, or the jungle environment.
Although our little boat was pretty basic, everything was confortable and the crew set everything up for us.
.We had delicious Indonesian meals served to us by our cook, who deserves some kind of medal for cooking on her knees in such a small place. And she was usually singing as she did her chores. Great lady.
It took 5 hours to go up the river, which was a little uneventful except our captain spotted a crocodile along the river bank and backed up to show us.
Fortunately for us not only did we have great weather on this trip, but there were relatively few tourists. We maybe had 10 other people at the feeding stations with us, and just a handful of kloktocs tied up at the docks whereas during the higher season in the summer, the river would be jammed with these boats and maybe up to 100 people at the feeding stations. When we got farther up the river, the brown river water turned to black just like that.
Tom followed us all the way to the camp where he pestered the rangers for some food. I don't think anybody turns Tom down when he wants something. After his snack of milk and rice, he posed for pictures, and then shared some of his food with other orangutans.
At night our mosquito net went up, our bed was laid out, and we parked quietly along the river bank, falling asleep to the sounds of the jungle and waking up to the calls of the gibbons in the trees. In the morning the "anchor" was raised (a tire thrown into the weeds - very effective) and we went back to Camp Leakey to check on the orangutans, who by now were our very good friends.....well, maybe not friends exactly...
Our second morning at the camp was just as exciting as the first. One of the queens came by for a visit, eating some fruit she picked herself, then just lolling about for the day. She amused herself by covering herself with branches and then rearranging the whole affair over and over again.
Later we net Ursula, a precocious young lady. At six she is really supposed to be on her own, but she still hangs out with mom and whenever mom moved along, Ursula would put her hand on mom and go with her. Ursula had a sibling she seemed to be much taken with and played with it in between chasing games with Fardi who teased her with bananas hidden in a pocket.
There were 3 feeding stations that we visited all together. On the last trail one big orangutan was hanging off a tree right on the trail, waiting for the rangers to bring the bananas. On each trail we were accompanied by the orangutans as they made their way to the feeding stations for their daily treat.
We visited a reforestation project. Several years ago the park was in danger of obliteration from a devastating forest fire. We could make a small contribution by purchasing a sapling and planting it for the future growth of the forest.
Cruiser notes: Anchor just right of the center of the river. You will most likely see ships and tugs/barges anchored as well. Harry's office is just to the right (from the river) of the ferry dock and we were anchored across from his office. The trip was more expensive than I thought it would be. We did the 3 day trip and we paid $430 for it. You can for slightly less do the 2 day trip in which you see the same things as we did only you don't spend the day at Camp Leakey. You would have a small chance, then, that you won't see any orangutans at all. You can get fuel and laundry done also through Harry or any of the other speedie boats that come by wanting your business. They charge a lot for fuel, 8,500 Rph when it is 4,500 Rph at the station. We went to Pangalan Bun town via bemo. The grocery store leaves a lot to be desired but there was a nice coffee house on one of the side streets with good shakes and coffee drinks. Not a lot in Kumai town itself, however there is a market but you need to get there early. They close up by mid day.