Orangutan at Camp Leakey. Image courtesy of Orion Expedition Cruises, used with permission.
Imagine a ten-day cruise that begins in Singapore, stops over several islands in the South China Sea, then hugs the coast of western and southern Borneo until you arrive at Tanjung Puting National Park's Camp Leakey for a meet-and-greet with endangered orangutans. With Orion Expedition Cruises' Camp Leakey - Faces in the Forest cruise, you get all this, with a last stop at the island paradise of Bali.
The Faces in the Forest cruise leaves Singapore on August 14, visiting a diverse range of destinations, from tropical islands to forested National Parks. The guest of honor, Dr. Birutė Galdikas (Wikipedia page), is recognized as a world authority on orangutans, and will help introduce cruise guests to the only ape resident in Borneo when the cruise arrives at Camp Leakey in Tanjung Puting National Park.
The whole cruise will take place aboard the Orion II - a former private yacht that was refitted into a stylish, all-suite vessel crewed by 70. Its spaciousness and intimate feel make the Orion II an ideal choice for an expedition voyage like the Faces in the Forest.
Exterior shot of Orion II. Image courtesy of Orion Expedition Cruises, used with permission.
Leaving Singapore, the Orion II arrives the next day at the Anambas Archipelago, an island chain in the South China Sea. The archipelago's 283 islands are virtually uninhabited, but are rich in marine life, thanks to the abundant coral reefs in the surrounding waters. Expect to do plenty of snorkeling, and end the day with a beach barbecue, weather permitting.
Next stop: the Natuna Archipelago west of Borneo, home to the island of Natuna Besar. The island presents a series of towering volcanic domes, with white sandy beaches fringed by colourful coral reefs. The islands are inhabited, and the residents will be happy to provide a cultural welcome. You'll have time to snorkel around the reefs, perhaps take on a snorkel safari guided by the Orion II's expedition team.
The ship will proceed to Borneo and Bako National Park, the oldest national park in the Malaysian state of Sarawak where you can examine an almost unspoiled refuge for Borneo's 15,000 species of plants, 222 species of mammals, 420 resident birds, and an almost endless assortment of other amphibian, reptile, and fish species.
Proboscis monkey. Image courtesy of Orion Expedition Cruises, used with permission.
The Bako Park experience allows you to range through rainforests, jungle streams, secluded beaches and trekking trails. The primate life in the park should make for particularly interesting stories back home: you may see Durante-nosed proboscis monkeys (pictured above), silvery lutungs and macaques as you walk through the trekking trails.
To explore the park, you'll go on a series of walks, with varying degrees of difficulty, allowing you to see the different ecosystems and animal species that have made this National Park a byword in biodiversity.
You'll visit the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre next - a wildlife center located just 12 miles south of Kuching. The center specializes in reintroducing captured wild animals back into their natural habitats. The animals are not caged in Semenggoh; instead, they're free to roam about the reserve.
Interior of Orion II's Balcony Suite. Image courtesy of Orion Expedition Cruises, used with permission.
After Semenggoh, you'll take to the sea for two days until you arrive at Tanjung Puting National Park, where you'll spend two days (the night will be spent on the ship - check out the luxurious cabin interiors above).
Inside the park, Camp Leakey provides a base for scientists and students to study primates. The Camp was founded by Dr. Biruté Galdikas and her former spouse Rod Brindamour. The Camp is best known for its orangutan research. But it's not all orange apes; the camp also shelters the bizarre-looking proboscis monkey as well as seven other primate species.
Over 220 species of birds call Tanjung Puting home - its residents include deep forest birds, hornbills (see below), waterbirds and egrets, of which the latter two can be found nesting in the park's bird lakes.
Rhinoceros hornbill. Image courtesy of Orion Expedition Cruises, used with permission.
While in Tanjung Puting, you'll be taking local boats on a full-day tour of the local river system, stopping by several feeding stations and interacting with orangutans at Camp Leakey.
The ship will make its last stop at Bali, Indonesia, where the guests can decompress from their days trekking through the jungle by taking in the island's unique culture.
The ten-night Camp Leakey - Faces in the Forest cruise departs Singapore on August 14. The year's other departure dates: August 24, October 2, and October 12. In 2013, the cruise departs on October 25 and November 18.
For more information, call Orion Expedition Cruises' number in North America toll-free: (877) ORION-US (877) 674-6687, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website www.orionexpeditions.com.