Board the newest ship in our fleet, the National Geographic Orion, and set out from Singapore to explore remote archipelagos in the South China Sea and snorkel amid a mind-boggling array of marine species. Then encounter the endangered orangutans of Borneo, tracing the island’s coast from the protected forests of Sarawak to Tanjung Puting National Park. Visit the Camp Leakey research center, and venture down jungle waterways by local boat to observe orangutans and other rare creatures.
Meet with National Geographic grantee Biruté Galdikas on a visit to Camp Leakey, an orangutan research and conservation center she established in the forests of Indonesian Borneo.
Skim through the jungles of Tanjung Puting National Park on an all-day excursion by local boat, and interact with orangutans and other rare wildlife at one of the Orangutan Foundation International's rehabilitation centers.
Explore the incredible array of Borneo’s flora and fauna Bako National Park, home to seven different ecosystems.
Spend two days snorkeling the coral reefs off the pristine, uninhabited isles of the Natuna and Anambas archipelagos.
Itinerary - 13 Days
Days 1, 2, & 3 — U.S./Singapore/At Sea
Depart for Singapore, crossing the international date line and arriving the following afternoon. We will have time to explore Singapore’s diverse neighborhoods before boarding the National Geographic Orion. As we set sail on the South China Sea, hear talks by our experts and get acquainted with our ship and its amenities. (D; B,L,D)
Day 4 — Anambas Archipelago
Our first stop is the remote Anambas Archipelago, where we’ll snorkel unspoiled reefs and end the day with a beach barbecue. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Natuna Archipelago
Scattered in the South China Sea between Borneo and the Malaysian peninsula, the 272 islands of the Natuna Archipelago are graced with white-sand beaches and volcanic peaks, and fringed with coral reefs. Depending on the weather, we will likely stop to snorkel at either Pulau Senua or Pulau Tiga, both pristine and uninhabited, and later enjoy a festive welcome ceremony in one of the fishing villages that dot the islands. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Bako National Park, Sarawak, Borneo
In Bako National Park, thick rain forests give way to secluded beaches, and the coast is carved with sea arches and colorful sea stacks. The park harbors seven distinct ecosystems and most of the plant species found in Borneo. Enjoy a full day to explore on a variety of walks and hikes, go birding, and track rare primates like the proboscis monkey. (B,L,D)
Days 7, 8, & 9 — Kuching/At Sea
Continue to Kuching, the capital of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, visit the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, discuss ongoing research on orangutan behavior, and hear about a successful program that has reintroduced more than a thousand endangered animals into the wild. During free time this afternoon, discover the cultural treasures of Kuching. Spend two days at sea, tracing the western coast of Kalimantan, or Indonesian Borneo. (B,L,D)
Days 10 & 11 — Tanjung Puting National Park, Kalimantan
Set on a peninsula jutting out from the southern edge of Kalimantan, Tanjung Puting National Park is a trove of rare species and diverse habitats. While the park is home to some 220 bird species and numerous monkey species, its most famous residents are the endangered orangutans. Board local boats for a full-day excursion into the forest, gliding on black-water channels on the lookout for hornbills, crocodiles, and perhaps the unusual proboscis monkey.
Our destination is Camp Leakey, a research station established in 1971 by primatologist Dr. Biruté Galdikas, a protégé of legendary paleontologist Louis Leakey and the founder of Orangutan Foundation International (OFI). A many-time National Geographic grantee, Dr. Galdikas joins us to discuss her efforts to save the orangutan from extinction through rehabilitation and habitat preservation. Our boats bring us to feeding stations throughout the forest, where we can observe these gentle creatures at close range. The following day, pay a visit to the OFI’s wildlife rehabilitation center to learn how captive and orphaned orangutans are rescued and rehabilitated.
Days 12 & 13 — At Sea/Denpasar, Bali/ U.S.
Cross the Java Sea to the lovely Indonesian island of Bali. Disembark the following morning and transfer to the airport for your return flight. (B)
Ralph Lee Hopkins is a popular photo workshop instructor who also serves as an expedition leader aboard the National Geographic fleet. Ralph's wildlife images have appeared in National Geographic's books, magazines, and online galleries, and are represented in the National Geographic Image Collection.