Depart for Bali, crossing the international date line and arriving the following afternoon. Transfer to Benoa Harbor, where we board the National Geographic Orion. As we cross the Java Sea, listen to talks by our experts and get acquainted with our ship and its amenities.
Set on a peninsula jutting out from the southern edge of Kalimantan, or Indonesian Borneo, 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.
Spend two days at sea, tracing the western coast of Borneo to Kuching, the capital of the Malaysian state of Sarawak. At 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.
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.
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.
Our next stop is the remote Anambas Archipelago, where we’ll snorkel the unspoiled reefs surrounding Pulau Bawah or Pulau Lintang and end the day with a beach barbecue.
After breakfast, disembark in Singapore. Enjoy time to explore its diverse neighborhoods before transferring to the airport for your flight home.