|Early morning along the river In Kutai National Park|
|UTEP and UNMUL students and staff with one of the finished signs,|
and a timely orangutan photobomb by Hercules
|UTEP - picks up!|
|Landmark at the equator - I've driven across 6 times now on this trip!|
|Just getting to Sangatta is a challenge! Rain and Indonesian|
roads is a bad combo.
|Boat ride to the camp|
|Along the river in Kutai|
We spent a day and night at Prevab, where we were able to observe orangutans and other forest critters. The camp at Prevab is quite rustic, and not for the delicate traveller. So considering the conditions and the ongoing damage to the park, it will need a lot of infrastructure improvement, enforcement of forest protection, attention to orangutan welfare, and attention to guest safety before it can become a serious ecotourism destination. We knew what to expect, and the wildlife and forest experience were definitely worth the effort.
|Students cross a foot bridge in Kutai|
|Lunch at the Prevab camp in Kutai|
|Students chatted about educational programs|
and opportunities in each other's schools
|Shelf mushrooms on a log in the forest|
|Huge tree in Kutai|
|Feeling short in this forest!|
|Many different types of mushrooms were|
springing from the moist forest floor
With the help of park guides, we were able to observe 4 wild orangutans - 2 sets of mothers with offspring. The orangutans in Prevab are somewhat habituated and tolerant of human observers, so we were able to watch them foraging for fruit and tasty vegetation for several minutes at a time. It was so impressive to see them move easily through the canopy of the forest, pulling some leaves closer for snacking, and using the flexible branches to swing across to the next tree. We could also see several orangutan nests - beds of vegetation they make almost daily for sleeping safely and comfortably in the canopy.
|Can you see the orangutan high in the trees?|
|Here's a zoomed in version... she is checking us out too!|
We woke up before dawn the next morning, packed up camp, and took another longer boat ride to see proboscis monkeys (named for their large noses - see proboscis info) along the river. They were shy though, and I only got a brief view and no pictures. Several other monkeys, and birds including kingfishers (stork billed kingfisher), sea eagles (sea eagle info), and broadbills (black and red broadbill info) also made appearances along the river. Now we have made it back to Balikpapan, and will catch a flight to Bali tomorrow. We are headed for West Bali National Park next, to check out Bali Starling (aka Bali Mynah) breeding and recovery programs, as well as community based ecotourism. More on that for you next time!