This has long been on my list of things to do before we die, ever since I first saw the place on a documentary as a child, I have dreamed of coming here. Even before hearing about this place I had desires on getting up close and personal with these magnificent creatures.

Why am I so obsessed with these apes, I do not know really. Maybe it is just how incredibly intelligent they are, and how being so clever they must understand or have a sense of the damage we have done to their habitats

“With their ability to learn sign language and even to make tools, orangutans are considered one of the world’s smartest primates. Orangutans in Borneo even begin to craft umbrellas from leaves when they know rain is coming!”

I mean if they are clever enough to make and umbrella when the rain is coming, they are clever enough to know what we have done to their natural habitat.

There are many places you can go to visit the Orangutan’s on the Malaysian Island of Borneo, all serve the same purpose to protect these  creatures from the harm we have done them in the past. Many centers aim to rehabilitate with the aim of releasing back into the wild, while a few offer a perfect “retirement” setting for those too old or too damaged to go back to the wild. One thing you can be sure of is each and every sanctuary has the animals best interests at heart.

But there is one sanctuary in particular I really, really, really want to visit, the Matang Wildlife Centre. Why this one I hear you ask, well this is not just your usual visit to an animal sanctuary, where you pop along for the day and look at a few animals and read a few signs. No here you get to stay over, and not just for the night, you can stay 14, 28 days or even longer.

Obviously this isn’t a hotel, so it’s not 14 days relaxing in the sub tropical Asian heat, no you are here to work. YES I SAID WORK, but not stuck at a desk in a little pod somewhere, no you will be working the sanctuary’s full time staff, helping in the great work they do. And guess what you have to pay for the privilege as well!

But what an experience it will be, something you can relive over and over again.

I know it may not be everybody’s cup of tea it just sounds amazing to me.  This is what they say on their website –

On this project you will have the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of activities. Your main focus, however, will consist of providing enrichment and husbandry for the orangutans, sun bears, macaques, binturongs and other animals. Additionally, you’ll have time to explore the areas surrounding the project


A typical itinerary / order of trip would be as follows :-

Day 1 – Arrive in Borneo and meet your guides and fellow volunteers

Day 2 – Transfer to the wildlife center and meet the full time staff and carers. Get familiar with the sanctuary and your accommodation.

Days 3-13/27 (depending on trip length) – This is when the real fun bit occurs. During your time volunteering you will be able to help with the following aspects:

Animal enrichment, help the Orang’s live a fulfilled and  natural life.

Maintenance, help maintain the sanctuary.

Farming, the animals on site go through huge amounts of food, so growing it organically on site helps keep costs down and the animals as healthy as possible.

Husbandry, no your netting getting married to Alpha male. This means help in all aspects of caring for the animals. From feeding to cleaning out the sleeping quarters. This is when you really get up close with them.

Days 14/15 or 28/29 – Goodbye, this is the saddest part of the trip, when you have to pack up and say goodbye, and the inevitable long journey back home to reality. You will have undoubtedly become found of the animals and your fellow volunteers, but all good things must come to an end.

Even when writing this post I am sat here dreaming of when I will get my chance? It’s not the cost issue (around £1200 plus flights) more a time issue for me. If I do it, I want to do a full month at the Sanctuary and a few more weeks in Asia itself exploring. So with flying time etc, I need a 6/7 week block. Getting that from work is never going to be easy.