There is a special feeling that Borneo invokes. There really is no other experience that comes close to cruising on a tranquil river in Central Kalimantan surrounded by lush tropical jungle while watching rehabilitated orangutans frolicking in nature reserves.
Inspired by the virtually untapped tourism potential of Central Kalimantan, two British ladies, Gaye Thavisin and Lorna Dowson-Collins, converted a traditional Kalimantan riverboat known as a rangkan into the comfortable cruise boat we now know as the Rahai’i Pangun. Their venture brought the first jungle cruise to the Rangun River in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan.
Ecotourism is at the heart of Kalimantan Tour Destinations. This social enterprise is a way of protecting the environment and creating alternative livelihoods in the region. Through this river cruise, they are able to demonstrate that business can be a vehicle to support development problems by demonstrating there is a different value for the forest, while supporting local inhabitants of the region.
Our journey onboard the Rahai’i Pangun began at 8.30am when we were picked up from our local hotel in Palangkaraya and brought by car to the river harbour. Here you can see how the river is a source of life to so many living along its riverbed; canoes with engines traverse up and down its waters, locals fish, bathe and find their livelihoods here.
Stepping onboard the Rahai’i Pangun, you feel instantly rejuvenated. It is a floating marvel with five bedrooms, an open-air dining area and living room with a large observation deck. All rooms are air-conditioned with en-suite bathrooms, and although not five-star luxury, the rooms are certainly comfortable.
The boat departed from the harbour at 9am and we began cruising upstream on the Rangun River. The first half hour or so we passed through villages and fishing boats with friendly locals waving at us.
Then the forest engulfed us and after a couple of hours, we reached the island of Kaja, a 25-hectare sanctuary where rehabilitated orangutans live, still fed by rangers watching over them on the opposite side of the river.
The sight of three furry, orange friends hanging out in the trees was breathtaking – but there were many more orangutan encounters to follow over the next couple of days.
Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Cruising on a Borneo River.