Kumai, Kalimantan, Indonesia

David & Valerie Allen
Mon 22 Nov 2010 09:05
02:44.31 S   111:44.09 E

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The wait at Bawean was actually worthwhile- despite the lack of sleep.  Where others had experienced huge winds on the nose and very strong currents against them, we had a very peaceful journey.  Unfortunately we arrived just a bit too late to get all the way up the river before dark and opted for anchoring out in the bay, hoping that the freighters and barges would not hit us during the night.

We slept the sleep of the just - no rocking, no mosquitos- BLISS!!!

As we set out in the morning, we noticed a catamaran had joined us a couple of miles away, but thought nothing of it until we later learned that SPIRIT OF NINA had attempted the river at night and had both of their propellers caught up in fishnet.  They were cutting one engine free this morning and the other was freed later on in their journey.  Apparently the fishermen like to string their nets right across the river.  They remove them when they see large vessels coming, but small vessels have to take their chances.

We had a delightful trip up the river and got a very close look at many types of large vessels.  We thought we were going to a VILLAGE and were amazed to find a large PORT when we arrived.  Of course, most of the waterfront was unsightly freight buildings, but there were some lovely mosques ashore.


With so much freighter traffic, we knew we would be able to purchase diesel.

We had been calling an agent, Harry, en route reserving fuel and we thought that was the man who first approached us carrying our boat names on a sign.  Actually that was a freelancer, Mr. Bynes, who took our money for 300 L of diesel and a speedboat trip to Camp Leakey for Sara and me.  Then, along came Harry, the nicest, gentlest person, who had told Mr. B. of the arrangement and the names and then been forced out by the competition.  Nevertheless, the service was extremely professional.  Dave and Dick did not want to see the "people of the forest" and there was no time to take a two night/ three day tour on one of the local klotoks, so they opted to see to the fuelling while we got out of their way and spent a wonderful day.

While we were speeding down the narrow and shallow river debouching into the Kumai River, we passed several of the klotoks.  These are tall narrow boats capable of pushing aside stumps and branches floating down the river.  The guests are fed and sleep aboard the vessels on the upper deck.  The entire deck is covered in a mosquito tent at night.  They also visit the Leakey Centre but travel along several branches of the river as well.  It is a very relaxing time and a chance to be pampered a bit.  En route we passed the JACKAMY klotok.


When we arrived at the Centre, we paused for lunch and watched the "parking lot" fill up with klotoks.

the Parking Lot- by the time we left we practically had to crawl under bushes with our boat to get around the klotoks

The passengers aboard these boats dined at leisure, but their view was certainly not as fascinating as ours!

the forest primeval

After lunch we walked along the boardwalks towards the interpretive centre at Camp Leakey.  Right in the middle of the walk was a sleeping mother orangutan and her baby, who was just a bit bored with this sleeping bit.

bored baby

The baby kept trying to slip away to play in the trees, but, just as he sensed freedom, Mom would reach out and grab him.  Orangutans only breed every 8 years.  The babies are carried on the mothers' backs until they are 5 years old.  This little fellow has a bit more growing to do before Mom will let him get further than arm's reach away from her.

His dad also was standing guard nearby, albeit in a rather unorthodox pose.....

Daddy on guard duty

The interpretive centre was very interesting and we learned a lot.  Man, of course, is the greatest threat to the orangutans.  Logging and forest fires and single use plantations, such as palm oil estates, destroy their arboreal habitats.  During the major fires (accidently set by lightning or cased when people use fire to clear land for logging, etc.) of the mid-1990s more than 20,000 orangutans were killed.  The Leakey Centre is a transitional stage for babies found orphaned.  Since they rely on their mothers for survival for such a long time, the infants needed to be taught the necessary skills to survive in the rainforest.  Many have been rehabilitated and returned to the wilds elsewhere in Kalimantan (formerly called Borneo).

Camp Leakey does have feeding stations and these are designed to supplement the food the rehabilitated orangutans gather in the woods.  Some days there are very few visitors to the station.  The day we visited there were quite a few.

Some are not "official" visitors, but hang around anyway.

a cousin just hanging around

feral pigs pick up the discarded banana peels

Here are a few new friends we met at the feeding station.

Mom and baby

Grandma enjoying a bottle of water she pinched from a bench.  Orangutans are extremely intelligent.  One named Princess learned how to steal canoes, travel downstream for tasty tidbits and then kept abandoning the canoes.  The keepers tried sinking the canoes to prevent their theft- unsuccessfully.  When she couldn't get the canoes, Princess managed to find the key to the pantry, unlocked the door and helped herself!

Needless to say, we had a marvellous time, the men were happy to have their fuel and we were all set to push on to Nongsa Point, Batam.