Sumatran Orangutan Photo Tour

Photograph orangutans swinging through the rainforest

    • Best location to photograph wild Sumatran orangutans
    • Gibbons, macaques, monkeys, and so much more
    • Exclusive events with the Sumatran Orangutan Society
    • Support local conservation efforts
    • All meals and accommodation from Medan, Sumatra
    • 8 days, 7 nights

Sumatran orangutans are among the most amazing, intelligent, and threatened animals on our planet. These incredible primates share approximately 97% of their DNA with humans, making them one of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. You will fall in love with their expressive faces, curious nature, and complex behaviors, just as we have. We know this area well and have been traveling here for over 10 years, gaining invaluable knowledge and insights into the lives of these fascinating creatures. Our guides are the very best in the business, combining their deep passion for wildlife with extensive experience in the field, ensuring that you will be in the best position to take amazing photographs. They love orangutans and have dedicated their lives to orangutan conservation and protecting critical orangutan habitat, working tirelessly to ensure that future generations can also marvel at these magnificent animals.

Join us as we photograph orangutans up close in their natural habitat, an experience that will leave you in awe of the beauty and diversity of the Sumatran rainforest. We spend all day in the lush, verdant rainforest to maximize our opportunities for special encounters. In addition to orangutans, you will get to see an incredible array of wildlife, including the strikingly agile leaf monkeys, the playful long-tailed macaques, and the acrobatic gibbons swinging through the treetops. Bird enthusiasts will be delighted by the multitude of bird species that inhabit the area, including the majestic rhinoceros hornbills. The rainforest is a treasure trove of biodiversity, offering countless opportunities to witness the wonders of one of the world’s greatest wildlife hotspots.

Tour Dates: 

* 2025: May 8-15 (full)

* 2026: Coming soon!

Tour Leader: Zac Mills

Group Size: 4

Price:  $3,995 USD

Price includes: All meals, accommodation, guiding, and transport from Medan, Indonesia

Accommodation: Single

Start/End: Medan, Indonesia

Fitness Level: Very Active

Interested? Contact us now

8 + 6 =

WATCH OUR VIDEO

One of the best places in the world to photograph Orangutans in the wild

REASONS TO CHOOSE THIS TOUR

10+ years of experience: We know Sumatran orangutans. With over a decade of specialized experience, we ensure an enriching and authentic wildlife experience. 

Extra guides: Our team’s in-depth knowledge of orangutan behavior, ecology, and conservation efforts guarantees a unique adventure, providing you with a profound understanding of these remarkable creatures.

Biodiversity hotspot: The only place in the world where tigers, rhinos, elephants, and orangutans coexist. We are likely to see a variety of primates, such as monkeys, macaques, gibbons, plus many species of birds. Every day in Gunung Leuser is unique and we may be afforded a rare sighting if we are lucky.

Photo expertise: Whether you’re a novice or seasoned photographer, we will help you to capture the beauty of orangutans in their natural habitat. From framing intimate moments to navigating challenging lighting conditions, we tailor our guidance to meet the needs of photographers at all levels.

Conservation donation: As part of this tour, we make a donation to the Sumatran Orangutan Society and to Nature for Change, who support vital initiatives to protect and preserve orangutans and their habitats.

ITINERARY

The tour departs from Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Medan is easily accessed via a short 1 hour flight from Singapore. If you need any help making your flight arrangements, please let us know

Day 0 • Arrive in Singapore

You must arrive in Singapore at least one day before the start of our tour. We will fly to Sumatra the following morning.

Day 1 • To the Rainforest

After an early morning flight from Singapore, you will be welcomed at the Medan airport by a team member from Nature for Change (NFC). You will then drive the approximately 4 hours to Bukit Lawang, which will be our base for orangutan viewing. We will meet Darma, who founded NFC, who will also be our orangutan guide during the trip.

Once we arrive in Bukit Lawang we will have lunch, and then you will have the rest of the afternoon to orient around the lodge, where we may see orangutans and other wildlife. 

Day 2-7 • Gunung Leuser National Park

For each of the next 6 days, we start the day with an early breakfast and will then trek in the rainforest in search of orangutans and other wildlife wonders of this global ecological hotspot. We trek on average 5–10 kilometers each day as we immerse ourselves in the rainforest with our cameras ready to capture amazing wildlife moments. You will return to your accommodation at the end of each day to relax, enjoy for a delicious evening meal, and get a good night’s sleep.

Day 8 • Conservation Site Visit & Tour Ends

After breakfast, we will visit some of Nature for Change’s nearby sites, where we will learn about their important conservation sites in the bufferzone adjacent to Gunung Leuser National Park. You will meet local frontline conservation staff, have a guided tour of the forest restoration and permaculture sites, and have the opportunity to plant a tree. You may also have the opportunity to photograph orangutans and other wildlife in these locations. After lunch, we will drive back to Medan for the 8pm Singapore Airlines flight back to Singapore, where we will say our goodbyes.

Medan

WHAT’s INCLUDED?

• Photography instruction
• Park fees
• Accommodation
• All transportation from Medan
• All meals and drinks during the tour
• Laundry

WHAT’s NOT INCLUDED?

• Flight to Medan, Sumatra
• Indonesia Tourist Visa
• Tips for guides
• Travel medical insurance (required)

WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY?

6am: wake up

6:45am: breakfast

7:30am: trekking starts

12pm: lunch

4:30pm: trekking ends

6pm: optional photo review

7pm: dinner

 

 

* Actual times may vary. The distance and duration of the hike depend on the movements of the orangutans.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How many orangutans will I see?

Nothing is guaranteed, but we have seen orangutans every day that we have visited Gunung Leuser National Park. We typically see between 3-6 individuals each day, though some days we have seen 10 different orangutans. Some encounters are fleeting and others last several hours.

Do I need an Indonesia Visa?

Yes! The Indonesia tourist visa costs $35 USD and it can be obtained upon arrival. 

What focal length do you recommend?

To make the most of your photography opportunities on our expedition, I highly recommend bringing a selection of lenses that cover the focal length range from 24-600mm. Our geographical location may occasionally limit our proximity to orangutans due to ridgelines, but there will also be moments when wider angle shots are possible. Having a zoom lens at your disposal will offer the flexibility required to capture a diverse range of captivating moments throughout our journey.

What will the weather be like?

It will be warm with temperatures ranging from an average of 30 degrees Celsius during the day to 22 degrees Celsius at night. However, the the rainforest canopy will often protect us from direct sunbeams, which makes the situation much more manageable.

What's the food situation?

Amazing! Expect to eat a lot of rice and incredible Asian food. All dietary restrictions can be accommodated.

Will there be cell service or WiFi at the lodge?

If you have international roaming, the cell coverage is reasonably good. In addition, there is WiFi available at the lodge.

More Questions?

Send us an email and we’ll be happy to arrange a time to chat through everything with you and answer any questions you may have.

HOW STRENUOUS IS THE HIKING?

This tour is tailored for those with a penchant for discovery and a spirit of adventure, and requires you to navigate the rainforest trails, which may be filled with roots or muddy in certain sections. Typically, we trek between 3-6 miles per day (5-10 kilometers), though every day is different and some days may be less. As you traverse through the park, you’ll find yourself engulfed in the mesmerizing ambiance of the rainforest, surrounded by towering trees, vibrant foliage, and the symphony of exotic wildlife. There are several incline sections that will challenge your stamina and provide a sense of accomplishment. These ascents can be the equivalent of climbing 20 stories of stairs. However, it’s important to note that there’s no need to rush; this expedition emphasizes the appreciation of nature and the freedom to go at our own pace.

Our approach is designed for inclusivity, and we take pride in ensuring that the pace of the hike is comfortable for everyone. We understand the significance of the experience and encourage you to relish each moment. To further enhance your enjoyment, we incorporate frequent breaks, allowing you to catch your breath, absorb the breathtaking surroundings, and immerse yourself in this special ecosystem.

WHAT IS THE BUG SITUATION?

While hiking in Gunung Leuser National Park, be prepared for a varied bug situation typical of tropical rainforests. Mosquitoes, especially in lowland areas, are common, so using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing is advisable. Leeches may also be present, particularly in wetter regions or during the rainy season. Wearing leech socks and taking precautions against insect bites will enhance your comfort during the hike. This rainforest “tax” is part of the experience and adds to the unique adventure of exploring Gunung Leuser National Park. Embracing the diverse bug life is a small price to pay for the chance to witness the incredible biodiversity that thrives within this lush ecosystem.

ORANGUTAN FACTS

Origin of name: The word orangutan literally translates to “human of the forest”.

Size and Physical Characteristics: They are the largest arboreal mammals, with adult males weighing up to 200 pounds (90 kilograms) and having an arm span of over 7 feet (2 meters).

Complex Social Structure: Though mainly solitary, adult females may share overlapping home ranges and occasionally interact.

Life Span: They can live in the wild to be 30 to 40 years old.

Tool Use and Innovation: Orangutans display remarkable tool use, such as using leaves as napkins or cushions, and branches for reaching distant food.

Child rearing: Orangutan mothers stay with their young for six to seven years, teaching them where to find food, what and how to eat and the technique for building a sleeping nest.

Varied Diet: They eat more than 100 different types of food, including fruit, young leaves, bark, flowers, honey, insects, vines, and the inner shoots of plants.

Nesting behavior: Orangutans exhibit elaborate nesting behavior in trees, constructing new nests each night to ensure a clean sleeping environment.

SUMATRAN ORANGUTAN CONSERVATION

Unfortunately, the relentless destruction of Sumatra’s rainforests has pushed the Sumatran orangutan to the edge of extinction. With fewer than 14,000 Sumatran orangutans remaining in the wild, they are classified as Critically Endangered. Their forest habitat is under immense threat and being being torn down for farmlands, logging, hydropower projects, mining and roads. International demand for products such as palm oil and timber, combined with weak forest governance and short-sighted land-use policies, are driving deforestation at an alarming rate.

Consequently, orangutan populations are left fragmented and isolated as roads and plantations divide up the forest. This makes them easy targets for poaching for the illegal pet trade, and causes conflict with local communities when the stranded and starving apes are forced to resort to raiding crops.

By participating in this tour, you will be supporting orangutan conservation through the amazing work of the Nature for Change, the Sumatran Orangutan Society and their conservation partners.

HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH SUMATRAN ORANGUTANS

Our guide on how to photograph Sumatran orangutans is coming soon. It will cover practical advice on packing, camera gear and settings, and composition tips that cater to photographers of all levels.

We also provide optional 1-1 Zoom sessions before the tour, detailed prompts and guidance when we are in the field, and optional post-processing sessions after your tour. We will do everything we can to help you become a better photographer!

PHOTO GALLERY

EXTEND YOUR STAY

Things to do in Singapore

  • Gardens by the Bay: Explore the futuristic Gardens by the Bay, home to Supertrees, the Flower Dome, and Cloud Forest.

  • Marina Bay Sands: Visit the iconic Marina Bay Sands for its rooftop infinity pool, observation deck, luxury shopping, and entertainment options.

  • Singapore Botanic Gardens: Stroll through the UNESCO-listed Singapore Botanic Gardens, featuring tropical flora and the National Orchid Garden.

  • Cultural Neighborhoods: Immerse yourself in Singapore’s diverse cultural hubs – Chinatown for markets and temples, Little India for vibrant streets and cuisine, and Kampong Glam for historic sites and Arab culture.

See Komodo dragons

  • Size: As the world’s largest lizard, Komodo dragons can exceed 10 feet in length and weigh over 150 pounds.

  • Apex Predators: With a keen sense of smell and sharp claws, Komodo dragons are apex predators preying on animals like deer and wild boar.

  • Venomous Bite: Despite popular belief, Komodo dragons are not venomous; instead, their septic saliva aids in weakening and incapacitating prey.

  • Long Lifespan: Komodo dragons have a relatively long lifespan, with some individuals in the wild living up to 30 years or more.

Meet Your Guide: Zac Mills

As a wildlife photographer, traveler, and former World Bank economist, Zac brings a different perspective to wildlife conservation. He founded the Wildlife Collective to help others become better wildlife photographers and to use their voice for conservation. With leadership roles in several conservation organizations, Zac knows first hand that working together with like-minded individuals can make a difference. Zac hopes to entertain you with stories from the wild, inspire you to get involved in conservation, and to become the best wildlife photographer you can be.

JOIN US FOR A TRIP OF A LIFETIME!

13 + 11 =

Why Our Photo Tours Are Different

Experience

The essence of life lies in its experiences, and it is our unwavering mission to gift you the very best of them. We strive to craft our tours with care and authenticity, making each adventure a vibrant chapter in the story of your life.

Conservation

All of our tours have a conservation focus. We will learn about the challenges facing our primary subject and ongoing conservation work. Plus, every tour makes a donation to a conservation partner.

Locations

We take you to the world’s most amazing wilderness destinations, carefully selected for their unparalleled beauty and chosen based on our commitment to providing guests with the very best wildlife experiences.

Photography Focus

We welcome all levels of photography and provide optional photography sessions before, during, and after the tour. With our hands on learning, you are going to leave our tour as a better photographer. Ask us anything at anytime!

Small Groups

We believe that small groups give the best wildlife expereinces. We do not exceed 6 clients per guide, and in most tours, the ratio will be even smaller. This ensures that you get the personalized attention that you deserve.

Best Guides

We work with the world’s best wildlife guides, who also happen to be our good friends. They are experienced, keep us safe, and put us in the best possible position to have the best wildlife experience.