Travel type

Expedition grade


$ (AUD)


Come and see orangutans the only way they should be seen; in the jungles of Sumatra. Make a personal difference by contributing to a unique organisation helping to save the great red ape from extinction.

On this 9-day Orangutan Veterinary Aid (OVAID) fundraising tour, beginning and ending in Medan (North Sumatra), you will visit pristine rainforests, trek into the jungles of Gunung Leuser National Park Northern Sumatra, where wild and released orangutans wander freely in their natural surroundings. You will go back in time, to a place in the jungle where one of the first orangutan research camps was established in 1971 and see where some of the early field research of the red ape was carried out. 

You will also have the unique opportunity to visit SOCP™s orangutan rescue and rehabilitation centre, where veterinarians are delivering life-saving medical treatment to the red ape and where orangutans are prepared for reintroduction back into the forests. This is where you will see the real difference being made by OVAID. A visit to one of OIC™s groundbreaking reforestation projects in North Sumatra will enable you to see directly how attempts are being made to compensate for deforestation.

For those that want an adventure on the way back, we will be offering an action-packed extension to Krakatoa, Lombok, Java or perhaps to see Komodo dragons. If you are interested in adventure and giving back to the world at the same time, then you have got to be part of this expedition.

There really is nothing like giving back and on this specially crafted expedition, you will visit the jungle habitat of the orangutan and help protect them for generations to come.

Join your hosts Nigel and Sara Hicks (OVAID co-founders) who will travel with you throughout the journey and give you their personal views about orangutans and how their organisation is helping to save them and enable them to be released back into the jungle.

An Introduction to OVAID - Nigel & Sara Hicks
Vet, Dr Nigel Hicks and his wife Sara Fell Hicks, have been working with orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra since 2009. Together they have on the ground experience of rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing orangutans in both Malaysia and Indonesia. Spending approximately five of the last ten years living and working in these countries and being an active part of the veterinary teams in four different orangutan rescue centres, Nigel and Sara can share in-depth knowledge of this critically endangered species. Through their experiences, they recognised an urgent need for the provision of veterinary equipment, medicines and practical veterinary mentoring to orangutan rescue groups and rehabilitation centres in Indonesia and Malaysia. Initially, through friends, they raised funds to enable them to buy equipment which they personally took out to Indonesia but it soon became obvious that a more formal structure was needed and in early 2014 they established Orangutan Veterinary Aid (OVAID) as a registered charity. 

During this accompanied tour Nigel and Sara will share presentations on their work with orangutan over the last 10 years and there will be plenty of time for one to one conversations as well as group discussions.

At around 2.63 million hectares, the Leuser Ecosystem really is a world unto itself; a rich expanse of original tropical lowland rainforests, cloud-covered mountains and swampy peatlands. It is among the most biodiverse ecosystems ever recorded by science, and it is the last place on earth where Sumatran orangutans, elephants, tigers and rhinos still freely roam.

However, the Leuser Ecosystem is now under threat. Despite being protected under Indonesian national law, massive industrial development is being planned for logging, palm oil, pulp and paper plantations and mining. This will threaten the entire ecosystem, as well as the continued wellbeing of the millions of Acehnese traditional landholders who depend on it for their food, water and livelihoods.

You are embarking on an adventure to places and amongst people whose lives are very different from your own. Many aspects of life in Indonesia will seem unusual. Remember that these are often the same aspects that make an area an exotic and attractive destination. While boat expeditions are considered easy, no trek is easy, even those rated "easy or moderate". In addition to the personal physical challenges you may face, travel conditions can present unexpected obstacles, such as rough and bumpy roads and changeable weather. To prepare for this "pack" a flexible and relaxed attitude. Bring a spirit of adventure and enquiry, a healthy sense of humour and a willingness to encounter the unexpected and you will find your trip to Indonesia the adventure of a lifetime!


An Introduction to OVAID

OVAID is a registered U.K. charity which provides essential medicines, equipment and professional help for vets working at the front line of orangutan rescue whether this is from illegal pet homes, human orangutan conflict or the illegal wildlife trade. These vets and their teams are often working in extremely difficult, demanding and dangerous conditions with minimal equipment and the support of OVAID is vital. In addition, the charity seeks to educate and inform the public about deforestation issues, habitat loss and the plight of the orangutan.

Since its inception in 2014 OVAID has donated more than £200,000 in medicines and equipment to orangutan vet teams and is also currently funding a £30,000 veterinary scholarship for young Indonesian orangutan vets from the rescue teams. By participating in this tour you will be part of this amazing effort and will be positively impacting orangutan welfare.


Our goal is to provide our guests with a unique experience, to observe wild and semi-wild orangutans in their natural habitat. We will provide you with a safe platform to observe the other wildlife Sumata has to offer including Thomas Leaf monkeys, gibbons and more. We will also provide you with comprehensive information about the destination you are in so that you are fully informed of your surrounds.


Duration - 9 days (1st to 9th November 2021)

Day 1 - 1st Nov: Arrive in Medan.
Today you will arrive in Medan, North Sumatra where you will be met and picked up from the airport by an Orangutan Odysseys representative and transferred to our hotel in Medan city. Overnight hotel.
Day 2 - 2nd Nov: OIC - Bukit Mas.
This morning we will visit the Orangutan Information Centre's (OIC) main office in Medan for a presentation on their vital work helping to save the orangutans. It's here we shall also hand over of the OVAID donations. After lunch, we head off to OIC's Bukit Mas reforestation site where you will see first hand some of the work you heard about in the presentation. Overnight stay in basic onsite cabins. (B,L,D)
Day 3 - 3rd Nov: OIC - Bukit Mas - Bukit Lawang 
An early start this morning where you will get a tour of the site and also participate in a range of activities with the OIC staff. After lunch, we then travel (approx 4 hours) to the village town of Bukit Lawang. This afternoon you will meet with our local guide team for a briefing on the trekking adventure for the next day. If time allows we can take a walk around the village or a have a swim in the river. Overnight Bukit Lawang Eco Lodge. (B,L)
Day 4 - 4th Nov: Bukit Lawang - 2-day trek starts
This morning you will start your trekking adventure into the jungles of the Gunung Leuser National Park. The starting point for the trek is directly next to our ecolodge. You will spend the day trekking slowly searching for orangutans and wildlife. We go slowly with plenty of rest stops along the way. Lunch will be in the jungle and later in the afternoon, we shall arrive at our riverside jungle camp site. Overnight camping in the jungle. (B,L,D)
Day 5 - 5th Nov: Bukit Lawang.
An early morning start where we hope you will be woken to the sounds of the gibbons calling. Then on to a morning trek in search of more amazing wildlife sightings, and lunch in the jungle. We then get to have a relaxing and sometimes exhilarating river tubing ride back to lodge. Afternoon at leisure or walk around the village. Overnight the Ecolodge. (B,L,D)
Day 6: 6th Nov: Bukit Lawang - SCOP - Berastagi.
This morning we depart Bukit Lawang and transfer for our visit to SOCP's orangutan centre (Batu Mbelin) for a tour and also to hand over the OVAID donations. Then its off to see the newly built Orangutan Haven project. Late afternoon we travel through to the mountain town of Berastagi. If time allows you can visit the local markets. (B,L)
Day 7 - 7th Nov: Sunrise climb volcano - Transfer to Lake Toba 
An early morning wake up call to climb Mt. Sibayak located directly behind your hotel. A short drive and an hours hike up the mountain will hopefully allow a spectacular sunrise across the valleys with wonderful views. After breakfast back at the hotel, it's on to Lake Toba, which is the site of the biggest eruption recorded in our history and which played a significant role with the orangutans. Along the way, we will travel the beautiful route through the Karo highlands via pineapple, clove and ginger plantations with stops during the trip at the tribal kings' house of the Simalungun Batak in Pematang Purba and at the Sipiso Piso falls. We will cross Lake Toba to the island of Samosir and arrive in Parapat in the afternoon where we will have a two night stay in a hotel - Tabo Cottages on Samosir Island right at the lakeside. (B,L)
Day 8 - 8th Nov: Lake Toba at leisure
Today you are free to relax and explore some of the areas by foot. Optionally we can organise a tour to some of the traditional Batak tribes to learn about their culture and see more of the island. (B) 
Day 9 - 9th Nov: Lake Toba  - Medan - Tour ends
This morning you will transfer to Medan (or Lake Toba) International airport for return onwards flights or to continue your Indonesian adventures (B).

*Itinerary is subject to change due to local conditions.





The purpose of this trip is to create awareness of the threat of extinction facing orangutans because of the destruction of their rainforest habitat and to raise funds to help orangutans. The trip hosts, Nigel and Sara are generously donating their time and expertise to help make this a most unique trip and a special experience for all our guests. Orangutan Odysseys tours have now raised over $1,000,000 since 2011 to help support the orangutan™s survival. Each participant of the trip will adopt an orangutan (included in trip fare) and agree to fundraise a minimum of GB£850 in donations specifically for OVAID. Your participation in this event WILL make a difference to help save orangutans lives.
How will your fundraising be spent?

All of the money raised will be completely utilised by OVAID to supply much-needed equipment to the SOCP orangutan vet team in Sumatra, medicines and equipment for the Batu Mbelin rescue centre and its remote release stations and the OIC rescue teams and to support the further training of Indonesian vets. Nigel and Sara have advised that the following equipment supplies will be provided:-

For Sumatran Orangutan Rescue Centre (SOCP)
We will provide a new portable x-ray generating machine which is capable of x-raying a fully grown male orangutan.

This piece of equipment costing approximately £5,000 will enhance the centre™s x-ray system by making it portable, thus allowing much greater scope for taking x-rays on site. Importantly, this machine will enable the team to perform radiography at the remote release site at Jantho in Aceh which is currently without any x-ray facility.

OVAID will provide full on-site installation of the equipment together with full training over several days to ensure that the vet team are confident in its use.

Maintaining equipment in the harsh tropical climate is difficult and expensive so OVAID has instigated an arrangement whereby the supplier will provide full back-up for the machine in the event of any failure, both remotely (some solutions can be fixed remotely via computer) and if necessary in person. 

We will also be providing an intravenous infusion pump which automatically controls the rate of intravenous infusion leaving the vet team free to concentrate on the patient. Cost £850

A  patient warming system which controls the body heat of orangutan during surgical procedures. Surprisingly, even in Sumatra™s hot and humid climate, this is necessary during lengthy procedures in an air-conditioned operating theatre. Cost £1,000+

In addition, we will be providing vital medicines and many smaller items from the vet team™s wish list.

For Orangutan Information Centre (OIC)
Pulse oximeter - a portable machine to enable the OIC rescue team to monitor vital oxygen levels and pulse rate of injured and rescued orangutan. Cost £450

Sedative (and reversal) drugs for the three OIC rescue teams. Cost £500+

Darting equipment, blowpipe, darts, needles etc for the rescue teams. Cost £500+ 


Bring along some Vet supplies. 
Many of our guests feel that in addition to their fundraising effort for OVAID, they would like to make a small personal contribution/presentation to the vet teams. Please note this is entirely optional.

The following is a list of useful equipment for tour participants to bring - items are always needed by all centres.

Your local veterinary practice is a good source and might even be willing to donate (e.g. slightly out of date suture material can still be used) or they may be able to help you to obtain some items. Alternatively, for those of you within the U.K., OVAID can make direct purchases on your behalf. If you are offered other items as donations, please feel free to contact OVAID re suitability at


Why not think about seeing more amazing locations in Indonesia after your orangutan expedition? For more details about some of the exciting trip extensions on offer to other parts of Indonesia click here.