Aping Around

In October 2017 three staff from J.A.K Marketing took part in a
fundraising trek in Sumatra with the founders of OVAID. Trekking
into the jungle of the Leuser Eco system, seeing wild orangutans,
elephants, macaques, gibbons,hornbills and other wildlife, spending
a night under the stars, ‘tubing’  down rivers,
(basically sitting in a
big inner tube and going where the river took us) and visiting a
successful reforestation programme. A highlight of the tour was a visit
to the SOCP Centre to see first-hand how rescued orangutans start
on their journey of rehabilitation. We also delivered over £10,000 worth
of vitally needed equipment donated by our suppliers.

Thank you very much to our suppliers. If your practice have any
equipment or out of date consumables or would just like to make a
donation to this worthwhile cause please contact either Michelle or
Jane at J.A.K Marketing.


October 19th-20th 2017

The journey begins! After meeting the other people on the trek we flew from Heathrow to Jakarta.


October 21st 2017

Today we went into Jakarta to have TB x-rays as we needed these to allow us to visit the Orangutan Centre; Nigel (from OVAID) came with us to translate! We spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool, getting to know our fellow trekkers.


October 22nd 2017

An early flight from Jakarta to Medan, where we were picked up from Medan airport by Luci (our tour guide) and started on the 4 hour journey to the Orangutan Information Centre’s reforestation project in Halaban. When we arrived we were met by Nyla and the lads who work at this site. We walked through a palm oil plantation, which was very quiet and to the unknowing eye quite pretty, to the reclaimed forest. It wasn’t until we crossed over into the forest that we could hear all the wildlife; this is because palm oil trees take nutrients out of the ground so nothing can grow and therefore no food for anything to feed off.

Our first introduction into staying in the rainforest was ‘a basic hut’ this was a platform 10 feet in the air with a roof over to keep us dry and railings around the sides to stop us falling off, we did have mosquito nets and airbeds! The toilet was a porcelain hole in the floor surrounded by a wooden shack, like in “I’m a celebrity get me out of here”! Having shone our torches around the shack and counted 5 spiders (these were the same diameter as a full toilet roll) we found a bush to go behind instead! We familiarised ourselves with our surroundings and after dinner Nyla showed us a presentation on the incredible work they have done and continue to do uprooting illegally planted palm oil trees and replanting (by hand) over 500 hectares back to forest.

That night we went to sleep to the sound of thousands of cicada singing very loudly!


October 23rd 2017


Following an early start and breakfast we went to leave our mark on the area by planting some trees ourselves, a very profound moment and one which we will never forget! As we were getting ready to leave they told us they had found tiger footprints around the hut a couple of weeks earlier and that they had just finished rebuilding the kitchen which had been trampled by migrating elephants.
Leaving Halaban, we set off on another bumpy journey to a jungle lodge in Tangkahan. As we arrived, being in the rainforest, the heavens opened and we had to postpone that afternoon’s tubing down the river, instead once it stopped raining we went for a walk by the river where we saw a water monitor lizard and a group of macaques who were coming down to the river to drink. During this walk Jane was the first person to get leeched! The jungle lodges were ‘basic’ but mostly had walls – our bathroom was in a private garden attached to the room, the toilet was undercover and not just a hole in the floor, but the shower was in the garden itself, this was our first experience of a cold shower.


October 24th 2017

We took a short walk to the elephant ranger’s station at Tangkahan Ecotourism, home to 7 rescued elephants. Twice a day the elephants come to the river to be bathed by tourists, and roam free in the jungle the rest of the time. After watching them being bathed we walked with them back to the jungle and followed them for a while. We left the elephants and went back to the river, from here we tubed back down the river to the lodges; dismounting the tubes, at the end, was probably not the most elegant! Back at the lodges we were picked up by jeeps and taken to the Eco Lodge in Bukit Lewang. Cars normally avoid these roads now as they have been chewed up so badly by the palm oil lorries. We stopped off, on the way, to see the view of one of the many palm oil plantations; it stretched for as far as the eye could see in every direction, this was once part of the rainforest full of life, now the chemicals pumped into the land stop any wildlife living there.

The Eco Lodge was amazing! The rooms were nice and clean and we had hot showers! The restaurant is constructed from natural and sustainable bamboo and clay and all the proceeds go to helping orangutans.


October 25th 2017

Today we started our trek into the Leuser Eco System with our guides Silo and Sabar. As we entered the rainforest we saw a group of thomas leaf monkeys, they seemed as interested in us as we were in them and came over to watch us. Deeper into the forest Silo pointed at an orangutan in the distance, you could just make it out to be a mother and her baby, another highlight of our time there, to see orangutans in their natural environment; like the thomas leaf monkeys they were curious to see what we were doing and came over to us, we watched each other for ages, unfortunately we had to leave as we needed to get to camp before dark. Lunch was the best picnic we have ever eaten which consisted of Nasi Goreng (fried rice) served on a banana leaf and fruit, beautifully presented. On the way into camp we saw white handed gibbons swinging in the tops of the trees, these usually shy apes swung right over the top of us, there were 3 adults and a baby.

Finally after 8 hours trekking we got to camp which was by a river, the first thing we did was jump in to cool down. As we got out of the water a long snake swam past us.

That evening the guides cooked us a lovely meal in the most basic kitchen we had ever seen, in fact all the facilities were very basic (the toilet was a hole dug in the ground). We sat by the river playing games, these were really simple games but one of the best night’s entertainment we have ever had.

Our beds were inner tents hung inside a homemade tent (tarpaulin draped over wood), as we went to bed the heavens opened once again with thunder, lightning and torrential rain, the guides spent most of the night watching the swelling river in case it came up to the tents.


October 26th 2017

We set off early on our walk back down to the river; the guides showed us many things on the way including scorpions, chameleons, flying lizards, giant ants and more orangutans. At one point we were walking on a ridge with drops to both sides, our only way forward was over a fallen tree, sat on the end of the tree was a large male orangutan, we were told to pass him one at a time. He sat on the end of the tree with his head rested on his arm and watched every one of us cross. After we passed he climbed onto some nearby vines and did some acrobatics for us, then a female came over and we were told we should leave as he might become protective of her.  The trek down to the river was steep and tiring, once there we ‘tubed’ back down the river over rapids to the Eco Lodge where we stayed again overnight.


October 27th 2017

After breakfast we set off to the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) centre where we met Ian Singleton, head of the centre, he took us to see the Orangutan Haven which is a new project still under development.  Some orangutan being cared for at the SOCP Quarantine Centre cannot be released into the wild for health or social reasons, at the Haven they will be able to live out their days in optimal welfare conditions on large naturalistic islands. Here they will serve as natural ambassadors for their wild counterparts as the plan is to bring visitors to the Haven and for them to learn more about the SOCP’s work. From there we went to the centre itself, we saw the orangutans which were being prepared for eventual release, we also visited the ‘Forest School’ to see the baby orangutans learning to climb trees and socialise with each other, this helps the babies learn species-typical behaviours and provides enrichment.

Our last night in Sumatra was spent at the Deli River Hotel where we had a farewell dinner.


October 28th 2017

We started the long travel back to the UK.


J.A.K Marketing has produced a 2018 Desk Calendar highlighting some of the many photographs taken during the trip. For your copy please contact either Michelle or Jane:-  Telephone 01347 878697 or email  michelle@jakmarketing.co.uk or Jane@jakmarketing.co.uk.


For more information on OVAID please visit https://www.ovaid.org/