5.30am and we are awake, groggy but unable to sleep further. We get up and splash welcome cold water over our faces and enjoy a most welcome cup of tea. The best to be said about the night is that the mosquito net worked. We smell even worse.
After a breakfast of banana pancakes and scrambled eggs, we set off once more. We’re fortunate to see a second wild male orangutan, hanging nonchalantly in the branches. Our guide says that this morning we will go for a one hour trek to plant some trees, which she warns us will be extremely muddy and slippery after last night’s thunderstorm. We ask if we couldn’t go to a feeding station again, but she says it will be too late as feeding starts at 9am. At 9.05 we sail past the jetty for the feeding station, and say we really want to visit not plant trees. The boat is turned round and we disembark five minutes later. The guide says we will need to walk fast to get to the feeding station in time, not realising what Sara understands by the term ‘fast walk’. Sara sets off determinedly, her walking poles a blur
of motion, with David keeping up and Susy the guide trailing some distance in his wake. We reach the station in 12 minutes which is seemingly an all time record that has left our guide gasping for breath. We’re rewarded by the sight of two mothers with small babies feeding, who stay for the next 45 minutes. Definitely better than soggy tree planting! No idea why the guide was so keen on that.
Back to the boat for more cups of tea and a rest before lunch. In the afternoon we return to the Tanjung Harapan feeding station where we’re rewarded by the sight of a dozen or more orangutans. The alpha male Gundul is back again, and asserts his dominance over the assembled company before starting up a tree, where he hangs for a few minutes, seemingly posing for his fans, before heading away through the trees. Long after he is out of sight we can track his progress by the crashing sounds and waving trees. Many of the others seem to be adolescents and children, who clamber up and down trees and play with each other. One baby has learnt how to descend a skinny tree trunk
by using it as a fireman’s pole, and practices this repeatedly. He tries the same trick on a bigger tree but soon realises that on this one he has to climb down more slowly to avoid losing his grip. We take fewer photos but just watch, entranced.
Mid afternoon we check back into the ecolodge, where we take the most welcome and much needed and possibly longest shower of all time and enjoy the pleasure of clean clothes. Then it’s back to the boat, where we are promised a romantic dinner watching the fireflies light up the nipa palms. Sadly, there is too much light from the moon for the fireflies to put on a good show, and we see a scant two dozen. But dinner is good, and we sleep like logs in a proper bed. Never has a very basic lodge been more welcome!
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