Day Trip to Orang Utan Island


One of the benefits of moving our family to Malaysia was sharing our love for wildlife with our twin boys. We want to help them find a passion for supporting wildlife causes. We decided to visit Bukit Merah Orang Utan Island Foundation – a world-renowned centre dedicated to the care and repatriation of Malaysia’s Orang Utan.  

Our love for orangutans began on an adventure in Borneo before the boys were born, where we were privileged to see wild orangutans in their natural environment, not once but twice, on our self-driven, four wheel drive adventure through Danum Valley Conservation Centre. 

Our day started driving across the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge, which is the longest bridge connecting Penang to the mainland and is a beautiful drive. If you are self driving you will need to purchase a Touch and Go card for the toll roads. This can be done at the Toll booth on the far left on route. After an hour’s leisurely drive, we arrived in Bukit Merah Laketown Resort. This multi-coloured collection of buildings was a strange find after driving through expansive palm and pineapple plantations. Laketown Waterpark is also located here and with rides like Boomerang and the Giant Bubble Slide, this makes an excellent combo for visiting the area with a family. 

Samuel and Flynn aboard the lake cruiser approaching Orang Utan Island

Pulau Orang Utan is a 35-acre island nestled within a 7000-acre freshwater lake. The boys were excited as we walked down the jetty to board the lake cruiser and start our adventure.  Their excitement peaked as we observed two orangutans on the edge of the island playing as we approached. We were welcomed onto the island and given a briefing about the role the Island plays as a temporary home for those orangutans rescued from illegal possession and trade before being returned to their natural habitat. Those orangutans that were unable to be immediately returned to the wild receive care, treatment and rehabilitation.

We were lucky enough to have a guide and the island to ourselves and were introduced to the orangutans as we walked through a semi circle steel fence tunnel enclosure separating us from the orangutans and confining us as opposed to the orangutans. First up was a mature male orangutan who followed us as we strolled through the tunnel. As it was quiet we were allowed to go behind the scenes and view two juvenile males who reminded us of our own five year old twin boys with their playing and wrestling.  Their mother, a large floppy wonderful orangutan, seemed a bit tired of her offspring’s antics and she entertained herself by spitting at Samuel, a gesture that apparently displays humour, also to our amusement. Samuel referred to her as Miss Spitty and despite her habits, named her as his favourite. As we explored, each orangutan had a story that we were able to reflect upon. Our tour ended at the facilities that displayed information on orangutans, ways we can help and a hospital for orangutan care and a much needed and well deserved donation box.  

In December, we will be returning to Borneo where we hope to show our boys orangutans in the wild, so they too can see them in the environment they deserve to be in. With efforts such as this centre, perhaps our children’s children may also be granted this privilege.  

Safe Travels Abroad can customise a personalised trip from your hotel in Penang to Bukit Merah Laketown Resort. Contact for details. 

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