Pioneering river cruise operator WOW Borneo has plied the rivers of Kalimantan for 13 years, delivering a uniquely comfortable and authentic experience.
If you want to see orangutans, be carried along the vast slow-moving rivers of Borneo, stop at tiny isolated villages, and get off the big boat into canoes to immerse yourself in the scenery, this is the way to do it.
Based in the natural habitat of the iconic and endangered orangutan, WOW Borneo began with a simple vision: to nurture the local community and environment by creating a serene ecotourism experience with excellent service and fabulous food. Founded in 2008 in Palangka Raya, WOW Borneo’s Orangutan Cruises have expanded to four fully-equipped boats, spanning three rivers which provide once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for nature lovers.
The Rahai’i Pangun, our first boat on the Kahayan River, was built in the traditional way by local craftsmen on a riverbank in the Katingan hulu. This boat, never before conceived of here, overcame many obstacles before it sailed from Palangka Raya as a fully-fledged passenger boat.
Kemarau, the dry season, and changing climate patterns are annual risks for riverboat operators. Rivers are dependent on their flow from the source areas in the inland mountains, and levels, dependent on rainfall alone, can fluctuate drastically.
To minimize the seasonal variation of river levels, WOW Borneo’s new route cruises south of Palangka Raya through Pulang Pisa, where big diurnal tides remarkably keep the river navigable all year. As well as seeing orangutans, we visit weaving villages. Using sedges growing in the peatlands and rattan vines from the riversides and forests, beautiful and useful products are made. We can see how they are made from source to final product.
WOW Borneo’s responsible approach to tourism means that we engage with regency governments, local villages, and community foundations to provide authentic experiences which promote the river and village livelihoods. Villagers have created activities for guests ranging from forest walks to music performances, weaving demonstrations, and canoe trips. The yellow dish is in fact young rattan soup as prepared by local people here, and, as you can see, it’s placed on a woven rattan mat!
For a real getaway from it all, try another WOW Borneo boat, the Spirit of Kalimantan on the Katingan River, four hours from Palangka Raya. Moored in the tiny village of Baun Bango, this boat realizes our commitment to support the Sebangau National Park. We canoe visitors along narrow avenues of the forest into the park for treks with trained local guides to track wild orangutans in the dense peat swamp forest and to support villagers’ tourism initiatives.
Our newest boats, Sekonyer and the sun-powered Kumai, are operating in the world0famed Tanjung Puting National Park. Each boat has three private cabins, air-conditioned and ensuite. Our signature open decks offer unimpeded views of the extraordinarily biodiverse forest we pass through. An experience not to be missed in Indonesia, once the park re-opens fully for visitors.