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As your klotok arrives at the long jetty at Camp Leakey, you will usually see several of the site's more famous characters lurking at the docking station. Siswi, an oversized female, is the offspring of one of Galidikas' original ex-captives. Tutut is another regular, who has become famous more recently for giving birth to a rare set of twins. Clever Princess was successfully taught how to use sign language, and was also nearly very successful staging her own escape attempt via a docked canoe. The one orangutan you really do not want to be lying in wait when the boats to arrive is Tom, the dominant male, once spotted angrily pulling the wooden bench from the jetty's shelter and hurling it into the river. And this is when your guide will come in handy. They can also shoo away one of the many macaques that are not too shy to steal food directly from the landing klotoks.

Gibbons also call these forests home, and every morning before sunrise you will be woken up to their songs. There is a special species of Bornean gibbon here, and you will get to see some of them up close. These gibbons are not scared of people and will brachiate at full speed over your awestruck head. Watching acrobatic gibbons at play is endlessly entertaining; just keep a firm grip on your camera.

At the site is an information centre which contains a fascinating insight into Galdikas' history at Camp Leaky, including the National Geographic feature she wrote that catapulted her and her primates to an international level in 1975. Learn about the generations of orangutans who have passed through this camp, as well as other forest creatures. Do not miss the documentary Kusasi, From Orphan to King, about the campsite's most famous inhabitant. However interesting all these features are, the best part of Camp Leakey is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sit in a forest and share space with these semi-wild orangutans.

You can also go bushwalking on one of the many trails in the surrounding forests - just watch out for leeches. There are still things to look forward to along the way back: proboscis monkeys, kingfishers, hornbills and crocodiles. Plus, you should also not be surprised to see wild orangutans lurking on the riverbanks, or idly watching klotoks pass from the forest canopy. Toward the end of the journey, the forest shrinks and is gradually replaced by tall reeds. When night falls, thousands of fireflies light up these river reeds like Christmas trees, making this a truly fairytale end to a very special journey.

 

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© 2011 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘Drifting down the Sekonyer’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

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