Borneo Wildlife Photography Expedition
16th-30th September 2019
£2,650 all-inclusive trip
Masterclasses in photography with exclusive access to research sites deep in the Bornean rainforest
supporting the work of Borneo Nature Foundation and the Centre for International Co-operation in Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatlands (CIMTROP) at the local University of Palangka Raya.
An amazing opportunity to capture shots of some of the most incredible wildlife the world has to offer, learning about biodiversity and conservation while improving technical skills as a wildlife and travel photographer.
Join us on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and develop your photography skills while giving something back to the planet!
Live in a research camp in the CIMTROP-managed Natural Laboratory of Peat-Swamp Forest (NLPSF).
Train in wildlife tracking and conservation skills, trekking in tropical peat-swamp forest with skilled research staff.
Explore the role and responsibilities of the travel photographer: interrogating modes of media presence and understanding human impact on biodiversity.
Photograph and learn about Bornean primate species: orangutans, gibbons, and red langurs.
Hone skills in macro-photography and learn about the incredible invertebrates of Borneo.
Go on night-walks through the forest in search of diverse flora and fauna, including rare species like the lesser mouse deer and the clouded leopard.
Develop your technical expertise through a combination of on-location shoots and classroom instruction.
The programme will take place in Palangka Raya, capital of the province of Central Kalimantan on the island of Borneo, and at the NLPSF research site.
The Sebangau Forest is home to the largest orangutan population in lowland Borneo, bringing the region to the forefront of orangutan conservation efforts and resulting in the award of National Park status in 2004. Here, Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) carry out long-term ecological research and work together with CIMTROP at the University of Palangka Raya to contribute to peatland restoration efforts and support local initiatives to manage and protect peat-swamp forest habitat.
The Sebangau Forest is 580,000 hectares of peat-swamp habitat, the largest single area of lowland rainforest remaining in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). Peat-swamp forests are remarkably diverse and home to over 30% of the remaining population of wild orangutans in Borneo. Peat forms here under waterlogged conditions through the incomplete breakdown of organic matter – dead leaves, branches, fallen trees – which has built up over many thousands of years to create a thick peat layer up to 18m deep in places. Standing atop the peat is a rich tropical rainforest, with a huge diversity of plant life, including large timber trees, such as ramin and swamp meranti, a wide variety of pitcher plants, and sustainable commercial species such as rattan and rubber trees.
Nine species of primate, including the orangutan and Bornean white-bearded gibbon, are found in peat-swamp forests in Borneo. Other notable animal life includes the sun bear, bearded pig, clouded leopard, sambar deer, civets, treeshrews, water monitors, pythons, over 200 species of bird including the rhinoceros hornbill, Wallace’s hawk eagle and the endemic Bornean bristlehead, and a large and diverse invertebrate community.
The research site is located just inside the edge of the forest approximately one hour, by car, boat and, uniquely, small train, from the provincial capital of Palangka Raya. There is a network of trails and permanent study plots deep inside the forest.
About the Instruction
Award-winning photographer and ex-Marine Noel Marcantel will lead sessions both in the classroom and on location, teaching you how to recognize, predict, and control light to capture the purest essence of your subject and surroundings. You’ll also master composition as a powerful tool to evoke particular emotional responses from your audience and lend gravity to your subjects. He’ll take you step-by-step through approaching and appraising a scene, finding atypical perspectives, capturing your ideal frame, and post-processing your images to fulfill their most engaging potential.
Animal behavourist and environmental scientist Aaron Hussain together with BNF research staff will provide expertise in wildlife tracking, identification, and conservation to enable you to capture incredible wildlife shots and develop understanding of the role of photography in the charity's work and in wider conservation efforts.
The blend of classroom instruction, on-location guided shooting, live post-processing demonstrations, and image critique will enable you to fast-track your learning and see immediate results in the improvement of your technique and captures.
In Palangka Raya, you will be living in twin room accommodation with ensuite bathrooms. All meals are provided throughout your stay, as well as drinking water.
Facilities in camp are basic but comfortable, including accommodation in purpose-built dormitory huts, washing and toilet facilities, space to work, kitchen, drinking water, and cooks.
Environment and Climate
Indonesia is situated on the equator, and therefore has a tropical climate consisting of a wet and dry season.
In Borneo, the wet season is usually October to April, and the dry season May to September. The dry season is usually (but not exclusively) a little hotter than the wet season, and obviously not as wet. Both the wet season and the dry season can last longer than expected. Sudden downpours and tropical storms are to be expected.
As Sebangau is a peat-swamp forest, it is very different to a dryland rainforest. It can be extremely wet, and during the rainy season it is flooded – the standing water can be waist deep in many places.
Hummocks, tree roots and hidden holes mean that walking can be extremely hard work. Falling over is something of a rite of passage. On top of this the humidity and temperatures are very high. Typical daytime shade temperatures are 32 degrees C at base camp or in the towns and 27 degrees C in the jungle. In the late evenings the temperature can drop in the forest (by up to 7 degrees C), so it can feel quite cool compared to town.
To move around the forest, some sections have single plank boardwalks, which may be slippery or broken in some places. The rest of the time is spent walking through the forest itself, which can be very muddy or wet. This makes it a rewarding, yet challenging environment. It is essential that you are physically and mentally fit and able to cope in such terrain.
Hazards and risks in the forest range from mosquitoes, tree stilt roots through to poisonous snakes, spiders and scorpions. Before the course begins in the field, you will be given an induction to the forest and hazard awareness training.
All of our inductions will be carried out in English so you must have a good working knowledge of the English language for health and safety purposes.
Included in the programme fee:
Airport pick-up and drop-off;
All masterclass instruction;
Essential accommodation in Palangka Raya;
Transport to/from camp;
Accommodation at camp;
Meals during the entirety of the photography course;
On-site orientation and project training;
A trip to the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) rehabilitation centre;
Contribution to BNF’s long-term conservation efforts;
English-speaking support by long-term experienced staff during photography sessions;
24/7 support throughout the project.
Not included in the programme fee:
Alcohol / additional snacks;
Personal expenses and optional excursions;
Medical supplies and other field kit items;
Book your place here!
For enquires, drop us a line.