Trekabout Photography Workshops - Creating Adventure Through Photography

Photograph 'Amazing Kalimantan' with Professional Photographers and Tutors, Mark Rayner and David Metcalf

10 Day Isen Mulang, Dayaks, Orangutans and Wildlife Photo Expedition presented by Mark Rayner and David Metcalf

When : Next workshop TBA 2020

Where : Kalimantan (Borneo) commencing in Bali, Palangkaraya.

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Come and join Professional Photographers Dave Metcalf and Mark Rayner as they lead a cultural tour to Central Borneo in May 2019. Dave and Mark are regular visitors to Kalimantan (Indonesia Borneo) and this year they have planned the workshop to coincide with the cultural highlight of the year for the Dayak people. You will be in for a real treat as this tour is for anyone interested in experiencing something very different, colorful, vibrant and to witness Dayak culture expressed through music, dance, storytelling and sport.

The tour is very well organized and you will be connecting every day with the local Dayak people from Palangkaraya, and no doubt make new friends. Palangkaraya is one of the friendliest, welcoming places on the planet! But this is not all, as you will also get to see Orangutans in their natural habitat, visit Dayak villages, including Katimpun village and learn about a very successful education program that Dave has been involved with for the past 5 years, which is supporting environmental and cultural education.

What springs to mind when you think of Borneo?

Prehistoric tribes living in the forest, orangutans in the wild, exotic wildlife, giant hornbill birds or maybe wild Indiana Jones type headhunters roaming the impenetrable jungle rainforest?

Well its not quite like this these days, but if you long for an adventure into Central Borneo to photograph orangutans, large proboscis monkeys, unique birdlife and have the opportunity to meet the local traditional Dayak people whilst sailing along an ancient river in a house boat and going to sleep surrounded by pristine rainforests, then this is the trip for you.
Mark Rayner and Dayak Dave Metcalf will be leading this fascinating and unique photography adventure to bring you in touch with amazing orang-utans and Dayak culture.

Borneo (in Indonesia, known as Kalimantan), the Amazon of Asia, has a rich array of birdlife and wonderful primates including orangutans, which we get to see at close quarters.

This is simply an unforgettable experience and one that will remain with you forever.

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But this is not all you will see.

There will be many opportunities to photograph the threatened Orangutans in their natural environment as we will spend two nights on a boat cruising up the ancient waterways, surrounded by beautiful forest, stunning sunsets and plenty of people photography in the villages.

This workshop is a wonderful opportunity to take your photography to the next level, capture some spectacular photographs to add to your portfolio, learn about the ways of the indigenous people, the true custodians of the land in a very authentic environment, in their villages away from where tourists venture.

We will arrange a special model shoot of the beautiful Dayak dancers in the forest, experience the opening parade when hundreds of colorful floats make their way through the main streets, photograph lots of dancing as many different Dayak tribes come from all over the area.

In fact, these are the best dancers in Indonesia so you in for something simply unforgettable. We will also attend the display of many boats adorned in Dayak motifs sailing up the river with young dancers and singers performing to try and win the first prize. We will have our own boat on the river so we can get the best photo opportunities to catch the color and fun of this event. There are also many other activities such as Blow Pipe competition, fireball football, catching fish with bare hands, dayak food cooking competitions, fashion show and tourism competition.  In fact, 10% of the proceeds from this photography workshop will go to support the program and support the children in this village. This tour is not just about witnessing Dayak culture and having an unforgettable experience but giving back to the communities. Travel with a mission.

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“Life is not remembered by the breaths you take but those moments that take your breath away”.

Please join Mark and David for many breath-taking moments and improve your photography skills, as we take you into the heart of Borneo to connect intimately with the Dayaks, the orangutans and exotic wildlife.

This workshop begins in Bali (or Jakarta) and then the group flies together to Palangkaraya, the capital of Central Kalimantan where we spend the next 7 days in this area, exploring the waterways and villages of this ancient land.

Two nights are spent on one of the Wow Borneo boats and many opportunities to photograph the endangered Orangutans or people of the forest as the Dayak people call them.
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We will visit Dayak villages including Katimpun the home of Ransel Buku literacy and cultural teaching program that Dave has been engaged with for the past five years.

You will have the opportunity to engage with the children who will perform a special Dayak dance they have been learning for the past few months. It is said that the Dayak dancing and music is the best in all of Indonesia and you will get to see and photograph a very special performance from the Spirit of the Hornbills Dance academy, which Dave and Mark have been involved with for the past six years.
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Isen Mulang

A very special event occurs in Central Borneo on May the 18th each year.

Thousands of Dayaks converge on the small city of Palangkaraya to join together in a spirit of dance, fun, joy and cultural expression. They come from the river village settlements, from the forests and inland villages, young and old and somewhat in between, representing their districts and hometowns determined to compete against the best on offer in dance, song, beauty, sport and traditional games in the third largest province in Indonesia, Central Kalimantan.
Isen Mulang means never give up and strive
to achieve, and this event has been celebrated for the past eight years and every year seems to get bigger. It is one of the few opportunities in Kalimantan to watch a gathering of so many Dayak tribes together in the one place.
This fantastic event begins with a traditional parade, which involves not only Dayak people but also many other Indonesian cultures that moved to Central Kalimantan under the migrant transmigration program of the Soeharto era. People from Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Papua, the Maluku Islands, Bali and Nusa Tenggara are all represented in a colorful parade which winds its way through the streets of Palangkaraya ending up in the center of town where many of the participants gather to dance, socialize and pose for cameras.

Palangkaraya, which celebrated its 57th year anniversary this year, means a sacred, glorious and crowded place, and this is certainly the case, as most of the town shows up to watch the parade and join in the festivities.
The highlight of the first day of events is the vibrant and very loud dragon boat contest. Much care and effort is put into decorating the boats in intricate Dayak motifs which is then paraded up and down the river with beautiful young Dayak woman singing and dancing and young warriors dressed in feathers, their bodies adorned with (temporary) tattoos specially crafted for the occasion, chanting ancient songs and swinging their Parangs (machetes) in the air, as they challenge the other boats
This event is taken very seriously as there are points awarded for the best decorated boat, best costume, best dance, best singing and the level of enthusiasm displayed. The prize is not only monetary but also each team vies for bragging rights as they stand proudly on the bow of the ship, sailing proudly up the river after the winner is announced.
When the boats come into shore the contestants turn on yet another display of singing and dancing and then mingle with their friends in the crowd.  This is a great opportunity to talk to the very friendly people of Palangkaraya who are very excited to meet foreigners, as very few tourists visit their town mainly due to ineffective publicity and marketing outside of Kalimantan, rather than lack of things to see.
Day three includes the fascinating but serious game of fireball football as teams compete on a small size football field with coconuts that are literally doused in petrol and set alight! I think the crowd gets just as much excitement as the players and when the fireball flies into the crowd due to a wayward kick, and this is received with much humour and a mass nervous exit. It is hilarious to watch the large crowd scram in all directions when the ball of fire comes their way.

The players themselves cover their legs in toothpaste which prevents them from getting burnt although it is not so good for the goalie, who often dives on the coconut to save a goal, risking setting his clothes on fire.
Also on this evening the Prince and Princess Tourism Competition begins. This event held over three nights involving twenty-four contestants performing in pairs representing their regency. There is a lot at stake for this event as the winners get to represent Central Kalimantan in Jakarta at the National Tourism Competition later in the year.
There are three judges at each event and voting is based on eight categories including dress, appearance, confidence, cultural expression, English speaking ability, dancing, creativity and effectively promoting tourism for their regency.
The contestants are aged between 17 and 23 dressed in beautiful, native costumes making a spectacular sight with flashes of vibrant color filling the stage as they dance, sing and perform to impress the judges.
The fourth day of the festival includes wood chopping, blow dart shooting in which the contestants aim at a round target not another Dayak as they would have in the past! Other festivities include a grand food baking competition, traditional canoe races and fish catching fish (with bare hands).
It is in the evening though, that the magic of the festival really comes alive. The large stage fills with giant feathers, bear claws, pointed hornbill beaks, bells and chains. The Dayaks representing their many tribes including the Ngaju, Maanyan, Lawangan, Katingan, Barito and Ot Danum host four hours of traditional dancing.  The display of their unique traditional dance costumes and the spirit of the competition creates a wonderful atmosphere of entertainment, as each tribe seeks be crowned “the best dancers” of Central Kalimantan.

And then Orangutans up close and personal

We'll fly to Pankalanbun and board a smaller boat as we head into the waterways and get up close and personal with Orangutans and Proboscis Monkeys and the loud, vocal Gibbons. We will spend 3 days in Tanjung Puting National Park and will see plenty of wildlife, so the big zoom lenses will be in overdrive, especially at dusk and dawn.

You will have opportunities to photograph:

  • Borneo Orangutans in their natural forest environment on an island near Palangkaraya.
  • Many opportunities to get up close to the beautiful endangered Orangutans.
  • Borneo traditional Dayak villages
  • Meeting the children of Katimpun Village, who are supported by this tour and an on-going 6-year education project first hand
  • Traditional medicine and handicraft of the indigenous Dayak cultures
  • 3 days on a comfortable, air-conditioned boat (Australian owned and operated) travelling the ancient rivers of central Borneo where we witness stunning sunsets and dine on 5-star food.

Cost for the photography expedition is $6200.00 (USD) single occupancy. $5700 if sharing


  • 9  nights accomodation
  • 2 nights/ 3 days on boat cruising the waterways of Palangkaraya, Borneo
  • All food
  • Domestic Flights
  • All Transport
  • Local Guide Fees
  • Park fees
  • Local boats
  • Tips
  • Alcohol
  • International airfares
  • Visa fees
 To book, please click -> here and go to the enquiry form at the bottom of the page.