Vision / Mission
Wow Borneo's Orangutan and Dayak Village River Cruises are run by Kalimantan Tour Destinations, a foreign owned company set up by two women pioneering the introduction of tourism into a part of Central Kalimantan that to date has had virtually none.
Inspired by the untapped potential of Central Kalimantan’s mighty rivers, Gaye Thavisin and Lorna Dowson-Collins converted traditional Kalimantan barges into comfortable cruise boats, bringing the first river cruises to the area.
Originally Lorna Dowson-Collins worked in Central Kalimantan with a local NGO on a sustainable livelihoods programme. The future livelihoods of the local people were under threat as logging left the land devastated with poor soils and no forest to fend from.
Kalimantan was teeming with the potential of her people and their fascinating culture, with beautiful forests of diverse flora and fauna, including the iconic orang-utan, and her mighty rivers providing access to these wonderful treasures.
An idea for a social enterprise emerged , which involved building a boat to journey guests to inaccessible places and provide comfortable accommodation.
Gaye Thavisin, an Australian expatriate, for 4 years operated an attractive, new hotel 36 km out of Palangkaraya in Kalimantan. Gaye was passionate about developing the tourism potential of Central Kalimantan and was also looking at the idea of boats. With her contract at the hotel coming to an end, the River Cruise began to take shape!
Gaye and Lorna decided to set up a new company and developed a business plan which won a Dutch funded competition called Business in Development which sought innovative ideas for developing businesses that benefited local communities and the environment.
The idea was simple: to build a boat that would both be an attraction and would transport guests to beautiful forest and villages.
KTD works with the villagers to help them manage their own tourist businesses, for example as guides, renting canoes, fishing trips, collecting traditional medicines in the jungle, developing handicrafts and providing them with a tourist trade. In future, it is KTDS’s intention to channel 20% of the boats profits back to the community through a micro-credit scheme to stimulate further business development.
Their idea took over two years to come to fruition as they worked to fund it and find the expertise needed to design and convert a traditional Kalimanan river boat known as a Rangkan, into beautiful boat.
Originally designed by a French marine architect, boat builders were hired to organise and improve the capacity of a local boatbuilding teams.
Perusing through comments in our guest book it is clear that the founders' vision, perseverance and hard work is greatly appreciated by their guests.
Gaye’s experience in hospitality is reflected in the delicious meals and attention to customer care. One guest described the meals, enjoyed to the back drop of emerald green forests and star lit nights as a “special gourmet experience!”
Lorna’s relationship with the villagers and environmental concern lend themselves to a unique experience. If you want to share in this and make a difference to the community and environment, book yourself on something different and enjoy!
Responsible Tourism Policy
Kalimantan Tour Destinations (KTD) aims to bring responsible tourism to Central Kalimantan as a way of protecting the environment and creating alternative livelihoods. We intend to demonstrate that business can be a vehicle to support development problems by providing alternative livelihoods and demonstrating to local people that there is a different value for the forest.
KTD has created a market through offering enjoyable river cruises serving delicious food with excellent service, journeying into natural surroundings whilst educating our guests about the environment, local traditions and culture, and by engaging directly and supporting the community to develop as guides, home stay hosts and traditional performers.
It is important to us that local people benefit from this enterprise, we have a policy to recruit and train our staff from the local community. We have a staff development and training plan to encourage career advancement. We ensure that our staff are well paid, receive performance bonuses and have health insurance.
We have a policy of not buying our own canoes or speedboats, but hire these directly from the local community to ensure that they are gaining direct benefits from the tourists that we attract.
We support the local Sangars (village musicians and dance groups) by encouraging our guests to take part in lessons or watch their performances.
We buy all our food for the trips locally and do not import food.
Consultancy and Fixing Services
Kalimantan Tour Destinations (KTD) partners Lorna Dowson-Collins and Gaye Thavisin have between them over 24 years experience in Central Kalimantan.
We are able to assist as consultants to NGO’s, government or socially minded businesses to set up community based tourism developments.
We have expertise in media design and printing.
We can help with photo acquisition, selection, layout and printing of brochures, posters, post cards, signs.
Local fixer for foreign film teams
If you are coming as a group, and need assistance with transportation, accommodation, local knowledge, Immigration reporting, guides, catering, sightseeing etc, Kalimantan Tour Destinations can be of assistance. We have experience with film teams and other groups from around the world since 2002. Clients have included BBC, NZNH filming for Animal Planet, Al Jazeera, ABC Australia, Ambassadorial delegations and the Dutch Minister of Development.
Daily fixing and logistics services
Transportation options (daily including driver, fuel, insurance) can be arranged for mini bus, 4 wheel drive etc, boat transport or helicopter.
English translation services available for documents as well as provision of personal translator assistant
Languages spoken English, Indonesian and local Dayaknese