Where to see wild Orangutans and wild Tigers in Sumatra?
To be able to see wild Sumatran Orangutans you need to visit Gunung Leuser National Park in Bukit Lawang in North Sumatra. As this tropical rainforest in Bukit Lawang is a Sumatran National Park you need to have a guide for entering and pay an entrance fee.
First it would be really dangerous to go in alone and you would miss out on all the information and knowledge these guides have and will share them with you. Secondly by hiring a guide and paying National Park entrance fees you are supporting more than one local family as well as the Indonesian government. And by supporting Indonesian government you are helping to make sure nobody will destroy Bukit Lawang rainforest and the home of Sumatran Orangutans in order to grow Palm tree plantations for palm oil.
How to get to Bukit Lawang?
Bukit Lawang is a small village with a river running through the middle dividing it in half. From the airport in Medan it takes around 3 hours by car, depending on the traffic. It’s not even that far away from Medan (90 km) but the roads are really bad and full of holes.
About the Sumatran rainforest Gunung Leuser National Park
There are only two places in the world where you can see wild orangutans. Here in Sumatran Rainforest and in Borneo.
Gunung Leuser NP is a Tropical rainforest in the North Sumatra. As a one of the richest rainforests in South East Asia it’s been put on UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as on the list of World Heritage Sites in danger.
With over 1 000 000 ha Sumatrans rain forest is being a home to many endangered animals like the Sumatran Tiger, Rhinoceros, Elephant and Sumatran Orangutans.
When to go and see wild Orangutans?
We went at the end of February and the weather was alright!:) Usually it rained only in the night and it wasn´t too hot to hike all day long. But mainly it was off the main season, so we rarely saw other people trekking and it made our experience even more connected with nature.
Anyway, the main season for jungle trekking to avoid rainy season is from April to October.
How much does the Jungle trekking cost?
There are plenty of companies and private local guides to go with and everybody’s price will vary little bit.
As well the price depends on how long trek are you planning.
You can do from a 1 day trek to a week or even longer in the jungle!
We really recommend you to choose the company you will trek with wisely. Spend maybe little more extra money to make sure your experience will be safe as you are in a jungle with wild dangerous animals and no phone reception! But as well knowledgeable for you, professional yet friendly and full of fun!:)
We did 3 days and 2 nights with Sumatra Orangutan Explore and it was just perfect! We didn’t even dream to be taken care of that well. We experienced the deep jungle, we saw many wild animals, every day we saw at least one Orangutan and we learnt so much about fauna and flora. We were being offered more food than we could possible eat:D and every evening us and our guides with cook would play games, chat or sing.
Price of the Sumatra Jungle trek
Price in average per person:
1 day 800 000 IDR (80 AUD)
2 days 1300 000 IDR (130 AUD)
3 days 1 700 000 IDR (170 AUD)
5 days 3 200 000 IDR (320 AUD)
How long dose the jungle trek for?
That totally depends on you! You can do as short as few hours or you can spend more than one week in the jungle!:)
Usually people do 1 or 2 nights (2 -3 days) to be able to get little deeper to the rainforest and see more of the wild life.
To be able to see wild Orangutans, it’s recommended you spend at least one night in the jungle (even tho we saw wild orangutan after a 30 minutes long walk on the first day, very lucky!)
To have chance to see the Wild Sumatran Tiger or Elephant you need to spend at least 5 nights in the jungle.
What do I need for the jungle trekking?
You will need comfortable shoes, long pants and high socks, raincoat, mosquito repellent and a bottle of water. If you are staying overnight than you will need a backpack with another change of clothes, swimsuit, towel, toilet paper, power bank if you need to charge your phone, spare batteries for your camera and if you have waterproof bag it will come handy too.
Keep in your mind that everything you will bring with you, you will carry all day every day of the trekJ
Some painkillers and anti-diarrhoea pills will be good to have with you just in case as well.
What to expect from Sumatra jungle trekking and how does it look like?
Our guide picked us up at our accommodation around 8 – 9 am. And we started our hike from there. First we went through a rubber tree plantation. The sap from these trees is used as a rubber for making shoes, bowls, etc. Each local farmer collects around 40-50 kg of rubber/sap per week and then sell 1 kg for 5k IDR (0,5 AUD). They need to cut each tree very carefully to get the rubber without killing the tree!
From there we continued our trek through jungle for around 2 hours until we arrived to the border of Gunung Leuser National Park.
During the walk our guide was filling us with information about Sumatra, about flowers and bush tucker and what you can use them for and what you can treat with them! It’s something we really loved, to learn so much new stuff, to feel the connection with nature and to see our guide truly loves and cares about Sumatran rainforest and animals in it.
The speed of walk is up to you, they keep making resting stops and using them for teaching you something more:)
We had fruit snack around 11am, then lunch around 1 pm, another fruit snack around 3 pm and to the camp we would arrived around 4 – 5 pm. Immediately they would make us hot tea, give us some biscuits and we had time to have a swim in the river and just chill.
Refiling our water bottles was easy; our cook would boil water from the river and make drinking water for us which we would refill our bottles with for the next days of our trek.
Around 7 pm we would receive the best dinner and eat it all together like family. After dinner our guides would entertain us with some games or singing or just talking about anything.
Each morning we would brush out teeth in the river, have a breakfast and start our walk again around 9 am.
The very last of our trek we chose to go back our accommodation by river tubing. The other option is to walk back. But river tubing sounded like so much fun and we have got enough walking already anyway:D
And it was the best decision we have made!
In the morning we went to see nearby waterfall. Just us, our guide and wild jungle around us with crystal clear waterfall in the middle.
When we got back we got a chance to see a huge Moneta lizard and more monkeys.
Meanwhile our guides prepared everything for river tubing. We were laughing the whole way back to our accommodation! On tide up tubes you are running through the fast river, bumping to the rocks and enjoying these last moments in the jungle, seeing our last Orangutans in distance.
We were so stoked how this trip is ended! These 3 days and 2 nights were probably the strongest experience for us so far.
Where to stay in Bukit Lawang?
Click here to check the current prices in Bukit Lawang in North Sumatra
Hope this article will make planning your Sumatra travels easier and inspired you to put this Indonesian Islands on your bucket list if you haven’t already!:)
See more from our Jungle trek here
Maky ＆ Matt