There are only two places in the world where you can see orangutans: in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra (Indonesia) and Borneo (Malaysia). A trek through the jungle in search of orangutans is of course a must during any adventure in Sumatra. It was unforgettable, the highlight of our trip!
HOW TO GET TO Bukit Lawang?
- From Tangkahan : 5h30 bus drive for Rs 500,000. It is difficult to negotiate because there are few buses from Tangkahan.. There was a bus at 5:40 am.
- From Medan airport: Rs 400,000 for a taxi for 2 persons for at least 4 hours drive. You can take a bus, but the stop is 2 hours’ drive. Last bus at 5am.
WHERE TO STAY Bukit Lawang?
We chose Ida Guesthouse, in the main street, for Rs 100,000 per room, per night. Possible to add an extra bed. Good value for money. There is a nice bar for a drink and to eat.
HOW TO BOOK A TREK IN THE JUNGLE In Bukit Lawang?
Maddie, the owner of our hostel Ida Guesthouse, offered us treks. We were not very smart because we have not negotiated at all. We paid for two days and one night, Rs 1.5 million, or 70 €. He told us that the price is the official price, but we realized that others paid only Rs 800,000.
WHAT SHOULD EXPECT DURING a TREK IN THE JUNGLE In Bukit Lawang?
The first day we waled from 9:30am to 5:30pm, but with lots of breaks to observe the orangutans. After only 10 minutes, we could already see them, and from very, very close! In fact, we were surprised to see so many during the whole trek… it was great! It’s a bit scary because the guide told us that the orangutans sometimes bite tourists, especially Mina, the most aggressive of the orangutans. We also saw monkeys, toucans, and a pan.
The guides we had were great. It rained in the afternoon and they put our bags in sealed plastic bags they carried! They served us the lunch (obviously, the traditional Nasi Gorang) in a banana leaf with delicious fruits for dessert.
The trek is an accessible level even for those who are not used to trek, but it’s requires you to climb a lot, hold the branches not to fall sometimes, and be careful not to slip… so you must be in good physical condition because the roads were never flat.
On arrival the first day, we had to get in a tube to cross the river and reach the camp. The camp is obviously very basic and you wash in the river. At the camp, we were served tea, coffee, biscuits and then dinner: fish, chicken, rice and curry. The guides gave us a little entertainment with magic tricks.
The next day, they let us choose between 2h30 extra walking, a fairly difficult level, or just relax in the river. The two groups will then meet in a small waterfall. The return to Bukit Lawang is by tubing (about 1 hour). Very nice and relaxing Back to the village at around 14h-15h approximately.
WHAT SHOULD I take FOR THE TREK at Bukit Lawang?
- A sleeping bag. It can be provided if requested, but they are not very clean.
- Better wear shorts than pants because we sweated a lot!
- Mosquito repellent if you do not want them to eat you. Ask your guide on arrival at the camp to install a net for mosquitoes.
- Bottled water: it is very hot in the jungle!
- Take sunscreen for the tubing on the second day.
- If like us you don’t have too much luck with the weather, do not forget your raincoat!
- A swimming suit to enjoy waterfalls, tubing and swimming in the river.
- A towel
- Shampoo and shower gel for washing yourself in the river
- A flashlight
- Toilet paper
- Sandals to go into the water
- Clothes for the next day