Bukit Lawang : Discover The Sumatran Jungle

Discover the Sumatran jungle and have an outdoor adventure with orangutans to keep you company at the jungle village of Bukit Lawang. Literally meaning “door to the hills”, Bukit Lawang is a small village situated at the south of the Mount Leuseur National Park. It’s located about 90 kilometers northwest of Medan, the capital city of North Sumatra.

Bukit Lawang is a gateway to the legendary Sumatran jungle with it’s steep slippery terrain and muddy slopes, exploring the jungle here is a true adventure. Trek through the breathtakingly thick jungle and be transported into to new world.

It is the gentle giants of the jungle, the orangutans, which are the main attraction here. Bukit Lawang is one of the best places in the world to meet this rare and endangered primate. See these graceful creatures swing through the forest canopy as they forage for fruit. This is one of the largest stronghold communities of orangutans, with more than 5000 of them living in the here.

The Orangutan rehabilitation center is where young orphaned orangutans are trained to live in the wild. The center has been operating since 1973 and today attracts visitors from around the world who come here to catch a glimpse of these amazing orphaned creatures.

Meeting the orangutans
Meeting the orangutans (Source : oranghutantours.com)

The number of orangutans in the jungle has decreased as a result of hunting, animal trading and a damaged environment. The rehabilitation center helps orangutans regain their natural habits by putting them through intensive training before their release back to the wild. Once a primate heads back the jungle, the rehabilitation center keeps providing it with food supplements and regular check-ups.

ACTIVITIES

Most of the lodgings have restaurants, so you can ask the owner to provide your meal. Along the river, there are some small cafes; here you can have fruit salad, nasi goreng and snacks. Local pizza’s are also available at Tony’s restaurant.

You can buy souvenirs at a shop near the Bahorok River.

Most of the hotels in Bukit Lawang are run by the local citizens.

Overnight trekking is a favorite among visitors. Most people choose a two-day trek to increase the chance of seeing orangutans and other wildlife in their natural habitat. It is dangerous for travelers to head off alone in the jungle so every trek should be guided by a professional. Make sure you inform the guide if you are especially interested in seeing a specific plant or animal. Guide rates include basic meals, guide fees, permit and camping equipment.  Make sure you also ask your guide to visit the bat cave. Remember to leave early in the morning because you won’t want to miss a moment of your jungle experience.

If overnight is too much you can arrange a guide to take you on a trek for a few hours. There are also a number of short walks around Bukit Lawang that don’t require a guide or permit.

Bahorok river, Bukit Lawang
Bahorok river, Bukit Lawang (Source : wikipedia.org)

Take a wild ride down the rapids of Sungai Bohorok using a rubber tube. This should be done only under the supervision of a professional guide as the rapids here can be extremely strong.

Get up close and feed the orangutans. There are two feeding times: at 08.30 am and 3.00 pm; at these times you can feed them milk, bananas and other food supplements supplied by the rehabilitation center. All the activities within the Mount Leuser National Park should be done under the permission and guidance by the staff of the rehabilitation center.

If you’re up for a challenge, try hiking to the peak of Mount Leuseur (3,404 meters). This epic trek takes about 10-14 days. The small village of Angasan is a suitable starting point. The first five days will be spent trekking through virgin rain forest where rare primates can often be seen. You need to be physically fit and accompanied by a guide.

GET AROUND

As you venture deep into the Sumatran jungle, you’ll have little way to get around but to use your feet and walk. Trek through the wild and muddy jungle and try and catch a glimpse of the native wildlife. The park is home to Sumatra’s and the world’s most exotic animals including elephants, tigers, sun bears, gibbons clouded leopards as well as the famous orangutans. Hike the hills for some incredible views of the spectacular landscape.  For a true adventure go rafting and ride the wild rapids of the river.

GET THERE

From Medan use a car or a bus to get to Bukit Lawang. Buses depart frequently from Pinang Baris bus terminals (located at Jalan Gatot Subroto). The trip takes around 3 hours.

If you are traveling in a group or want something more convenient instead of the public bus, you can rent a car with arranged trips through most of the main tourist destinations.

Tips

• Make sure you are healthy, fit and well prepared because navigating the Sumatran jungle is not always easy.

• It is the impact of humans, through poaching and logging that has threatened the orangutan for decades. For this reason there are strict rules in place to regulate how visitors interact with the natural flora and fauna here.

• Bring along a mosquito & leech repellant.

• Whenever you trek, be sure to bring sunscreen and water.

• Wear shoes with good grip as the ground is always slippery.

• Wear long sleeves and long pants.

• There is often heavy rain in the afternoon; so bring your rain jacket and a water resistant bag to cover your items.

• Do not litter, make sure to collect your trash, any type of trash.

• Don’t feed the animals.

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