Venture to Indonesia’s wild, wild west

Sumatra offers an incredible travel experience for those willing to stray from well-worn tourist tracks. The world’s sixth largest island positively teems with untamed nature, and its famous wild orangutan population is only the beginning. From Medan, travel to Bukit Lawang and explore Gunung Leuser National Park, one of the richest ecosystems in the world. Continue to Berastagi and hike up the steaming active volcano Sibayak, basking in the glory of misty panoramas from the summit. Finish in Samonsir on Lake Toba, where the colourfully dressed Christian Batak people have a secret or two to share.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Medan, Indonesia
Finish
Medan, Indonesia
Country
Indonesia
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
TIST
Physical rating
Ages
Min 12
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Gunung Leuser National Park is your best chance in all of Indonesia to see orangutans in the wild. This diverse ecosystem also harbours some 300 bird species and the endangered Sumatran tiger

  • The excellent Bukit Lawang Eco Lodge provides a unique jungle experience, and by staying there you support the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme

  • Climb the Sibayak Volcano, enjoy a picnic at its spectacular summit, then head to local hot springs for some well-earned rest and relaxation after the descent

  • Explore Lake Toba and the villages on Samosir Island. Check out Indonesia’s highest waterfall and a take a cultural tour that includes a traditional Batak dance performance

Is this trip right for you?

  • Sumatra is less developed than other islands of the Indonesian archipelago. Due to limited tourism infrastructure, expect there to be bumpy and windy roads, some longer drives and more basic hotels. On the plus side, there are less tourists.

  • This itinerary spend one night camping in Gunung Lesuer National Park. Keep in mind this is jungle camping with twin share tents and no facilities. Which is of course all part of the adventure.

  • Gunung Leuser National Park is located in Aceh province, which is governed by Sharia Law. There are strict Sharia laws to comply to. Your leader will explain more, but conservative dress is required for these days, (and is recommended for the rest of this trip).

Itinerary

Selamat datang! Welcome to Indonesia. The adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, it's a good idea to arrive a day early so you can attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Jump aboard the minivan and drive to Bukit Lawang (approximately 5 hours). The first part of the journey involves quite heavy traffic, but the roads are nice and smooth. Closer to Bukit Lawang it gets bumpy and windy, so brace yourself for a bit of an adventure. The reward for the journey is the destination – the beautiful Eco Lodge Bukit Lawang. This tranquil haven is located on the banks of the Bohorok River, right next to the Gunung Leuser National Park. Arrive in time for an optional lunch.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Set off on a trekking adventure through the Gunung Leuser National Park with an experienced guide (approximately 5–6 hours). The night will be spent camping out in the jungle. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed park spans 7,927 square kilometres, and is one of the world's most diverse ecosystems. It's the home of many endangered species, including the Sumatran tiger, rhinoceros, elephant and orangutan. There used to be an orangutan rehabilitation centre here, but now these creatures have all been returned to their natural habitat, so this is your best chance in Indonesia to see orangutans in the wild. There are also 300 species of birds, and many rare plants and flowers.

The start and finish point for the trek is the Eco Lodge itself. Today's hike is hilly (both up and down), and can be muddy. The paths are mostly clear, but there are some sections where we have to climb over large fallen logs. We may stop and rest while our guides go in search of orangutans for us. Along the way our guides point out orangutan nests, edible plants for us to try, monkeys, birds, and wild orangutan. We will carry our own lunch and break for lunch along the way then continue trekking to camping site, where the guides set up and cook dinner for the group. It's a wild, remote spot, which means maximum adventure and zero facilities! A tent, and water refills are provided.
Accommodation
  • Camping (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Gunung Leuser - 2 day jungle trek & camping
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Variations are possible due to weather conditions (in the rainy season we will try to reach camp earlier, as it normally rains in later afternoon) and timing depends on the group’s physical condition. The leader gives the hike a 6/10 difficulty in the dry season and an 8/10 in the wet season.

EQUIPMENT: You will need to carry your backpack with your gear for the 2 day trek, while your main luggage will be stored at your accommodation in Bukit Lawang. In your backpack you will need a sleeping bag (or sleeping bag liner), sleeping mat, and other items as listed in the packing section.

CLOTHING: longer clothing will keep the sun and mosquitoes away, but it needs to be lightweight as the weather is hot (around 30ºC, 86ºF) and humidity is near 100%. At night the temperatures will go down to around 22ºC (71ºF), so it's neither hot nor cold for sleeping. Please refer to packing for information about suitable footwear.
Enjoy an early morning walk in search of wildlife (approximately 2–3 hours). Keep an eye out for any creatures you may have missed yesterday. As well as the major players, this jungle is home to: Thomas's langur (Thomas leaf monkey) (unique to northern Sumatra); Wreathed hornbill; Crab-eating macaque (long-tailed macaque); Southern pig-tailed macaque; water monitor; reticulated python, Wagler's pit viper; Asiatic softshell turtle; and the Malayan giant squirrel.This leads back to Bukit Lawang, and involves river crossings. The aim is to arrive back at the eco lodge by about 11 am. Day rooms will be available for showers before you get on the bus. Depart early afternoon for Berastagi (approximately 5.5 hours). Berastagi is the home of the Karo people, a Batak sub-group with traditional villages (long houses). It's also a good chance to stock up on some tropical fruit for the road.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
The beautiful mountainous area en route to Berastagi goes as high as 1,300 metres above sea level. (During the day, the temperature rises over 25 °C (77°F); but at night to early morning it could drop to as low as 12 to 16 °C (54 - 60°F); it can also reach 9 °C (48°F) in the wet season.) Warmer layers are best for the potential temperature differences.
Drive (approximately 30 minutes) to the starting point of today's hike. The hike (approximately 4–5 hours) brings you to the top of Sibayak Volcano (2094 m). It's quite steep, muddy and slippery (rated 6/10 for difficulty in the dry season and 8/10 in the wet). Follow a shady jungle path which, towards the top, opens up into a more alpine setting. Long pants are essential to protect you from poisonous plants, and a trekking stick will also come in handy. After reaching the top, sit down to a picnic lunch and enjoy the views. From the summit you can see (and hear) the steaming vapours escaping from the fumaroles of this active volcano. Then it's time for the descent (approximately 1–2 hours). Afterwards, head straight to the nearby hot springs afterwards for a soothing soak. These springs are are all built environments, more like swimming pools with naturally heated water from the local volcano, nice place to soak after a hard climb. They all have several pools (6–8) with water at varying temperatures. There are change rooms with cold water available, and snacks and drinks to buy (including beer).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Berastagi - Mt Sibayak picnic lunch
  • Berastagi - Mt Sibayak climb with a local guide
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Drive to Tongging Vilage (2 hours). The road from Berastagi to Danau Toba is a nice, smooth road. Check out Sipiso-Piso waterfall, which was formed by a small underground river of the Karo plateau. Watch as water plunges from a cave in the side of the Lake Toba caldera some 120 metres (360 feet) down to lake level. This is Indonesia's highest waterfall. Lake Toba itself, surrounded by mountains, is a peaceful spot to relax. It was formed by a huge volcanic eruption 70,000 years ago; a second eruption 50,000 years later created an island the size of Singapore in the middle of the lake – Samosir Island. Your accommodation tonight is right next to the lake and boasts nice views of the water, mountains and rice fields.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Toba - Sipiso-Piso Waterfall
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Embark on a day tour in Samosir. Visit the Stone Chairs, Simanindo Museum (in a traditional house), and a and Tomok, an ancient Batak King's grave. The island is punctuated with many ancient and modern grave sites, several of which we see on today's tour. Also enjoy a traditional Batak dance performance. The Toba Bataks have a unique religion, architecture and culture. Although they are predominantly Christian, they also practice animism. The most distinctive element of their culture is the traditional architecture – extraordinary boat-like houses with roofs resembling buffalo horns.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Toba - Samosir Island Batak Dance Performance & Stone Chairs
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Drive back to Simanindo (approximately 45 minutes). From there, take a boat back to Tigaras (approximately 45 minutes). Continue to Dokan Village (approximately 2 hrs). Dokan Traditional Village visit. Here you'll find a handful of traditional villages which are still the homes of local Batak families. After the tour, drive onward to Medan (approximately 3.5 hours). The road from Danau Toba (Lake Toba) to Medan is quite smooth, but busy, so it may be slow going in places.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The adventure comes to an end today and you are free to depart at any time.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

8 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner

Transport

Ferry, Private Minibus

Accommodation

Hotel (4 nts), camping (1 nt), guesthouse (2 nts), ecolodge (1 nt)

Included activities

  • Gunung Leuser - 2 day jungle trek & camping
  • Berastagi - Mt Sibayak picnic lunch
  • Berastagi - Mt Sibayak climb with a local guide
  • Lake Toba - Sipiso-Piso Waterfall
  • Lake Toba - Samosir Island Batak Dance Performance & Stone Chairs

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip and excludes night 3 (Camping) where you will be in shared accommodation.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.