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.


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

Why you'll 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.

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'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. If you arrive early you may want to check out Maimun Palace - designed by a Dutch Architect and built in 1887 – 1891 it combines architecture from Malay, Indian and Islamic cultures and is now a museum. Alternatively head to Tjong A Fie Mansion - known as "the historical jewel in Medan", the 35-room, 2-storey Tjong A Fie Mansion was built in 1895 by a hakka merchant and is modelled on the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion in Penang. It now serves as a museum. The entrance fee includes a guided tour.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Medan - Maimun Palace - IDR5000
  • Medan Grand Mosque - Free
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 – Bukit Lawang a peaceful village located on the banks of the Bohorok river, right next to the Gunung Leuser National Park. In the afternoon you can take an optional tour in the countryside by becak (cycle rickshaw) or cool off with a refreshing swim in the river. There will be plenty of time to also prepare for your jungle trek.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Bukit Lawang - Countryside tour - IDR200000
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 and elephants. These animals are extremely rare to see but you will get the chance to go in search for wild orangutans. 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.

Today's hike is hilly (both up and down), and can be muddy and steep. 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 the camp 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! Twin share tents and boiled stream water refills are provided. You may want to bring your own water purification tablets for this night.

Porters are available at a cost of 150,000 IDR per day. Please inform your leader in advance if you would like to hire a porter. You will need to prepare an overnight bag for your trek and we will leave our large bags at the hotel. Good to bring a spare set of clothes for the evening, a sleep sheet, biodegradable soap or shower gel, insect repellent, a pack towel or sarong and rain jacket. It’s possible you might encounter the odd leech but this is all part of the jungle experience.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with no facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Gunung Leuser NP - Jungle wildlife trek
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 the late 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.

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. A sleeping bag will be provided but you may want to bring your own sleeping bag liner/sleep sheet for extra comfort
You will wake early to the sound of gibbons and continue our trek down river (approximately 2 hours) - your feet will get wet so strap on sandals or local rubber shoes are recommended. Back at Bukit Lawang, 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 2-3 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 traditional 'bungkus' 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 hour). 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
  • Mt Sibayak - Picnic lunch
  • Mt Sibayak - Volcano climb
  • Berastagi - Hot springs
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Drive to Tongging Village (2 hours). The road from Berastagi to Danau Toba is a nice, smooth road. Then continue on and stop at 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
  • Guesthouse (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 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
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Toba - Samosir Island day tour
  • Lake Toba - Stone Chairs
  • Lake Toba - Simanindo Museum
  • Lake Toba - Batak dance performance
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Drive back to Simanindo (approximately 45 minutes). From there, take a boat back to Tigaras (approximately 45 minutes). Make a stop at a traditional Dokan Village where you'll find a handful of traditional houses which are still the homes of local Batak families. Then continue to on to Medan (approximately 3.5 hours).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Dokan Village - Batak longhouse visit
Optional Activities
  • Medan - Maimun Palace - IDR5000
  • Medan Grand Mosque - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The adventure comes to an end today and you are free to depart at any time.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
If you have pre-booked a departure transfer to the airport or travelling by taxi please allow between 2-2.5 hours to travel from the hotel in Medan to the International airport.

Meals

8 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner

Transport

Ferry, Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (4 nts), Camping (1 nt), Guesthouse (3 nts)

Included activities

  • Gunung Leuser NP - Jungle wildlife trek
  • Mt Sibayak - Picnic lunch
  • Mt Sibayak - Volcano climb
  • Berastagi - Hot springs
  • Lake Toba - Sipiso-Piso Waterfall
  • Lake Toba - Samosir Island day tour
  • Lake Toba - Stone Chairs
  • Lake Toba - Simanindo Museum
  • Lake Toba - Batak dance performance
  • Dokan Village - Batak longhouse visit

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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.

Reviews

Our Sumatra Adventure trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 5 reviews in the last year.

Sumatra Adventure, June 2018

Lukas Müller

Sumatra Adventure, June 2018

Susan Steindorff