Sumatra, Indonesia: Orangutans, elephants and jungle trekking

We visited Sumatra in 2013. It was a brief stay, with just four nights, purely to see the orangutans in the Gunung Leuser National Park. Our tour included the transfers from/to Medan airport and included nights in Bukit Lawang and Tangkahan as well as two nights camping in the jungle. It was a bespoke tour because of our timings through Expedition Jungle with a similar itinerary to this one.

Trekking through the jungle from Bukit Lawang was tough at times but I wouldn’t say anything more than a moderate level of fitness was required and I benefitted from being our a “private” tour so we could largely rest whenever we wanted.

I didn’t want to risk just visiting the orangutan view platform and then not seeing any so we choose the overnights trekking option and I am glad we did.

With all the guides being in communication we were able to find the orangutans easily enough and spent a bit of time just looking at these magnificent animals as they looked after their young and foraged in the treetops. To be fair, I do love monkeys more than most and I couldn’t help but just stand and beam at these primates as they occasionally looked down and acknowledged our presence.

The benefits of such a trek are obvious enabling us to get through to more secluded spots and watch the dragonflies dance along the river. You don’t carry all your equipment during your trek as you leave it with a couple of guys who go ahead and set up the camp so it’s ready for when you’ve finished the day’s trekking. The camp food was some of the best we tested throughout our stay in Indonesia with a delicious dish of rice served in banana leaf.

One warning I would say is that I found the rock bed and sleeping bag very tough on the back and the mats didn’t give me the comfort someone with a bit of a knackered back hoped for.

As an aside I was impressed with the quality of the internal flights. We travelled with Garuda and with the size of Indonesia I expect many visits require flights at some point. There were no delays and I was impressed with the quality of the planes.