When people talk about traveling to Indonesia, the top destinations are usually Bali or the marine life of Flores. One of the most underrated travel attractions in Indonesia is the island of Sumatra. The wildlife and nature of Sumatra are hidden gems, and this island is, somewhat surprisingly, cheaper as compared to other more popular travel destinations in the country.
What makes Indonesia special is the fact that all of its islands have a unique aboriginal culture and their biodiversity is stunning. Sumatra is unique because the flora and fauna of this part of Indonesia is unlike any other in the rest of the archipelago. Surprisingly, this diverse collection of plants and animals is easily accessible to the curious travelers who decide to visit this beautiful island. You will get to see tigers, rhinos, orangutans, tapirs, etc in their natural habitat. The island also offers lush green jungles, clear water rivers, towering volcanoes and hot springs that all combine to make one unforgettable trip.
One of the best ways to get an immersive and thoroughly memorable experience of Sumatra is to get in touch with Sumatra EcoTravel. They are a small ecotour operator based in Bukit Lawang, but the sheer array of tours and experiences they organise is huge. What’s particularly nice is that they make it a point to take you away from the beaten tourist paths. These tours can vary from half day trips to multiple day adventures into the wild, depending on you preferences and the difficulty level that you can manage. You get to explore the more hidden aspects of Northern Sumatran wilderness, while accompanied by a friendly knowledgeable guide, who will be able to show and tell you much more than you’d find out on your own. Plus, they run their own eco-hotel and their prices are very very reasonable. So if Sumatra is your destination, definitely do check them out.
Here are a few of the ways you can truly enjoy the wildlife and nature of Sumatra.
Trekking in Gunung Leuser National Park
The Gunung Leuser National Park is known for its bustling wildlife. If you decide to go trekking through the interior of the park, you are more than likely to encounter monitor lizards, various species of monkeys, wild peacocks and many other of the park’s inhabitants. Most of these animals are harmless and just watch your hike from a distance with curiosity – like the Thomas’ leaf monkeys. Other notable residents of this park are elephants, rhinos and tapirs.
However, the specialty of this park is its orangutan population. You will get to see the last remaining wild orangutan population of the world here. This endangered species is only found in the jungles of Sumatra and Borneo. You can observe them during your hikes through the park.
Explore the Caves near Bukit Lawang
In the town of Bukit Lawang, you can find directions towards the Bat Cave. The caves are at the end of a small trail that leads from Bukit Lawang. It is recommended to take a local guide with you to explore these caves because these caves are huge. These caves are home to bats as well as a variety of birds. The views from inside are simply fascinating. Just remember to bring a light source of some kind to make navigation easier.
Stay at the EcoTravel Cottages
Bukit Lawang is one of the towns that serve as entry points to many of the adventures you can embark on in Northern Sumatra. The Ecotravel Cottages (run by Sumatra EcoTravel mentioned above) in Bukit Lawang offer a beautiful ambiance – spacious cottages that have mesmerizing views and sit over the Bohorok River. They have international standard bathrooms, hot water showers, minibars, daily cleaning room service, safes as well as a number of complimentary perks for the guests. A perfect place to enjoy a bit of luxury while effectively surrounded by thick jungle.
Witness Sunrise from Mount Sibayak
A four-hour journey to the southeast of Bukit Lawang will bring you to a very special place, a town called Berastagi. This town offers quite a few interesting activities. Right next to it is the not-so-dormant volcano Mount Sibayak. There isn’t any lava but it does have mud bubbles and steam vents that are louder than a jet engine. If you are lucky and the weather is clear, you can witness an incredible sunrise from Mt Sibayak.
The weather of Sumatra is usually warm around the year but not so much at the summit of the volcano. A high altitude hike in the early hours of the day here will require a jacket and other warm clothing.
Take A Dip in the Hot Springs
There are quite a few places nearby where hot springs can be found, especially when you get to the base of the volcano. Following a chilly hike to witness the sunrise, it feels amazing to take a dip into the warm waters of these springs.
Visit the Sipisopiso Waterfalls
You just cannot miss the tallest waterfall in the country. Sipisopiso waterfall is one incredible sight to watch. The cascading water crashing from the 120 meter high top towards the bottom is quite a spectacle. You can hike all the way towards the bottom of the waterfall. This is a popular tourist spot so you can easily find food stands and snack shops here.
Try Fresh Fish At the Lake Toba
Lake Toba is the epitome of true natural beauty. This volcanic lake happens to be the largest of its kind in the world. The water of the lake is not like the hot springs. It is actually very clear and cool. The Samosir Island, which lies in the middle of the lake is where you will not only find delicious fruit like the special egg mangoes but also freshly caught fish that you can handpick for your lunch. There are many restaurants on the island that offer this unique service. The scrumptious food of Samosir Island will surely be a highlight of your trip. You can try some of the local Indonesian dishes here as well.