Triggered by my friend’s post about orangutan in September 2013, I wanted to see these endangered primates with my own eyes. Noni’s husband is a researcher in primates that’s why she regularly writes about this special mamals. I have asked them many questions preparing this trip. Thank you so much you two.
There are several spots to see orangutan in North Sumatera. I chose Bukit Lawang due to the distance which fit better in my itinerary. It took about 4 hours by car to get to Bukit Lawang from Kuala Namu airport in Medan. Bukit Lawang is a village on the entrance of the Bukit Leuser National Park where orangutans live. Tourists must hire a guide to see orangutan in this park. The guide’s fee includes the park’s entry, registration, trek permit and fruit for snack. The jungle treks vary from short trek to a number of days camping.
This post contains many pictures of the 5 hour jungle trek I took. So get ready to scroll.
Before entering the park, there is a rubber plantation. The rubber trees are slanted according to direction where the wind blows. The guy looking at the camera is my guide, Edo. I hired him to guide my family, a party of six.
This is how rubber is tapped from the tree, droplet by droplet.
First encounter with Thomas Leaf monkey. It was so difficult to capture it as it moved so fast high up on the tree. This is the best shot I made.
The deeper I walked in the jungle the more dense the vegetation became. It was humid but luckyly the path was hard and dry despite the rain the night before. Due to the short time this was the easiest route.
After 1,5 hour walk, there she was. The first orangutan I saw was a female. She was a mother with her child who was shy to show itself. Orangutans in this jungle live in the wild. There was a feeding station before but it was discontinued two years ago.
Orangutan is worldwide only found in Sumatra and Borneo. Sumatran orangutan is critically endangered. There are estimated 0nly 6000 orangutans in Sumatra left. There is high demand for baby orangutan as pet, this causes the killing of mother orangutan. Forest fires form the danger of declining orangutan population as well.
Orangutan eats primarily fruits. When the food is scarce in the rain forest, it eats leaves, barks, flowers and insects.
Female orangutan gives birth every 7 – 8 years. An orangutan mother has 4 – 5 children all her life. The mother nurses the child until it has learnt the survival skills as orangutan is a solitary animal. Before that the child lives with the mother.
This is Pesek, an orangutan mother with her 3 years old child. My guide told me every orangutan has a name. The guides and reservation workers are able to distinguish who is who. Pesek put this show for us. She went down low, posing like this.
Her child climbed away but Pesek (meaning flat nose in Bahasa Indonesia) got off the tree and stood there. I was 10 meters away from her as instructed by my guide. The hair looks so beautiful. Seeing Pesek standing there reminded me that orangutan shares nearly 97% DNA as human. It is an intelligent mammal.
Mission accomplished I had seen two pairs of mother and child orangutan, this was the last pic I took of Pesek before the group continued the trek.
Deeper in the rain forest I saw many of these lianas. Impressive. I imagined Tarzan swaying with it.
This tree is about 450 years old.
Another uniquely shaped root and a broke tree. Sometimes lianas grow and strangle their host tree.
A view of the river Bohorok and some houses down there.
After having our lunch, the group went downhill.
And reached this Bohorok river. I crossed this river three times proceeding last part of the trek.
And finally I reached the end point of the trek. The group swam for half an hour in the crystal clear water of Bohorok river. It was so refreshing after exploring the humid jungle. The swimming was fun too as the river had a fairly mild/strong current which dragged the group along. We came back to our hotel by tubing the river.
Bukit Lawang is quite popular as the place to see orangutan. Another entrances to Bukit Leuser National Park are Ketambe and Tangkahan. I chose Bukit Lawang as it was closer to lake Toba, my following destination. The trek I did was the easiest one. I think this is suitable for children from 8 years and older.
During my visit in Bukit Lawang I stayed at the Ecolodge Bukit Lawang. It was an amazing experience to sleep there. The rooms are basic but you don’t need more, trust me. The jungle is more than interesting to feel. During the nights I heard various animal sounds; the noisy macaca (monkeys) on the roof, birds and others I couldn’t define. I didn’t take pics of the rooms but you can see them on the website.
This is the eco-friendly lounge above the restaurant at the Ecolodge. The wifi was amazingly fast, and that in the middle of the jungle. The restaurant serves delicious food as well. The staff of the lodge is exceptionally professional, no wonder it has wonderful reviews.
This is how it looks like from the other side of the river. The rooms hide behind the green lush. The restaurant is the lung of the lodge with its unique design made of sustainable bamboo.
After Bukit Lawang, my family and I moved to our next destination; Lake Toba. That is a long drive from Bukit Lawang. Stay tuned!