Discover the wonders of Sumatra by land journey from North to West Sumatra. Go on trek and search for orang utans an other tropical wildlife in the pristine jungle of Gunung Leuser National Park. Tubing, float down the river on car tubes! Off road with local jeep through the oilpalm plantation track and rural areas. Take a ride through the jungle on the back of elephant. Help mahouts bathe the elephants in the river! Go across lake Toba, one of the deepest and largest volcanic lake in the world. Spend the night on Samosir, one of the largest lake islands. Get acquainted with traditional Batak culture. Explore traditional Batak villages and meet the local. Witness a number of exciting places including Sipiso piso waterfall, long house of king Batak Simalungun and local market. In West Sumatra, experience the Minangkabau with its unique matriarchal traditions, spicy hot cuisine, distinctive architecture and wonderful friendly people and. Witness the peaks looming over deep canyon and splendid sheltered valleys, villages perched atop deep ravines, terraces rice fields and the beautiful traditional villages in the green landscapes. Follow a cooking course in a local home in Harau and enjoy the scenery of Harau by taking a light walk.
Route : Medan - Bukit Lawang - Tangkahan - Berastagi - Lake Toba - Samosir island - Sipirok - Bukittinggi - Harau valley - Padang
Day 1 : Bukit Lawang
Upon arrival at Kualanamu airport Medan, drive to Bukit Lawang, a small tourist village situated on the edge of Gunung Leuser National Park. It is the most accessible place to spot the orangutans in the park. And the park is one of the largest national park in the world containing over 800,000 ha of virgin rainforest and home to an impressive number of mammal species like tigers, orangutans, gibbons, elephants and rhino’s. The rest of the afternoon is free. Enjoy t he scenery from the veranda of your hotel room. You will stay at a simple accomodation but nicely located by the river side.
Day 2 : Bukit Lawang
First we bring you to the feeding platform of orangutans. The platform was built to help the orangutans that have been released to the wild after their rehabilitation. As they are semi-wild, they are sometimes having trouble finding food on their own in the wild. Then they can come to the feeding platform for some milk and bananas. Wild orangutan occasionally come to the platform too. So the feeding platform is meant as the first place for the orangutans come to for help rather than plantations or village where conflicts can occur. When the orangutans are getting enough food on their own, they will not come to the platform because the food they find in the wild is more exciting than just milk and bananas! So although it is a marvelous sight to see the orangutans at the platform, it is also good news when they do not show up, as this means they are surviving well in the wild without help. From the platform you will follow a 2-3 hours jungle walk to explore more tropical flora and fauna. It is not a flat walk but involves some ups and downs. A bit hard but in return you get a very nice experience. You have a big chance to see gibbons, thomas leaf monkeys, longtail and pigtail macagues, flying squirrels, Sumatra peacocks and hornbills. A wild Orangutans might cross your way. Your guide will explain you many things about the rainforest. And he will show you many different kind of plants and flowers. Jungle walk ends by the river side from where you start your tubing experience. You will float down the river on car tubes about 20 minutes till your hotel. It is a fun rafting and a relaxing way to enjoy the scenery. The rest of day is free at leisure.
Day 3 : Tangkahan
Off road with local jeep to Tangkahan. It takes about 3 hours passing by oilpalm plantation track and rural areas. A bit bumpy drive but great fun! Tangkahan is a beautifully remote jungle settlement situated on the other side of Gunung Leuser National Park. It was established as an ecotourism spot in 2001. Previously the area was logged and poachers hunted the animals. The local people have transformed the region, stopping illegal exploitation of the forest and forming forest ranger groups to patrol for illegal activities. Seven elephants were brought to the area to support this initiative. The elephants are used to patrol the forest to keep illegal loggers and poachers out. Joining the elephants for their daily bathing or taking a ride on elephant back will help to support this initiative too. Arrive in Tangkahan, transfer to your rainforest lodge and free at leisure. Stay at basic accomodation.
Day 4 : Berastagi
It’s your time with the biggest mammal in the world. You will follow one hour elephant riding through the forest path. Then, join and help mahouts bathe the elephants in the river. It is a very nice experience and you can get up close and personal with the elephants. You are allowed to scrub and wash them. Once they are finished, then your turn. The elephant will spray you water with its trunk. Nice shower! Also chance for you to hand feed the elephants. After elephants, relax before boarding the car for a next journey to Berastagi (1300m), a cool and picturesque hill town flanked by two active volcanoes Sinabung (2417m) and Sibayak (2172m). It is the homeland of the Batak Karo, one of the six Batak tribes that inhabit the province of North Sumatra. The first two hours of travel involves driving over bumpy plantation tracks. Then an asphalt road will take you the rest of the way to Berastagi. Stop and wander around local fruit market before arrival at your hotel.
Note : The elephant is not available on Friday. The itinerary may need to be altered to work around this if this day is Friday.
Day 5 : Lake Toba
Scenic drive to lake Toba, one of the deepest and largest crater lake in the world with stop at Dokan, a small Batak Karo village with a number of traditional houses still inhabited by eight families each. Visit picturesque Sipiso piso waterfalls that plunge from height 120 meters. Stop at Pematang Purba to see wooden palace (Rumah Bolon) of the former king Batak Simalungun. Stop at Simarjarunjung for magnificent view of lake Toba. Somewhere afternoon you arrive in Parapat, the main tourist resort which lies on the very shore of lake Toba. From here across the lake by boat on about 45 minutes to Samosir, a volcanic island in the middle of lake Toba. You will stay in Tuktuk, a peninsula on the eastern coast of Samosir island.
Day 6 : Samosir exploration
Explore the natural beauty and cultural aspects of Batak Toba by car. Visit Ambarita, Samosir’s most interesting Batak Toba village. Ambarita is known for its unique ancient courtyard, made up of stone chairs and tables. This courtyard served as a court of justice. Visit the home of king Sidauruk in Simanindo village and witness Batak Toba folkdance called Tor tor performed by the villagers. Here you can also visit a museum built in typical Batak style. On the way back to your hotel, visit Tomok to see a very old but nicely decorated sarchopagus, the old tomb of king Sidabutar.
Day 7 : Sipirok
Across back the lake by morning boat to Parapat and drive up to Sipirok. It is a beautiful route through the marching mountains Bukit Barisan. The views are dotted with scenic landscape of terraced paddy fields, deep ravines, jungle, villages and local market set close to the main road. The first part of the drive follows the other side of lake Toba so you can make another picture of breathtaking views across the lake. On the way visit the typical Toba Batak village Jangga Dolok. Also visit a small pineapple field, colourful local market in Balige and sulphur hotspring in Sipoholon.
Day 8 : Bukittinggi
The journey today is rather long but worthwhile to exhibits the inner part of Sumatra. The scenery of mountains, rivers, valleys and traditional villages will relieve you from weariness. Stop at Sihepeng mini botanical garden to learn about herbs and spices of the tropical place. Here you may witness the use of pig-tailed macaques trained to harvest coconuts. Next stop at huge moslem school Purbabaru with hundreds of tiny huts. Finally late in the afternoon, celebrate crossing the equator in Bonjol village. From here it takes another 1.5 hours to reach the highland town of Bukittinggi, the cultural capital of the Minang realm and home to Minangkabau people. The specialty of this area is its unique matriarchal traditions, spicy hot cuisine, distinctive architecture and wonderfull friendly people.
Day 9 : Bukittinggi tour
First you will get a city tour of Bukittinggi visiting the colorful market Pasar Atas located exactly in front of Jam Gadang, a clock tower that serves as the principal landmark of the city. Visit the remains of Dutch fort called De Kock. Visit the lovely Sianok valley. This is part of a tectonic rift valley which has sheer walls and flat bottom. Walk down into World War II era Japanese-built tunnels situated in the complex of Sianok. After city tour, leave for Pandai Sikat, a small village famous for its woodcarving, weaving of the traditional gold and silk songket and embroidery. Proceed to Batusangkar, a lively and scenic town surrounded by majesty rice terraces where the countryside is dotted with Rumah Gadang. Visit the palace of Pagaruyung, a site of ancient Minangkabau kingdom where women ruled in matrilineal society. Stop at a home industry of coffee making in Tabek Patah. Visit lake Singkarak and Balimbing village with old century traditional houses that is more than 350 years old. Back to Bukitttinggi.
Bike trip : those who prefer to cycle can change this Bukittinggi tour into a bike trip made in the outskirts of Bukittinggi with following sights: viewing terraced paddy field with people work on it, mountains, villages and meeting the local. You sometimes could see people making Kerupuk (local crackers) and also making hand weaving. Note : there is additional cost for this activity.
Day 10 : Harau, cooking course & walk
Your next destination is Harau valley, a nature and wildlife reserve surrounded by rock cliffs towering 100-200 meters high like a giant wall and covered with green forests. In the bottom of cliffs stretches vast paddy fields and green forests. Very scenic landscape! Enroute stop and stroll around local market to search for and buy ingredients for your cooking course. After the market, drive further and short becak trip that takes you to the cooking place. It is a local family house situated in the valley. Learn how to cook and experience an authentic and spicy meals so called Padang food! Furthermore explore the real life of Minangkabau people with its hospitality and friendliness during the cooking. After the cookings, a light walk around the valley. You will walk through the paddy field paths, village and some paved roads between giant cliffs as background. The atmosphere is quiet, unpolluted, and beauty as far as eyes could see. You would sometimes hear the calling of the black Siamang and gibbon. The walk ends at waterfall with swimming pool beneath. Take a dip before taken to your accomodation.
Day 11 : Departure
Transfer to airport via the greenery of Anai park and waterfall.