Wonderful Sumatra

January 2017 was the first time I travelled to Sumatra. The mistake I made, when traveling to Sumatra, was underestimating the size of the enormous island. Sumatra is twelve times bigger than Holland and the sixth-largest island on the world. Be prepared to travel a lot and try to see the beauty of it.

Many people travel to Sumatra to see the rough and rocky tropical landscape, the impressive wildlife and the smouldering volcanoes. Sadly big parts of the beautiful nature disappear due to humans interfering. Sumatra lost 50% of her rainforest during the past 35 years and many animal species, living on this island, are threatened with extinction.

This is the down side of people finding their way over the world and making their living at the expense of mother nature. However, I was happy to meet many people during my journeys trough Sumatra, who not only try to leave an ‘eco-footprint’ behind but also try to repair the damage which is already done. And most importantly try to help others to get the same awareness to make sure we leave this earth for other generations to enjoy it too.

As I already pointed out, Sumatra is huge! The first time I travelled here I definitely made the mistake of wanting to do too much. As my father’s life started in Medan, I wanted to start my journey there too. Except for my father’s story I personally didn’t see a lot in Medan to stick around for. It’s the fourth largest city in Indonesia and the largest outside Java with a diversity of multicultural people. Important for both the Indonesian trade and economy. Of course, the city has an number of interesting places to visit. Go search around for some old Dutch architecture, visit the Great Mosque of Medan, Maimoon Palace or one of the many other temples.

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Many travellers fly to Medan to go to Bukit Lawang, I little village on a three hour drive from Medan. Literally a contradiction from what you will find in Medan. Bukit Lawang is famous for the Orangutans who live a jungle trek away. But after my visit here, I figured out Bukit Lawang is way more! I took a private car from Medan in the early morning, I shared the drive with two other guests from my homestay. Which (I forgot to mention) was very decent, very welcoming and perfect for a overnighter in Medan – K77 Guest House Medan.

The drive was very pleasant and the closer I came to Bukit Lawang the more the beauty of the landscape became clear. The nature of Sumatra is just unbelievable. Everything is huge, beautiful and overwhelming. You realise how small you are when you decide to surrender yourself to mother earth. As soon as I arrived, my host was waiting for me to help me find a homestay. In high season it can be very crowded here but I stayed here in January so I decided not to book ahead. Jay and Rian from Bukit Lawang Ecotourism made sure I had everything I needed. This was not very difficult because as soon as I laid my eyes on this cute little riverside village I felt relaxed and at home. The first night I stayed in a beautiful room at Fidodido guesthouse which was very comfortable and had a great view, but it was a bit quiet for me as a solo traveller so after the first night I decided to take my new friend’s advice and move to a place called Bukit Lawang Indah.

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After a night of camping in the nature, taking a shower in a waterfall and a ‘Jungle Taxi’ (tubing over the river) I arrived back in town. This experience will definitely end up on the list ‘Things I will never forget’. Besides a jungle trek there is much more in Bukit Lawang to stay around for. Choose from one of the many day trips they offer, relax at the riverside or go for a fun round of tubing with the childeren of the village. I went to see the elephants in Tangkahan. My friend and I went for two hours on a dirtbike, my ass hurted for at least a week but it was worth it. I had never seen or touched a elephant before so this was a very special experience.

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After a week of adventures in Bukit Lawang I decided to travel to Lake Toba, as do many other travellers. The ride was very long and less comfortable because it was very hot and our mini bus was super full. But that’s the downside of traveling alone and I decided to get over myself. This was easy after we arrived in Parapat and I saw the overwhelmingly great natural wonder called Lake Toba. Honestly people, very impressive!

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The high light of my trip was of course the Jungle track. Bukit Lawang is the last village before the jungle so it’s the perfect place to start your search to the wonderful Orangutan. I took the two day trip and this was perfect for me but they offer multiple treks so you can choose whatever works the best for you. After a whole day of treking I already saw multiple animals and was lucky enough to see a few Orangutans too. This is obviously not guaranteed because they are animals and animals move around so don’t be surprised if it’s hard to find these beauties.

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The drive was very pleasant and the closer I came to Bukit Lawang the more the beauty of the landscape became clear. The nature of Sumatra is just unbelievable. Everything is huge, beautiful and overwhelming. You realise how small you are when you decide to surrender yourself to mother earth. As soon as I arrived, my host was waiting for me to help me find a homestay. In high season it can be very crowded here but I stayed here in January so I decided not to book ahead. Jay and Rian from Bukit Lawang Ecotourism made sure I had everything I needed. This was not very difficult because as soon as I laid my eyes on this cute little riverside village I felt relaxed and at home. The first night I stayed in a beautiful room at Fidodido guesthouse which was very comfortable and had a great view, but it was a bit quiet for me as a solo traveller so after the first night I decided to take my new friend’s advice and move to a place called Bukit Lawang Indah.

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After a night of camping in the nature, taking a shower in a waterfall and a ‘Jungle Taxi’ (tubing over the river) I arrived back in town. This experience will definitely end up on the list ‘Things I will never forget’. Besides a jungle trek there is much more in Bukit Lawang to stay around for. Choose from one of the many day trips they offer, relax at the riverside or go for a fun round of tubing with the childeren of the village. I went to see the elephants in Tangkahan. My friend and I went for two hours on a dirtbike, my ass hurted for at least a week but it was worth it. I had never seen or touched a elephant before so this was a very special experience.

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The high light of my trip was of course the Jungle track. Bukit Lawang is the last village before the jungle so it’s the perfect place to start your search to the wonderful Orangutan. I took the two day trip and this was perfect for me but they offer multiple treks so you can choose whatever works the best for you. After a whole day of treking I already saw multiple animals and was lucky enough to see a few Orangutans too. This is obviously not guaranteed because they are animals and animals move around so don’t be surprised if it’s hard to find these beauties.

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After a week of adventures in Bukit Lawang I decided to travel to Lake Toba, as do many other travellers. The ride was very long and less comfortable because it was very hot and our mini bus was super full. But that’s the downside of traveling alone and I decided to get over myself. This was easy after we arrived in Parapat and I saw the overwhelmingly great natural wonder called Lake Toba. Honestly people, very impressive!

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I decided to go straight to Samosir island, the small island located in the middle of Lake Toba. When you walk around Samosir island, you will see many characteristic Batak houses, with high pitched roofs. The Batak Toba people live on Samosir island and are part of the Batak community who live all over Indonesia. The Toba Batak people speak in the Toba Batak language and are mostly Protestant Catholics.

The island is very peaceful and quiet, again I was there in January and this is low season. I stayed in this very sweet bungalow with beautifull lake view. Sadly I forgot the name of the place but there are many other places like this or even better. Overall this was the perfect place to relax, swim, kayak, go for day trips or trek. And don’t forget the great view and culture sights.

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A little less than one year later, I travelled to Sumatra again. This time I flew to Pandang, centre Sumatra, not alone but with my mom. In one of my previous stories I shared my families roots in Sumatra with you. You didn’t read that yet but want to know why this trip was extra special? Check the story here. More about this next trip soon…

Breedbeeld Lake Toba