Sumatra is the largest island in Indonesia, the sixth largest island in the world, with an area of approximately six times the Czech Republic. It is an island of many contrasts: beautiful unspoiled nature with lots of natural beauty and rare animal and plant species, but also devastated nature with a gradually disappearing rainforest and thus critically endangered animals such as the Sumatran elephant, tiger or orangutan.
Trek to the rainforest for orangutans
We plan two destinations in northern Sumatra, first a two-day trek to the rainforest for orangutans, then Lake Toba. The trek starts in the town of Bukit Lawang, we have it booked long in advance by the local road. She also provided us with a transfer from the airport in Medan, where we arrived from Jakarta. It's about 90 km, but the road is in such a terrible condition that you can't go much faster than 30 km / h. We sleep in a local educational facility (run by Sister Adi, the traveler's owner). The next morning we set off into the forest.
Trek for orangutans day 1.
From Bukit Lawang we set off across the river to the forest, which is in sight from here.
Local peacock (?)
It's raining most of the way, our guides laugh and say „Welcome in the rainforest.“ Fortunately, it's warm, so it doesn't matter so much. So far, we have met a pile of smaller monkeys and trees with strange roots. Furthermore, something that looks a bit like a peacock, but can not spread its tail, like the Czech one. And leeches, too, they're pretty annoying.
Finally we meet the main attraction of our trek. There are several orangutans living in the area, including a mother with a cub. It can be seen that they are used to tourists and like to show off.
Night under the shelter
Adi's path built a luxurious shelter on wooden pylons in the rainforest, about 20 km from Bukit Lawang. We change into dry clothes, hang up our soaked clothes and talk to the guide for a while (he teaches us card tricks and he also admits that he graduated from the conservatory, but you can't make a living here with music). Then we fall asleep like toddlers.
Trek for orangutans day 2.
In the morning we pack up and watch the monkeys, whose clouds are there and they are quite rude. The guides collected the garbage in a plastic bag, which they prepared to take it away (they had already learned to think ecologically in this area). However, the monkeys are against it, they wait for a suitable moment when no one is nearby, they steal the bag and run with it to the nearest palm tree, where they gradually methodically cup it to pieces. So much for ecology. We set out on the return journey, which should be shorter, because we will go down to the river and sail up to Bukit Lawang on rafts. It turns out that the raft in the local concept are several tied inflated car souls. Each of us has to shove our butts into one of them and the guides guide us through the rapids using a long pole. Butts, soaked in water, make us pretty cold. The river springs on the slope of a two thousand mountain and is really quite cold. Fortunately, we are back in Bukit Lawang in less than an hour, and before we reach our hostel, our butts will dry.
Gotong Royong community
We spend the rest of the day around our hostel / training center. It is actually a separate town called Gotong Royong, about two kilometers from Bukit Lawang. It's a bit like our gardening colonies, people just live here all the time. Sometimes there is a sty with a goat or something similar, but otherwise most people probably sleep here and go somewhere to work every day, although I have no idea where. In Bukit Lawang there are a lot of hotels, restaurants and cafes rp tourists, so maybe there. The houses are very simple here, but they do not look poor. Of course, it helps the locals a lot that they don't have to deal with heating. After all, we are at the equator.
Road to Lake Toba
The next morning, the driver takes us from the road trip to Lake Toba. Adim and I agreed that the price included a transfer to the airport in Medan, we paid something extra and instead of going to Medan, we arranged a transfer to Parapat on the crossing of Lake Toba. Along the way we take pictures at Gunung Sinabung volcano. A week later, videos are circulating on the Internet how this volcano erupted and covered the area with tons of ash, which rose to a height of about 8 km. This has been the case in Indonesia several times, before that we only managed to fly out of Bali when Gunung Agung exploded on the evening of the day of departure and flights were disrupted due to poor visibility. Similarly, Krakatoa scolded a few days after we visited her. You can probably talk about happiness, but as it turns out later, we didn't like it very much in the end.
Stop at the northern tip of Lake Toba
The last stop is already in sight of Lake Toba. It is a beautiful natural phenomenon. Originally, there was a volcano that had long since erupted and collapsed; a calla was left behind, which was flooded with water. However, the island of Samosir gradually emerged from the water, filling most of the lake, leaving only a ring around Samosir.
We have booked accommodation in Tuk-tuk, probably the most touristy place on the island. There is a ferry from Parapat, where the driver unloaded us. We plan to spend a few days here and explore a lot of places. For example, the remains of the settlements of the Batak culture, an ethnic group that still practiced ritual cannibalism here in the first half of the 20th century. Near Tuktuk is a museum of this culture, including buildings with an original roof shape. Many modern houses on the island have a roof of the same shape and thus refer to this culture. Who wouldn't want to live in a house where cannibals lived a hundred years ago. We also plan to go to one of the lakes on the island of Samosir. Some also have islands. To get to one of them, I would take a picture of the island that is on the lake that is on the island that is on the lake that is on the island. The mathematician would already be looking for recursion in this. Unfortunately, fate does not wish us. Our son Martin started to have high fevers and is sick. We do not have complete confidence in the quality of local health care, so we leave Lake Toba quickly, move to Medan, and from there as quickly as possible to Singapore, where we originally planned the end of our trip, just imagined it differently. After an agreement with the insurance company, which gave us a choice of several Singaporean hospitals, Martin and I go to one of them. They'll do some tests on him, give him piles of parallels, and we're coming tomorrow. They'll keep him there, he has Dengue fever. This ended our journey around Sumatra somewhat infamously, but maybe we will return one day. It is beautiful here and so far, with a few exceptions, there are not so many tourists to spoil the impression of authenticity. In addition to Lake Toba, we also considered an alpine trek. The highest peak of Sumatra Kerinci measures 3805 m, it is a two-day trek, it is definitely worth considering.
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