Treking in Gunung Leuser National Park
Welcome to the Jungle!
The Gunung Leuser National Park, which covers an area of around 9.000 sq km, is home to an impressive and diverse wildlife that includes tigers, rhinos, elephants, gibbons, reptiles and of course orangutans. There are also more than 380 species of birds and a huge number of flowers, trees and other plants.
The main point of access to this impressive habitat is the village of Bukit Lawang, from where treks are organized to enable you to encounter the wildlife in its natural habitat. A permit is needed to enter the Gunung Leuser National Park and it is highly recommended to be accompanied by a licensed guide as finding your way through the dense forest will be an impossible mission.
While in the jungle, you should remember that you are in a very fragile eco-system and that diseases brought by humans are one of the biggest threats to the wildlife. Please remember that you should NOT feed the orangutans you encounter on the way and that no rubbish should be left behind. The rainforest is beautiful, by being responsible tourists and travel professionals we all make sure that we keep it this way.
Who can go trekking?
Trekking has become increasingly popular. While it is worth remembering that it is quite tough physically due to the very humid and hot climate and the often steep uphill or downhill terrain, don’t worry, it is quite easy to adapt the length of your trek to your physical abilities. Treks range from one-day trek (often called the “chicken-trek”) up to 7-days treks, which will bring you deep into the forest, crossing over to the Aceh side, normally ending in Ketambe. Make sure you address any concerns you have regarding the difficulty of the trek with your guide so that he can adjust the itinerary in the jungle based on your set level of difficulty.
For a very pleasing ending to a trek, most tourists go back from the jungle to Bukit Lawang by what is locally called ‘rafting’, which would actually be more accurately described as ‘tubing’.
Rafting in Gunung Leuser
Tube rafting down the Bohorok river is a popular activity. You can go down the rapids on the top of a tube as a very refreshing way to end your trek or as a fun activity on a relaxing afternoon.
If rafting when returning from your trek, the tubes will have been brought to your departure point by some porters. You will just have to go down the river and enjoy. Tubes will be attached together to form a kind of canoe and your guide as ‘captain’ will make you reach the village safely.
When going rafting by yourself, it is possible to rent a tube in Bukit Lawang, float down the river for about 15 km and take the bus back. This will normally take about three hours. It is much safer to be accompanied by a local person who knows the area, especially during the rain season when the river can be quite swollen and dangerous. Life jackets are usually not included in the price so do never tube alone or when the river is flooded to avoid accidents!
Trekking – What to bring?
For 2 days treks or shorter, hiking equipment is not really necessary. Just make sure that you wear confortable shoes and clothes. For longer treks, good hiking shoes, long trousers and spare t-shirts are recommended.
Food, mat and tent will be provided by your guide however, remember to bring the following:
- Plenty of water – it’s hot in there!
- Mosquito repellent
- Sun screen
- Swimming suit
- Small towel
- Toiletries (soap / toothbrush)
- Snacks for energy
- Toilet paper
And of course, bring your camera and makes sure it has a full battery!