Bukit Lawang Orangutan tracking, trekking and tubing

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I ordered the Bukit Lawang Orangutan tracking, trekking, and tubing activities from the owner of my hotel, Wisma Leuser Sibayak. This was part of my Bukit Lawang and Lake Toba Itinerary. Ricky who was the representative of the hotel was also my guide during the three hours activities which cost me 45 Euros ($52). Ricky, arranged everything including the fruits for our snacks and the permit to enter the Gunung Leuser National Park. In the afternoon of January 14, after lunch, we started the trekking. Ricky’s associate or colleague Nuria joined us.

Read the full report: “Bukit Lawang and Lake Toba Itinerary.

What do you wear and bring in the jungle trekking?

For a light three hour trekking you can wear simple waterproof trainers. I wore Puma trainers, yoga pants, lightweight green t-shirt,  a hooded jacket, and anti-mosquito lotion. I did not wear any pieces of jewelry excluding a ring and a crucifix. In my backpack were a raincoat, semi-waterproof trouser, binoculars, waterproof camera, microfiber towel, and anti-mosquito lotion. It is recommended to leave the passport in the hotel’s safe. It can be wet during the tubing activity.

The Orangutan tracking.

The entrance to the forest was just around 300 meters behind the chain of hotels and guesthouses. We walked uphill and started getting to know each other. Nuria was somewhat on a short vacation in Southeast Asia. She has been traveling for a month. She visited Lake Toba a few weeks ago and promised me that the place is very beautiful. The walk uphill was very difficult. The truth is that I did not prepare physically a few days before the trip. After a few more meters walking, we decided to have a break since the rain started to become stronger. Ricky told me that the high season in Bukit Lawang is in June and July. In the waiting shed, he offered us to eat a banana which Nuria did not refuse. We met a few local men and a woman too. Ricky hoped we would be lucky to see the Orangutans. He said that when it is raining, they are hiding in the cover of the trees. I have also read that it is neither allowed to call them to come out in the jungle nor to feed them. A few minutes later, one of the men inspected or ask if we have a ticket. Ricky took care of all of it. He also got a good intel where the Orangutans were chilling.

Luckily, the rain weakened. We continued the trekking and this time downhill. I finally got the hang of it. With high hopes, Ricky led the way to another short route. After a few minutes, voila, a male, a female and a baby Orangutan in front of us! We joined the other group of trekkers who got there first. Then it started raining very hard again. While Ricky and Nuria were busy improvising the plastic bags to create a raincoat, I took the chance to watch the Orangutans and snap photos. God was smiling and so good that he made the rain go away after ten minutes.

Sumatran Orangutan in Bukit Lawang
Sumatran Orangutans in Bukit Lawang.

While we were admiring the Orangutans doing gymnastics in the wild, Ricky started telling facts about the thinkers in the jungle. He said that the male Orangutan at that moment was interested in mating with the mother Orangutan. He added the Orangutans do not care to mate even if the baby Orangutan would cry out loud. We spent about twenty minutes more observing the Orangutans, taking photos with them and admiring their flexibility. After that, we trekked back to the usual three-hour route.

Male, Female and baby Orangutans in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia

Along the way, Ricky showed us interesting liana tangles and vines in the jungle. He also pointed his finger to a big and very tall tree that shed their bark. He described it as a tree that was shy to be old. He also picked one of the female ants and said that it is not dangerous. It was only the male ant’s bite that stings a lot. We were also lucky to have seen Thomas’ leaf monkey. A relative of the silver leaf monkey I am familiar with in Selangor, Malaysia. It was a male monkey calling its partner using its distinct vocalization. The monkey looked friendly, clean and smooth. It was not scared of our presence at all. Then, it suddenly jumped to another vine past Ricky’s head while we were about to continue trekking. Ricky thought it wanted to take the bananas from his backpack. We left the creature alone and continued trekking.

Thomas' Leaf Monkey in Bukit Lawang
Thomas’ Leaf Monkey in Bukit Lawang.

Then we saw the old Orangutan feeding center. Ricky described that long ago, visitors would be situated inside the cage and watched the staff fed the Orangutans. This activity no longer exists. In my opinion, it was just right. We trekked some more and viewed Bukit Lawang village from the viewpoint in the jungle. Then we crossed the little river that flows to the main river in the village. The sound of the river rapids became more intense and clear. Finally, we reached the meeting point for the tubing activity. There waited Ricky’s partner named Wan. Before tubing, we had a short break. We ate pineapples and some bananas. Then the macaques started gathering nearby which signaled us to already proceed with the tubing back towards Wisma Leuser Sibayak. I wore my semi-waterproof trouser for added protection.

Bukit Lawang River
Bukit Lawang River.

The tubing activity.

The guys packed all important things that need not be wet. There were three donut-shaped tubes connected tightly using ropes. Wan sat on the back tube, Nuria and I sat on the middle tube and Ricky on the front tube. The package was in between me and Nuria. Then the guys paddled with all their might while singing a song about Bukit Lawang. Nuria was familiar with the song and sang with them. The tubing was very enjoyable and funny. It is recommended to try it once in Bukit Lawang. The guys did a very good job. I was satisfied as a client. Finally, we reached our hotel by the river. The guys jumped and swam to the shore to anchor the tubes. We concluded the entire program with a final photoshoot for memories. At around 18:30 I bid goodbye to Nuria and Wan whom I did not see again.

Later that night I spoke again with Ricky about the program. I promised him good reviews. I also met his lovely and smiling Mother. We spoke a little about each of our family. Then my dinner was served by the kitchen staff. While I ate, I listened to Ricky playing the guitar while singing. After dinner, I retired to my room and had a good sleep.

Bukit Lawang Orangutan Tracking and Tubing
Bukit Lawang Orangutan Tracking and Tubing.

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