Sumatra (Indonesian: Sumatera) is an island in western Indonesia and part of the Sunda islands.It is the 6th largest island in the world, an area of 473,481 square km, and a population of nearly 55 million people. The people of Sumatra are multi-lingual, multi-diverse and multi-religious, there are over 52 languages spoken.
A majority of the people in Sumatra are Muslims(87%) while 10% are Christians, 2% are Buddhist and 1% Hindu. Sumatra has a wide range of vegetation types which are home to a rich variety of species, including 17 endemic genera of plants.Unique species include the Sumatran Pine which dominates the Sumatran tropical pine forests. Sumatra is home to 201 mammal species and 580 bird species such as the Sumatran ground Cuckoo, the island has about 300 freshwater fish species as well.
Famous are the Sumatran tiger, elephant and orangutan, in 2008 the Indonesian government announced a plan to protect Sumatra’s remaining forests with its incredible flora & fauna. Sumatra is the largest producer of Indonesian coffee, small-holders grow Arabica coffee in the highlands while Robusta is found in the lowlands. Arabica coffee from the regions of Gayo, Lintong and Sidikilang is typically processed using the Gilling Basah(wet hulling) technique which gives it a heavily body and low acidity.
Today you arrive in Kualanamu airport Medan and direct transfer to your hotel. The rest of day is free to relax.
After your breakfast, Drive 4 hours northward to Tangkahan, a beautifully remote jungle settlement situated on the edge of Gunung Leuser National Park. Tangkahan 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. About 2 hours before Tangkahan the road is quite poor. You will drive over bumpy oilpalm plantation tracks. Transfer to your rainforest lodge and free at leisure.
It’s the time with the biggest mammal in the world. You will follow one hour elephant riding through the forest path. After the riding, you will 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. Then off road with local jeep to Bukit Lawang, a small tourist village situated on the other side 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. The jeep trip takes about 3 hours passing by oilpalm plantation tracks and rural areas. A bit bumpy drive but great fun! Arrive in Bukit Lawang, free to relax. Enjoy the scenery from the veranda of your hotel room.
First you will visit 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 experience the rainforest. 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. Return to Bukit Lawang by tubing. You will float down the river on car tubes about 20 minutes. Short rest and drive to Berastagi (1300m), a 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. Visit the local fruit market in town. Transfer to your hotel.
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. Proceed to Pematang Purba to see wooden palace (Rumah Bolon) of the former king Batak Simalungun. Enroute 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 you cross 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.
After breakfast, explore Samosir island by car. Visit Ambarita village where the remnant megalithic culture of Batak Toba lies in front of Batak houses. Visit the home of king Sidauruk in Simanindo village and witness Batak Toba folkdance performed by the villagers. Here you also can visit a museum built in typical Batak style. From here, drive up to Tele and stop at observatory tower locally known as Menara pandang. Enjoy the breathtaking view and one of the best panoramas of lake Toba, Back to your hotel and pay a quick visit to Tomok to see a very old but nicely decorated sarchopagus, the old tomb of king Sidabutar.
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. Visit the typical Toba Batak village Jangga Dolok. Also visit a small pineapple field, colourful market in Balige and sulphur hotspring in Sipoholon.
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 Sijornih waterfall and Sihepeng’s 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 higland town of Bukittinggi, the cultural capital of the Minang realm and home to Minangkabau people. The specialty of this area is its distinctive architecture, spicy hot cuisine, wonderful friendly people and matriarchal traditions.
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 lovely Sianok valley. This is part of a tectonic rift valley which has sheer walls and flat bottom. Then walk down into World War II era Japanese-built tunnels. Visit the remains of Dutch fort called De Kock and museum. Proceed to Harau valley, a nature and wildlife reserve surrounded by 100-200 meters high sandstone cliffs that like a giant wall. In the bottom of cliffs stretches vast paddy fields and green forests. Very scenic landscape! Arrive in Harau you will follow a light walk, about two hours 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 theblack Siamang and gibbon. The walk ends at waterfall with swimming pool beneath. Take a dip before taken to your accommodation.
Departure to Padang, the capital city of West Sumatra province. Enroute stop at the palace of Pagaruyung, a site of ancient Minangkabau kingdom where women ruled in matrilineal society. Stop at coffee making in Tabek Patah, lake Singkarak and Balimbing village with old century traditional houses that is more than 350 years old. Stop at Embun Pagi for viewing the stunning Maninjau crater lake. Also stop at Koto Gadang, a village famous with its silver work. Arrive in Padang direct transfer to your hotel.
After breakfast, you still have last minute in Padang before be transferred to airport for your next destination.