The Ultimate Experience for those who love the outdoors, hiking and most importantly, animal lovers who want to help keep these beautiful creatures safe, yet free and wild in their natural habitat
We often get asked what our most unforgettable adventure has been, and this experience tops our list! Jungle trekking through the rainforest of Gunung Leuser National Park and coming face-to-face with orangutans in their wild habitat, is an experience we will never forget. Here, we will cover everything from costs and budgeting, what to wear, hiking difficulty level to suitability for children and whether it is truly ecotourism at its best, in short, easy to read sections. If you're not a reader, check out our short, cinematic trekking in Bukit Lawang video!
Where is the Gunung Leuser National Park?
Orangutans are listed as a critically endangered species because of the devastating impact of deforestation. To make things worse, orangutans are also illegally traded as exotic pets and are often mistreated. This national park is therefore also a home for rehabilitated orangutans that are able to survive independently.
Is there malaria in Bukit Lawang?
No, there isn't. When we went to the travel clinic we were told to take malaria tablets just in case. But when we arrived and asked other travellers, our hotel, tour guides, etc. everyone confirmed that there is no malaria in Bukit Lawang. So don't worry. Of course, this doesn't mean there aren't mosquitoes, so bring mosquito repellant especially if you're like me, and mosquitoes love to feast on you.
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Where to book and how much to budget in Bukit Lawang?
We booked the trip with Hotel Orangutan, the accommodation where we stayed at for the 4 days that we were in Bukit Lawang. We could have probably bargained for lower prices with other vendors, but we decided to go with our hotel because of their mission and values. Hotel Orangutan is an eco-friendly hotel that aims to raise awareness while protecting its environment, wildlife and local community. We whole-heartedly support their cause and also wanted to make sure we were going with guides that had the same respect for the environment. The prices vary on the number of individuals and how many days you plan to trek. For the two of us, it was EUR100 per person for the 2 day trek. To reduce the price per person to EUR90, you need to go as a group of 5-6 individuals. Check the full orangutan trekking price list here.
Accommodation is really affordable in Bukit Lawang. The cheapest we found was for less than EUR3/night. We decided to go a little more luxury as it was our honeymoon. Here are other affordable accommodation options in Bukit Lawang.
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What are the Bukit Lawang jungle trekking prices?
Although EUR100 per person seems steep, this price is inclusive of everything. We had 2 local guides just to ourselves and a third individual (the cook and tube "driver") who went ahead to set up and prepare our meals at base camp. That means we were personally taken care of by 3 individuals for 2 full days. The only thing we had to bring was water to drink during the hike, mosquito repellant, swim wear, flip flops and dry clothes.
What is included in the jungle trekking price?
All your meals are also included and there is more than enough to eat. On the first day, it included a mid-morning snack which consisted of a delicious array of fresh fruit. There were mandarins, watermelons, granadillas and mangosteens, which we tasted for the first time.
For lunch, we had the most amazing nasi goreng (Indonesian egg fried rice with vegetables). Ours was served with fried chicken, probably one of the best we've tasted. The meal was ecologically wrapped in banana leaves and absolutely delicious. There is a vegetarian option as well but you should let them know when you book the trip.
Dinner is served a few hours later and it was lovely sharing the meal with our guides and getting to know them better. The meal was warm, freshly prepared and consisted of a variety of local Indonesian dishes.
How was the accommodation on the Sumatra Jungle Trekking tour?
What else do you see besides orangutans in Bukit Lawang jungle?
Although the main attraction is seeing orangutans on the jungle trek, there is other wildlife that inhabit the rainforest. On our trek, we saw adorable black gibbons, huge monitor lizards, lemon ants and a variety of birds. If you're lucky and hike further into the forest, you may even see Asian rhinos, elephants or tigers. The guides mentioned that you usually have to trek more than 2 days to see the bigger mammals as they live deeper in the jungle.
Besides wildlife, another key feature is seeing the biggest flower in the world, the Rafflesia. We were unfortunately not in the right season to see it so if you're want to see this, make sure to come when it's in season.
What should I wear for the jungle trekking tour in Bukit Lawang?
For footwear, we wore our normal trainers, but you should wear hiking shoes if you have. Otherwise, the best alternative is to buy these cheap rubber shoes from the local market in Bukit Lawang (what the guide is wearing in the photo). We would have bought these shoes if we had known prior to the hike as they are less slippery when trekking through muddy terrain. Another benefit is that they are really easy to clean with water. Our trainers were filthy after the trek and it was a mission to clean after.
How difficult was the jungle trekking tour in Bukit Lawang?
The difficulty level depends on the terrain and the weather, but the guides will usually adapt to your fitness level. As long as you are able to walk at a leisurely pace for a few hours, you should be fine. We saw some elderly individuals as well as children on the hike so it isn't too strenuous if you have the correct footwear.
How many days should I jungle trek for in the Bukit Lawang jungle?
Hotel Orangutan provides guided jungle trekking for up to 7 days, but we've heard that you can go for longer than that if you wish. You just need to arrange it with the vendor. If you hike for longer and deeper in the forest, you will increase your chances of seeing the bigger mammals such as the Asian rhinos, elephants and tigers.
Is it absolutely necessary to have guides for the jungle trek in Bukit Lawang? Can you trek alone?
We always try our best to save money where we can, but trust us when we say that having a guide is imperative. We would even go as far as to say that the guides made our experience. We were privileged enough to have Iruel and Balu guiding us, they could both speak fairly good English and were extremely knowledgable about the forest. Besides showing us orangutans, they were knowledgable about plants and fauna, and were great company to be around. Madi, the best cook on the planet, worked hard behind the scenes trekking ahead of us so he could get to camp to prepare all our delicious meals. If you plan to lose weight on this trek, you probably won't with all the amazing food you're going to eat! His food is absolutely heavenly!
What other activities are there besides trekking in Bukit Lawang?
On the last day of our jungle trekking expedition, our guides took us to a small waterfall to relax and get our faces painted. Face painting is optional but being the adventurers that we are, of course we wanted our faces painted! The "paint" used comes from grinding the different coloured clay stones on rock, creating a paste that is then used as paint on your face. It is completely organic, natural and good for our skin. We both have sensitive skin and we did not experience any negative reaction from the clay.
Is tubing safe in Bukit Lawang?
Tubing back to Bukit Lawang was SOOOOO much fun and absolutely safe if you're with experienced guides. Tubing is the fastest (and most fun) mode of transport to get back to the village without hiking back. It is included in the price of our tour, but you can choose to opt out for EUR10 less per person. Don't worry about your things getting wet, the guides are very prepared and have bags for you to put your valuables in.
Is the jungle trekking tour in Bukit Lawang suitable for children?
We don't currently have children, but if we did, this is an experience we would take them on. It is safe and will teach them the importance of protecting wildlife and our environment. We would recommend confirming with the vendor of your choice whether they have an age restriction. We didn't see any in the guidelines but in our opinion, if your children are older than 14 years of age and are patient and disciplined enough to hike with you, then it is an incredible experience to take them on. Just be mindful to not let them wander into the Bohorok river unattended. The current is quite strong and can sweep an adult away if you are not careful.
How close can you get to the orangutans in Bukit Lawang?
With a bit of luck, you can get really close to the orangutans. We were really lucky and got within 3 meters of the alpha of the jungle. Always remember to listen to your guides' instructions and do not tease and taunt the animals.
Another important issue we would like to address is please don't touch the orangutans. We've seen videos and pictures of people touching the orangutans and it breaks our hearts. As humans, we could unintentionally pass on our germs and illnesses to the orangutans via physical contact or by giving them our food. Admire and enjoy their presence, but please do not touch them under any circumstances.
Is the jungle trekking tour truly eco-friendly?
We can only comment on the tour we went on with Hotel Orangutan, and yes, we do believe it was a truly eco-friendly tour experience. We could tell from our interaction with the guides that they genuinely love and respect the rainforest beyond its monetary benefit. They understand the importance of being ambassadors of the jungle and it was easy to see the pride they have for the home they share with the wildlife. We particularly loved the fact that no guns or knives were taken with us for the hike, only a bunch of bananas in the unlikely event an orangutan grabs us by the arm.
If you would like to read up more on ecotourism in Bukit Lawang and how you can help preserve and protect our beautiful wildlife, check out the Sumatran Orangutan Society.
The best adventure tour we have been on
We hope you enjoyed our first blog post! It is very detailed and long, but we've tried our best to break it up into easy-to-read nuggets for you. If you want to see a snippet of our adventure, check out our cinematic video!
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We're Michael & Chloe!
An adventure travel couple from South Africa. We've hiked up mountains, dived the depths of the ocean, free-fell through the sky and finally walked down the aisle together. We love exploring the adventurous outdoors and discover hidden gems. Our dream is to inspire others to travel more consciously and responsibly while having an adventure of a lifetime.