Bukit Lawang is a little jungle village nestled by the riverside in the Sumatran Jungle, part of the Gunung Leuser National Park. Over the years, it has become a popular tourist town, attracting adventurers wanting to explore the rain forest and see Orang Utans up close. The Gunung Leuser National Park is one of just two places In Indonesia where you can see these amazing creatures in their natural habitat. Put your best hiking shoes on for jungle trekking in the rainforest of North Sumatra. You will love it!!
Where To Stay in Bukit Lawang
There are a lot of places to stay in Bukit Lawang, but not a lot of variety. Accommodation ranges from basic backpacker hostels through to riverside eco lodges. The closest thing to luxury accommodation in Bukit Lawang is Batu Kapal Jungle Houses, which has a number of rather ambitiously named ‘luxury’ bungalows you can rent. The rooms are tastefully furnished, but don’t compare well to the 5 star villas you’ll find in Bali.
There’s are plenty of nice mid range guest houses to choose from built along the banks of the Bahorok River. Some notable choices include the aptly named Hotel Orangutan and the Bukit Lawang Hill Resort with beautiful views over the village. If you’re on a backpacker budget you can’t go wrong with Rainforest Guesthouse, which has rooms from $4 a night.
Wherever you stay in Bukit Lawang, you are bound to see tons of cheeky macaque monkeys jumping and running around on the rooftops and balconies of guesthouses. If you’re lucky, you can also see a large monitor lizard strolling peacefully into the lush greenery of the rainforest or dipping into the Bahorok River that runs through this charming little village.
The Orang Utan Sanctuary
The Orang Utans of Bukit Lawang are semi-wild. One of the main tourist attractions in the region is the Bukit Lawang Bohorok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre, which was founded by two Swiss women. The rehabilitation centre looks after orphaned or freed from captivity Orang Utans. Special caretakers looking after them until they are ready to live freely in the jungle again, taking care of themselves.
How to Find a Guide
Bukit Lawang has got many jungle rangers, eager to get your jungle trip booked with them. Take your time finding a guide. Look for someone you really like and trust, someone who is respectful of the rainforest and its inhabitants. Also, make sure that the person you talk to will be the one to take you on your jungle trip. A few things to look out for; many guides have allowed tourist to feed the Orang Utans which is actually very dangerous for them, as you can spread diseases to them. Avoid feeding the Orang Utans in the wild!
Cost of Jungle Trekking
There are lots of different jungle trekking packages available. You can choose between a half-day or a full day trekking, perfect for families with kids or those travellers who don’t want to sleep in the jungle. For the more adventurous ones among us, those who can’t wait to venture out deep into the dense rainforest, there are 2-days and 3-days treks available. There are even mini survival adventures where you will be sleeping in the jungle 3 or even 4 nights. You need a permit to enter the Gunung Leuser National Park. Usually, it is included in the price but do check!
Here is a (Rough) Price Overview;
Half day trek jungle trekking (3 hours) – €35
Full day trek jungle trekking (6 hours) – €45
2 days 1 night jungle trekking – €80
3 days 2 nights jungle trekking – €110
4 days 3 nights jungle trekking – €155
5 days 4 nights jungle trekking – €190
What to Bring on the Jungle Trek
First of all, even though it is hot, I would advise wearing long trousers and a good pair of shoes. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the advice of our jungle ranger and I ended up with a weird skin mark on my leg that was visible for at least a year. Also, wearing long trousers protects you from the bloodsucking leeches that also like to roam in the jungle. Other than that, bring;
- A good camera, of course!
- A big bottle (or two) of water (heavy, but needed).
- Mosquito repellent.
- A raincoat (you will be thankful when the rain starts to pour).
For those spending one or several nights in the jungle, it might be handy to bring;
- Sarong or towel and bathers (you will pass some wonderfully cooling jungle rivers).
- Flashlight (comes in handy after sunset).
- Flip flops.
- light-weight sleeping bag.
Jungle Trekking – The Adventure Begins
Your jungle adventure starts by crossing the long, man-made, hanging bridge that connects the village of Bukit Lawang to the jungle. The trekking starts uphill, preparing you well for the hill hikes that follows. During the trip, the lush green rainforest will surely enchant you and you will feel so tiny when gazing up at the majestic, ancient jungle trees towering up high above your little head.
At some point during the trek, you are bound to see what you have been waiting for – the Orang Utan. Seeing these amazing man-like monkeys up-close in their natural habitat, sometimes even with their baby, is truly amazing. It’s an unforgettable experience!
Within the expansive Gunung Leuser National Parks you’ll also find Thomas leaf monkeys, black gibbons, monitor lizards and giant ants (real giants!). You can spot all these things during your jungle trip. Furthermore, there are the Sumatran tigers, rhinos, elephants and more amazing wildlife that like to keep themselves hidden from the sight of humans.
During the jungle trek, you will stop by the riverside for a good local nasi goreng wrapped in a banana leaf and local fruit as dessert. Yummy and well-deserved! While hiking up and down the hills of the jungle, you are treated to magnificent views.
For those spending one, or even a few nights in the jungle, you will be staying in the ranger camps, sleeping on a thin floor mattress to the sounds of nature. The guides will provide you with food and drinks as much-needed fuel for the next day. The jungle adventure ends by tubing down the river, back to the village of Bukit Lawang. Just wonderful!
Goodbye to the Jungle
Your adventure in the jungle is over but you won’t be sad! You will return home or continue your travels with this amazing experience in your pocket. On top of that, you have got tons of great photos and memories to take with you. Let your journey continue to other must-see places of Sumatra. Sumatra was the starting point of my trip to Indonesia and I ended never stopped coming back to this beautiful country. Who knows, the same might happen to you.
Have you ever done jungle trekking in Bukit Lawang? What was your experience of the trek? Share your stories in the comments below.