Bukit Lawang is a village on the edge of the Gunung Leuser National Park; a UNESCO protected 7900 square kms of jungle & home to approx 5000 Sumatran orangutan in addition to tigers, leopards, other primates, elephants & rhinos.
We arranged for our guest house to pick us up from Medan & made the journey in 3.5 hours despite the traffic & then pot-holed roads.
Our guesthouse was right on the river & a surprisingly nice room for £14 per night.
The main reason to come to Bukit Lawang is to see the wildlife & jungle.
After reading the blog by the Spanish couple we met at Prambanan in Java (& others) we didn’t really want to stay in the jungle overnight.
Most treks include at least one night in the jungle & tubing back down the river (which of course bumps up the price). I messaged several people & the most helpful was actually the guy who owned the guesthouse (we ended up booking our accommodation, trek & pickup from Medan because of this).
We’d been on ‘treks’ before on our travels & they were all rather tame … this was definitely not easy.
The jungle was extremely muddy & wet after the afternoon rains. We climbed steep inclines & slid down muddy slopes; through streams & over fallen trees. We were exhausted but happy by the end.
We saw several Thomas Leaf Monkeys (native only to North Sumatra); Macaques; insects & butterflies; a large bird of prey & of course the showstoppers: orangutans (of which we saw 5 in total).
The orangutans we encountered we’re all semi wild (having been part of the rehabilitation centre that was closed 3 years ago & all orangutans released to the wild). They therefore come down from the trees with the temptation of fruit offered by the guides. It is important to remember though that they are wild creatures as the infamous Mina reminds everyone with her grumpy moods. She has taken a bite out of several visitors & the guides have the scars to prove it.
Bukit Lawang has a sad recent history. In 2003 there was a huge flood due to illegal logging & the village was all but wiped out. 239 people died, including tourists. Today the village has been rebuilt.