The province of north Sumatra is home of many of Sumatra’s most popular attractions, including the magnificent Toba Lake, Bukit Lawang with Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, Tangkahan with elephant sanctuary, Berastagi which is the culturally enriching Karo Batak Highlands around with population of more than 11 million people. And in the end Medan as the main city. Below are some of the highlights of the region asking to be explored further.
Bukit Lawang (Orangutan Rehabilitation Center)
Located 96 km north-west of Medan Bukit Lawang is a popular tourist destination known for the largest animal sanctuary of Sumatran orangutan and home of the Bohorok Orangutan Rehabilitation center with around 5,000 orangutans occupying the area. It is also the main access point to the massive Gunung Leuser National Park from the east side. In Bukit Lawang you can do short walks or trekking even camping in the jungle with tour guides for one or multiple day treks. It is the best way to see the local birds, reptiles, range of tropical plants and of course primates. Apart from visits to the jungle Bukit Lawang offers a relaxed atmosphere alongside the banks of the Bohorok River with many guests which staying for weeks or months.
About rehabilitation centre
In 1973 the orangutan rehabilitation center was build by a Swiss organization for rehabilitation orangutans rescued from poachers or deforestation.
These people live in the center and have all necessary skills which they need for successfully reintegrated orangutans back into the jungle as part of the semi-wild population. After release orangutans are fully self-sufficient.
Which animals are you likely to see at Gunung Leuser?
You are most likely to see semi-wild orangutans, macaques, pig-tailed macaques, the Thomas Leaf monkey and his amazing ‘quiff’.
Wild orangutans are harder to spot and you will need to venture deeper into the jungle to see them.
If you’re lucky, you may see hornbills or even white and black gibbons, moon snakes or monitor glittering in and out of the river.
Rarer still is an encounter with either the Sumatran Tiger or the Sumatran Rhinoceros. Few and sensibly reclusive although footprints and droppings have been reported.
A day trip to Tangkahan or a longer trek deep into the jungle near Ketambe is a must if you like to see the Sumatran elephant in the wild.
While seeing creatures in the wild is never guaranteed, visitors can immerse themselves in their habitat and experience their environment while they wait to catch that elusive glimpse of their favorite animals.
Tangkahan (elephant sanctuary)
Tangkahan is on the border of the Gunung Leuser National Park and is the little sister of the more famous Bukit Lawang.
About 100 km from Medan city with distance 3 or 4 hours by car.
Let’s take a closer look at this jungle paradise where you can visit an elephant sanctuary doing elephant washing, jungle trekking, river tubing and visit waterfall.
Berastagi is a picturesque hill town in the Karo highlands about 70 km from Medan. Situated around 1300 meter above sea levels – this is where you need to be if you’re looking for a cooler and more refreshing climate. It is particularly popular as an entry point and set up the base for ascending to Gunung Sinabung and Gunung Sibayak or even treks to the Gunung Leuser National Park.
To experience the traditional Batak Karo villages, head to Kabanjahe in the south of Berastagi. It is a point where you can branch out and explore some of the most popular traditional Batak villages such as the village of Lingga where you can see the characteristic Batak Horned roof houses and also the charming little village of Dokan which is 16 km south.
Accessible from Berastagi Mount Sibayak has been considered as the most accessible volcano in Indonesia with the height of 2094 meters. It is best to avoid Sundays when day-trippers from Medan would clog the walkways. There are several ways to climb, depending on energy levels. The easiest is to take the track from northwest of Berastagi and from there it is a 7 km hike to the top. You can also take the longer options through the jungle from Panorama Waterfall, 5 km from Berastagi which would take roughly 5 hours.
For a more breathtaking view from the top you can go a little bit further and aim for Gunung Sinabung that rise more than 2400 meters above sea levels. Accessible from the village of Sigarang-garang, 30 minutes away from Kabanjahe. Although Sinabung is off limits due to its eruption 2018 forcing nearby villagers to evacuate and not available as a tourist attraction.
Danau Toba is one of Sumatra’s and Indonesia’s most spectacular sights. It occupies the caldera of a giant volcano that collapsed in on itself after an eruption about 100,000 years ago. Not only that it is the largest lake in Indonesia but it is also the largest volcanic lake in the world. Out of this huge expanse of deep blue water rises Pulau Samosir, an island almost the size of Singapore. This is home to the Batak Toba people (notice the previously mentioned Batak Karo from the North) the air is cool and relaxing. Just try to avoid going here on weekends or longer holidays where busloads of tourists from all over the place would flock all crevices.
Day trips from Medan are available but staying a night or two is highly recommended. There are numerous hotels and guest houses mainly in Tuk Tuk village but with a few scattered in other small towns around the island.
This impressive natural wonder is located at the northern end of Danau Toba, 24 km from Kabanjahe and about 300 meters from the main road and surrounded by land scattered with pine trees. With a height of 120 meters, Sipiso-piso is considered as one of the tallest waterfalls in Indonesia. So normaly we visit this waterfall when we are on the way to Toba Lake. During the way we can stop for visit waterfall for few hours.