NEXT STOP: FOREST
After a night coach from Banda Aceh to Medan and another 5 hour bus we arrived in Bukit Lawag (Sumatran jungle) because of course I had to see a ginger orangutan, its on the bucket list!! I’ve a small(ish) obsession with seeing one of these these wonderful creatures (nothing to do with my over-watching of nature documentaries and compulsion to David Attenborough I promise) and as Sumatra is one of two places in the world where wild Orangutans live in their natural tropical rainforest environment, it would just be rude not to.
Arriving to a jungle was pretty intensive for a city girl, the climate was sticky, the air was heavy and it rained generously and this led to us selecting quite a fancy place to stay. Jungle Inn is a collective of stone and wood bungalows located at the end of the right bank of the river. We spent a few evenings hanging out with the manager, Freddie at the Jungle Cafe downstairs which served a good mix of reasonably priced Indonesian and Western food including a yummy Soto Ayam, a chicken and noodle broth.
Half a day jungle trek we read was sufficient to spot an orangutan and we organised this through a guide we met at lunch at Greenhill’s cafe, the trek was relatively easy and involved a few tough inclines and declines down muddy tree roots but it wasn’t too exhausting with regular breaks when we spotted animals. We managed to not only see orangutans during our trek but various other animals too including; turtles, peacocks and Thomas Leaf monkeys, we saw a beautiful waterfall, tried our best to avoid the notorious and aggressive orangutan Mina, and ended our trek tubing down the river back to the village and our hotel.
CAVING WITH THE BATS
Another great thing to see in Bukit Lawang is the huge bat cave located somewhere into the woods on the left of the riverbank, past some hundred rubber tree plantations. The cave is enormous and unlike most touristy caves it’s kept in its natural state with no signage, lights, bridges or platforms inside, you were literally left with a torch light to get on with some solo caving – note that you need a serious torch for this! If you braved all the bat poo and darkness you’re rewarded with huge greeny moss covered, garden of Eden like openings, we kept on through until we hit what we concluded was the other end of the cave as there were no more small holes to crawl through to explore. I was pretty proud of myself….bat poo is not a pleasant smell. After having our final hot alfresco showers; we had a comfy sleep ready for our journey to see the largest volcanic lake in the world…Lake Toba.