Backpacking Indonesia – Sumatra Island. (26/07/17 to 05/08/17) 

You may not have even heard of Sumatra, indeed I had not, as most people associate Indonesia with Bali island. The great thing about Sumatra, other than its stunning green jungle scenery, is there are hardly any other tourists. Sumatra is prodominantly Muslim so beautiful women in hijabs walk amongst rubber plantations with their children clinging to them. Mosques are everywhere, calling for prayer five times a day adding to the echos from market sellers. The whole country wafts with durian, the stinking fruit this nation is so fond of, with the odd tourist loving it. I am not one of them as I thought durian tasted a bit like custard and cheese…

My journey began in Padang where I caught a minibus to Bukittinggi. This ride had me clinging to my seat, as people in Indonesia drive crazy. After checking out the many reggae cafes and colourful fruit markets, I visited Maminjau Lake, passing Dutch buildings and the famous ‘forty four hairpin bends’. I spoke with a silversmith who showed me how to make earrings and the following day I climbed over slippy tree roots to see the largest flower in the world, the raffleisa flower. This parasite flower, orange in colour, only blooms for five days per year. Outside the jungle I watched locals collect intoxicating cinnamon bark as I sipped on Kopi Luwak coffee made famous by the palm civet cat. While drinking my coffee a kind lady removed leeches from my ankles, swollen with my blood.

After Bukittinggi I headed to the beautiful river village of Bukit Luwang. There was a slight incident of miscommunication, whereby I thought our driver was driving us the whole way. Instead he dropped me off in the middle of nowhere and told me I had to change to another minivan. I was ok until I heard this would cost more money and I would be in a minivan for a further eight hours. A melt down occurred on my part. Truly after lots of travelling this was the worst I felt. I feel this needed to happen in order to teach me that things don’t always go according to plan which I have honestly never been very good with.

Upon arrival in Bukit Luwang, I spent a relaxing few days by the river completing a scary climb through stinking bat caves to see two species of bats. Next was the highlight to my Indonesian trip, trekking through the dense and slippery jungle to see the wild orangutans. My guide, an intense man who constantly smoked and looked to the sky a lot, told me everything he knew about the local wildlife. I had the pleasure of meeting a French couple, Stephanie, who also smoked, oozing elegance along with her partner Pastal from Paris. The terrain was tough, slippery, dangerous and there was lots of climbing, falling and fear of the huge drops. I waded through the river trying not to think of all the things that could potentially hurt us, such as the sun bears, rhinos and big hungry cats. We were lucky managing to see huge human like orangutans, baboons, white handed gibbons, mackaks and a venomous wagler pit viper snake, which hung from a tree just outside our camp. The guide stayed awake, ‘like a chicken’, all night watching this snake, placing salt around our tent to deter it. This only added to our excitement.

After the first days trekking, we relaxed our tight muscles in a river pool drinking tea. The next days trekking was harder as our legs hurt but we didn’t care when we saw a mother and her young baby orangutan, a beautiful and very rare sight. We then tubed down the river watching the huge jungle float by. I cannot recommend this trek enough. It made me realise the importance of seeing these wild creatures while we can.

Sumatra is stunningly beautiful, remote and if you’re looking to travel off the beaten track, this is the country for you.

To read more about my travel experiences in Indonesia click on the following article:

Backpacking Indonesia – Bali Island. (06/08/17 to 21/08/17)

One thought on “Backpacking Indonesia – Sumatra Island. (26/07/17 to 05/08/17) 

  1. Pingback: Backpacking Indonesia – Bali Island. (06/08/17 to 21/08/17) | Travel in your thirties

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