One of the highlights of any holiday in Sumatra is the chance to see orangutans in their natural habitat. Trekking through an orangutan sanctuary in Sumatra is an exhilarating experience (and not just for nature lovers!) but it requires a certain amount of preparation and know-how. In this blog we offer tips and advice if you are thinking of taking a trip to see these magnificent creatures.
When is the best time to see orangutans in Sumatra? Although it’s rainy in Sumatra year-round (it is a tropical rainforest after all), orangutans are active all year, so there is no “right time” to see them. Rain falls mostly in the afternoons and evenings, and loop treks that take about 3 to 4 hours are possible throughout the year. However, you may want to avoid visiting from December to February, when rains and humidity are heaviest.
How many days of trekking is optimal? There are many options, but the most popular is the 1-day trek. For adventure travelers, the 2 to 3 day trek with 1 night of camping in the jungle is ideal. For more advanced trekkers, there’s an expedition option that can be tailored to be 5 to 11 days long, giving ample time to explore Gunung Leuser National Park.
What are some orangutan watching tips?
-Prepare a light backpack that you can carry as you trek.
-Wear light, breathable clothing. You may get wet, so make sure your clothing can dry quickly. Avoid wearing red, as this color can aggravate orangutans. Drab colors are best. Despite the heat, long sleeves and pants are ideal for preventing scratches and insect bites. Use insect repellent.
-Trek slowly and stay quiet. Small trekking groups are preferable so as not to disturb animals, raising your chances for great sightings.
-When you spot ab orangutan, do not approach it. Let it interact with you on its own terms.
-Never feed wildlife when you are on your trek.
What will the accomodations be like? Guest houses with basic amenities line the river in the village of Bukit Lawang. Air conditioned rooms are rare, as the altitude is quiet high. Indonesian and Western meals are available, though restaurant facilities can be rustic. When camping, we set up tents under rainshelters. We don’t bring a portable bathroom, but meals will be provided by the team. We highly recommend you bring your own sleeping bag.
Who are orangutan treks suitable for? The 1-day loop trek is suitable for anybody, including kids roughly 5 years old and up. A good fitness level is required for most orangutan camping treks, but they’re still great for kids who love adventure.
What other animals will I see? Aside from the Sumatran orangutan, there’s a good chance you’ll also spy gibbons, macaques, feral pigs, Thomas Leaf monkeys, and Sumatra’s 9 species of hornbill.