Friday, 19 August 2011

Sumatra - Bukit Lawang and Bukit Kancur - orangutans

We flew from Penang to Medan and it felt good to be back in crazy Indonesia. We had one night in Medan and then we got the hot, sticky, local bus to Bukit Lawang. We had a few days relaxing in the village and enjoyed the gorgeous jungle views, swam in the river and hung out with the very friendly locals. We stayed at Green Hill and Andrea, the owner and primatologist, gave us some great advice. we decided to do a 3 day/2 night trek in Bukit Kancur, which is a 30 minute motorbike ride from Bukit Lawang. We decided to go there as very few tourists go there and we wanted to try and see a wild orangutan rather than the semi-wild ones that they get in Bukit Lawang. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of our lives.

Just setting off:

Here is me with Baik, our wonderful guide:

Here is Mimpin, our other guide. He is as cool as a cucumber and never seems to sweat. He knows this jungle like the back of his hand:

There are lots of leaches in the jungle and they try to get through your boots. We rubbed wet tobacco on our boots and legs to step them from biting and it really worked:

On the first day we had a wonderful time trekking through the jungle but we didn't see an orangutan. We set up camp next to the river in a spot that is stunningly beautiful. This is the area that we slept on:

First they cleared it and put up a bamboo structure:

and then they put over the waterproof tarps. 5 of us slept in here, the 5th person was Baik's brother Yusuf, who carried all the camping and cooking stuff and generally helped out.

Here's Nic keeping Baik company, while he cooks us our feast:

We spent a lovely evening in out campsite, eating, swapping stories and playing games. The shelter that we slept in was very cosy and waterproof (we had lots of rain) but the mats were a bit thin for us and Baik snored very loudly. However, it was lovely to listen to the frogs and the other jungle noises and wake up in such an amazing place.

The following day we set off on a 5 hour trek hoping to see an orangutan. Here's Nic doing his Ray Mears impression:

First we visited an amazing bat cave:

If you look closely you can see the bats' eyes and some bats flying. It was rather eerie (and smelly) in here:

We saw and heard lots of wonderful things on our trek but no orangutans.

When we got back to the campsite, Yusuf told us that 2 orangutans had passed over our campsite. We were pretty disappointed to say the least. Yusuf decided to go off to see if he could find them and he did find the male not too far away. We heard him shouting so we followed him and then we got to watch a proper wild male orangutan for about an hour. OMG

He was making all sorts of noises and breaking off branches to tell us to go away and we've got some great videos of him. Here are some of our best photos:

I still can't believe how lucky we were. You can keep your semi-wild orangutans, watching wild behaviour is a thousand times better.

We had another great night in our shelter (and more rain) dreaming of orangutans!

On our last day we had a bit of fun and Baik made me the Queen of the Jungle:

We also went swimming in this crystal clear water hole:

We finally left the jungle behind and got back to the village. We felt quite sad but the local kids cheered us up:

I could write so much more but I hope this gives you an idea of how amazing this experience was. Thanks Baik, Mimpin and Yusuf for a truly memorable experience and too Andrea for suggesting it.


Emma Barber said...

Wow!! Those photos are amazing. I can only imagine what a fantastic experience it was.
Emma B x

megan gurney said...

This looks incredible, I cannot wait to hear all of your stories when you get home! I want to experience all of this for myself as soon as possible! I shall plan my trip based on your recommendations :) lots of love xxx