Indonesia – Bukit Lawang


After deciding the evening before not to go ahead and book any tour because they were too expensive, we had a quick look online and saw that the Orangutan feeding was closed, but weren’t sure if it were still the case now.

I can tell you now that it is closed, most probably forever, and the only way you can see Orangutans is to hire a guide. We had walked all the way down to the crossing of the river to the old feeding platform before we were told it was closed, and so we asked at a guest house nearby for a guide for a few hours. They said for 3 hours it would be 600,000rp per person which is just ridiculous.

Upon leaving the guest house, unable to lower the price significantly, this man came up to us and asked how much we can spend and we said for two of us we can do 600,000rp and he agreed! I was unsure at first and asked to see his guide permit, which he showed and it was so blurry and old it could have been fake, but we said if he threw in rafting at the end of the hike we would go with him. He agreed and we set off, we paid him first and he went to get an entrance permit for the park. Meeting him 5 mins later by Junia guest house, we headed into the jungle.

This guy was alright, he told us some information about the area and the plants in the jungle and kept saying “we have time we have time” every time he wanted to tell us about the rubber trees, I just replied I just want to see the Orangutans!! I was sceptical we would see anything in the 3 hours but hoped for the best.

About 10mins in we saw Thomas this black and white money just chilling in the tree, he let us get quite close so I assume he is very used to people coming through. The guide was really great in that he didn’t hurt or intimidate the monkey, he was quite protective actually. He also made sure to pick up his cigarette butts and take them with him instead of litter, it’s probably the first place in Indonesia I haven’t seen any litter which is great.

We then hiked for another 30mins, all the while our guide was making monkey noises and listening out for any movement. He showed us a tree where a honey bear had climbed up to take the termite nest at the top, he also gave us some leaves to eat and some to take away incase we ever got a stomach ache, we could nibble on the leaf. I probably will not eat the leaf, but it was nice of him anyway haha.

Suddenly we saw a whole bunch of other tourists and made our way towards them as they were looking at an Orangutan! She was just hanging in the tree chilling out, and then to her right there was her baby! I was so so happy to see them, they were comfortable with us looking at them and we were all considerate and tried to make as little noise as possible and no sudden movements.

15mins later another Orangutan appeared and she was nearly on the ground! I was about 1metre away from her and she was happy to swing right past me. In the trees nearby her two babies were playing with each other and she was keeping an eye on them. They are all use to humans and are unphased and I think it’s because everyone keeps their distance and doesn’t disturb them.

Unfortunately a dog had somehow got into the jungle and found us, when he started barking all the Orangutans freaked out and grabbed the babies and got as high as possible. They were making whining noises and were breaking branches of the trees to thrown down in hope to scare the dog away. After this fiasco the Orangutans were not coming closer to ground any time soon, which was a shame as they were so close before.

We headed on into the jungle to try and find other Orangutans or monkeys, and we did find a baboon but the stupid dog had followed and the baboon was scared and started to throw branches down. It was interesting to see how they responded when they felt threatened but sad at the same time as I wanted to see happy monkeys!

After around 2.5hours in the jungle we headed to the river, it was tough getting around inside as it was slippery and we had to climb a lot but it was really fun. At the river, I had a quick swim in the water and then we got into our tire raft. The raft was basically 3 inner tire tubes tied together with the two of us sitting in the middle and the two guides in front and behind, armed with sticks, to keep us on track. As it was so unsafe and the rapids were quite strong, it actually made for a super fun ride! I had so much fun rafting down, more fun than the white water rafting I did. Apparently, you can even raft for 10km to the next town and get a local bus back, which would be a lot of fun.

Once back in the main town, we drove to Medan. It took a while as traffic was bad but got in around 6pm so we relaxed in the hotel and then went to eat in China town for dinner.




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