[TRAVEL] Orangutan spotting in Sumatra

Last weekend in Singapore, we were lucky enough to have a four day long weekend. A few friends and I wanted to plan a getaway. We did a bunch of research and quickly discovered that flights out of Singapore on the long weekend book up much quicker than we had planned for. We luckily found cheap flights to Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, Indonesia, and planned to go on a jungle trek.

Sumatra is the nearest large island of Indonesia, located just west of Singapore. It was only about an hour and a half flight to Medan. From Medan, we hired a driver for a four hour drive to Bukit Lawang, the gateway to Gunung Leuser National Park. The next day we had an early start where we met our amazing guides (Erik and Edwin) and started on our jungle trek.

The jungle trek was an amazing experience. On our first day we only hiked about 8km, but they were pretty tough kilometers! We ascended and then descended about 140 flights of jungle stairs (thanks to Jeremy for wearing the Apple Watch for tracking!) Along the way, we made many stops and our guides told us about the amazing Sumatran wildlife. We saw an incredible diversity of animals, including a few different species of monkeys and apes! We saw 10 orangutans, the only Great Ape found outside Africa. Some of the orangutans we saw had been reintroduced into the wild through a nearby sanctuary (had previously been kept as pets and were quite aggressive, but our guides kept us safe) and others were wild and more gentle so we were allowed to get closer.

On the second day we covered a similar distance through new jungle territory, but we ended up at an awesome camp deep in the jungle. The camp was on a strong river and we went swimming to cool down after a long day of hiking. At night, we had (surprisingly) fantastic Indonesian food (especially considering all supplies had to be hiked in from Bukit Lawang) and played card games by torchlight. There was no cell reception, no electricity and very basic facilities so we felt very close to nature.

On our third day we took a short walk to a nearby waterfall for a final cool down, and then took the easy route back to town via inner tubes down the river. We had the afternoon to explore Bukit Lawang before an early drive to the airport to catch our flight back to Singapore.

This was the most active and adventurous weekend I have had from Singapore so far, and I am looking forward to the next one!

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