Monday, 22 November 2010
Jungle Expedition On North Sumatra, Indonesia
Sumatra (also spelt Sumatera) is the sixth largest island in the world (approximately 470,000 km²) and is the largest island entirely in Indonesia.
The island is home to a host of species including Sumatran Pine, Rafflesia arnoldii (world's largest individual flower), Titan arum (world's tallest and largest inflorescence flower), Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Orangutan, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Sumatran Elephant, Sumatran Striped Rabbit, Malayan Tapir, Malayan Sun Bear, Bornean Clouded Leopard and many birds and butterflies.
The island includes more than 10 National Parks, including 3 which are listed as the Tropical Rainforest of Sumatra World Heritage Site. Gunung Leuser National Park is the area in which our treks and expeditions are centred. Indonesia is second only to Brazil in its holdings of tropical forests; ten percent of the world's total rainforest grows on the Indonesian archipelago of 13.677 islands.
Expedition Jungle tours offers you the once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the indigenous wildlife of the North Sumatran rainforest.
Gunung Leuser National Park is one of only a few places left in the world, from where you can still see the Sumatran orangutan in the wild as well as a whole host of other wildlife. Gibbons, Elephants, Hornbills, Thomas Leaf monkeys, Macaques and the Sumatran Tiger are just a handful of the thousand animal and plant species unique to this ecosystem.
We are a Sumatran based organization seeking to create an example of high standard sustainable tourism within this area. Responsible tourism offers the opportunity to aid the conservation of the environment whilst improving the welfare of local people. Our goal is to provide a high quality of experience for the visitor and maintain the quality of the environment of which both our community and the visitors depend.
We create tailor made expeditions and treks to suit everyone from the most adventurous explorer to those wishing for a more gentle introduction to the jungle. Ideal for singles and small groups, budget backpackers or those looking for more luxury. We can cater to the traveller already on the road or those looking for a custom made holiday adventure.
Choose from our many tours and expeditions to design your own itinerary. Our highly experienced guides can take you on a trek, from just a few hours or for as long as two weeks. We also organise experiences of the jungle from different perspectives; take an off road trip to visit the Elephants of Tangakhan or enjoy exhilarating white water rafting on the Wampu river.
If trekking isn’t your thing we can organise for you to visit the Orangutan feeding platform in Bukit Lawang. Choose a more relaxed itinerary with overland visits to Berastagi or the stunning Lake Toba.
All tour durations are flexible according to your schedule and budget. We can advise on flights, arrange airport transfers and accommodation for the duration of your stay.
Gunung Leuser National Park and Bukit Lawang
Gunung Leuser National Park is one of the biggest national parks in Indonesia (950,000 hectare). The biodiversity is breathtaking and approximately 700 different species of animals (320 birds, 176 mammals and 194 reptiles and amphibians) live in this region. Of the 10,000 plant species recorded in the West Indo-Malayan region, it is estimated that 45% are found in the Gunung Leuser ecosystem.
Bukit Lawang is located about 3 hours drive from Medan. Our base is situated in Bukit Lawang and it is the main access point for Gunung Leuser National Park. In 1973 the Bohorok Centre for ex-captive and refugee Sumatran orangutans was established in 1973 by two Swiss zoologists, Regina Frey and Monica Boerner. Many of the rehabilitated females have conceived and given birth in the forest. This means the centre has increased the orangutan population as well as giving the infant a chance to grow up in a protected forest area. The centre has since closed, but the rehabilitated orangutans still need to be cared for. The feeding platform provides an incredible opportunity of viewing orangutans in the semi-wild on daily excursions to the feeding platform.
The current situation
Unfortunately the Gunung Leuser ecosystem, which extends beyond the boundaries of the National Park, is seriously threatened. Environmental groups are concerned that rapidly expanding palm oil plantations, partly driven by ambitious plans for biofuels, are damaging the country's rainforests. Ironically, biofuels are likely to speed up global warming as they have encouraged farmers to burn tropical forests that have absorbed a large portion of greenhouse gases.
Greenpeace says Indonesia had the fastest pace of deforestation in the world between 2000-2005, with an area of forest equivalent to 300 soccer pitches destroyed every hour. We hope that our local initiative can add to the momentum towards local people conserving their own environments through enhancing an appreciation of wildlife and ‘wild' environments through education and work opportunities for the local people.
Expedition Jungle is fully inclusive of the local population. Our viability depends on the knowledge of our people as well as the natural and cultural environment. We also hope that by exposing tourists to the beauty of the rain forest and the current issues we can also generate outside support and contribute towards highlighting the plight of Sumatra 's rainforests before it is too late.
Getting to Medan, Sumatra
You can provide private transportation from Medan to base or to the other tour destinations. If you are flying from Europe or US you should be able to book a flight direct to Medan . You may have a short stopover in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore . At the time of writing Thai Airlines and Malaysian airlines offer reasonably priced flights.
If you are already travelling, you can fly direct to Medan from Jakarta , Penang, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore . Air Asia offers some very cheap deals. It is also possible to take a ferry from Penang direct to Medan at low cost.
Employ guides locally. fully licensed, highly experienced and English speaking. Local weather conditions or the general unpredictability of Indonesia may necessitate adjustments to the tour itinerary or route, to make balanced and reasoned decisions to ensure your safety and enjoyment.
All of our guides follow a strict code of no contact with the orangutans. Some of our guides are also involved with research and conservation projects based in the area and are fully aware of the importance of following conservation guidelines, both to protect the jungle and the wildlife indigenous to this region and also to set an example to other guides and visitors.
The purchase of travel and medical insurance is strongly recommended for all overseas travel. Please confirm with your insurer that your policy meets your needs. Makesure your insurance documentation on your bag.
Visas and red tape
Most Western nationals are eligible for a 30 day visa on arrival at a cost of $25. If you are planning on staying longer, it is possible to apply for a 60 day tourist visa from an Indonesian embassy outside of Indonesia . We strongly recommend you contact your Indonesian embassy or General Consulate to check your visa status.
Immunization is strongly recommended for visits to Sumatra , in particular for typhoid, hepatitis A and B, tetanus and polio. We recommend that you consult your GP before your trip.
Arrange all types of accommodation to suit all budgets.
Most of the guest houses and rooms in Bukit Lawang are by the side of the Bohorok river and close to the orangutan feeding platform. It is not uncommon to sit eating your lunch and find yourself being observed by an orangutan from the other side of the river.
Most rooms are en suite. Many rooms have their own balcony and hammock, giving you an amazing vantage point of the river and the surrounding jungle.
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