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Sumatra Indonesia - Medan & Gunung Leuser National Park

Gunung Leasur Orangutan Odysseys

The Gunung Leuser National Park was established in 1980 as one of the first national parks in the province of northern Sumatra. The park covers an area of 1,094,692 hectares, 25% larger than Yosemite National Park in the U.S., or equivalent to the Tasmanian World Heritage Area in Australia. The Gunung Leuser National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (three national parks on the island of Sumatra) were inscribed into the World Heritage List in 2004 as the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra.
The topography of the park varies from sea level up to almost 3500 meters above sea level. The main habitats in Gunung Leuser National Park are mountain forests, alpine woods, lowland mixed primary dipterocarp forest, swamp areas, beach forest and mangrove forest. It is home to approximately 130 mammal species, 380 bird species and 4,000 plant species. It is also the only national park in the world that is home to the big four endangered species: Sumatran orangutans, elephants, tigers and rhinos.
In addition, the park has 86 mountains and 364 rivers creating a stunningly beautiful and rugged environment for other amazing wildlife: seven primate species (slow lorises, pig-tailed macaques, long-tailed macaques, siamang gibbon, white-handed gibbon, Thomas (or kedih) leaf-monkey, and the Griffith silver leaf-monkey. It is also home to clouded leopards, the Malayan sun bear, sambar deer, 13 bat species and 17 squirrel species, as well as amazing plant life including the largest flower in the world, Rafflesia, the official state flower of Indonesia.

Established in 1973 by Swiss zoologists Regina Frey and Monica Boerner, the Bohorok Centre is home to Sumatran orangutans rescued from captivity. Funding for the centre was originally provided by the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), however in 1980 it was taken over by the Indonesian government. Since then it has received virtually no outside funding, and it no longer operates as a rehabilitation centre for orangutans.
The area remains open to tourists, providing the incredible opportunity of viewing orangutans in the semi-wild on daily excursions, an experience which galvanizes support for their conservation and well-being, and fuels the local economy. It is essential that visitors refrain from touching or feeding the orangutans as they are susceptible to many human illnesses which their immune systems cannot cope.

Tragedy at Bohorok
A tragedy struck the village of Bukit Lawang on November 2, 2003. A flash flood swept through the resort, killing over 200 people and leaving hundreds homeless. Two orangutans also died in the flood. As a result, the village was leveled and tourists were advised to stay away temporarily. Extensive illegal logging in the Leuser ecosystem was said to be the cause. A new information centre has since opened in the village. Guides are available to hire for trekking and the Bohorok staff are continuing to care for the rescued orangutans living in the forest surrounding the centre.

Tangkahan is sometimes referred to as the “hidden paradise in Sumatra.” It is the perfect off-the-beaten track, but with access to good food and comfortable bungalows. The elephants, jungle, and clean rivers are obvious attractions, but what makes Tangkahan unique is how their community-based eco-tourism can stop illegal logging, improve livelihood and develop a sense of pride amongst the locals. This development on the border of Leuser National Park (where the bigger river Batang Serangan meets the smaller river Sungai Musam) is the hidden paradise of Tangkahan.    
  • Join the forest rangers when they patrol the jungle
  • Float down the clear river
  • Go jungle trekking
  • Soak yourself in hot springs


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