I like Indonesia a lot. But the island Sumatra is often forgoten and that is a shame. Let me give you 10 excellent reasons to visit Sumatra:
Sumatra is probably the most divers island of Indonesia but doesn’t get the big numbers of tourists like some other islands. Sumatra has some highlights that can only be found on this island making it a unique destination. What to think of Wild orangutans or the largest flower in the world? There are still many traditional buildings that are worth a visit and a nice piece of jungle. Sumatra is really worth your time!
- Gunung Leuser National Park – In search for Wild Orangutans
The village Bukit Lawang (gate to heaven) lies on the border of the Gunung Leuser National Park. This is the place to book your jungle trekking with the goal to find wild Orangutans. This is definitely going to be one of your highlights to Sumatra! But there is more to experience in this jungle. How about spotting Gibbons, Thomas leaf monkeys or macaques? There is even a small chance you spot a honey bear!
2. The market of Berastagi – Passion fruit, hamsters and a concrete cabbage!
Berastagi is in the highlands of Sumatra making it a nice and cool place to stop. On a clear day you see two volcanoes from town.
I bet the statue of a cabbage in the middle of town will be the highlight of your trip!!! I know that has always been on your wishlist! Besides that it is a town that hardly sees any tourists. Therefor it still is very authentic making the market a joy to explore. Not only can you buy the ripest pasionfruits you will ever see but you can also get your hands on a pet or some agricultural gear. Everything you always needed!
3. Dokan near Berastagi – Batak houses, where 8 families live in 1 space.
Dokan is a village not far from Berastagi. This is where the Batak tribe lives. Their houses are 18 meters long and hose several families. There is hardly any tourism here and you are more than welcome to see what a house looks like from the inside. It is quite shocking to see how little privacy and comfort the people have in these houses. The buildings themselves are very interesting too. Sometimes even with embroidery in the woodwork!
The island Samosir in crater lake Toba is an oasis of tranquillity.
There are hardly any cars meaning it is very easy and save to explore the island on a rented scooter. The island is unique and known for its many Batak villages with still a large amount of traditional houses. Toba Batak houses have different decorations compared to other Batak houses. Do rent a scooter or small motorbike and visit all the sites! The open air museum, the historical meeting ground, the villages, the waterfall and all the rice paddies
5. Pematang Purba – The royal palace of a Batak king
Near Pematang Purba you find an open air museum around the house of a former Batak King. This timber house on stilts is still very well preserved. The woodcarvings are amazing.
Even the non-important buildings like the granary are beautifully decorated. The king lived here up until 1947. And live was still pretty basic for a king at that time.
- Small village Tuk Tuk on the island Samosir – Where the streets are empty and “mama” makes you a meal.
Tuk Tuk is the village for tourists on Samosir island. And still it is not to touristy. It is a quit place where live is slow. The ideal place to unwind and take your time. Swim in the lake, rent a kayak or hang in a hammock. And for a meal? You just go to one of the mini restaurants of the type mama-has-one-stove-and-works-miracles. Tuk Tuk is a place that is hard to leave.
Civet cats eat coffee beans and poo. Humans collect that poo, take the beans out and make coffee from it!!
I have no clue but I do know it is considered the most expensive coffee in the world. In Batang Palupuh Rafflesia Reserve near Bukitingi you can see how this process works and taste some of this coffe. This is the real deal. People go into the forest to look for the droppings. This is not one of those very sad places where they have caged Civet cats to force feed them simply to make a lot of money. So when interested in Luwak coffee, please go to a genuine place that does not keep animals in cages,
8 De Rafflesia – The largest flower in the world!
The largest flower in the world can only be found in parts of Sumatra or Borneo. The Rafflesia has a diameter up to a meter and can way up to 100 kilograms. It only flowers a week after it took him 8 months to get to that point. You have to be lucky to find one and you might need to do some jungle trekking to get to them. But they are truly different from any flower you have seen before!
You can find them in Batang Palupuh Rafflesia Reserve near Bukitingi.
9 Bukittingi, – Het heart of the Minangkabau culture
The town Bukittingi still has some buildings that remind you of the Dutch colonisation. Like a bell tower and a fort. But the main reason to visit Bukittingi and its region are the traditional houses and villages from the Minangkabau tribe. They are way different from the traditional houses of the Batak in the north. The houses are much larger and the decorations are way more colourful. Especially the royal palace is mind-blowing huge!
10 Pulau Pangan – Snorkelling near an idyllic uninhabited island
Close to the fishing village Bungus Bay are a few uninhabited islands that are a dream to visit. Pulau Pangan is one of them. You will almost certainly be the only tourist so you have the beach and the water to yourself. This is paradise! coconut, hammock, clear waters…. What else do you want?
There are of course way more than 10 reasons to visit Sumatra.
The lovely people, the crazy coloured food, the crazy good tasting food, the hectic roads full of scooters and minivans, the nature, bucket showers, the playing children, being groomed by a macaque, watching fisherman at work, practice English with school kids and many more small things in live that make traveling a joy!