In Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia we took a two day jungle trek. ‘Bukit Lawang’ means gateway to the mountain and is on the perimeter of Gunung Lesuer National Park.
We set of a 9am and walked through the village and rubber plantation to the gateway of Gunung Leuser. Within 2 minutes we saw our first orangutans, a large male which is rare to see because they are only around during mating season. There were a couple of females close-by, one with a baby orangutan. The male only had eyes for one female and made deep low frequency grunting noises to scare the other female off. He walked straight passed us when following his suitor but then played it cool by pretending to ignore her by walking straight past and sitting 5m away.
We were slightly apprehensive being so close to such a powerful ape, but he was quite slow moving and seemed chilled out. We carried on our trek and came across 2 more females with their babies. The little ones were wrestling in the tree tops whilst the mothers hung out. We also saw gibbons far off swinging through the branches.
In the reserve there is a famous orangutan called Mina. She was sitting with her baby and an older female offspring. We were careful not to get too close as Mina has a reputation for chasing people. Our guides tempted her off the path by giving her sunflower seeds so that we could pass by.
We continue our trek up and down the valleys, we saw Thomas leaf monkeys, giant ants, a leech, and pig-tailed monkeys which looked a bit like baboons.
Our guides made us fried rice, egg and chicken for lunch with lots of fruit, which we ate sitting by a waterfall. After lunch we had some even steeper ascents and descents taking in panoramic views of the jungle. We reached our jungle shelter about 5.30pm and we’re greeted by another orangutan, her baby and a tribe of long tailed macaques. We cooled off in the river and washed in the waterfall then had rendang curry for dinner and lots more fruit!
There was a massive thunder storm overnight but we still slept soundly, in fact the river noise was louder than the thunder.
On the second day we spent time by the river and shelter watching the wildlife, apes, macaques, butterflies and monitor lizards.
An orangutan turned up at the shelter when we were leaving. I showed it the banana I had saved from breakfast and the orangutan came straight down and took it from my hand piece by piece and then also ate the skin. When looking in the orangutans eyes there was a recognition for each other, both apes, both eat bananas (albeit not the skin), both sprouting ginger hair. 🙂
The orangutan then staying in the shelter about 1.5m from us until it worked out that we didn’t have anymore food.
The tubing back to Bukit Lawang was completely nuts. Two large tractor tyre tubes and two small tractor tyre tubes were roped together, one behind the other, to make a raft. Beth and I sat in the large tubes with four other raftsman hanging of the sides, navigating us down the river. The river was quick and rough. We were flicked up and down, side to side and I was flipped out at one point. It was exhilarating albeit a little dangerous after the storm.