Where we are
Bukit Lawang EcoTravel operates all tours, brokered by Sumatra EcoTravel, from its base in Bukit Lawang. This little tourist village in North Sumatra is most famous for being one of the last places on earth where you can see wild and semi-wild orangutans and also the main access point to the Gunung Leuser National Park from the east side. The surrounding jungle is one of the most biodiverse regions of the world and home of many other species as well as tigers, rhinos, elephants, leopards, pangolins or cobras.
Situated around 90 km north-west of Medan along the clear Bohorok River and on the outskirts of the tropical rainforest, Bukit Lawang is known for the largest animal sanctuary of Sumatran orangutans. In 1973 a Swiss organisation founded an orangutan rehabilitation centre in Bukit Lawang. The main purpose was to preserve the decreasing number of orangutan population due to hunting, trading and deforestation and to rehabilitate the great apes released from captivity. The rangers at the centre teached the orangutans all the necessary skills to survive in the wild. After a period of quarantine, readjustment to the natural habitat and reintegration in the wild population, the orangutan got released back into the jungle. Although the rehabilitation centre has not operated since many years, all orangutans released are still focused by the rangers of the national park. Two times a day visitors now are allowed to join semi-wild orangutans while getting provided with supplementary food at the feeding platform. While guided trekking through the dense tropical rainforest there, you can also spot wild orangutans and a variety of other wildlife.
But Bukit Lawang has much more to offer beyond our red-haired cousins. Only 2.5 hours far from Medan it is an amazing stop for traveling in Sumatra with lots of possibilities for outdoor activities as rafting, tubing, biking or motorcycling. But also for people who are not addicted to trekking or other activities it's nice just to relax a few days in a hammock in one of the lovely riverside guesthouses close to the rainforest, watching and listening the jungle life around. Monkeys will be daily guests at your balcony and if you are lucky, you can see some orangutans from your personal lazy base without doing any movement in the jungle. Unique nature and friendly people in Bukit Lawang let everybody get adjusted to Sumatra before further travels.
In the end of the 20th century Bukit Lawang already was, with its orangutan rehabilitation centre and the colourful cultur mix of Malay and native Batak, one of the most popular travel destinations in Sumatra. But a flash flood hit the village in November 2003. Described by locals as effect of illegal logging there, a tidal wave crashed into the village. Approximately 20 meters high it came crashing down the hills, wiping out everything in its path. The disaster destroyed the local tourist resorts and had a devastating impact to the local tourism industry in the area. Most of the infrastructure was destroyed, 239 people were killed and around 1,400 locals lost their homes. After months of rebuilding Bukit Lawang was re-opened then again in July 2004.
Since this time the tourists infrastructure got more sustainable than before in Bukit Lawang and most of the local people are aware of the importance of preservation of the fragile eco-system they live in. Especially the income of responsible and ecological tourism will help to found a good future for this people. You are really welcome!