Tangkahan – The Hidden Elephant Paradise
Tangkahan well-known as the hidden paradise of Gunung Leuser National Park, is an Eco Tourism area in the Langkat district of North Sumatra. The peaceful jungle retreat is located along the Kualsa Buluh River next to the dense rainforest, just 2.5 hours far from Bukit Lawang driving on a bumpy road through palm oil plantations and rural villages. It is the perfect place to lay back from strong traveling and spend a memorable time with seven rehabilitated adult Sumatran elephants and a few small calves who work together with the rangers to patrol the rainforest.
This tiny, remote village was practically built on the logging trade in the 1980s and 1990s, because the people became aware of the damages by such activity. They collectively decided to stop illegal logging and transform the area into an functional, self-sustained ecotourism destination. So in April 2001 the community banded together to form the Tangkahan Tourist Institute (Lembaga Pariwisata Tangkahan - LPT) and fixed regulations prohibiting the exploitation of the surrounding rainforest. So the Conservation Response Unit (CRU) was born - a team of Sumatran elephants and their mahouts that helps safeguard the national park to protect it from encroachment. When its bath time at the elephant camp on the outskirt of Gunung Leuser National Park tourists are allowed to help. By joining the elephants by their afternoon bathing or taking a trek on an elephant you will support this local initiative.
Note: Even you have booked a 1-hour elephant ride in advance it may be cancelled at short notice when the elephants are needed for control duties. In this case our EcoTravel team will return 650.000 IDR per person. Starting times for elephant rides are also subject to sudden changes! CRU/LPT Tangkahan are no tour operators but just an organization!
1. Tangkahan Off Road Adventure (1-day tour):
This Sumatra EcoTravel tour starts at 08.30 am with a pick up by private car and off road transfer to Tangkahan. After a 2.5-hour ride on a bumpy road you will arrive in Tangkahan. There you will have lunch in Mega Inn restaurant. Then get to decide individually how you would like to spend your time in this hidden paradise: Wash the elephants in the river and do a 1-hour elephant trek operated by our partner CRU/LPT Tangkahan to experience the jungle from a different perspective, just wash the elephants, relax or swim in the jungle river or walk around the village. The journey back to Bukit Lawang starts in Tangkahan in the afternoon at around 4:30 pm.
Price per person (2 pax): 118 Euro (with 1 hour elephant riding & washing in the river)
68 Euro (with washing the elephants in the river)
Price includes: driver, petrol, local lunch incl softdrink, local guide (CRU/LPT), permit for the national park, tickets for crossing the Buluh River
2. Tangkahan by motorcycle (2-days tour):
It’s a 2.5-hour ride by motorcycle on a bumpy road to Tangkahan. The landscape becomes more open, along the way you will stop with your guide at palm oil plantations and rural villages. Arriving in the afternoon at Tangkahan, a peaceful village located between river and rainforest. Now you decide individually how you would like to spend your time there. Your journey back to Bukit Lawang will start the next day around 14:00 pm.
Price per person: 99 Euro
Price includes: experienced guide service, motorbike, petrol, 1 night accommodation in Mega Inn Guesthouse.
Optional: 1 hour elephant riding operated from our partner CRU/LTU Tangkahan and to pay after your arrival in Tangkahan. Price per person: 650.000 IDR
3. Relax in Tangkahan (3-days tour):
This Sumatra EcoTravel tour starts with a 2.5 hour overland ride by an air-con car from Bukit Lawang to Tangkahan. After checking into your room you have the option to take a 1-hour elephant trek from Buluh River to the CRU elephant camp to help out with the elephant washing. On return there is the exciting option of riding river tubes back on the Buluh River. As well as the elephant riding other activities can be arranged in Tangkahan, such as trekking, caving and river-tubing. The second day you just relax and swim in the jungle river or watch the elephants washing in the river. The third day you go back by private taxi to Medan. More nights or rooms in Tangkahan are possible, just ask!
Price per person (2 pax): 148 Euro
Price includes: private car, driver, 2 nights in a basic standard accommodation in Tangkahan (Mega Inn), 1 hour elephant riding & washing in the river, local guide (CRU/LPT), permit for the national park, camera tax
Price excludes: breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks, river-tubing and other activities in Tangkahan
4. Tangkahan Jungle Trek (4-days tour):
This special tour is designed to give you a taste of real life in the jungle: You will be trekking and camping 4 days and 3 nights in the Gunung Leuser National Park. On the way between Bukit Lawang and Tangkahan, is a peaceful Eco-Tourism place next to the jungle, furthermore you will pass palm oil and rubber plantations and a local Karonese village. In the end you will meet the charming Sumatran elephants in Tangkahan which are part of a Conservation Response Unit, conducting illegal logging patrols in the national park. For this tour you need to be really fit and healthy enough to trek in hot and humid climate for several hours each day, happy to carry all your equipment and sleep on the jungle floor!
Day 1: The first morning at 8.30 am our English speaking and experienced guides will pick you up at your guesthouse. After a short walk you will cross the Bohorok River by a canoe, then you go up the hill directly to the orangutan feeding platform, a unique opportunity to see ex-captive orangutans getting fed by the rangers with bananas and milk. When the feeding time is over you will start your trek through the rainforest close to memorable scenic viewpoints overlooking the whole valley of the Bohorok River. Your guide will pick out a variety of creatures and plant species for you while giving lots of explanations about the rainforest and the biodiversity. If you are lucky many gibbons, Thomas leaf monkeys, pig tail macaques, flying squirrels, Sumatran peacocks, hornbills and also wild orangutans might cross your way. Around noon you will stop at an amazing hidden waterfall in the jungle, where you can swim in the fresh and clear water before you are enjoying your local lunch. After a short break you continue trekking up stream to the Bohorok River while always searching for wildlife on the way. Around 3 pm you will arrive at your campsite there and have time for a swim and relax and enjoy your afternoon coffee and tea. Our team will cook for you your first "jungle dinner" over an open campfire. Your tent will be a simple bamboo frame, covered with a plastic tent.
Day 2: The next morning after breakfast you turn trekking in direction to Tangkahan. The terrain on the trail will be steep, but the views will be spectacular. While the whole trek progresses you will become more used to building up the camp, preparing a real jungle dinner and working together as a team. As you roam deeper and deeper into the rainforest, your chances of encountering wildlife will increase. You will spend your second night camping on the Batu Rongring at the Musam River. There is a fantastic place to swim and do fishing. Many wild orangutans, gibbons, honey-bears, wild pigs, lizards or hornbills live around there. A unique experience!
Day 3: After breakfast you continue hiking down the hill and navigating through the rainforest for around 3 hours. At the Musam River you can relax then during a short break while our team will prepare a simple lunch for you. After crossing the river you will walk 3 hours through plantations, where you can see how rubber and palm oil have been planted and processed since ages by the villagers. You will stay over night at the campsite Gelugur Lama next to the Koronese village, far from the tourist areas.
Day 4: The next morning after your jungle breakfast you will follow the way from the Elephant Jungle Patrol directly to Tangkahan and arrive in the hidden paradise in the afternoon. There a real bed is prepared for you in a standard accommodation of your choice. The next days you have the opportunity to ride an elephant and help the mahouts while washing the elephants in the river or just relax.
Note: min. 4 persons!
Price per person: 218 Euro (price includes three nights camping in the jungle, all food and drinking water, orangutan feeding platform, national park permit, english speaking guides, porter, equipment (tent, camping mat & sleeping bag), transport of your big luggage to Tangkahan; without camera tax 50.000 IDR/camera)