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The Gunung Leuser National Park rainforest in North Sumatra, Indonesa

Let's shape together a better future for the rainforest, its WILdlife and the local communitY!

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Discover all the wilderness of the Sumatran jungle IN AN ETHICAL WAY

​at sumatra orangutan explore we organize unique and unforgettable ethical  j ungle  trekking striving to respect and preserve the unique ecosystem & biodiversity of the  gunung leuser national park . we are devoted since our beginnings to protect the endangered s umatran orangutans and other wildlife and raise awareness among the local community.  our eco-friendly day tours and activities aim to support local people & traditional handicrafts. our off-the-beaten-track expeditions aim to support local communities in more rural and remote areas by discovering untouched spots., our commitment is to preserve the rainforest and protect its amazing wildlife while benefiting positively to local communities. we are devoted to have a low impact on the rainforest but a great impact on the local community of bukit lawang and other remote areas (through education and awareness, support of local associations and initiatives, women empowerment, fair working conditions and higher remuneration level). learn more about our commitments and actions ..

O ur team of experienced English-speaking guides, certified by the Indonesia Tourist Guides Association (ITGA-HPI Himpunan Pramuwisata Indonesia) will be glad to share their knowledge with you. They strictly follow the Gunung Leuser National Park guidelines, our own ethical jungle rules and do their best to keep the jungle clean and the wildlife safe!

Choosing a trek or a tour with us is your way to PROTECT & PRESERVE our amazing but endangered rainforest, its AMAZING WILDLIFE and its inhabitants!

bukit lawang orangutan trek

The small riverside village of Bukit Lawang is located at the entrance of the Gunung Leuser National Park, one of the richest

tropical rainforests in South East Asia ! Its unique location makes it the perfect place to stay to discover the amazing rainforest of North Sumatra and its unique wildlife. 

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and placed on a list of world heritage sites in danger in 2011,

the Gunung Leuser National Park covers 1,095,000 ha in northern Sumatra and has amongst one of the most diverse

biodiversity in the world  by housing thousands species of indigenous animals, insects and plants. This amazing rainforest provides also a home for endangered and protected species like the Sumatran Tiger, Rhinoceros, Slow Loris, 

Elephant and of course the wonderful people of the forest, the Sumatran Orangutans ("orang" means people and "utan" forest) The Gunung Leuser National Park is one of the 2 only places in the world where you can observe Orangutans in the wild.    

Trekking through the Sumatran rainforest will take you into a breathtaking and unforgettable experience! 

So join us & let's begin your AMAZING & RESPECTFUL jungle adventure!



Shaping a better future for our rainforest, its amazing wildlife and the local community of Bukit Lawang


10% OF OUR BENEFITS donated (on treks & tours)

bukit lawang orangutan trek

An unforgettable experience awaits!

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Our ETHICAL Jungle Treks

Spotting orangutan in the wild, Sumatra

3 Hours Ethical Trek

This short half day trek is the perfect option for families with young children, people who don't feel like they're fit enough for a long trek or those who are on a tight schedule. This trek will take you at the entrance of the rainforest and gives you chances to spot semi-wild Orangutans and other wildlife if you're lucky. Watch them and their babies swinging in the trees. After some fresh tropical fruits, enjoy the way back by tubing down the river!

Thomas Leaf Monkey from Sumatra

1 Day Ethical Trek

If you don't have enough time ahead but feel like you wanna explore all the wilderness of the Sumatran jungle, this trek is made for you! Enjoy a 6 to 7 hours trek through the Gunung Leuser National Park and discover its amazing fauna and flora. Meet the amazing Orangutans but also all the other species that live amongst them. After a jungle lunch and a few more walking hours, enjoy a raft ride to go back to Bukit Lawang

Breakfast in the jungle during an ethical jungle trek with Sumatra Orangutan Explore

2 Days Ethical Trek

Experience a night in the rainforest and feel the jungle vibes with this 2 days trek! After an amazing first trekking day full of discoveries, relax on our campsite near the river or the waterfall. Refresh yourself and take a swim before having a homemade dinner. Then enjoy a entertaining evening chatting and playing games with your guides around a bonfire. Fall aseep with jungle sounds. The next morning, enjoy a yummy breakfast and go deeper in the jungle to see more wildlife before going back to Bukit Lawang by tubing! 


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3 Days Ethical Trek

If you feel like you want to explore more the jungle and look for unique wildlife, the 3 days 2 nights suits you well!   Go deeper in the Gunung Leuser National Park and get more chance to discover the 8 species of primates living in here. Experience 2 nights in the jungle and enjoy two different campsites at the riverside and near a waterfall. On the last day, a three hours walk will take you to the river bank to enjoy a last jungle lunch before a raft ride down Bohorok River will bring you back to Bukit Lawang.

Waterfall in the middle of the jungle with Sumatra Orangutan Explore

4 Days Ethical Trek

Go into the wild with this 4 days 3 nights trek. Explore all the richness of the jungle, secrets about medicinal plants and get the chance to meet rare wildlife such as wild Peacocks, Hornbills, Giant Squirrels and traces of Sun Bears. Every night experience a new campsite or even a 2 or 3 hours night trek to observe nocturnal species. Every day you will enjoy a fresh and homemade breakfast, lunch and dinner made by your guides ! The last day relax on the way back to Bukit Lawang thanks to an amazing tubing ride!  

A Rhinoceros Hornbill in the jungle of Sumatra

5 Days Ethical Trek

Feel like a real jungle adventurer ? Opt for a stunning 5 days trek and discover all the secret places of the Gunung Leuser National Park: walk through rivers, explore caves, swim in waterfalls... You will even have the possibility to do night trekking to spot nocturnal species. Get the chance to spot wild Elephants & see foot prints of the Sumatran Tiger. You will also get all the jungle survival tips. End the trek with a relaxing raft ride down Bohorok River that will bring you back to Bukit Lawang. You will remember this unique experience your whole life!  

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Bat Caves Tour & BBQ at Landak River 

Explore the unique bat caves of Bukit Lawang. These huge caves hide many stalagtites and stalagmites but also amazing species of insects, snakes, bats and swallows. Then walk through the palm oil plantations to go to the amazing Landak River. Relax, chill out and take a swim in this beautiful river while your guide will prepare a chicken & fish barbecue. Veggie or vegan ? Just tell us and we will cook something yummy for you!

If you are lucky you can even see  Orangutans and other wildlife on the way! 

Our ECO-friendly Activities & day tours

In order to fulfill our mission all our daily tours focus on community-based tourism explore the surroundings of bukit lawang & the amazing spots they have to offer,  discover the everyday life in the village, meet local people & support local activities. all our activities can be combined if you wish to do 2 of them in one day.

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Bukit Lawang Eco Village Tour

This half day tour takes you into a cultural trip to discover traditional activities and to meet local people. Take a traditional becak and go through the wonderful rice fields. Have a look at the everyday village life and stop by to observe homemade production of tofu and brown sugar. Learn more about traditional crafting such as attap roof thatching made with palm leaves and bamboo walls (tepas). On Friday & Sunday you can also visit traditional markets! At the end of the tour enjoy a fresh drink or a freshly harvested coconut water ! 

Tubing tour on the river in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia

Refreshing Tubing Tour & BBQ

This refreshing activity is perfect for families or group of friends during sunny days! Float down the Bohorok River for 15 km while sitting in big rubber tubes. The river is perfect for a 3 hours tubing as there are a few fun white water parts where you bump over rocks and more nice and quieter parts where you can enjoy the amazing green surrounding scenery. During your trip stop on the river bank to relax, take a refreshing swim and enjoy a yummy barbecue! You will stop tubing in Bohorok where a local bus will pick you up! Enjoy the beautiful landscape on the way back to Bukit Lawang.

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bukit lawang orangutan trek

Organic Soap Workshop in the rice fields

Looking for a fun & educational activity for the whole family? Immerse yourself in the Sumatran botanicals & delightful scents with this tour combining walk and workshop. Walk through the village for about 40 minutes with the lovely Aini (woman entrepreneur producing soaps) until reaching beautiful house in the rice fields. Stroll among her lush organic garden to pick the needed ingredients and learn more about plants, herbal properties & uses. Enjoy a fresh herbal drink from the garden before learning how to make natural soaps using natural oils and selected plants from her garden. For children a fun little toy will be included in the soap! At the end of the workshop enjoy a traditional meal all together in the rice fields!

Traditional Indonesian Cooking Class in the village of Bukit Lawang

Traditional Cooking Class

If you are a food lover then this activity is made for you! Taste the authentic and yummy Sumatran food by enrolling in a cooking class with locals! Go to the market in the morning and buy all the things you need to cook. Local women will then welcome you into their kitchen, share their cooking experience and teach you how to cook traditional Indonesian dishes. You will cook 2 starters and 2 main meals to choose between a large selection of local food (curry, rendang, sambal, sate, tempeh goreng...). Enjoy the meals you cooked all together! 

bukit lawang orangutan trek

Botanical Dye & Ecoprint Workshop

Unlock the superpowers of the Sumatran botanical & discover all their secrets thanks to this unique workshop in the rice fields! Prepare your own piece of art, from nature to fabric. Learn all the techniques of natural dyeing and eco printing. Design your bandana and create your own pattern using leaves and flowers freshly picked in a beautiful organic garden. Thanks to the magic of nature each creation is unique! Enjoy a fresh herbal drink and some local snacks while preparing your eco print. This workshop supports our women empowerment policy as it is in close collaboration with APES Eco Print which is locally owned and operated by women from the village.

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Local Wood Carving Demo

Art lover ? You reached the right tour agency! We are committed to support local community, hence we decided to promote a brand new jewelry and carving gallery. Moose Keliat Designs is located in Bukit Lawang but the carvings are made in the village by their family. You will find wonderful hand crafted jewelry and wood carved sculptures. If you are interested to see how these amazing wooden sculptures are made, we can bring you into the village where you will enjoy a cup of tea or coffee while watching a wood carving demonstration. It is only 100,000 IDR per person and it's a great occasion to share with local people.

bukit lawang orangutan trek

Aerobics, Yoga or Running at Bukit Lawang Trust

Want to get jungle fit? Go to Bukit Lawang Trust in Gotong Royong and join one of their fitness classes on the rooftop offering a beautiful view on the Gunung Leuser mountains! Bukit Lawang Trust is a Charitable Trust working to enhance the education and employability of the local community here in Bukit Lawang, and it's one of the charity we are directly donating to! They are offering free fitness activities every week in exchange of a donation for the School and you can even get a visit of the School! Aerobics takes place on Monday and Wednesday, Yoga & Flexibility on Thursday and Running sessions are organized on Friday! Get in touch for the exact hours. 

bukit lawang orangutan trek

Coconut Cutlery Carving Workshop

Want to travel in a sustainable way?Join our carving workshop to carve your own coconut cutlery! Our friend Bodong, owner of a local art gallery, will help you to design your own on-the-go cutlery! Why we have chosen cutlery instead of the traditional jewelry carving workshop? As a sustainable tour-operator we'd like our guests to get a useful and eco-conscious asset that you could take anywhere with you (while traveling or working)! Made with coconuts harvested in the village, it is the perfect eco-friendly duo to replace the plastic cutleries you might be given in take away restaurants! One more way to fight the overwhelming plastic pollution!

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Canyoning, Natural Pools & Panoramic Camping 

This 2 days tour takes you into an refreshing adventure to discover secret places on the way to Berastagi. A 2 hours drive will lead you to 5 secret waterfall spots. Take a refreshing plunge in these natural swimming pools! Then you will head to Rumah Pohon Habitat. This amazing wooden structure in the trees will offer you a wonderful viewpoint while enjoying your drink. Then you will head to your panoramic camping site for the night. Perfect spot for sunset and sunsrise! The place also offers many selfie spots with stunning view on the Gunung Leuser and North Sumatra (until Medan!). The next morning wake up and enjoy your breakfast with the sounds of Siamangs. On the way back, take a break and relax at a swimming pool in the middle of the jungle. Enjoy the invigorating fresh water coming from the mountains!  

Where to see amorphophallus flower in the jungle of Sumatra

Rafflesia & Titan

Flower tour.

This daily tour takes you to Batu Katak, a small village along the Berkail River and about 40min from Bukit Lawang. This authentic and peaceful area, still preserved from tourism, is an undiscovered jewel waiting to be explored! The hidden and restful area is a unique place in the world! Indeed the jungle of Batu Katak hides the biggest  and the highest flowers of the world, the Rafflesia Flower and the Amorphophallus Titanum! Your local guide will explore the jungle with you and lead you to these amazing flowers which are very rare to see as they only bloom for 4-5 days after a gestation period of 9 months. Besides the flowers, you will have great chance to observe gibbons and siamangs while trekking. Enjoy a yummy lunch listening to the stunning gibbon songs and take a refreshing swim in the river!


Our off the beaten path tours.

bukit lawang orangutan trek

Caves, Hot Springs & Waterfalls at Simolap

If you are looking for unspoilt nature and downtime in the wild to revitalize, this tour is made for you! We offer several adventurous all inclusive tours to Simolap from 1 to 3 days, with different activities, according to your wishes! Simolap is part of the Gunung Leuser National Park and is located around 2 hours from Bukit Lawang. The unspoilt area is full of secret places which are yours to explore! It is especially famous for it's incredible hot springs facilities and its caves. Opt for a trek through the jungle to see wildlife, explore several caves,  secret waterfall spots and take a plunge in these natural swimming pools! End the tour with a relaxing and revitalizing swim in the hot springs! If you stay a few days you can experience a 2D/1N trek with camping in a cave. You can also spend another night at the guesthouse of our lovely friends. 

Discover waterfalls and jungle in Tangkahan with Sumatra Orangutan Explore

Tangkahan Discovery, Jungle & Waterfall

Discover the hidden paradise of Tangkahan! At only 2,5 hours from Bukit Lawang, Tangkahan is an eco-tourism destination famous for the CRU association which is fighting against illegal logging. But this area is also offering the possibility to explore its wonderful lush green surroundings. Start your day by exploring the jungle and chase wonderful waterfalls. Tube down the river in big tires before lunch. After a freshly cooked lunch at a local restaurant at the riverside take a refreshing swim in the Buluh river, enjoy the hot springs and relax at the riverbank! It's possible to  spend a night in this wonderful place if you'd like us to ! Contact us to organize your tailor-made adventure and know the fare!

Tour and things to do in Berastagi

Berastagi Discovery, Volcano, nature & culture 

Explore another must-see of North Sumatra! Located at around 3 hours from Bukit Lawang, Berastagi which means "rice store", is a town located in the Barisan mountains. It's cooler weather makes it the perfect place to harvest many things hence it's lush green surroundings!  During this overnight tour you'll explore Berastagi and it's highlights! You'll climb the volcano by sunrise and enjoy lunch with the panoramic view of Gundaling Hill! During the afternoon you'll discover Lumbini garden the famous boudhist temple, enjoy the hot springs and chase waterfall! Back in Berastagi you'll explore the famous fruits market and  assist to an amazing Karonese dance demonstration! This tour will take you into a culture trip to discover more about North Sumatra.  

We recommend to book at least 3 months in advance

bukit lawang orangutan trek



Where to stay

We'd be glad to welcome you in our ecolodge at the riverside and overlooking the amazing jungle!

holw to get to Bukit Lawang, Sumatra

How to get here

All the travel options and tips about your flight to Medan and the way to Bukit Lawang! 

What to bring for a jungle trek in Sumatra

What to bring

All the information you need! We give you all the tips to prepare well your trip!

Why visiting Sumatra in Indonesia

Our Packages

Spare time and make the most of your trip by choosing one of our eco-conscious tour packages.

bukit lawang orangutan trek

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Your Best Experience of

Welcome to sumatra

Lost in the depths of Sumatra,Bukit Lawang is a small riverside town built beside the rainforest of the vast Gunung Leuser National Park.
Orangutans are one of the most endangered species in the world,found only in Sumatra and Kalimantan,Bukit Lawang (‘gateway to the mountain’) is situated just 96kms northwest of Medan, making it one of the easiest,most accessible places to start your jungle adventure. One of the most biodiverse regions in the world, the surrounding jungle of Gunung Leuser National Park houses 130 mammal species including 8 primate species,285 species of birds and 89 endangered and protected species including the very rarely seen Sumatran tiger, rhino and elephant. Sumatra Orang Utan Treks provides travel information and solutions for every traveller,so whether you want to experience a half-day ethical jungle trek to see the ‘man of the jungle’, the orangutan, a 7-day ethical trek deeper into the jungle, a ready-made package tour of Berastagi and Lake Toba, elephant trekking at Tangkahan or simply to while away your days in a riverside hammock whilst listening to the calls of the forest and the river,we can help make your trip to Sumatra the most unforgettable experience of your life.


Sumatra Orang Utan Treks  provided travel information and solutions for travellers with a variety of budgets and needs.

With extensive knowledge and experience of ethical jungle trekking, climbing,caving,rafting,boating,diving,as well as cultural sightseeing, our local-born,family-run professional team specialises in creating the package most appropriate to you.

Whether you are looking for transportation, to see orangutans in the wild,watch the sunrise at Sibayak volcano in Berastagi,visit Lake Toba, the largest volcano lake in the world, trek with elephants in Tangkahan or raft the white water rafting of Asahan,we can help by removing the hard work and stress of planning your trip.

We cater for all budgets from cost-conscious backpackers to those looking for that little bit of luxury.All our prices are competitive and inclusive so there are never any nasty hidden extras.Where minimum numbers are required for tours/treks/activities, we will make sure, where possible,that you are placed with other groups to avoid missing out.We do not charge commission on accommodation bookings. The price quoted per room is the price you pay. Please contact us directly for details of family and large group booking discounts.

We only work with licensed guides and trusted and proven transport and accommodation partners.

Our professional team always works with a smile and a sincere heart. We proud of our self on providing you with a 24/7 service to ensure that your next adventure to Sumatra is unforgettable.

Explore the hidden beauty of Sumatra with Sumatra Orang Utan Treks today.

Sumatra orangutan treks

Home of the orangutan, some of the most biodiverse flora and fauna in the world,exotic and diverse wildlife and breathtaking scenery, Gunung Leuser National Park offers unmissable trekking experiences,all easily accessible from the riverside village of Bukit Lawang.

Sumatra Orang Utan Treks offers a variety of ethical treks, from the 3-hour ethical Trek,to our most popular 2 Days ‘Orangutan ethical Trek’and our longer 7 day ethical trek to Kutacane for the traveller who wants to experience more of the jungle.

Not only for backpackers, trekking is an adventure not to be missed.Full of its own challenges and rewards, there is nothing dangerous or difficult about the jungle.So if you’re interested in fully immersing yourself in nature,why not give ethical jungle trekking a try?

 More Info →


Come and experience the magic of Sumatra with us.

Our affordable hassle-free packages include accommodation,travel,guide fees and meals.We do the hard work of planning your trip so you don’t have to, allowing you more free time to relax.

We offer a variety of tours, from the 3-hour ‘Village Tour’, to our best selling 4 Day ‘Exploring Bukit Lawang’ tour, and our longer immersive 9 day tour of Bukit Lawang, Tangkahan, Berastagi, Lake Toba and Medan.

So whether you want to catch a glimpse of an orangutan in their natural habitat, trek with elephants at Tangkahan, hike to the volcano summit at Berastagi for sunrise, experience the Batak culture of Lake Toba,or visit the world’s largest flower,the Rafflesia,we have a tour suitable for you.


Gunung Leuser National Park

The flora and fauna of Bukit Lawang Mountain and lowland forests are breath taking. Both are vitally important genetic resource and wildlife habitat.  The "green gold" Bukit Lawang is situated at the eastern side of Gunung Leuser National Park (TNGL). This jungle is part of a larger section of jungle known as the Leuser Ecosystem. This region has an area of 2.6 million hectares which includes the area around TNGL which serves as a buffer zone.


General info

We aim to make your trip to Sumatra a more colourful and interesting experience.

We cater for all budgets, whether large or small. With our team of trusted local partners, we are able to secure the best price which we then pass on to you.

Our travel information service is free and we are happy to provide you with information on where to go/what to see/how to get there and where to stay.

  More info


Why visit Sumatra?

One of the most biodiverse regions in the world, the surrounding jungle of Gunung Leuser National Park is home to some of the planet’s most exotic, unusually diverse and often breathtaking flora and fauna.

A vitally important genetic resource and wildlife habitat, Gunung Leuser National Park, is part of the 2.6 million hectare Leuser Ecosystem and houses some 130 mammal species including 8 primate species, 285 species of birds, among them the Rhinoceros Hornbill and 89 endangered and protected species including the Sun Bear, gibbon,Sumatran orangutan, Sumatran elephant and the very rarely seen Sumatran tiger and Sumatran rhino.

Travel planning program

We aim to make your trip to Sumatra more colourful and interesting experience.& wonderfull


We can advise you on the most suitable trek or tour for you and make all the necessary arrangements.

We are dedicated to helping you plan your perfect trip. We work with you to build a tour that works best for you, removing the hassle and stress out of planning. Contact us

our Transport

Our team of local experts can book you private cars or transportation packages saving you time and ensuring you get a competitive rate.

So why not make your trip to Sumatra easier and more comfortable?

All our cars have air-con, seat a maximum of 6 passengers and have drivers who speak both English and Bahasa. We provide a 24/7 service to ensure that our cars are available when you need them.

We only use drivers we know and trust.


If you want a truely authentic jungle experience then look no further. Our two day trekking option is the most popular. This trek allows you to go deeper into the jungle with more chance to see wildlife such as the Orangutan and various types of monkeys.  After a satisfying day trekking you will arrive at our camp based close to small river. Later you will be treated to local meal prepared by our camp chef. The next day you will get the chance to visit a beautiful waterfall before an exhilirating raft ride back to your starting point.

Two Day Trekking

North Sumatra is a photographers dream with its vast rainforests filled with unique wildlife, steaming volcanoes, and lush green rice fields. We can provide a package to help you find and photograph these wondeful places. Whether you want to photograph orangutans, birds, macro flower photography or cultural photos, we can help organise your trip.

We believe photography is a great way to raise awareness about the rainforest and Sumatra's critically endagered animals. 

Get in touch to discuss further.



be a positive impact

Sumatra Orangutan Discovery is curated for travelers searching for an ethical company that offers authentic, custom-made travel experiences. 

​We are a family-run trekking and tour operator in Bukit Lawang, North Sumatra. As avid explorers ourselves, we strive to bring you meaningful and ethical itineraries tailored to your needs. By choosing to trek or travel with with us, you can be confident you are choosing an ethical company that ensures fair trade policies and community based tourism. 

We offer jungle trekking for all ages and levels of fitness. With our experienced guides you can learn more about the Sumatran orangutan and other wildlife.   Come and explore the Gunung Leuser National Park with us!

Not sure what to expect? Watch our video!

Jungle Trekking

Local activities/ day trips, north sumatra tours.


Set up by Tyson and his wife, Ellie, Sumatra Orangutan Discovery's expeditions are led by an experienced, committed and caring team of local guides. All guides can speak English well and are fully trained and certified by the ITGA-HPI.  

Meet our team.​


Our mission is to provide an authentic travel experience tailored to our guests needs which is sustainable, honest and ethical. 

It is our vision that in the future Bukit Lawang can be a leading example of sustainable jungle trekking . As a company we want to grow to offer a wider variety of cultural tours that can bring ecofriendly tourism to more remote communities and support community development. 

We are an honest and fair trade company that strives to provide a competitive price while also ensuring our guides and employees are paid well.   We like to give tailor made advice to each and every customer and work to create a travel experience that is unique to you. This means a personal commitment from our staff, friendly service and often a friendship that means our guests often stay in touch with us. 

We take our business very seriously, we are a down to earth team of commited individuals and our goal is to provide only the best service.


Sumara Orangutan Discovery Villa , and garden bungalows are available to rent through booking.com. Situated approximately 2km outside of the main tourist area, surrounded by farmland and greenery , we provide a peaceful and relaxing environment away from the hussle and bussle of the town where you can relax in a private tropical garden .

We have a restaurant and tour desk to ensure you have everything you need during your stay. Our restaurant features healthy vegan and vegetarian options and all meals are free from mgs or colourings.

Our two garden bungalows are fitted with a private terrace and garden views , all rooms have a private en-suit bathroom , free locally produced toiletries and fresh bed linen.

We also have a 'penthouse' room at the top of the villa for rent, with jungle mountain views . This larger bedroom features an emperor size bed (200x200) as a single bed (160x200), an ensuite bathroom and a separate private lounge and terrace.

We are a travel sustainable property , which means we have taken eco-concious steps to protect the environement, such as green cleaning products, encouraging guests to wash towels and linen less often, sourcing locally grown organic vegetables when possible, reduced single use plastics 

bukit lawang orangutan trek

bukit lawang orangutan trek

How to Book a Sumatra Orangutan Trek – The Ultimate Guide

Sumatra, the sixth largest island in the world, is home to some of the world’s most incredible wildlife, including the Sumatra orangutan. 

Bukit Lawang, a small village in North Sumatra, is the starting point for trekking tours to see these magnificent apes in their natural habitat.

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world, and we want to help you get the most out of your travels, trips and vacation!

Whether you’re looking for a delicious food adventure , you’ve got a destination in mind and need an expertly planned itinerary , or you’re just looking for experienced hints & tips , we’ve got you covered!

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How to Book a Sumatra Orangutan Trek - Orangutan in tree

This article will explain how you can go trekking to see Sumatran Orangutans in the wild. 

Our post covers everything you need to know to book a Sumatra orangutan trekking tour from Bukit Lawang.

Table of Contents

How to get to Bukit Lawang

Bukit Lawang is approximately 90 km northwest of Medan, the capital city of North Sumatra. Medan is the closest international airport to Bukit Lawang, with daily flights from Jakarta, Bangkok, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur starting from USD 38 one way. 

You can book the best flight deals to Medan on Skyscanner .

From Medan airport, Bukit Lawang is a 4-hour drive. From Medan city, it’s a 3-hour drive. The journey to Bukit Lawang may take an extra hour or so in heavy traffic. 

The most common way to get to Bukit Lawang is by ‘tourist bus’, essentially a shared car with a maximum of six passengers at the cost of around 210,000 IDR or USD 14 per person. 

Once you have chosen a Tour Operator to book your Sumatran Orangutan Trekking Tour, they usually offer to make these arrangements for you in advance. 

You could also book a private car or Grab Taxi if you don’t wish to share it with anyone else. Book this private transfer from Medan airport to Bukit Lawang here .

Alternatively, you can take a public bus from Medan to Bukit Lawang. The bus journey takes about four to five hours and costs significantly less than a taxi or private car; however, public buses in Indonesia can be crowded and uncomfortable, and you may be charged more as a tourist and for your luggage. 

How to Catch Public Bus from Medan to Bukit Lawang

public bus medan to bukit lawang

You need to take 2 different buses to reach Bukit Lawang:

– First, take the local ALS bus (Antar Lintas Sumatera/orange color) from Medan Airport to Binjai, the journey takes around 2 hours and the price is approx 50,000 IDR per person.

– Once you’ve arrived at Binjai bus station, you have to take a tuk-tuk (5,000 IDR) to Tanah Lapang Binjai terminal. Alternatively, you can also get dropped at Binjai Supermall.

NOTE: the last buses can be at 4:30 pm, 6:30 pm or 7:30 pm (no fixed times, it’s random) so ensure you leave enough time to reach Binjai before 4:30 pm.

​-  Then take the L300 or PS bus from Tanah Lapang Binjai terminal or from Binjai Supermall to go to Bukit Lawang. This bus journey takes around 3 hours and the price is 30,000 IDR per person. 

From where they drop you, take a tuk-tuk for 10,000 IDR to Bukit Lawang.

Once you’ve arrived in Bukit Lawang, it’s about a 10-15 min walk to head down to the river where most guesthouses and hotels are located. The road is narrow, but it’s doable to walk with your bags or even roll a small suitcase along the path.

If you can afford it, we recommend you take the ‘tourist bus’, it’s a very comfortable car with air conditioning to Bukit Lawang as mentioned above. 

We took this option and would likely choose it again if we returned to see Sumatran Orangutans in Bukit Lawang.

Which Sumatra Orangutan Trekking Tour Should You Choose

There are many trekking companies to choose from and they all offer a similar range of Sumatra orangutan trekking tours.

These range from short half-day walks to multi-day jungle treks. The type of tour you choose will depend on your fitness level and how much time you have available.

Half-Day Trek:  If you’re short on time, a half-day trek is a perfect option. These treks typically last 3-4 hours and involve a gentle jungle walk to see the orangutans. 

Full-Day Trek:  The Full-day Trek is slightly more strenuous and involves a longer hike through the jungle. These treks typically last 6-7 hours and offer the opportunity to see orangutans and more wildlife, including gibbons, Thomas Leaf monkeys, and various bird species.

The 1-Day Trek is one of the most popular options for travellers hoping to spend some time viewing Sumatran orangutans in the wild. We chose the 1 Day tour option and were very happy with our Sumatra Orangutans Trekking Experience, and we saw eight orangutans in Sumatra jungle!

This tour had the right balance of viewing a range of Sumatran Orangutans, other wildlife, and great jungle views. 

Multi-Day Treks:  For the ultimate jungle experience, consider a multi-day trek. These treks can last anywhere from 2-7 days and involve camping in the rainforest. This 1 Night / 2 Day Trek is very popular .

Multi-day treks offer the chance to see a wide range of wildlife and explore more remote jungle areas.

Sumatran Orangutans Trekking Tours - Mother and baby orangutan

Camping Facilities – What to Expect on your Sumatra Orangutan Tour

If you book a multi-day Orangutan Trek, please remember that the facilities in the jungle are basic.

Campsites in the jungle are made with natural materials such as bamboo frames, covered by sizeable waterproof plastic sheets to protect from the rain. 

Your guides will provide each trekker with a mattress, a mosquito net, and a blanket. There is a kitchen area at each campsite where your cook will prepare local dishes, and this is where you will enjoy dinner with your crew and group. 

Sumatra Orangutan Trek - Basic camping facilities overnight in the jungle

Usually, a toilet area is located a bit further away from the campsite, so it’s a good idea to bring your torch or headlamp.

Campsites are located near a river, a waterfall, or a small stream, so you can revitalise yourself and take a wilderness shower here.

All meals are provided on the Trek, including fresh fruit, tea/coffee, and biscuits at camp.

Food Included on your Sumatran Orangutan Trek

The food included in your Orangutan Trek is fantastic! 

Lunches are typically fried rice, fried egg, prawn crackers, cucumber/tomato, and tropical fruit such as pineapple, mandarins, bananas, and watermelon.

Dinner at camp is classic Indonesian dishes such as chicken or tofu curry, fried fish/tempeh & rice, and vegetables. 

Breakfast is a typical Indonesian breakfast of nasi goreng (fried rice) served with your choice of tea or coffee.

Sumatran Orangutans Trekking Tours Breakfast at our hotel before the trek

If you have any dietary requirements, your trekking company will do their best to accommodate your needs – just be sure to let them know before you depart on your Trek, although they will probably ask you beforehand.

How to Choose an Ethical Tour Operator 

When booking a Sumatra orangutan trekking tour, choosing an ethical tour operator is essential. Unfortunately, some tour operators in Bukit Lawang have been known to feed orangutans or exploit them for tourist entertainment, which can harm the animals and their natural behaviour. 

Choosing an ethical tour operator ensures that your experience is sustainable and responsible.

An ethical tour operator will prioritise the welfare of the orangutans, ensuring that they are not touched or fed by tourists. They will also follow strict guidelines to minimise the impact of tourism on the animals and their habitat. 

By choosing an ethical tour operator, you can have a unique and unforgettable jungle experience while supporting conservation efforts in Sumatra. This is very important to us, which is why we chose to book with an ethical and reputable tour operator, Sumatra Orangutan Explore .

These guys have wonderful reviews from past travellers, which speaks volumes about them as a company that cares. 

How to Book a Sumatra Orangutan Trek - Our guides

Why are Sumatran orangutans endangered?

The Sumatran orangutan is one of the most endangered great apes in the world. A common question is how many Sumatran orangutans are left? The answer is estimated to be approximately 17,000 individuals remaining in the wild.

Deforestation and habitat loss have been the primary drivers of the orangutan’s decline, as vast areas of Sumatra’s rainforest have been cleared for palm oil and other agricultural products.

In addition to orangutans, Sumatra is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including tigers, elephants, rhinos, and numerous bird and reptile species. 

The jungle surrounding Bukit Lawang is a crucial conservation area, and tourism can play a vital role in supporting conservation efforts. 

Orangutan hanging in the tree

Is a Sumatra Orangutan Trek Considered Easy or Difficult?

Trekking to see Sumatran Orangutans could be considered quite challenging for some people. I hiked for Sumatran Orangutans on the 1 Day Trek and would admit that it was a little more challenging than I expected, and I consider myself with a solid level of fitness and agility.

Expect some very steep inclines and declines where your leg muscles will work hard. 

Nearing the end of the 1 Day Trek, the decline from the top of the jungle heading straight down to the river is quite challenging. Furthermore, the ground can be mucky and slippery with spikey tree branches, roots, and leeches. 

Add the intense humidity and shining sun; at times, you’ll certainly work for your views of Sumatran Orangutans.

If you don’t have a good level of fitness or have a fear of heights, I’d recommend you do the Half-Day 3 hr Trek to get a taste of the jungle and view some Orangutans. 

Also, I’d recommend you speak with your Orangutan Trekking Company to discuss the best Trek to suit you. They’ll consider individual needs and requirements for your special jungle Sumatra experience.

If you book a private 1 Day Trek (incl transfer from Medan) , your guide can also lead you around on a more accessible circuit to avoid strenuous ups/downs on the trekking trail.

Jungle Rules to Go Trekking with Sumatran Orangutans

This jungle is part of the Gunung Leuser National Park, and it is home to some endangered animals, so there are a few rules that you are expected to follow:

  • Only Enter the National Park with a Guide.  Your Sumatran Orangutan Trekking Tour should include two guides, they are required to accompany you whilst inside the park. They are responsible to keep you safe and provide information about the Sumatran Orangutan and other wildlife you will encounter.
  • You must have a permit to enter the park.  Your guide will take care of this for you and provide you with your permit upon entry.
  • Don’t touch or feed Sumatran orangutans or wildlife.  You should never feed or touch wildlife because they may become dependent on humans for food or could contract disease or virus from us.
  • Stay at least 10 metres distance from wildlife.  These are animals in the wild, and to ensure your safety, please keep your distance.
  • Take all of your garbage with you.  Whatever you take with you, please wrap it in a plastic bag (used toilet paper, food scraps, cigarette butts) and take it with you out of the National Park once you leave.
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Prices to go Orangutan Trekking in Bukit Lawang

The cost of Sumatra orangutan trekking tours in Bukit Lawang can vary depending on the length of the trek.

On average, this is what trekking tours to see Sumatra Orangutans cost:

  • A half-day (3 hrs) trek can cost around 700,000 IDR / 45 USD 
  • 1 Day Trek (6-7 hrs trekking) can cost 900,000 IDR / 59 USD
  • 2 Days Trek 1,500,000 IDR / 99 USD
  • 3 Days Trek 2,000,000 IDR / 132 USD
  • 4 Days Trek 2,800,000 IDR / 185 USD
  • 5 Days Trek 3,300,000 IDR / 218 USD

Where To Stay In Bukit Lawang

Marty along the river in Bukit Lawang

Regarding accommodation, Bukit Lawang has a range of options to suit different budgets and preferences. The village has several guesthouses, homestays, and a few mid-range and luxury hotels/lodges.

Budget options in Bukit Lawang can cost as little as 100,000 IDR (approximately 7 USD) per night for a basic room with shared facilities.

Mid-range options can cost between 300,000 IDR to 600,000 IDR (approximately 21 USD to 42 USD) per night for a private room with air conditioning and an en-suite bathroom. 

For a spacious room with high-end amenities, luxury options can range from 1,000,000 IDR to 2,000,000 IDR (approximately 70 USD to 140 USD) per night.

We recommend booking accommodation in advance, especially during peak tourist season, as availability can be limited. 

Many of the tour operators in Bukit Lawang also offer accommodations, so it’s worth considering booking a tour and accommodations together for convenience and saving some money.

Here are some of our top picks for accommodation in Bukit Lawang:

  • Green Travelodge  – Top-rated hotel in town, with rave reviews –  425,000 IDR  ($28 USD)
  • Garden Inn  – Standard rooms with a garden view –  270,000 IDR  ($18 USD)
  • Hotel Orangutan  – Double Room –  300,000 IDR  ($20 USD) Family room (sleeps 6) with balcony –  1.2 Mil IDR  ($79 USD)
  • Ida Guesthouse & Restaurant   – Budget option with great reviews– Double Room with Patio  120,000 IDR  ($8 USD)

Tips to Prepare for your Sumatra Orangutan Trek from Bukit Lawang

  • ATM:  There isn’t an ATM in Bukit Lawang – and the nearest ATM is about 10 km away. Ensure you bring enough cash or you may also pay for your tour package by bank transfer or via Wise.com . There is no currency exchange and credit cards are not accepted anywhere in Bukit Lawang.
  • WiFi:  Many small restaurants and guesthouses have WiFi. It won’t be super fast, but it’s enough to do most things.
  • Hotels:  Expect cold showers and fans only, air conditioning is limited here. Electricity may go out sometimes but is usually stable. Bring a good power bank to ensure your camera and phone are fully charged for trekking each day.
  • Phone Service:  We used Airalo eSIM to stay connected as we travelled in Indonesia, it’s awesome! The connection to the local carrier in Bukit Lawang was fantastic, we highly recommend purchasing an eSIM for Indonesia . 
  • Restaurants:  Many guesthouses have in-house restaurants for their in-house guests, but there are many places to eat along the river. We recommend My Resto Restaurant – they’ve got awesome reviews for great home-cooked food. We ate both pumpkin curry and eggplant curry with rice and it was wonderful – very fair prices too.

My Resto Restaurant Bukit Lawang

  • Safety:  We felt very safe in Sumatra. Solo travellers – we recommend asking your preferred tour operator to group you with other tourists who are doing the same trek on the same day as you. This way, you can share the experience and perhaps feel a little safer in the jungle, especially if you’re hoping to do a multi-day trek.
  • Monkeys:  There are lots of mischievous monkeys jumping around town, usually they’re trying to find food or cause chaos. Remember to lock your hotel windows at night and keep your things out of their reach!
  • Mosquitoes:  Although malaria or dengue isn’t a threat here, the mosquitoes are fierce, and they’re huge. Bring some good repellent with you – and if you forget, then the little shops here in town sell some too.
  • Bring a waterproof rain jacket:  You’re heading into a rainforest, and it could rain at any time. And believe me, when it rains, it pours here. Take a good waterproof rain jacket or poncho with you.
  • Take hiking shoes/or invest in local rubber-made shoes:  We’d recommend wearing a good pair of hiking shoes as the terrain is quite slippery and very muddy. We didn’t have our hiking shoes with us (just Nike Running Shoes ), which were fine for our 1 Day Trek, but for grip on rocks and declining down the steep side of the jungle cliff, we really missed our hiking shoes. Another alternative is to buy these local rubber shoes that all of the local hiking guides wear. They’re around 20,000 IDR to buy a pair in town and the biggest size they make them is size 42. They’re great shoes for gripping onto rocks, and they’re waterproof too, as they’re made entirely of rubber.  

rubber shoes bukit lawang Sumatra orangutan trekking

When To Visit Bukit Lawang

Here are some things to consider when planning your trip:

  • Weather: The weather in Bukit Lawang is tropical and humid year-round, but there are distinct wet and dry seasons. The dry season runs from May to September, with August being the driest month. The wet season runs from October to April, with the heaviest rains typically occurring in November and December. If you want to avoid the rain and enjoy the best weather for outdoor activities, the dry season is the best time to visit.
  • Orangutan sightings: The best time to do so is during the dry season. During this time, the orangutans tend to come down from the trees in search of food, making them easier to spot.
  • Trekking: The best time to go trekking is during the dry season when the trails are drier and easier to navigate.
  • Crowds: Bukit Lawang can get crowded during peak tourist season, which runs from June to August. If you prefer to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of April-May or September-October.

Overall, the best time to visit Bukit Lawang is during the dry season (May-September) if you want to enjoy good weather, orangutan sightings, and trekking. However, if you prefer fewer crowds and don’t mind the occasional rain, the shoulder seasons of April-May are a good choice too.

Let’s do the right thing and look after our Special Forest People

How to Book a Sumatra Orangutan Trek - Small organgutan climbing

A Sumatra orangutan trekking tour is an unforgettable experience that offers the opportunity to see some of the world’s most incredible wildlife in its natural habitat. 

Did you know that the word orangutan comes from the Malay words “Orang,” meaning person, and “Hutan,” meaning of the forest? So, therefore, “Orangutan” literally translates to “person of the forest”.

Let’s take care of these endangered people of the forest and consider booking your Sumatran Orangutan Trek with Sumatra Orangutan Explore or other ethical Sumatran Orangutan Trekking Companies.

Our knowledgeable and professional guide, Yahya, and our assistant guide, Jaka, were fantastic. They both spoke very clear English, knew their way around the jungle, and gave clear directions about what was happening as the day progressed. 

We rate our Sumatran Orangutan Trekking Tour Experience with 5/5 Stars!

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Practical Tips for Travel in Southeast Asia

If you’re planning to travel further in Southeast Asia after you’ve explored Indonesia, you’re in for a great time! We highly recommend you visit the gorgeous island of Flores. Our Perfect 7 Days Itinerary for Flores, Indonesia has got you covered for visiting the best spots!

And, you must visit the stunning Komodo Islands. Read our Guide to Planning the Perfect Komodo Island Tour  to have the most memorable experience here.

And if you’re stopping by the popular island of Bali, you need to eat local food at these 5 Best Warungs in Canggu, Bali .

And, don’t miss reading our ULTIMATE Packing List for Southeast Asia  for some useful tips about what you’ll need and what you can leave at home.

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Southeast Asia is one of our favourite regions of the world to discover. There are many great countries here to visit, however, we’ve got a soft spot for  Thailand .

We’ve got  a list of useful tips for travel in Thailand  to help you on arrival. Some of our top places include Kata Beach, on the island of Phuket (here are  10 awesome things to do in Kata Beach ).

Our other favourite place in Thailand is Chiang Mai. Learn more about  where to stay in Chiang Mai, our accommodation guide  includes which neighbourhoods will suit individual needs. And, our  Complete Food Guide to Chiang Mai  is unmissable! 

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Orangutan Jungle Trekking in Bukit Lawang: Complete Travel Guide

Orangutan Jungle Trekking in Bukit Lawang: Complete Travel Guide

Orangutan: person of the forest.

In Indonesian, “orang” is person and “hutan” is forest, making an “orang-utan” a person of the forest.

And that name makes a lot of sense once you’ve seen an  orangutan up close in the wild  – which is what we did in North Sumatra in Indonesia on a 2 days/1 night jungle trek from the jungle-town Bukit Lawang.

Orangutans are  one of the five great apes  along with gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos – and humans.

We share approximately  97% of our DNA  with the orangutans, and even though our distant cousins live in trees and eat termites, their likeness to humans is staggering with their distinct facial expressions, body language, use of tools and culture.

In this guide,  we will share all of the information you need  to make your dream of seeing wild orangutans come true including what to expect from the jungle, how long to trek, how to make sure your tour is ethical, what to bring and more.

Where to stay in Bukit Lawang:

  • Value for money : Ecolodge Bukit Lawang – A great place to stay and relax before and after your orangutan tour.
  • Value for money : Hotel Orangutan – Nice rooms with wifi.
  • Budget : Green Travelodge – Private bathroom and fan at a good price.

Search for the best value accommodation in Bukit Lawang here .

Table of contents

Leaving Bukit Lawang

Trekking in the rainforest, animals in the wild, sleeping in the jungle, rafting back to bukit lawang, one day trek, two days/one night trek, longer jungle treks, choose an ethical tour operator, sumatra orangutan explore, booking a tour in advance, choosing a tour in bukit lawang, high season, shoulder season, what to bring on a jungle trek, by tourist bus, by public transport, value for money, good to know about staying in bukit lawang.

Orangutan with baby near Bukit Lawang

Our orangutan trek experience

The following is a detailed outline of our 2 days/1 night jungle trek from Bukit Lawang.

Bukit Lawang from above with the rainforest in the background

After sleeping a night in Bukit Lawang listening to the river flowing just outside our window, we woke up well-rested and ready to start the jungle trek.

There’s often a  three-person minimum  on the treks; we did the tour with another couple.

With  two guides  (Iman and Nanda) we were six people strong, walking through the narrow streets of Bukit Lawang and over the bridge towards the rainforest.

Our first stop was at a  rubber plantation  where we saw how the gooey stuff oozes (slowly) out of the trees.

In the first few minutes of our tour, we saw a few Thomas’ leaf monkeys (also known as Thomas’s langur) as well as a snake + a baby snake.

We hadn’t even entered the Gunung Leuser National Park before we noticed a bit of rustling in the trees.

Moving closer, we saw our  first orangutan .

So amazing!

And it wouldn’t be our last.

Leaving Bukit Lawang over one of the bridges crossing the river

We spent the whole  first-day  trekking around the rainforest.

The  trails  are generally pretty walkable close to the entrance of the national park and then get progressively muddier and root-filled.

You don’t have to be overly fit to trek, but a  basic amount of fitness  is needed. You can always ask for a break.

Leech-proof socks  are a must as are  good hiking shoes  (most guides wore rubber football shoes with studs).

Especially at the beginning of the trek, we saw quite a few other  tourists , some of them in big groups (10+). We suspect that these groups mainly consisted of daytrippers as opposed to jungle-overnighters.

Jungle trekking terrain

Not before long, we ran into a  small band of orangutans  hanging around in the trees around us.

One of the astonishing creatures had a  baby , which Iman (our guide) told us probably wasn’t even three months old. How lucky we were!

The mother was  semi-wild , meaning that she has been released into the wild from a rescue centre. She was probably someone’s pet when she was little.

Her baby, on the other hand, was born in the jungle and therefore completely wild.

There’s just nothing like seeing animals in their  natural habitat .

The jungle is  their  home; you’re the intruder.

(On that note: There’s a notorious orangutan female out there called  Mina  who has previously bit a lot of the guides (more than 200, apparently). Most of the time they know how to handle her by giving her food. We didn’t meet her, but a lot of the other jungle tourists we talked with did.)

Orangutan in the rainforest in North Sumatra

The animals we saw

On our two days combined in the rainforest, we saw  seven out of the eight total primates  in the national park:

Thomas’ leaf monkey, silver monkey, long-tail macaque, short-tail (pigtail) macaque, white-handed gibbon, siamang and of course Sumatran orangutan, only missing the cute Sunda Slow Loris (which our guides had  never  seen).

This was very  lucky  – the siamangs and white-handed gibbons are notoriously difficult to spot.

In total, we saw  14 orangutans  of who four were babies and at least five were wild adults. All of the adults were females.

We also saw a green viper snake with its baby, a monitor lizard, a Great Argus (a peacock-like bird), a squirrel and a few turtles.

A  short-tail (pigtail) macaque walking on the path

Semi-wild issues

It should be noted that some of these wildlife encounters weren’t without  issues .

Some of the other guides (not ours)  leave fruit skins  in the jungle close to the trails, which in turn makes the semi-wild orangutans come down from the trees to munch on the leftovers.

This is amazing for photo opportunities; not so amazing for conservation purposes nor for making the orangutans independent from humans.

Choosing an  ethical tour company  is the best thing you can do to help the orangutans.

This orangutan mother was semi-wild

At four-something in the afternoon on the first day, we arrived at our camp for the night.

It’s located by a river – which we would trek up the following day.

The “ camp ” is simple; a cooking shed along with two small structures – one for four tents and one with two double mattresses, where we would sleep.

There was a  mosquito net , but thankfully no need for it on our particular night in the jungle.

It’s possible to take a  refreshing swim  in the river, and the clearing stretched the daylight for some extra time compared to the dense jungle, which quickly gets dark.

After dinner, our guides kept us entertained with an assortment of  puzzles  and good humour until it was time to go to bed at around 22.00.

We would lie if we said we had our life’s best sleep out there but it certainly wasn’t the worst, either.

The  mattresses  were fine, and the  temperature  was actually really nice. Not too cold and not too warm.

Just  wear some clothes  if you tend to get cold during the night.

Our small camp on the riverbank

On our two days trek, we had fruit and lunch on the first day before dinner in the camp at night, breakfast the next morning and then fruit and lunch again on the second day.

The  fruits  were super delicious: the sweetest pineapple we’ve ever had, passion fruits, clementines and bananas.

Lunch  for us both days was nasi goreng (fried rice).

The others had some chicken, egg and shrimp chips to go along with it, and we just had some extra vegetables.

The guides and the two other guests  ate with their fingers ; we had brought our sporks (adlink) .

Dinner  was absolutely amazing. We had a vegetable-filled and very very tasty curry, rice, potato cakes and some fried tofu and tempeh.

As we eat 100% vegan, we didn’t eat the fish, chicken or egg served to the other guests and the chef really accommodated to our diet.

Breakfast  for us was nasi goreng again. The other guests had a toast of some sort.

There was also  coffee and tea  in the camp both in the evening and in the morning.

If you have certain dietary restrictions or wishes, make sure to speak to your guide about it before leaving Bukit Lawang.

Tropical fruits

Though it’s definitely possible to trek back the way you entered the jungle, a much more popular and  exciting  way to return to Bukit Lawang is by rafting (tubing) on the river.

The “raft” is a few air-filled inner-tubes with netting.

The guides navigated the (small)  rapids  with long sticks and we had a lot of fun on the river.

All of your bags are put in  big plastic bags , so you don’t need to worry too much about your clothes or electronics getting wet.

Apart from sparing your by-then tired feet from the extra kilometres, rafting back also gives you the opportunity for seeing the jungle you’ve just experienced up close from a distance.

It really is marvellous.

Alex wore his bathing shorts while Victoria just stayed in her trekking clothes, giving them a free wash.

Riverbank start rafting

How long to trek

The shortest and cheapest option for watching orangutans in the wild from Bukit Lawang is to go for a  one day trek .

It is entirely possible to see both orangutans and all the other animals on just a single day out.

Of course, you maximise your chances of spotting wildlife by staying in the jungle for a longer time.

Orangutan baby in tree

With a  two days/one night trek  you get to spend a night in the jungle (like we did).

This in itself is a super cool experience and one that we can easily recommend.

The longer you choose to stay in the jungle, the better your chances will be of spotting orangutans in the wild.

A teenage orangutan

We heard that  three days/two nights treks  take the same route as the 2D/1N option, just in a slower tempo.

With longer treks, you generally change camps every night.

It’s possible to do up to a  7 days trek  where you’ll get really deep into the jungle.

Though still extremely rare, this is your best bet for seeing shy animals like the  Sumatran rhino ,  Sumatran elephant ,  Sumatran tiger , and leopards.

On these longer jungle treks, you’ll be  more reliant on the jungle for food .

Luckily, the guides are really knowledgeable about what to eat and perhaps more importantly  what to avoid  from the rainforest.

Orangutan mother with baby in tree

How to choose an orangutan trek

Going with an  ethical guide  is not only important for giving you a great experience in the jungle; it’s also essential for keeping tourism in Bukit Lawang sustainable eco-wise.

Orangutan in rainforest in Indonesia

Here’s what to look for:

  • The total price should  include the entrance fee to the Gunung Leuser National Park  (IDR 150k). Some guides might say they know a “secret” way in to save money. Don’t skimp here as the money goes to conserve the precious forest.
  • No promises . No one can know exactly what to expect in the jungle, so if a guide promises you that you’ll see an orangutan or whatever else you might wish to experience, either something isn’t right or he isn’t being honest.
  • Bring back everything . There are no trashcans in the jungle, nor should there be.  Everything  (even organic waste and toilet paper) brought into the forest should be brought out again.
  • A  safety briefing  before leaving.
  • No  feeding of animals .
  • Your guide should encourage you to  keep your distance  (at least 10 metres) from the orangutans – not to move in closer for a selfie. Check the tour operators’ promotional images.
  • Also, there should be  no shouting  or making  “monkey sounds”  to get the orangutan’s attention.  Stand or sit still  and observe the magnificent creatures in silence.
  • A  small group size . 6 people excluding the guide or guides is a good amount to shoot for.
  • Guides should be  certified  from the Indonesia Tourist Guides Association.

Entering the national park

Our guide Iman from  Sumatra Orangutan Explore   ticked all of the above boxes  and then some by also picking up plastic trash on the trails. Really cool.

Definitely one of the more  ethical options  out there.

Every trek with them also includes  donations  to the Sumatran Orangutan Society, the Bukit Lawang trust and a local seamstress.

We can easily recommend  Sumatra Orangutan Explore for your jungle trek. Our experience with them was  fantastic .

If you contact them  prior to arriving in Bukit Lawang, you’ll get to email/talk/chat with  Marie  – Iman’s French girlfriend who handles most of the company’s communications.

We didn’t meet her personally but she was very easy to communicate with beforehand, answering all of our questions etc. and seemed super sweet.

Iman sharing rainforest knowledge

We had already booked our tour  before arriving in Bukit Lawang with Iman and Marie.

This meant that they had sorted our transport from Medan airport to Bukit Lawang as well as accommodation for the first and last night.

Easy travelling , in other words.

Iman met us when we arrived and later in the evening we met up to discuss and get a  briefing  on the following day’s plans, what to bring and other things that are good to know about trekking in the jungle.

This is also when we paid for the tour.

The only real downside of booking a tour in advance is that you can’t meet your guide face-to-face before you’re in Bukit Lawang, most likely leaving for the jungle the following day.

Morning light near Bukit Lawang

Meeting your guide before booking is, of course, a reason why you might want to postpone booking a tour until you arrive in Bukit Lawang.

It’s not exactly difficult to find a tour provider;  everyone  in town  is either a guide or knows at least a dozen personally.

We heard that there are about 250-300 guides in total.

From you arrive in Bukit Lawang, you’ll most likely get  bombarded  with more-or-less persistent “offers” from guides/touts.

We’d say avoiding this hassle of shopping around is a great reason for booking in advance, but when you should book your jungle tour is just a question of your travel temperament.

Jungle guides and tour operators in Bukit Lawang

Best time for jungle trekking

The trails in the Sumatran jungle do get  super slippery and muddy  if it has recently rained – which it often has.

It is a  rainforest  after all.

Conditions are generally drier in the Indonesian  dry season , lasting from May to September and peaking from June to August.

Victoria and orangutan in Sumatra

From June to August is high-season for orangutan spotting – and Indonesian tourism in general with Indonesians and foreigners alike flocking to the country’s tourist hotspots.

There were about  100 tourists a day  when we did the jungle trek in early July.

That number can climb all the way up to  500 people a day  on the most popular weekends later in July and August.

Avoiding weekends  and going for longer treks deeper into the jungle are the best ways to  avoid the crowds  when joining a jungle trek in Bukit Lawang.

Playful orangutan baby

If you visit Bukit Lawang in the  shoulder months  of April, May, September or October you can avoid most crowds and still get lucky with the weather.

Orangutan near Bukit Lawang

  • Good shoes  with a hard sole for those wet roots are essential. No flip-flops!
  • Leech-proof socks . We didn’t spot any but leeches are known to be a pain in the Sumatran jungle.
  • Rain clothes . Expect rain and plan accordingly.
  • Light clothes  for trekking during the day. Long pants are preferable.
  • Warm clothes . The nights can get chilly.
  • Light . Though not strictly necessary, you might be happy to bring a headlamp (adlink) of some sorts if you intend to stay overnight.
  • Bring extra clothes . You’ll sweat. A lot. And it might rain. Extra clothes for the night (and next day) can feel like a life-saver out there.
  • Consider bringing a  pillow  or ask your guide if you’ll get one. We didn’t and just used our rain jackets.
  • Sun lotion (adlink) . You’ll be covered by the trees for most of the time when trekking, but when you aren’t, the sun will beat down strongly on your face, neck and shoulders.
  • Bug spray . We didn’t have any mosquito problems but that just seems like we were very lucky. Malaria and dengue weren’t really something anyone talked about, but be sure to check the conditions before going.
  • Alcogel . There’s no soap at the jungle toilet.
  • Water for the first day in a reusable water bottle  – 1½ to 2 litres per person. The guides boil water from the river in the camps and cool it down in plastic bottles during the night.
  • Snacks . Never a bad idea to bring some extra comfort calories though you probably won’t  need  any. Don’t leave  anything  (especially not food) out in Bukit Lawang – the cheeky monkeys might grab it! The same of course goes for the jungle.
  • A  good camera  with a  long zoom lens . Zooming in from afar  really  helps when photographing wildlife; especially when they’re hiding behind layers of branches as is often the case in the jungle. Most of the pictures in the travel guide were shot with a  300mm -equivalent zoom lens.

bukit lawang orangutan trek

How to get to Bukit Lawang

We flew into  Medan  in North Sumatra from Penang in Malaysia.

Medan is connected to many international airports in South East Asia as well as Indonesia’s bigger domestic airports.

As we had already booked our transport from Medan’s Kualanamu International Airport (KNO) to Bukit Lawang, the  driver was waiting for us  in the arrival hall.

He drove a regular sedan-type car, which the locals called a “tourist bus”.

On the way to Bukit Lawang, we picked up two additional travellers in Medan city.

We had a  lunch stop  about halfway there.

The total trip from the airport to Bukit Lawang took approximately  5 hours including the stops .

If you drive directly from the airport without stopping,  three and a half hours  of travel time sounds about right.

We paid IDR 190k per person (~ 13.5 USD / 12 EUR).

On the way to Bukit Lawang, you’ll notice  palm oil plantations  everywhere on the side of the road. Yep, this is a big part of why the orangutans have so little habitat left.

Palm oil from above

If you want to shave some money off your budget and get to know the local Sumatran culture better, opt for public instead of private transport.

From the airport, you’ll have to  change buses  in Binjai west of Medan.

Head for the  orange ALS bus  outside the airport in Medan. Locals can easily point you in the right direction.

You’ll want to take this bus to  Binjai Supermall . The price is IDR 40k per person (~ 2.8 USD / 2.5 EUR).

At Binjai Supermall, take minibus  PS  or  L300  to Bukit Lawang.

The price should be from IDR 30-50k –  don’t pay much more than that . In case they ask for it and get annoying, just take another bus.

The  total price  for getting from Medan airport to Bukit Lawang with public transport is about IDR 80k per person (~ 5.6 USD / 5 EUR).

In total, the  travel time  from Medan airport to Bukit Lawang with public transport is about 5 hours.

When arriving in Bukit Lawang, you’ll get off the bus at a  bus station  located outside town.

From here you can hop on the back of a scooter to your accommodation – or even better, arrange with your guide to pick you up.

Rainforest sunset drone perspective

Bukit Lawang is located in North Sumatra right on the edge of the Gunung Leuser National Park covering 7,927 km 2.

Where to stay in Bukit Lawang

Many people  spend one night in Bukit Lawang before leaving  for a jungle trek and then stay a night or two afterwards to relax.

Most onward travel leaves in the morning, making  staying at least one night after your trek  ideal for most visitors.

Search for the best value accommodation in Bukit Lawang here (adlink) .

Ecolodge Bukit Lawang

Ecolodge Bukit Lawang is a great place to relax before and after your orangutan tour.

There’s a big  chill-out area  as well as an  on-site restaurant .

Prices include a  private bathroom , ceiling  fan  and  breakfast .

Check prices and availability at Ecolodge Bukit Lawang (adlink) .

Ecolodge Bukit Lawang

Hotel Orangutan

We love the fact that Hotel Orangutan in Bukit Lawang  donates some of their profits  to preserving the orangutans and the forest.

The rooms look really nice –  clean and spacious .

There’s wifi and each room comes with a  private bathroom  as well. Hotel Orangutan also has a  garden .

(Ever noticed how Orangutan rhymes with Bukit Lawang? If not, the guides will surely remind you over the campfire).

Check prices and availability at Hotel Orangutan (adlink) .

Hotel Orangutan room

Green Travelodge

Green Travelodge looks like a great deal.

With just four rooms you’re sure to get personal service, and there’s an  on-site restaurant  plus wifi in the lobby.

The double rooms come with a  private bathroom  and  fan  – and don’t look nearly as  rustic  as some of the other budget places in Bukit Lawang.

Check prices and availability at Green Travelodge (adlink) .

Green Travelodge in Bukit Lawang

  • Bukit Lawang is split in two . The area with the roads where you arrive is called Bukit Lawang while the other side is called Bukit Mendai.
  • The  river is loud .
  • A few shaky  bridges  connect the two sides of the village.
  • The town is quite  small  and walking around is the preferred mode of transport. Locals also drive scooters on the narrow streets but thankfully drive slowly enough to not be of much hassle.
  • Most accommodation options have  electricity around the clock  although black-outs may occur.
  • The  electrical outlets  in Bukit Lawang generally feature two round prongs, fitting both most European and Asian appliances.
  • As you probably don’t want to take all of your luggage with you into the jungle, having a room with a good lock (and perhaps even a safe), a manned reception with a storage room or something similar is great for  storing your stuff while you’re in the jungle.
  • Hot water showers  are rare in Bukit Lawang.
  • As is reliable  wifi .
  • Don’t put  toilet paper  (or anything else) in the toilets – use the bin instead.
  • Almost no one takes  credit cards .
  • The ATM nearest Bukit Lawang is about 10 kilometres away, so make sure you bring enough Indonesian cash.

Bukit Lawang river view

Thanks for reading

Thanks for getting all the way to the end!

We hope this guide to spotting orangutans in the wild in Bukit Lawang has been useful.

If you’ve been to the Sumatran jungle it would be awesome to hear your best trekking tips and tricks in the comments. If you haven’t been yet, please don’t hesitate to ask away! We’re only glad to help.

Orangutan in the wild

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How to ethically spot orangutans in the wild in North Sumatra, Indonesia

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Our camera gear:

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  • Sirui Tripod . Lightweight and strong.
  • See all of our camera gear here .
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bukit lawang orangutan trek


Trekking in the sumatran jungle   see orangutans & other unique wildlife in the mt leuser national park in bukit lawang, north sumatra, indonesia 10% of our business profits will be donated to local community organisations ..

Bukit Lawang Jungle Trekking & Sumatran Orangutans

Travel guide for medan indonesia.

Bukit Lawang jungle trekking with a guide in Indonesia is one of the best places to see the Sumatran Orangutan in the wild, and it’s pretty easy to do on a budget!

The small village of Bukit Lawang sits on the edge of the Gunung Leuser National Park, a big rainforest where you can see all kinds of animals, including tigers, rare birds & lizards, orangutans, and other monkeys.

Trekking packages are generally ethical and you’re almost guaranteed to see Sumatran Orangutans and other wildlife. We saw more than 20 orangutans and a bunch of rare animals in just a couple days of trekking!

This Bukit Lawang blog and guide will explain how to get there, what to do, where to stay, trekking prices, and everything else you need to know before you go! Contents hide 1) How To Get To Bukit Lawang 2) Bukit Lawang Jungle Trekking 3) Sumatran Orangutan Facts 4) Bukit Lawang Trekking Prices & Length 5) Best Bukit Lawang Jungle Trekking Tour 6) Where To Stay In Bukit Lawang 7) Other Tips For Bukit Lawang 8) More Things To Do Near Bukit Lawang 9) When To Visit Bukit Lawang 10) More Indonesia Travel Tips

How To Get To Bukit Lawang

Bukit Lawang is located in North Sumatra, Indonesia, and it’s relatively easy to get there.

There’s no airport in Bukit Lawang, so the nearest international airport is in the city of Medan (KNO), which gets daily flights from places like Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Jakarta starting at $40 USD for a one way ticket. You can shop for flights to Medan at Skyscanner.

Bukit Lawang is a 3 hour drive from Medan city, although in heavy traffic it can take an extra hour or more. Your hotel in Lawang can arrange a driver to pick you up at the airport in Medan, or you can book a high-rated private driver to Bukit Lawang here .

A normal price for a transfer from Medan to Bukit Lawang (or vice versa) with a private driver is about 600k Rupiah ($42 USD), but may cost a little extra in heavy traffic.

Sumatran Orangutan at Bukit Lawang Indonesia

Drone pic of Gunung Leuser National Park

Bukit Lawang Jungle Trekking

The rainforest has lots of great wildlife.

In two treks we saw orangutans, gibbons, thomas leaf monkeys, long tailed macaques, monitor lizards, giant ants, a spectacular banyan tree, and other jungle sights.

Inside the national park, you also have a possibility of seeing rare birds, Sumatran tigers, rhinos, elephants, sun bears, pig tailed macaques, vipers, cobras, kraits, and many other things.

Monitor lizard in Gunung Leuser National Park

This jungle is part of the Gunung Leuser National Park, and it houses some endangered animals, so there are a few rules they expect you to follow:

  • Don’t enter the park without a guide. If you pay for a trekking package, you’ll have two guides with you at all times. Their job is to keep you safe in the jungle and give you info about the Sumatran Orangutan and other animals.
  • Don’t enter the park without a permit. Your Bukit Lawang guide will handle this for you.
  • Don’t go closer to wild animals than 10 meters. Sometimes the animals break this rule, though, and if you’re lucky they may come close to you!
  • Don’t feed or touch wild animals. They can become dependent or catch diseases from us. This includes the Sumatran Orangutan.
  • Don’t leave rubbish in the National Park. Self explanatory. Thankfully we didn’t see any trash in the jungle at all during our treks.

Thomas Leaf Monkey at Bukit Lawang Indonesia

The trekking difficulty at Bukit Lawang is not too bad, but it’s harder than I expected.

This isn’t like Tangkoko or Tanjung Puting National Park , where you can walk on flat ground and burn minimal calories while enjoying the wildlife.

There are some steep hill sections at Lawang where your legs will get a big workout, and the ground can be muddy and nasty sometimes with thorns and leeches. The daytime humidity can also be crazy.

Don’t let this scare you away! It all adds to the experience. If you don’t think your fitness level is there, I’d recommend doing the 1 day trek instead of 2 days.

Creek at Gunung Leuser National Park

Creek crossing

Before dinner, we soaked in the creek to bathe and cool off after the jungle trek. It was a nice clearwater stream and exactly what we needed to beat the humidity.

The camp is very simple and consists of a small 2-person tent inside of a larger covered bamboo shack where the guides and cooks can stay.

When you wake up the next morning after your trek, your Bukit Lawang guide will give you the choice of walking back to town or rafting on inner-tubes. We decided not to do the rafting, but now I wish we had.

It gives you a great view of the jungle from the outside that you won’t get to see on foot!

Bukit Lawang Jungle Trekking drone picture in Indonesia

The jungle day treks normally provide lunch, and for 2-day treks there’s also dinner at night and then breakfast the following morning.

The food we had on our treks was great. For lunch it was fried rice, egg, crackers, and fruit (banana, pineapple, and watermelon).

For dinner, we had some Indonesian dishes that included chicken curry and perkedel (potato cakes), fried fish & rice, and more veggies. Breakfast was like lunch, but with a choice of tea or coffee.

The trekking companies can cater to your diet if there’s anything specific you want (or don’t want). Just give them a heads up the day before you start.

Flower at Gunung Leuser National Park

This is not food. But it’s nice looking.

Sumatran Orangutan Facts

Of course, the main attraction at Bukit Lawang is the Sumatran Orangutan!

Orangutans live only in Indonesia and Malaysia (on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo), and Bukit Lawang is one of the best places to see Sumatran Orangutans in the wild. They’re gentle animals and very smart.

Orangutan is an old Indonesian word meaning ‘forest person’, and true to their name, these great apes spend most of their time in the trees, where they use their long flexible arms to find fruit and leaves.

Sumatran Orangutan face at Bukit Lawang Indonesia

Orangutan Conservation Status

The Sumatran Orangutan is critically endangered, and there are less than 15,000 left in the wild. This is because their habitats are being destroyed on a large scale to make way for palm oil plantations.

The total number of Sumatran Orangutans has decreased by 80% in the last 75 years, and sadly it’s expected to keep shrinking, with extinction on the horizon unless major changes are made in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Orangutans are a protected species in Indonesia, but government enforcement is weak even when the animals are killed illegally. Palm oil farming has taken priority because it brings more value to the economy.

Indonesia is still a relatively poor country, and that’s especially true in Sumatra where tourism isn’t a big player yet, so money speaks. And unfortunately that continues to motivate palm oil farming, illegal logging, the illegal wildlife trade, etc.

Hopefully the tourist money flowing into places like the Bukit Lawang orangutan sanctuary will help incentivize the proper protection of these animals so we can keep enjoying them in the future.

Sumatran Orangutan face at Bukit Lawang Indonesia

Bukit Lawang Trekking Prices & Length

Most tourists wanting to see the Sumatran Orangutan choose the 1 day trek ($60/pax) or 2 day trek ($100/pax). Bukit Lawang trekking prices are pretty similar across companies.

Treks of up to 7 days are available and you get to go deeper into the jungle like that, but I question how ethical it is, because critically endangered species like the Sumatran Tiger and Sumatran Rhino need all the space they can get.

Keep in mind, the Sumatran rainforests have already shrunk massively to make way for palm oil plantations (and due to illegal logging), and sadly that trend is continuing. There are less than 100 Sumatran Rhinos left in the wild.

Personally I think the 1 day trek at Bukit Lawang is the best bang for your buck, requires the least amount of work, and leaves the least ‘footprint’ on the ecosystem. That’s my opinion. We saw plenty of orangutans and other wildlife on the 1 day trek.

Thomas Leaf Monkey at Bukit Lawang Indonesia

Natural tree swing from a jungle vine!

Best Bukit Lawang Jungle Trekking Tour

If you’re looking for a vetted tour company for seeing the Sumatran Orangutan, here’s a Bukit Lawang jungle trekking tour with Klook starting at $60 USD (850k IDR) for a 1 day trek or $100 for a 2 day trek.

This pretty closely mirrors the Bukit Lawang trekking prices we saw advertised in town, and it also includes hotel transfers (from Bukit Lawang or Medan), along with the national park permit fees, meals, and optional river tubing.

We’ve used Klook for lots of tours and activities around the world, and they’re great! Highly recommended.

Book Now: Bukit Lawang Jungle Trekking

Thomas Leaf Monkey at Bukit Lawang Indonesia

Morning mist

Where To Stay In Bukit Lawang

Bukit Lawang is a cozy riverside town with lots of budget friendly hotels that are basic, but comfortable.

Here are some of our top picks:

  • Green Travelodge – Best rated hotel in town, with a tree house theme – 335k IDR ($24 USD)
  • Thomas Retreat – Hotel and restaurant with fan or A/C rooms plus WiFi – 195k IDR ($14)
  • Garden Inn – Standard rooms with a garden view – 210k IDR ($15)
  • Hotel Orangutan – Family luxury room (sleeps 6) with balcony – 2.5 Mil IDR ($180)
  • Rainforest Guesthouse Bukit Lawang – Budget friendly option for backpackers – 60k IDR ($4)

These prices may fluctuate from time to time, so just keep an eye out for a good deal. Hotels in Bukit Lawang can fill up though, so it’s a good idea to book something in advance.

Green Travelodge Bukit Lawang Hotel

Green Travelodge Bukit Lawang

Other Tips For Bukit Lawang

  • ATM: From the town of Bukit Lawang, the nearest ATM is about 10 kilometers away, so make sure you bring enough cash. You can also pay things by bank transfer. Credit cards aren’t accepted.
  • Hotels: Expect cold showers and fans only, no air conditioning. We were never hot at night. Electricity is stable, but sometimes there are short outages.
  • WiFi: Most places only have limited WiFi in the lobby/restaurant area, or none at all.
  • Cell Service: Telkomsel has good 3G/4G reception in the town. We used this for a hotspot at times when we couldn’t reach our hotel WiFi.
  • Restaurants: Many hotels have in-house restaurants for their guests, although you can eat at one of the restaurants in town if you’d like. We ate all of our meals at our hotel, Thomas Retreat , which had great Western and Indonesian food at reasonable prices (also good WiFi).
  • Safety: We spent months traveling as a couple in North Sumatra and overall it’s very safe. Just take normal precautions. If you’re a solo female traveler, you can ask about joining a trekking group with other tourists.
  • Monkeys: There are lots of cheeky macaques that visit the town every day. Most of the time they are good entertainment, but remember to close your hotel windows at night and keep an eye on your belongings or they might make off with them!
  • Mosquitoes: According to this Lancet study from 2018, Malaria is rare in this part of Sumatra. I’ve never heard of a tourist getting Malaria from mosquitoes in Bukit Lawang. However, it’s still a very good idea to sleep inside a mosquito net and wear repellant while out and about, just in case. Malaria can be nasty and dangerous.
  • More Things To Do: There’s a bat cave near Bukit Lawang town that you can visit on a short trekking tour. However, the best day trips are to Batu Katak to see the rare giant flowers, or Tangkahan to see the elephant sanctuary. You can find more info on these places below.

Sumatran Orangutan at Bukit Lawang Indonesia

More Things To Do Near Bukit Lawang

• batu katak: rafflesia & titan flower trekking.

Batu Katak is another small village on the east side of Gunung Leuser National Park where you can do flower trekking to see the giant Rafflesia and Titan Arum, two of the biggest flowers in the world!

This was one of the best highlights of our visit to North Sumatra. The Titan Arum flowers can grow to be 3 meters (10 feet) tall! There’s also several limestone water caves to see near Batu Katak, but I had an injured leg so we didn’t get to do the cave treks yet.

Batu Katak is 40 minutes south of the Bukit Lawang orangutan sanctuary. You can message Joe on WhatsApp ( ☎ +62 812-6340-3452 ) and he can arrange your pickup, trekking, and other info. He was a huge help for planning our trip.

Batu Katak titan flower trekking

• Tangkahan Elephant Sanctuary

The Tangkahan Elephant Sanctuary is a small settlement 2 hours north of Bukit Lawang where you can play with semi-wild Sumatran Elephants by the river!

Elephant tourism gets a bad rap nowadays, but these animals are critically endangered in Indonesia because their habitat is disappearing, and tourist money may be the only way to correct it. The elephants are well cared for, have lots of freedom of movement, and seemed very happy when we visited.

They have 9 rescued elephants ( a new baby was just born ) and you can pet them, feed them, and help bathe them in the river. It was a great experience!

It’s possible to visit Tangkahan on a day trip from Bukit Lawang, or if you want more time with the elephants there are some hotels in Tangkahan too.

Book Now: Tangkahan Elephant Encounter

Tangkahan Elephant Sanctuary playing with Sari

Tangkahan Elephant Sanctuary

When To Visit Bukit Lawang

Gunung Leuser National Park has a tropical rainforest climate that doesn’t follow the same weather patterns as the rest of Indonesia. You can find a monthly breakdown here .

I wouldn’t stress about when to visit. Every month is rainy at Bukit Lawang, because it’s a rainforest! The driest months are February, March, June, and July, but the rainfall is still much higher than places like Bali.

We went in December and the weather was good for trekking. The rain usually comes in the evenings or at night, and only lasts a few hours max.

Most tourists do their Bukit Lawang jungle trekking in June – August, and in the high season there are hundreds of them trekking per day. So if you want to avoid the crowds, pick a different month.

Happy travels!

Sumatran Orangutan at Bukit Lawang Indonesia

More Indonesia Travel Tips

Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed these Bukit Lawang blog tips for visiting the orangutan sanctuary in North Sumatra.

Don’t forget to check out my complete guide for the best places to visit in Indonesia !  

  • Most Beautiful Indonesian Islands - Best Places To Visit In Indonesia
  • Best Hikes In Indonesia - Volcanoes, Jungles, & Waterfalls
  • Indonesia Waterfall Guide - Best Waterfalls In Indonesia
  • Indonesia Beach Guide - Best Beaches In Indonesia
  • Best Things To Do In Indonesia - What To Do In The Islands
  • Indonesia Travel Guide - Tips, Info, & Photos

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Is it cheaper to book a trek once you’re in Buwit Lawang or is it similar prices to booking online (between $40-$60 for a 1 day trek)?

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Hi Zofia. From what we saw, the prices are pretty similar either way.

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  • Tangkahan Elephant Hot Spring Adventure

Trek, Accommodation and Transportation booking service

We offer online booking for treks, transport and accommodation. You can book these by clicking on the 'book' or 'view' links on each trek below. If you wish to add transport (by private car) and/or accommodation to your trek booking then you can do so during the booking process. We do not charge for hotel bookings - you just pay the hotel at their normal rate. Please check our accommodation pages for info on rooms and guesthouses.

We recommend booking your trek in advance, so that you are guaranteed a professional guide, and can advise guides (some unlicensed/disreputable) who operate in the village, that you have already booked a trek.

When booking a trek, please advise us of any special requirements (e.g., vegetarian), or if you have a particular interest in certain aspects of jungle flora/fauna, or if you are older or have children and need arrangements made to cater for this.

Prices are based on a minimum of two people travelling (single travellers can still book, but if there are no others booked on your day you will have to pay for two). We can take online bookings up to 2 days before travel. If the booking is sooner than this, you can email us at [email protected] , however we cannot guarantee that we will be able to fulfil your request at such short notice. You can also contact us by telephone/Whatsapp at +62 821 6248 1207.

New National Park entrance fees were introduced across Indonesia in 2014. The official entrance fee for 'Group 3' national parks, of which Gunung Leuser National Park is one, is 150,000 rupiah per day for foreigners, 5,000rp per day for domestic tourists. This caused some disagreement in Bukit Lawang as well as in other areas. 

Until November 2016, the entrance ticket was mostly not paid by guests visiting Bukit Lawang. Since this time, following enforcement action by the national park authorities, visitors are now being required to pay. However, the amount requested by the park authorities at Bukit Lawang is only 150,000 rupiah per trip of any number of days, not per day, so this reduces costs for longer trips. The money is for entering the national park, and goes directly to the national park authorities, not to the guide or trekking company. Our trekking charges are inclusive of the entrance fee.

£40.00 per person Book Now! A trek in Gunung Leuser National Park at Bukit Lawang, we have half a day - normally three to four hours - to look for Sumatran Orangutans and other wildlife. Full details

£50.00 per person Book Now! A trek in Gunung Leuser National Park at Bukit Lawang, with a full day to spend we have a good chance of seeing Sumatran Orangutans. We will also see diverse other species of jungle flora and fauna. We return to Bukit Lawang by river rafting. Full details

£80.00 per person Book Now! Our most popular trek, you will trek in world-famous Gunung Leuser National Park at Bukit Lawang in search of the Sumatran Orangutan. We will also have an eye for the unrivalled diversity of other wildlife, including birds, reptiles, mammals, butterflies, amphibians, flowers, and trees. This trek lasts two days – you will sleep one night in a jungle camp, and enjoy dinner under the stars. On the second day you will return to Bukit Lawang either on our ‘jungle raft’ down the river, or by walking. Full details

£115.00 per person Book Now! Our three-day trek adds another day and night in the jungle to our two-day trek. Goals in terms of spotting wildlife are similar - we should see orangutans along with many other species of mammals, but with an extra day in the jungle we will sleep at two different jungle camps and cover more areas of the jungle to see more and different wildlife from a two-day trek. Full details

£160.00 per person Book Now! Our four-day Mini Survival trek is a trek where you start to LIVE the jungle. Of course, as with the shorter treks you will see orangutans and other wildlife species, but on this trek we start to live and think like 'orang utans' - people of the jungle, and we gather our food in the jungle, such as wild ferns, fish and more. Compared with the three-day trek we go just a little further up the course of the Bohorok, but the main difference is that we are now spending several days sleeping in the humid tropical jungle, so we have a little more time to appreciate that. Full details

Five Day Mount Uning watering hole expedition

£205.00 per person Book Now! Our Uning expedition takes five days. Here we visit Mount Uning (908 metres elevation - start elevation around 100 metres), where we find a mineral deposit/watering hole visited by many wild animals, including tigers and elephants. On the way we will pass through the main orangutan watching areas. On our outbound we head south west towards Mount Uning, and then we return to the north east to the Bohorok river, where we will complete the trip by inner tube back to the village. Full details

£335.00 per person Book Now! This strenuous trek takes you on foot from Bukit Lawang across the Bukit Barisan mountain range to Kutacane, the main town in the centre of the Gunung Leuser national park, just a few km south of the orangutan sanctuary at Ketambe. Full details

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Discover our little slice of paradise, Bukit Lawang, and all its surroundings. 


Bukit Lawang is a small tourist village on the edge of the Gunung Leuser National Park. it is known for the largest animal sanctuary of  Sumatran Orangutan  (around 5,000 orangutans occupying the area) and also the main access point to the  Gunung Leuser National Park  from the east side. It is situated along the fast-flowing Sungai Bohorok and bordered by the dense vertical-rising jungle of the Gunung Leuser National Park. 

Unesco-listed Gunung Leuser National Park is one of the world’s most important and biologically diverse conservation areas. It is often described as a complete ecosystem laboratory because of the range of forest and species types. Within the park’s boundaries live some of the planet’s most endangered and exotic species : tigers, rhinoceroses, elephants and orangutans. Although the likelihood of seeing the majority of these animals is remote, you have a good chance of seeing orangutans, and you can be sure of encountering plenty of other primates, especially the cheeky monkeys (macaques)! 

Bukit Lawang is best known for its wide range of trekking tours through the jungle with the hopes of spotting one of the incredible Sumatran Orangutans . While this can vary from only a few hours to a week, Bukit Lawang has far more to offer! Some tourists have even described Bukit Lawang as a " magical " and " special " place, with many revisiting several times. 

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Bukit Lawang: The Ultimate Jungle Trekking Adventure Guide

  • Post last modified: Updated on October 10, 2023
  • by Post author: Chloe Smulian

jungle trekking in indonesia and seeing orangutans in bukit lawang

Jungle trekking in Bukit Lawang is the ultimate experience for those who love the outdoors, hiking and most importantly, animal lovers who want to help keep these beautiful creatures safe, yet free and wild in their natural habitat.

We often get asked what our most unforgettable adventure has been, and this experience tops our list! Jungle trekking in Bukit Lawang and coming face-to-face with orangutans in their wild habitat is an experience we will never forget.

It’s an absolute bucket list travel experience that everyone should do at least once in their lifetime.

Find out everything you need to know before travelling to Bukit Lawang.

We’ll cover everything from costs and budgeting, what to wear, hiking difficulty level, whether it is family-friendly and whether it is a truly ethical and sustainable travel experience.

If you’re not a reader, check out our short, cinematic trekking in Bukit Lawang video !

In this guide

Where is the gunung leuser national park, is there malaria in bukit lawang, where to book orangutan jungle trekking tour in bukit lawang, accommodation and hotels in bukit lawang, how much does jungle trekking in bukit lawang cost, what is included in the jungle trekking price, how was the accommodation on the sumatran jungle trekking tour, what other wildlife do you see besides orangutans, what should you wear for the jungle trekking tour in bukit lawang, how difficult was the jungle trekking tour in bukit lawang, how many days should you jungle trek for, is it absolutely necessary to have guides for the jungle trek in bukit lawang can you trek alone, ecotravel day tour from bukit lawang, is tubing safe in bukit lawang, is the jungle trekking tour in bukit lawang family-friendly, how close can you get to the orangutans in bukit lawang, is the jungle trekking tour truly eco-friendly, the best adventure tour in indonesia.

The Gunung Leuser National Park is located in northern Sumatra on the west side of Indonesia. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it is one of two places in the world where you can see wild orangutans in their natural habitat.

The other place you can see orangutans in the wild is in Borneo, Malaysia.

google map of where you can see orangutans in bukit lawang indonesia

This national park is one of the last remaining sanctuaries for the critically endangered orangutan species. Besides wild orangutans, you will also find rehabilitated orangutans that have been rescued from the illegal pet trade, living in these rainforests.

No, there isn’t. We bought malaria tablets with just in case. Only to realise that there is no malaria in Bukit Lawang. Of course, this doesn’t mean there aren’t mosquitoes, so bring mosquito repellant especially if you’re like me, and mosquitoes love to feast on you.

We booked the tour with our accommodation, Hotel Orangutan , where we stayed at for the 4 days. We could have probably bargained for lower prices with other vendors, but we decided to go with our hotel because of their mission and values.

Hotel Orangutan is an eco-friendly hotel that aims to raise awareness while protecting its environment, wildlife and local community. We whole-heartedly support their cause and also wanted to make sure we were going with guides that had the same respect for the environment.

Bukit Lawang Budget and Cost Guidelines

Accommodation is really affordable in Bukit Lawang. The cheapest we found was for less than €3/night. We decided to go a little more luxury as it was our honeymoon. Here are other  affordable accommodation options in Bukit Lawang .

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pinterest save image for hiking and jungle trekking tours in indonesia bukit lawang

The jungle trekking prices vary on the number of individuals and how many days you plan to trek. For the two of us, it was €100 per person for the 2 day trek. To reduce the price per person to €90, you need to go as a group of 5-6 individuals. Check the  full orangutan trekking price list  here.

Although €100 per person seems steep, this price is inclusive of everything. We had 2 local guides just to ourselves and a third individual (the cook and tube ‘driver’) who went ahead to set up and prepare our meals at base camp.

That means that 3 individuals personally took care of us for 2 full days. The only thing we had to bring was water to drink during the hike, mosquito repellant, swim wear, flip flops and dry clothes.

All your meals are included and there is more than enough to eat. On the first day, it included a mid-morning snack which consisted of a delicious array of fresh fruit. There were mandarins, watermelons, granadillas and mangosteens, which we tasted for the first time.

a local guide jungle trekking in the forest of sumatra near bukit lawang preparing local fruits for tourists

Lunch was a once in a lifetime experience. We had lunch with orangutans!  Well, we had to actually eat our lunch with our backs facing the orangutans, so we don’t tempt them with our food.

This is really important as the only time an orangutan will come in close contact with humans is for food. For the safety of both yourselves and the orangutans, please do not tempt them with food.

There are pictures and videos online where you see orangutans holding onto people’s arm. This is caused by people purposely tempting them with food. Don’t do it and always keep all food you have concealed in your backpacks when you’re not eating.

seeing wild orangutans on the Sumatra Jungle Trekking Tour

For lunch, we had the most amazing nasi goreng (Indonesian egg fried rice with vegetables) with fried chicken. The meal was absolutely delicious and it was all ecologically wrapped in banana leaves. There is a vegetarian option as well but you should let them know beforehand when you book the trip.

We hiked for another 2 hours after lunch before arriving at base camp. Everything was set up for us and all we had to do was go relax by the Bohorok river. Our mid-afternoon snack included cookies and coffee/tea.

Your swim doubles as a shower/bath (you’re in the wild remember?) so it was both recreational and practical.

floating in the bohorok river in Sumatra Rain Forest in bukit lawang

Dinner is served a few hours later and it was lovely sharing the meal with our guides and getting to know them better. The meal was warm, freshly prepared and consisted of a variety of local Indonesian dishes.

A basic covered shelter is provided. Inside you can sleep up to four individuals and there is a thin mattress on a raised cement platform that you sleep on.

eco travel tours

As it was only the two of us, we had the entire enclosure to ourselves. The bed was obviously not as comfortable as our own bed, but we would consider this quite luxurious for camping terms. Hanging mosquito nets are also provided (YAY for not becoming mosquito buffet).

When we spoke to other travellers who were on cheaper packages with other vendors. It seemed they were really camping in tents and sleeping on the floor. They also didn’t have toilets and had to do their business in the bush. We had basic lavatory facilities being a long drop with a bucket of water on the side for flushing.

best eco tourism tour in indonesia

Although the main attraction is seeing orangutans on the jungle trek, there are other wildlife that inhabit the rainforest. On our trek, we saw adorable black gibbons, huge monitor lizards, lemon ants and a variety of birds.

black gibbon monkeys climbing trees in sumatra forest

If you’re lucky and hike further into the forest, you may even see Asian rhinos, elephants or tigers. The guides mentioned that you usually have to trek more than 2 days to see the bigger mammals as they live deeper in the jungle.

a large monitor lizards in sumatra indonesia

Besides wildlife, another key feature is seeing the biggest flower in the world, the Rafflesia. We were unfortunately not in the right season to see it so if you want to see this, make sure to come when it’s in season (March/April).

You will be hiking for 4-5 hours depending on the weather and your speed, so it is important that you are dressed appropriately when jungle trekking in Bukit Lawang.

It can get quite hot and humid in the rainforest and therefore it is most practical to wear light, comfortable and breathable clothing. Michael wore shorts (mosquitoes only bite me…) but I wore long gym pants to reduce insect bites and scratches. If you wear gym clothes, you’re good to go.

footwear for jungle trekking in sumatra

For footwear, we wore our normal trainers, but you should wear hiking shoes if you have. Otherwise, the best alternative is to buy these cheap rubber shoes from the local market in Bukit Lawang (what the guide is wearing in the photo).

We would have bought these shoes if we had known prior to the hike as they are less slippery when trekking through muddy terrain. Another benefit is that they are really easy to clean with water. Our trainers were filthy after the trek and it was a mission to clean after.

The difficulty level depends on the terrain and the weather, but the guides will usually adapt to your fitness level. As long as you are able to walk at a leisurely pace for a few hours, you should be fine. We saw some elderly individuals as well as children on the hike so it isn’t too strenuous if you have the correct footwear.

Hotel Orangutan provides guided jungle trekking for up to 7 days, but we’ve heard that you can go for longer than that if you wish. You just need to arrange it with the tour operator. If you hike for longer and deeper in the forest, you will increase your chances of seeing the bigger mammals such as the Asian rhinos, elephants and tigers.

ultimate adventure tour in indonesia

The simple answer is no. It is absolutely essential that you have guides unless you know the jungle like the back of your hands. There are no painted footprints or flags in the forest so you will need professionals to guide you. Besides not finding your way, you may also struggle tracking down the orangutans.

Orangutans make new nests, sometimes several times a day so unless you’re an expert orangutan tracker, you won’t see any orangutans without a guide.

hiking bukit lawang unguided

We always try our best to save money where we can, but trust us when we say that having a guide is imperative. We’d even go as far as to say that the guides made our experience.

We were privileged enough to have Iruel and Balu guiding us. They both spoke fairly good English and were extremely knowledgeable about the forest. Besides showing us orangutans, they were knowledgeable about plants and fauna, and were great company to be around.

Madi (the best cook on the planet) worked hard behind the scenes trekking ahead of us so he could get to camp to prepare all our delicious meals. If you plan to lose weight on this trek, you probably won’t with all the amazing food you’re going to eat! His food is absolutely heavenly!

What other activities are there besides trekking?

On the last day of our jungle trekking expedition, our guides took us to a small waterfall to relax and get our faces painted. Face painting is optional but being the adventurers that we are, of course we wanted our faces painted!

The ‘paint’ used comes from grinding the different coloured clay stones on rock, creating a paste that is then used as paint on your face.

other things to do in bukit lawan like face painting with natural clay

It is completely organic, natural and good for your skin. We both have sensitive skin and we did not experience any negative reaction from the clay.

Another popular activity to do when you’re in Bukit Lawang is washing elephants at the Tangkahan Elephant Sanctuary . We have mixed reviews on this one. You can read more on why we feel it wasn’t a 100% eco-friendly experience.

To find an ethical elephant sanctuary to visit in South East Asia (or anywhere in the world), make sure the read our comprehensive guide on 7 ways to tell whether it is an ethical elephant sanctuary before your visit.

Tubing back to Bukit Lawang was SOOOOO much fun and absolutely safe if you’re with experienced guides. Tubing is the fastest (and most fun) mode of transport to get back to the village without hiking back.

If you are not keen, you can choose to opt out and save €10 per person. Don’t worry about your things getting wet. The guides are very prepared and have waterproof bags for you to put your valuables in.

tubing in bukit lawang

We don’t currently have children, but if we did, this is an experience we would take them on. It is safe and will teach them the importance of protecting wildlife and our environment.

We would recommend confirming with the tour operator of your choice whether they have an age restriction. We didn’t see any in the guidelines. But in our opinion if your children are older than 14 years and have the patience and discipline to hike with you, then it is an incredible experience to take them on.

Just be mindful to not let them wander into the Bohorok River unattended. The current is quite strong and can sweep an adult away if you are not careful.

With a bit of luck, you can get really close to the orangutans. We were really lucky and got within 3 meters of the alpha of the jungle. Always remember to listen to your guides’ instructions and do not tease and taunt the animals.

is it safe in bukit lawang

Another important issue we would like to address is please don’t touch the orangutans. We’ve seen videos and pictures of people touching the orangutans and it breaks our hearts.

As humans, we could unintentionally pass on our germs and illnesses to the orangutans via physical contact or by giving them our food. Admire and enjoy their presence, but please do not touch them under any circumstances.

We can only comment on the tour we went on with Hotel Orangutan. Yes, we do believe it was a truly eco-friendly tour experience. We could tell from our interaction with the guides that they genuinely love and respect the rainforest beyond its monetary benefit.

They understand the importance of being ambassadors of the jungle and it was easy to see the pride they have for the home they share with the wildlife. We particularly loved the fact that no guns or knives were taken with us for the hike. Only a bunch of bananas in the unlikely event an orangutan grabs us by the arm.

alpha orangutan in sumatra

If you would like to read up more on ecotourism in Bukit Lawang and how you can help preserve and protect our beautiful wildlife, check out the  Sumatran Orangutan Society .

If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list experience, jungle trekking and seeing orangutans in the wilderness of Bukit Lawang is definitely one for the books!

If you love adventurous experiences like these, you’ll also love hiking through a water cave in Thailand at Khao Sok National Park . Khao Sok has some of the most unique natural surroundings we’ve seen. It’s absolutely breathtaking and hiking (and swimming) through the water cave was an unforgettable adventure.

This is another absolute, must-do experience that you will remember forever.

eco travel in thailand khao sok

If you love hiking as much as we do, check out our other adventure travel hiking guides :

  • 5 Best Drakensberg Day Hikes by Difficulty Level (South Africa)
  • Family-friendly Drakensberg Hiking Guide (South Africa)
  • Krabi 3 Day Itinerary (Thailand)

Love animals above and below the ocean’s surface? Then make sure to embark on a  scuba diving liveaboard experience when you’re in South East Asia . We share our maiden liveaboard voyage scuba diving around the Similan and Surin Islands in Thailand and explain why it has ruined scuba diving for us forever.

Still need to get scuba diving certified? Find out how you can save money getting certified for scuba diving in our How To Get Your Scuba Diving Certification Guide .

youtube link to see video for jungle trekking adventure in bukit lawang indonesia

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bukit lawang orangutan trek

Jungle Trekking

Unforgettable rainforest hikes to see orangutans in the wild, experience the breathtaking wildlife of indonesia's rainforest on our unique jungle treks starting in bukit lawang, welcome to your personal jungle guide in sumatra.

As Your Jungle Guide, we arrange your personalised jungle trek through the Indonesian rainforest of Gunung Leuser National Park. Our  individual wildlife tours  are an incomparable experience in the wilderness of North Sumatra. Come with us to observe one of the last remaining jungle paradises in the world with its incredible ecosystem and biodiversity, where you can find Orangutans in the wild!

Our jungle treks start at the small village Bukit Lawang, which  is one of the best trekking places  in the world as it is situated directly next to the entrance of the Gunung Leuser National Park. Its unique jungle location makes it the perfect place for discovering the primary rainforest of North Sumatra and its critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan as well as Gibbons, Siamangs, Thomas Leaf Monkeys, Hornbills, giant flowers and many other species of rare and exotic animals and plants. Most elusive to find are the Sumatran tigers, rhinos and forest elephants, which still coexist only in Gunung Leuser National Park!

With Your Jungle Guide you can choose between different jungle trekking options: Having a first impression of Indonesia’s tropical rainforest for a few hours on our day tours or staying even overnight at our campsite in the jungle on one of our longer jungle treks . If you wish, we assemble a completely tailor-made trekking tour for you. We will do our best to arrange your individual jungle trek to guaranty the best rainforest experience for you in a natural and ecological way.

Our Trekking Tours

The following jungle treks are our standard trekking tours from Bukit Lawang through Gunung Leuser National Park. We offer all these trekking packages as individual as possible ∼ just tell us all your needs and wishes and we do our best to arrange your most wonderful jungle memory in Indonesia!

Still a little nervous? Check out the reviews of our trekking guests here .

Half Day Trek

From 43 € / 700.000 IDR

3 to 4 hours

One day trek.

From 55 € / 900.000 IDR

6 to 7 hours

3-4 stunden, schwierigkeitsgrad.

From 90 € / 1.500.000 IDR

2 Days & 1 Night

From 120 € / 2.000.000 IDR

3 Days & 2 Nights

4 to 7 day treks.

From 165 € / 2.800.000 IDR

4 / 5 / 6 or 7 Days

Very strenuous, special treks, fruit tree trek.

From 370 € / 6.000.000 IDR

7 to 10 days

Moderate - strenious, elephant trek.

From 545€ / 8.800.000 IDR

Individual Treks



For your safety and In respect to the jungle and it’s wildlife the maximum size of our Trekking groups is 6 people.

Our trekking groups have a minimum size of 3 people in order to pay fair wages to every member of our team. In respect to the jungle and it’s wildlife the maximum size of our groups is 6 people.

When booking your trek, please let us know how many people you will be participating.

In high season (June to August) it is possible to join other travelers on their jungle trek. It is often a valuable enrichment to meet other people on a trek through the rainforest. However, especially in low season we cannot guarantee that there will be a group for your preferred date.

If you are traveling with more than 6 people, please contact us. Together we will find a solution for every situation.

If you are traveling with less the 3 people or have individual wishes and would like to do a private jungle trek without any other people, we kindly ask for your understanding to pay an extra fee. If you are a single traveler or two people who would like to join others  on your trek, we will try pour best to find more people who can join you or another group that you could join!

Jungle Campsites

Packing list, travel with peace of mind.

30-35 liters (waterproof bags for rafting down the river will be provided on every trek)

1,5 to 2 liters; on all overnight treks fresh water from the river (boiled) will be provided

we recommend using mosquito repellent for clothes as well

don´t forget your power bank on treks with overnight stays

such as plasters, anti-diarrhea tablets, disinfection spray, painkillers & antibiotics – but don´t worry: your jungle guide will always bring a first aid kid!

light T-shirt & trousers, long socks (for the trek)

don´t forget your towel if you plan a trek with overnight stay

for night walks and treks with overnight stays

or something for your neck if needed for sleeping (only necessary for our long treks!)

you will get it in your accommodation – or use the Indonesian way : Water and your left hand!

for the evening and night time in the jungle: hoodie & long relaxing trousers + change of clothes for the next day (for treks with overnight stay only)

for crossing the river (just needed for treks with overnight stay)

we highly recommend shoes with a deep profile for slippery parts of the jungle – or get the shoes that your guide will use on the trek!

bukit lawang orangutan trek

Our trekking shoe recommendation

These are the shoes that all our guides wear in the jungle. They are made of rubber, so you can easily cross the river without worrying about your shoes. They also have stoppers under the soles of your feet so you can’t slip away, but climb over roots and rocks like a gecko! 

If you’re interested, let your guide know before your jungle trek so you can look together for your appropriate size. Maximum size is 42.

We highly advise wearing at least 1 pair of socks in your shoes to avoid blisters! Knee-high socks, which are great for tucking open trouser legs into to be “insect-proof”, are also available on site for 20.000 IDR.

Price: approx. 2 euros (30.000 IDR)

bukit lawang orangutan trek


These comfortable 35 litre trekking backpacks can be hired from us for a small fee to be used on your jungle trek.

  • 1 large main pocket
  • 2 vertical front pockets
  • 2 external side pockets for water bottles
  • Air-circulation at the back
  • Chest strap & hip belt with 2 small hip pockets

Rental fee: 80.000 IDR (approx. 5 Euro)

Trek Reviews

Claudia from Halle, Germany

Our Trekking Values

bukit lawang orangutan trek

With love of nature, respect, sustainability and mutual aid we aim to support the local people and jungle of North Sumatra. Preservation of the rainforest and it’s wildlife starts with support of the local communities . Choosing a trekking tour with The Jungle Guide is your way to act in favor of our wonderful but endangered rainforest and its exceptional biodiversity.

All of our jungle guides grew up around Bukit Lawang and respect and protect their home and rainforest. Hereby one of our most important values is to keep the wildlife wild and the jungle clean . On all  our treks we take adequate distance with the animals of the jungle, furthermore none of our guides is feeding them . All members of our team look behind thoroughly for any garbage that we might have left behind on the trek. We please you to do the same.  For your safety our trekking team will always consist of one certified jungle guide and one assistant guide.

Would you like to meet our guides and crew in advance? Check out our team !

We arrange individual treks to satisfy your personal needs and wishes. Our guides know every part of the jungle and will make your personal jungle experience unforgettable.

Natural & Ecological

Love of nature, respect & sustainability are our most important values. We do our best to keep the jungle clean and the wildlife safe to preserve the natural ecosystem of our rainforest.

Besides the endangered wildlife that we protect, of course we ensure your safety as our guests as well! All our guides are very experienced in the jungle and take no risks or rashness.

Tree Planting on every Jungle Trek

With each of our jungle treks, we try to make a small contribution to preserving the rainforest and its incredible biodiversity – not only by our guides passing on their knowledge about the jungle, but also by planting a tree on every trek!

How can a single tree help? 

In the areas next to the national park, conflicts between humans and Orangutans are becoming more frequent. The shrinking habitat of these wonderful apes leads them to decimate the tempting looking harvest of local farmers. By planting trees in the buffer zone of the national park, we want to encourage them back into  their natural habitat in order to avoid conflicts which often end dramatically for the Orangutans.

This is how we try to make our jungle treks not only a special experience for you, but also a lasting & sustainable contribution to our close relatives and their rainforest. After you have chosen a good location together with your guide, you can plant the tree and even visit it again one day when it has become a rainforest giant!

Learn more about our trekking values here .

bukit lawang orangutan trek

Trekking Tips

For sustainable jungle trekking.

… is backpack friendly, plastic-free and mostly doesn’t contain palm oil and chemicals. Therefore it helps to keep the natural balance of our jungle. As it is still hard to find in Asia you probably should buy it in advance in your home country. Or have a look on the self-made soaps from our dear friend Aini who offers soap classes in her beautiful garden between the rice fields around Bukit Lawang. 

Are you a smoker? We please you to bring a pocket ashtray and collect all cigarette butts when you are on your jungle trek, as we try to keep the jungle as clean as possible.

We ask you to keep the animals of the rainforest as wild as possible to enshure their natural habitat. Especially don´t feed or touch Orangutans as they share 97% of our DNA, which means we may infect each other.

We kindly ask you to keep a safety distance of 10 meters with the Orangutans. Please don´t open your backpack as some of them might expect food in there. Have an eye on your Jungle Guide and do never stand between a female Orangutan and her baby.

Please enter the jungle with a certified guide only. 

Please let your Jungle Guide know about your health and fitness condition before trekking, so we might arrange another trekking date in case you are sick. We want to make shure that you can enjoy your trekking tour as much as possible.

You would like to get to know the culture of North Sumatra? Check out our other activities around Bukit Lawang .

The Jungle Guide

Feel free to ask us anything you want to know!

Bukit Lawang Trekking

Bukit Lawang Trekking

Explore the Tropical Rainforest of Sumatra with Adventure Life on one of these Bukit Lawang Trekking trips .  This is a place where time stands still, and you can still feel the ancient energy of an untouched paradise. As you meander through a lush green jungle, we have personally pioneered all of our routes and camping locations to take you away from the crowds and maximize your chances of seeing the unique wildlife that the Leuser Ecosystem has to offer, from wild orangutans to the Sumatran Tiger, Rhinoceros, Slow Loris, Elephant. you’ll discover exotic wildlife, Local traditional rafting (jungle taxi).

Our expeditions ranging from 1 to 7 days. At Adventure Life, we ensure your safety, comfort, and enjoyment while making sure to respect this delicate ecosystem by engaging in responsible tourism practices. Let us take you on an unforgettable journey into the heart of the world’s most biodiverse region! Contact one of our Bukit Lawang Trekking specialists to plan your seamless trip today!

bukit lawang orangutan trek

bukit lawang orangutan trek

Orangutan Trek

Bukit lawang, north sumatra.

bukit lawang orangutan trek

Female Orangutan

bukit lawang orangutan trek

Baby viewing the world below

bukit lawang orangutan trek

How to See Orangutans in Indonesia's Gunung Leuser National Park Northern Sumatra

bukit lawang orangutan trek

Email now to book a trek of a lifetime:

[email protected]

Bukit lawang.

Bukit Lawang used to be home to a rehabilitation centre that cared for and released captive orang-utans to the wild.

The centre has been closed for some time but many semi wild females remain in the jungle near Bukit Lawang often nursing young.

bukit lawang orangutan trek

Bukit Lawang is a village in Northern Sumatra 96km northwest of Medan. The village is situated on the banks of the Bohorok River surrounded by the Gunung Leuser National Park.

The village is a great place to visit to be surrounded by nature and absorb the scenery.

We can arrange transfers from Medan, Kuala Namu Airport or other locations.

bukit lawang orangutan trek

baby Orangutan

bukit lawang orangutan trek

Large Flower

bukit lawang orangutan trek

Giant Black Orchid

bukit lawang orangutan trek


  1. Bukit Lawang Sumatran Orangutan Jungle Trekking (Medan Indonesia)

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  6. Orangutan Jungle Trekking in Bukit Lawang: Complete Travel Guide

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  1. Ethical Jungle Trek & Tour

    Ethical, responsible and sustainable jungle treks & eco-friendly tours at Bukit Lawang, North Sumatra. Spot Orangutans and wildlife in the rainforest. Certified guides and responsible community-based tourism. Eco-conscious travel. Join Sumatra Orangutan Explore for a unique experience!

  2. Sumatra OrangUtan Treks

    More info. Join an amazing hiking experience in Sumatra and Bukit Lawang to see orangutan and other jungle wildlife. The best activity in Indonesia for nature lovers! Trekking, tubing, orangutan, birds, beautiful lodges, and more.

  3. Ethical Jungle Trekking

    We are a family-run trekking and tour operator in Bukit Lawang, North Sumatra. As avid explorers ourselves, we strive to bring you meaningful and ethical itineraries tailored to your needs.

  4. How to Book a Sumatra Orangutan Trek

    Prices to go Orangutan Trekking in Bukit Lawang. The cost of Sumatra orangutan trekking tours in Bukit Lawang can vary depending on the length of the trek. On average, this is what trekking tours to see Sumatra Orangutans cost: A half-day (3 hrs) trek can cost around 700,000 IDR / 45 USD ; 1 Day Trek (6-7 hrs trekking) can cost 900,000 IDR / 59 USD

  5. Three Day Orangutan Trek

    Bukit Lawang Indah Thomas Retreat Wildlife Sumatran elephant Sumatran rhino Rafflesia Amorphophallus Law of the Jungle Primates Orangutans Leaf monkeys Macaques Gibbons

  6. Two Day Orangutan Trek

    Our most popular trek, the two-day trek is for for many people the perfect sampling of jungle life - a day's trek in the Sumatran rainforest (a World Heritage Site), an encounter with orangutans and other wildlife, a night in the jungle, and then back to civilization the next afternoon returning either by jungle raft on the Bohorok river, or by ...

  7. Orangutan Jungle Trekking in Bukit Lawang: Complete Travel Guide

    The shortest and cheapest option for watching orangutans in the wild from Bukit Lawang is to go for a one day trek. It is entirely possible to see both orangutans and all the other animals on just a single day out.

  8. Bukit Lawang

    Orangutan Trekking are a small team of local experts, born and raised in the jungle here in Bukit Lawang, North Sumatra. Run by an Indonesian/English couple, we are committed to preserving environment through sustainable, eco tourism.

  9. Orangutan

    Kupu Kupu Jungle Trekking in Bukit Lawang, North Sumatra, Indonesia offers guided Orangutan Jungle Treks in the Mount Leuser National Park, river rafting, village agriculture/cultural tours, organises accommodation in Bukit Lawang & private car transport services in North & West Sumatra and Aceh.

  10. Bukit Lawang Jungle Trekking & Sumatran Orangutans

    Best Bukit Lawang Jungle Trekking Tour. If you're looking for a vetted tour company for seeing the Sumatran Orangutan, here's a Bukit Lawang jungle trekking tour with Klook starting at $60 USD (850k IDR) for a 1 day trek or $100 for a 2 day trek.

  11. Jungle Trekking Information and Bookings

    A trek in Gunung Leuser National Park at Bukit Lawang, we have half a day - normally three to four hours - to look for Sumatran Orangutans and other wildlife. Full details One Day Orangutan Trek £50.00 per person Book Now!

  12. Bukit Lawang Jungle Trekking, Sumatra Orangutan Tour

    The Bukit Lawang orangutans are called semi-wild as some of them had a lot of human interaction during their rehabilitation. This means they come to the forest floor and show less fear of humans - true wild orangutans will stay in the trees to feed and spend their entire lives in the canopy.

  13. Bukit Lawang

    Bukit Lawang is a small tourist village on the edge of the Gunung Leuser National Park. it is known for the largest animal sanctuary of Sumatran Orangutan (around 5,000 orangutans occupying the area) and also the main access point to the Gunung Leuser National Park from the east side. It is situated along the fast-flowing Sungai Bohorok and bordered by the dense vertical-rising jungle of the ...

  14. The Bukit Lawang Jungle Trek: How To See Orangutans!

    Spend 1-5 days trekking into lush jungle in search of orangutans, gibbons and more. Camp in the jungle and wake up to the sound of nature. Start your jungle trek in the relaxed village of Bukit Lawang. Enjoy an ethical wildlife encounter where ecotourism is crucial to the area's conservation.

  15. Bukit Lawang: 16 Travel Tips For Orangutan Jungle Trek

    Bukit Lawang: The Ultimate Jungle Trekking Adventure Guide Updated on October 10, 2023 by Chloe Smulian Jungle trekking in Bukit Lawang and coming face-to-face with an alpha Orangutan.

  16. Bukit Lawang Jungle Trek: In Search of Sumatra's Orangutans

    A Bukit Lawang jungle trek will take you into virgin rainforest and bring you face-to-face with orangutans in their natural habitat. Orangutans are one of the five great apes and, as our distant relatives, share 97% of our DNA. Observing our red-haired cousins is a fascinating experience.

  17. The Jungle Guide in Bukit Lawang

    One Day Trek. Our one-day hiking tour takes around 6 to 7 hours. Behind the entrance of Gunung Leuser National Park you have the great chance of spotting monkeys and Orangutans swinging in the trees! Let the overwhelming feeling of the jungle sink in and rest on the buttress roots of the tropical giant trees.

  18. Bukit Lawang Trekking

    Bukit Lawang Trekking. Explore the Tropical Rainforest of Sumatra with Adventure Life on one of these Bukit Lawang Trekking trips. This is a place where time stands still, and you can still feel the ancient energy of an untouched paradise.

  19. Orangutan tours/Bukit Lawang/Orangutantrek.net

    Orangutans Bukit Lawang used to be home to a rehabilitation centre that cared for and released captive orang-utans to the wild. The centre has been closed for some time but many semi wild females remain in the jungle near Bukit Lawang often nursing young. Bukit Lawang is a village in Northern Sumatra 96km northwest of Medan.