Traveling is not always about going to exotic tourist attractions, culinary and shopping, right? If you agree, congratulations! It means you are ready for a challenging adventure in “Bumi Serambi Mekkah” also known as Banda Aceh, precisely in Gunung Leuser National Park.
The name of Mount Leuser National Park is taken from a volcano that stands in the middle of the national park area. Mount Leuser has a height about 3.119 meters towering on the southeastern side of Aceh. Stretching over one million hectares in Aceh and North Sumatra Province, make the Mount Leuser National Park has a wide variety of vegetation, including mountain rain forest, swamp forest, moss forest to mangroves in the coastal area.
Because of its width, the Gunung Leuser National Park is rich for various types of flora and fauna, and even becomes a shelter for some extinct-declared animals. There are orangutans, rhinos, elephants, sun bears, tigers, ajag, gibbons and sambar deer.
Including several types of venomous snakes, crocodiles and jurung fish (endemic aquatic animal species that can reach up to 1 meter in length and live on the Alas River which flows through Mount Leuser National Park).
Various animals and plant species living in one place is not a natural phenomenon that can be found anywhere. This is why Gunung Leuser National Park is awarded by the UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites in Asia in 2004.
Because of the location Mount Leuser National Park is on the border of Aceh and North Sumatra Province, you can visit it via the Medan route. If you come from Jakarta, take a plane to Jakarta-Medan. Arrive at the airport, look for the city bus to Pinang Baris Terminal. Arriving at Pinang Baris Terminal, then you have to find a public bus heading to Bukit Lawang which is about 86 km from Medan. This bus is quite easy to find and departs every 30 minutes.
Another alternative is rent a minivan from Belawan Ferry Terminal which goes directly to Bukit Lawang. You can choose it if you are too lazy to change the bus and wants to get to Mount Leuser quickly. Just be aware that the cost of renting a minivan is clearly more expensive than public buses.
In Javanese, Lawang means “door”. This name is very suitable because this is where your adventure through Mount Leuser National Park will begin. A small village called Ketambe Village is the last village you can see before entering the jungle if you go to this largest national park on Sumatra Island through Kutacane, Southeast Aceh. In this village, you can shop for groceries, find guides and porters to help carry your luggage.
Do you want to sleep for a while or enjoying the atmosphere of the forest? Well, there are several resorts and inns that are quite comfortable around and you just have to choose which one fits your budget. Those lodgings are generally set up on the banks of the Bohorok River and it will be easy for you to see if you take the eastern lane or river path to visit Gunung Leuser National Park.
So, what to do in Mount Leuser National Park. A walk to the Mount Leuser National Park is clearly different from the road to the beach or to the zoo which you can go alone without a guide. In Mount Leuser you have no choice other than joining a trekking group to explore the Gunung Leuser National Park which is guided by authorized officers. The ticket price including the guide is quite expensive around IDR400.000/person for domestic visitors and IDR700.000/person for foreigners (all prices are subject to change without notice).
At the end you will never regret for what you paid for because the journey to Mount Leuser is very exhilarating. The guides will take you walking a few kilometers deep into the forest to observe animal life, observe birds as well as to feed the orangutans. While inside the forest you cannot make any noise, or the animals will feel threatened and unwilling to approach you.
Tips for Adventurers
Because Mount Leuser National Park is a massive forest area then there are no doctors or hospitals around. The National Park doesn’t only have a variety of rare animals, but also some dangerous animals such as leeches and malaria mosquitoes. So make sure you get anti-tetanus and anti-malaria vaccine before trip.
Some equipment you must prepare before visiting Mount Leuser National Park are 1 large backpack, 1 bag for daily supplies, a waterproof bag for cameras, documents & identification. Bring also some clothes, socks, hats and boots.
And last, take all the equipment that you usually carry for camping such as sleeping bags, tents, mosquito nets, medicines and binoculars. You don’t have to bring lots of money because there are no store in the forest.