SUMATRA – NATURE & CULTURE
General information about North Sumatra:
North Sumatra is easy to travel all year round. The huge mountain range from north to south lets the clouds rain down either from the west or from the east. There are no significant dry or rainy seasons. North Sumatra is the treasure island of flora and fauna in Indonesia. The Leuser National Park is the most important refuge for many endangered animals, such as the orangutan, the Sumatran tiger and the Sumatran rhinoceros. 75% of the wild orangutans alone live in the Leuser National Park. The different climate zones and changing landscapes from the hot tropical rainforest to the cool mountain region near Berastagi to the natural border, to the largest crater lake on earth – Lake Toba is unique.
Medan is the capital and most important trade center in North Sumatra with many buildings steeped in history. Medan used to be a battlefield between the kingdoms of Aceh and the neighboring kingdom of Deli, of which Medan was a part. The great mosque (Mesjid Raya) and the palace of the Sultan of Deli have already been restored several times and are definitely worth a visit.
The small town is located approx. 90 kilometers east of Medan on the idyllic Bohorok River and, as the gateway to the Leuser National Park, is one of the most beautiful sights in Nor-Sumatra. There are many nice restaurants and small inns along the river. The main attraction is the rehabilitation center for orphaned orphaned orphaned utans, who are nursed up there and prepared for a life in freedom. Twice a day, visitors have the opportunity to watch the friendly great apes playing in the treetops and eating at the feeding place. Since the Leuser National Park is home to around 75% of wild orangutans, the chance of sighting in the wild is also very high. Other popular activities are trekking tours through the jungle, cave hikes, rafting or tubing on the rivers through the rainforest and many more.
Tangkahan is part of the Leuser National Park and is located in the north of Sumatra in the province of Aceh. The 7,750 km² of mountains, rivers and tropical rainforests extend to the Indian Ocean. The region around Tangkahan is home to over 120 different species of mammals, such as orangutans (Pongo abelii), Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae) and Sumatran elephants (Elephas Maximus). On your hiking tour you can also come across deer (Cervuc uni color), wild boar (Sus scrofa), clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa) and many other species. The Gunung Leuser National Park is also home to almost 400 different bird species, such as the Sumatran pheasant (lophura hoogerwerfi), argus pheasant (Argusianus argus), blue flycatcher (cyornis turcosus) and 9 different species of hornbills. The largest flowers in the world can also be found here – the giant rafflesia (Rafflesia arnoldii) and the titan arum (Amorphallus titanum).
In a completely different climatic zone, in the mountains, is the city of Berastagi, which is very popular with tourists. The region is best known as the most important supplier of fruits, vegetables and flowers in all of North Sumatra. The most famous fruit is the marqisa, in German passion fruit. Berastagi is located 66 kilometers in the southwest of Medan at 1,330 meters above sea level and, with its fresh and cool climate, offers perfect conditions for the countless plantations. If the visibility is clear, you have a fantastic view of the Sibayak and Sinabung volcanoes.
Tongging – Si Piso Piso Waterfall:
From Tongging you have a fantastic view of the 120 meter high waterfall. The highest waterfall in Indonesia is located 24 kilometers from Kabanjahe on the north side of Lake Toba. Not only the breathtaking panorama with a view of the surrounding volcanoes, but also the fresh, cool breeze make this place a particularly pleasant stopover on your trip.
Lingga Village & Pematang Purba:
15 kilometers from Berastagi is the small Batak Karo village of Lingga. The typical architecture of the Batak Karo houses, which are over 120 years old and were built without a single nail, are particularly beautiful here. If you are lucky, the villagers are performing their traditional dances right now. When you visit, please think of a small donation. The village of Purba is not that far away. However, the traditional Batak village is no longer habitable and functions as an open-air museum. There you can also visit the old royal house and the royal family graves.
Parapat – Toba Lake:
Parapat is right on the shores of the famous Toba Lake and is home to the Batak Toba and Batak Simakungun tribes. The tribes are considered very peaceful and friendly and are known for their soulful love songs. As the tourist capital, there are numerous offers for visitors. The many water sports such as canoeing, motor boating, swimming and fishing are particularly popular. Parapat is about 4 hours drive from Medan. The weather is pleasantly cool and dry and therefore ideal to relax there for a longer period of time. In addition to many smaller hotels, bungalows and villas, many small souvenir shops offer you traditional woven fabrics “Ulos” and exotic fruits for sale.
The island lies in the middle of the largest volcanic lake on earth. Half an hour by ferry takes you to the home of the friendly Batak Toba tribe. The main attractions on the island are the traditional villages of Tomak, Tuk-Tuk, Siallagan and Ambarita with their unique architecture, history and ritual traditions.
The last Batak King Sidabatu is buried here. The many graves are decorated with images of the king, his wife and his bodyguards. You can reach Tomok from Parapat in about 45 minutes by boat.
The village is an ideal place to stay and eat and a wonderful starting point for hikes and excursions. With the scooter you can reach all villages in 1 to 2 days. Tuk Tuk can be reached directly from Parapat by ferry.
In Ambarita there is a place of sacrifice for the gods and an execution place for criminals. In pre-Christian times, criminals and enemies were beheaded, dismembered and then eaten by the tribal population. The last such case dates back to 1900, when a head attached to a stick was thrown into the lake to intimidate other criminals. In Ambarita, as in Tomok, there are many small souvenir shops, but the offers are a little more expensive than in Tomok.
The village is located in the very north of Samosir and can be reached via the country road. Simanindo is definitely worth a visit. The old royal house has been converted into a museum and tells the impressive story of the Batak tribes. You will also find the most beautiful examples of the unique architecture of the Batak houses here.
The stratovolcano has a height of 2,212 meters and lies with its twin peak, the Pinto Mountain, 40 kilometers southwest of Medan next to Berastagi. The Sibayak volcano has a 900 meter wide crater. Ascent is possible with an experienced guide.
North Sumatra tours all start from Medan with pickup at Kuala Namu Airport. For a direct onward journey to Bukit Lawang, Tangkahan, Berastagi or Samosir, an additional overnight stay in Medan should be planned if you land in the afternoon or in the evening. There are several daily flights from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia, Jakarta and Bali.