The Real Life Jungle Book

A blog I have been meaning to write for a long time is of the most incredible five days I spent in Sumatra.

When heading off traveling to South East Asia I always knew that I wanted to see Orangutang in their natural habitat. After a lot of deliberation I decided to go to Sumatra rather than Borneo mainly due to ethical reasons. This was the best decision I ever made.

After a short flight from Kuala Lumpur to Medan, the capital of Sumatra, I met my driver at 10pm thinking that the transfer surely wouldn’t be longer than an hour……. WRONG! Four hours later on in to the bumpiest ride of my life at 2am I was asked to get out of the car and on to a motorbike. Pitch black traveling solo and in the middle of the jungle this was a little worrying, however sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. Outside of the car were two members of lovely staff from the Jungle Inn.

So I hopped on to the back of the motorbike clung on for dear life as we flew in darkness through the rainforest down small paths. Twenty minutes later we arrived at the hotel, reception was closed so I headed to my room for some rest when the guys said “I can’t wait for you to see where you are tomorrow”.

Excited about where I might be in the morning I was straight up and out to a scene that I will never forget. I was in a beautiful local Village called Bukit Lawang which is deep in the Sumatran Jungle. Along side the hotel was a rapid river with the rainforest towering over the other side in all its glory.

Bukit Lawang River
Along from the Jungle Inn

I spent the first day in the village getting settled in, which didn’t take long. Before I knew I was sitting with the guides and locals singing along to whatever song you desired. Life in Bukit Lawang is the most relaxed feel good place I have ever been to.

The next day was the day of the jungle trek, I had been told that it wasn’t a guarantee to see the Orangutang as here they are completely wild so it was pure luck.

As luck would have it it was only about 30 minutes in to the jungle when my guide Suria spotted a HUGE male hiding behind a tree. We moved back and when we were at a safe distance he came out and gave us the most incredible display. Pinch me I’ve died!

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After we had watched him for a little while it was time to move on, after a little fruit break we found a mother and baby high up in the canopy. A little too far for my camera lens to cope so I made the most of putting the camera down and enjoying the moment.

Thomas Leaf Monkey

After lunch (most was stolen by monkeys) we continued walking through scenes that can only be described at King Louis kingdom, another group came passed quickly. They warned us that Minah is coming…. I quickly learned that Minah is notorious for being aggressive and biting guides. Every guide had a story of her. Feeling a little nervous that I was about to be attacked by a huge orange ape I was keen to keep moving.

My guide however had a different idea, he convinced me to stay and see her. We could see the canopy moving then before you know it she was there at the bottom of the tree followed by the cheekiest little baby. Minah has learnt that the guides have fruit, the trick to not being attacked is to not run out of fruit!

I would never have thought in a million years that I would be this close to wild Orangutan, this is stuff you see on telly with Attenborough’s soothing voice in the background! As magical as the encounter was it became very real again when the fruit ran out and guests had to move away fast!

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The Infamous Minah with her baby

After the trek (I did one day but you can stay over night in the jungle for 1-2 nights) I was picked up via a inflatable tube where we rafted back to the hotel.

I wasn’t sure what my expectations of Sumatra were but it completely blew my mind, I spend the next few days with my guide visiting multiple stunning untouched parts of the jungle, going to the local market and trying all kinds of weird and wonderful food.

Fresh Cacao

There are many things to do here such as longer jungle treks, you may be lucky to spot the Sumatran Tiger, Panthers and Elephants. I meant it when I said this is like the Jungle Book!

This is the place out of all my travels that is deeply ingrained in my heart, from the warm welcome and hospitality of the locals (on the second day there they all know who you are), to the abundance of wildlife. Thank you to everyone at the Jungle Inn for making my experience so special, you made my dreams come true!

My Jungle Guide and Friend Suria


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