There is so much to tell about this small but unique place on our planet. Many people instantly fall in love when they visit Bukit Lawang for multiple reasons. And many people come back and visit again. It’s like there’s a little bit magic in the jungle air.
Most tourists come to this place to see the wildlife in a way you can’t experience anywhere but here. But they keep coming back for more than that: to escape citylife, get away from stress, feel one with the nature or just feel welcome and make new friends. The nature is mindblowing, the people are so friendly and the local food is great!
The meaning of ‘Bukit Lawang’ is loosely translated as ‘The open door’ which refers to the village being the door to the jungle.
The river is vital for the locals. For many this is the bathroom, laundry and source of (drinking) water. But mainly it is the place to socialize. Locals, tourists from far and nearer come together here. Children play and swim while the adults chat and eat together.
With heavy rain, the water rises quickly and the flow accelerates. Sometimes the river overflows and brings in a lot of sand from higher up in the jungle giving the usually clear water a brown color.
On November 2, 2003, the river completely destroyed the original village. A huge tidal wave cost 239 lives and hundreds of people lost everything.
In addition to everyone having lost someone, most people were homeless and all income was lost. There are still many traces of this natural violence to this day and people often talk about ‘before the flood’ and ‘after the flood’.
It is remarkable how strong the community is. With little help they slowly but surely regained their lives. And now tourists can enjoy all the beauty again that this special village with a tragic history has to offer.
Gunung Leuser National Park
The jungle treks are all inside of the protected and restricted National Park.
The park is named after the highest point in the park; the Leuser volcano.
You cannot enter the park without a guide and permit. Obviously there is no fence to demarcate the 8,000 square kilometer area. But this nature reserve has been a protected area since 1634 and a national park since 1980.
What makes this jungle special compared to other rainforests where you can trek, is that there are no landscaped trails.
The animals are really wild, except for a few semi-wild orangutans that were in the rehabilitation center a long time ago. Now they live all in the wild and even raise their children here. Some of them are still a little used to people and sometimes ask for food. They also come a little closer than the others.
An inportant part of keeping the rainforest healthy and wild is conservation.
Most important is that the (illegal) forest clearing stops. It was also the cause of the tsunami in 2003.
But also more and more animals are threatened because their living environment is drastically reduced.
Sadly, poachers are still active. They mainly hunt birds, but also rhinos, elephants, tigers and orangutans. They are sold illegally. Unfortunately, what also happens is that wild animals enter the fast-growing palm oil plantations and are caught or killed.
If you come this way to admire the immense nature and get a glimpse of the special flora and fauna that this protected area has, be aware at all times that you are a guest in the jungle. Keep sufficient distance to the animals, do not feed them and do not touch them. Listen to the guide. We know what is acceptable.