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Encounter remarkable wildlife, smouldering volcanoes and traditional cultures on this trip across Sumatra. Travel from the capital of North Sumatra to the old Dutch colonial town of Padang on the western coast, stopping to spot orangutans, explore highland lakes, experience the island’s diverse heritage and more.
Visit villages inhabited by the Minang people, seeing their unusual houses, trying their food and watching a traditional dance.
Explore the National Park, trekking through the forest to see orangutans and visiting an eco-farm to learn about local cultivation.
Visit the main sites including the Dutch Fort de Kock, Sianok Canyon’s Japanese bunkers, local markets and more.
Overland From North Sumatra To Padang - 11 Days / 10 Nights
Arrive at Kuala Namu International Airport. For domestic flights, pick up the luggage and meet with the tour guide outside the main building for the start of the program.
Recommended flights(Not included and quoted separately– Tariffs and schedule subject to change without prior notice):
International: Silk Air MI234 from Singapore to Medan arriving at 08:00 (daily) and Malaysia Airlines MH860 from Kuala Lumpur to Medan arriving at 08:30 (daily).
Domestic: From Jakarta to Medan by Garuda Indonesia GA180 arriving at 08:00 (daily) or GA182 arriving at 10:15.
Leave Kuala Namu Airport and proceed to Medan, the capital of North Sumatra and an interesting melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Batak people living together in harmony.
Proceed to Merdeka Square in the centre of the city for a walk in the old colonial part of town which has retained its Dutch colonial architecture. See the Old Post Office and Medan City Hall before passing through Kesawan Street.
End the walk at Tip Top Restaurant which dates back to the time of Dutch colonization. Enjoy lunch here before heading to the hotel (check-in time is 14:00).
After checking in, take some time to freshen up and relax in the room.
In the mid-afternoon, meet with the guide again and proceed with a city tour of Medan. Visit Masjid Raya, or the Great Mosque built in 1906 by the first sultan and still considered as one the most beautiful mosques in Indonesia.
Then, continue with a visit of Maimoon Sultan Palace, built in 1888 by the Sultan of Deli (the former name of Medan). This beautiful palace combines traditional elements of Malay, Islamic as well as Spanish and Indian architectural elements. Even up to present times, the palace is inhabited by the Sultan, who remains a symbolic figure of importance to Indonesian community.
The city tour ends with a visit to an impressive Chinese temple, Vihara Gunung Timur.
Afterwards, return to the hotel and spend the rest of the evening either relaxing or heading out for some independent exploration.
Dinner at leisure and overnight at the hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel in Medan, check out and be picked up by the driver and guide for a drive to Bukit Lawang.
Before arriving in Bukit Lawang, take a short stop to stretch and enjoy a fresh coconut at Coconut Park.
Upon arrival at Bukit Lawang, cross the impressive wooden suspension bridge over Bohorok River on foot to arrive at the reception of the Eco Lodge.
Check-in at the lodge in Bukit Lawang and enjoy a lunch of Sumatran specialties.
After lunch, cross the bridge and be picked by a becak for a visit to the Timbang Lawang Eco Farm. The motorized sidecar will lead from the local village to the eco farm. Afterwards, hop back on the becak and explore a few other surrounding areas to see how brown sugar is made and rubber trees are tapped.
Return to the hotel.
Dinner at leisure.
Overnight in Bukit Lawang.
Breakfast at the lodge.
Bukit Lawang is at the entrance to Gunung Leuser National Park, one of the last sanctuaries of the Sumatran orangutan.
Start an unforgettable trek early in the morning at 07:30. Head out behind Eco Lodge (with an additional local English-speaking jungle guide).
The first part of the hike is an easy climb to the forest for about 30 to 45 minutes –the local guide always send a tracker ahead to check where the orangutans are.
If some are seen in first part of the trek, the guide will suggest people who have difficulty walking to return to the lodge with the tracker while accompanying other participants all the way to the feeding platform (total trekking time is two and a half to three hours up and down in the jungle -it’s a bit more challenging and can be slippery, so good shoes are required).
After observing orangutans continue down to the Orang Utan Information Centre on the bank of the Bohorok River (30 minutes). From here, crossing the river using a pneumatic raft pulled by a rope (2mn crossing) and walk back to Eco Lodge along the river bank and main village of Bukit Lawang (30mn).
Note: Camera fee is not included and must be paid locally IDR 50,000/camera (around USD 5) and IDR 150,000/video (around USD 15) each time clients enter the Gunung Leuser National Park
After returning back at the lodge, take some time to shower and change before checking out. Lunch is served at the lodge restaurant.
In the afternoon, leave Bukit Lawang to Berastagi in the Karo Highlands along a scenic route driving southwards via Sembahe and Sibolangit. In the late afternoon, arrive at Berastagi, a climate station located at some 1,400 metres above sea-level.
Check in at the hotel late afternoon/early evening. Dinner is served at the hotel.
Overnight in Berastagi
After breakfast, check out from the hotel and depart around 08:00 for a short city tour of Berastagi: the tour includes a visit to the St. Francis Catholic Church, with its unique Batak architecture and, in the background, a perfect view over Mount Sibayak. Continue with a walk through the local fruit market which is swarming with activity and scenes from traditional Karo life.
Leave Berastagi around 09:30 and proceed to Lake Toba, stopping after Berastagi to take pictures of Mount Sinabung (2,460m).
Stop for a visit to Dokan, a village home to the Batak Karo, people who have unusual wedding and funeral ceremonies which can last for days, and dozens of other unique traditions and rituals which are still in practice. Then, meet with a family in a traditional longhouses where up to 6 families can be found living harmoniously together.
Continue south towards Lake Toba and make a stop to see the 120-metre tall Sipiso-Piso Waterfall in the Batak Highlands. The beautiful fall is formed by an underground river that then plunges from a cave into Lake Toba caldera. Here there will also be an impressive first-view of Toba Lake.
Continue the journey to Pematang Purba for a visit to Rumah Bolon, a 200-year old wooden house that used to be the dwelling of the ancient Batak Simalungun Kings.
A late lunch will be served enroute to Parapat at a local restaurant near Simar Jarunjung
In the afternoon, drive along the eastern shore of Lake Toba to Parapat.
Overnight in Samosir.
Breakfast at the hotel.
Today, spend a full day exploring Samosir Island and Lake Toba on a chartered boat.
The island of Samosir, which is roughly the size of Singapore, is located in the middle of Lake Toba. The caldera lake of Toba Volcano was formed over 75,000 years ago and is the largest volcanic lake in the world.
Visit Ambarita, Samosir’s most interesting Batak Toba village which is well-known for its unique stone chairs, tribunals and execution stones where enemies and criminals were slaughtered and eaten by this once-cannibalistic tribe.
Drive to Simanindo and be treated to a performance of a traditional Batak Toba dance called Tor-Tor (once a day at 10:30 – 45minutes). Then explore the traditional village and its small Batak museum.
From there continue along the Eastern shore of Samosir Island to Pangururan the small capital of Samosir.
A picnic lunch has been prepared by the hotel and will be served on-board the ship while cruising towards Pangururan.
On the way back to Parapat via Pangururan stop for a visit of Lumban Suhi-Suhi village for observing the traditional weaving (daily except Wednesdays where the woman are attending Pangururan weekly market)
Return to the hotel in Parapat late in the-afternoon.
Overnight in Samosir.
This morning after breakfast and check out from the hotel, from Parapat continue by car to Padang Sidempuan.
On the way there, make stops at Jangga Dolok, a typical Batak Toba village surrounded by rice fields, and Balige, with a vibrant local market full of exotic fruits and local snacks that are perfect for the onward trip.
Continue on to Lintong District for a visit to a local coffee plantation. Here, get a chance to observe the drying and grinding process of coffee beans before enjoying some freshly brewed coffee.
Next stop will be Tarutung town for a late lunch at Sukaria, a local Chinese restaurant. In Tarutung, also take a look at a Batak Protestant church.
After lunch, continue driving Padang Sidempuan, the small capital of the Batak Mandailing Regency.
Check in to the hotel
Dinner is served in the hotel
Overnight in Padang Sidempuan.
Wake up early in the morning and depart Padang Sidempuan at 07:00 for a long day of driving to reach Bukittinggi, in West Sumatra Province. This 285 km drive passes through the winding roads of the Bukit Barisan Mountain Range and offers beautiful scenery of mountains, rivers, valleys and traditional villages.
We make a stop at Sihepeng, a small botanical garden. Here, learn about various kinds of spices grown in the area such as pepper, saffron, lemongrass, nutmeg and bay leaf. Here, it’s also possible to observe local monkeys plucking coconut fruits before enjoying this refreshing natural drink.
There will also be a photo-stop at at Purba Baru where one can see the Musthafawiyah Islamic School, one of the oldest and largest boarding schools in Sumatra, founded in 1912.
Continue towards Kotanopan for an early lunch at a local restaurant.
Depart from Kotanopan and enter the province of West Sumatra. Here the landscape begins changing into tropical rainforest. Take some time to make a short 30-minute walk in the beautiful natural environment while stopping at the Rimba Panti Nature Reserve.
Next, the drive leads to Bonjol, which is directly on the Equator. Stop at a monument that marks exactly where this imaginary line passes. Urban legend says that crossing the line backwards brings good luck, so give it a try!
The last stop of the day before reaching Bukittinggi is Palupuh Rafflesia Sanctuary. The small 3.4-hectare conservation centre focuses on conserving the rare giant Rafflesia flower. This unique flower is the largest in the world and is native to Sumatra.
Depart from the nearby village for a trekking of approximately one hour into the local rainforest where there is a chance to see and smell the famous giant Rafflesia flower.
Note: You should be aware that the blooming of a Rafflesia is a rare and unpredicted event and depends on many specific factors. The flower usually blooms during wet season from middle to the end of the year (the best chances are between July and December). Since the Rafflesia is unisexual it also requires the vital proximity of male and female flowers for successful pollination. Also, the buds take many months to develop and the flower only lasts for just a few days. Therefore whatever the season, there is no guarantee that one will see the Rafflesia. Those who do are lucky, and it could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Arrive in the evening in Bukittinggi and check in at the hotel.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Bukittinggi.
After breakfast, depart from the hotel and head to the beautiful Harau Valley. Here, lush green rice fields are hemmed in between huge granite cliffs.
Here, enjoy an hour walk through the village and rice fields to observe the daily life and activities of the local people, ending the walk at a local homestay for drinks and refreshments.
From Harau Valley, continue driving in the direction of Batusangkar, with a stop at Tabek Patah for lunch at the charming Pondok Flora Restaurant serving traditional Minang food.
In the afternoon, continue to the nearby local village of Rao Rao, known for its beautiful traditional Minangkabau houses, locally known as Rumah Gadang.
Next stop will be at Pagaruyung Palace, located in the village of Tanjung Emas near Batusangkar. The palace is a replica of the original Pagaruyung Royal Palace which was set on fire by the nation’s Dutch colonists in 1804. Only recently it has been entirely restored using traditional materials, with 3 storeys and 5 stacked sweeping roofs ending with eleven sharp horns and covered with over 26 tons of palm fiber.
Pagarayung is the most beautiful example of the Traditional Minangkabau architecture.
Pagaruyung is the name of the Minangkabau Kingdom that ruled the central region of Sumatra and was the seat of a large kingdom where the Minangkabau culture flourished.
Return to Bukittinggi, passing by the picturesque Lake Singkarak.
Return to the hotel.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Bukittinggi.
After breakfast, leave the hotel with the driver and tour guide to Puncak Lawang, located in the hills with great views over Maninjau Lake. Here, do a short and soft trek down to the lake. The trek passes through dense jungle towards the mysterious Lake Maninjau. During the trek, stop at a local coffee shop to rest while enjoying the beautiful scenery. Upon arrival in the lake=side village, be picked up by the car and transferred to a local restaurant located on the shore of the lake for lunch.
After lunch, return to Bukittinggi via Kota Gadang, which is well-known for silver works and visit Pandai Sikat village to see Minangkabau traditional hand weaving and wood carving.
Spend the afternoon exploring Bukittinggi and its surroundings. The main town sites can be seen on foot, as Bukittinggi is very small and everything is located close together, with a car nearby for transport to areas further afield.
Visit the impressive Sianok Canyon which is known for its network of underground bunkers and tunnels built by the Japanese during World War II.
There is a two-story observation tower that overlooks the Sianok Canyon which can be climbed for panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Note: We advise skipping the Japanese tunnel due to security reason.
Also, take a look at Fort De Kock, built by the Dutch during the Padri Wars. Although little remains of the original fortifications, it provides fine views over the town from its hilltop position.
In town, see the large clock tower ‘Jam Gadang’ and walk around the Pasar Atas Market. The market is open daily, but on Wednesdays and Saturdays it is especially busy with people coming from neighboring villages to buy and sell their wares.
Head back to the hotel and take some time to freshen up before dinner.
At 20:15, transfer to town and enjoy a traditional Minangkabau dance performance at the centre of Bukittinggi Town.
Overnight at the hotel in Bukittinggi
After breakfast in the morning, transfer to Gadut Village -the starting point for a cycling trip around villages on the slopes of Mount Merapi. Departing from Gadut, pass through the countryside until reaching Kamang Village. En route, make a stop to see the villagers making tapioca crackers. Several photo stops are made when passing beautiful panoramas. From Kamang Village, return to Gadut via a different route.
Upon arrival back in Gadut, have lunch in a local house with traditional Padang food (Rice, Rendang and local vegetables curry).
After lunch, return to the hotel and take time to refresh. Then it’s time to check out and head out on the drive to Padang.
On the way, stop at Padang Panjang for a visit Minangkabau Documentation Centre, housed in a large and beautiful “Rumah Gadang” that is used as a museum of cultural and historical documents of Minangkabau.
Continue to Padang, passing through the beautiful Anai Valley and its lush forest, valley and crystal-clear river.
Stop along the way for viewing the picturesque 30-metre tall Anai Valley Waterfall.
Arrive in Padang and then make a short sightseeing tour around the city of Padang, with the Old Dutch Colonial District located beside the Muaro River.
Walk along the river banks with a row of Old Dutch colonial buildings ending at the historical harbour of Padang, built by Dutch and full of colourful little boats. There’s also a beautiful bridge on the river, Sitti Nurbaya Bridge which, at night, is beautifully lit.
Check into the hotel.
Overnight in Padang.
Breakfast is served at the hotel. The rest of the day is free at leisure until it’s time for the departure flight to the next destination.
Recommended flights (Not included and quoted separately– Tariffs and schedule subject to change without prior notice): Garuda Indonesia from Padang to Jakarta GA169, departing at 18:40 and arriving at 20:35.
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