The 5 Best Places to Hike in Sumatra
Walking in Sumatra can be challenging, but that shouldn't come as a surprise.
The largest island in Indonesia, thankfully, is still on the list of the wildest places on the planet, and Sumatra's volcanic topography guarantees a serious adventure.
Caldera lakes, active volcanoes, and waterfalls abound. Additionally, Sumatra's national parks are blessed with tempting flora and fauna, including orangutans.
In Indonesian, Gunung means mountain or volcano, and Bukit means hill; You will often find yourself climbing one or the other while hiking in Sumatra!
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1. Gunung Leuser National Park (North Sumatra)
Taking a jungle hike from the riverside village of Bukit Lawang is probably the most popular way to enjoy some hiking in Sumatra.
Travelers can take a guided half-day "rainforest discovery trip" that lasts approximately four miles roundtrip or opt for multi-day hikes with overnight stays in Gunung Leuser National Park.
Anyway, the highlight of the hike in Gunung Leuser National Park is seeing semi-wild orangutans frequenting the fruit feeding platforms until they are fully rehabilitated.
Walking deeper into the national park is sometimes rewarded with sightings of wild orangutans and other exciting wildlife.
Trekking agencies and unregistered guides are everywhere in Bukit Lawang.
To ensure sustainability and a safe experience, go with a certified guide.
Avoid companies that promote food or interaction with orangutans.
2. Gunung Sibayak (North Sumatra)
Once a popular climb, North Sumatra's infamous Gunung Sinabung has been closed and dangerously active since 2013.
But there is good news: its younger brother Gunung Sibayak remains one of the most accessible and exciting volcanoes to climb while climbing a walk-in Sumatra.
The views from Gunung Sibayak are nice, but the exciting part of the hike is standing in the crater and hearing the roar of pressure escaping through the openings in the rocks.
The yellowish water actually boils in parts of the way.
Be careful where you walk - some of the openings emit hot, poisonous gas.
Berastagi serves as the base for the 2,257-foot hike up Gunung Sibayak.
You can hitchhike to the trailhead or include the interesting city walk as part of your three-hour hike.
Your hostel can provide you with a local guide; though many travelers flock and scale Sibayak independently.
3. Bukit Holbung (Samosir Island)
While it is possible to hike to the highest point on Samosir Island on Lake Toba, the trails are not very clear or pleasant.
Instead, you'd better spend your time climbing Bukit Holbung, a large grassy hill with stunning views of Lake Toba and Samosir Island.
You will have to travel by car (or motorcycle) for a scenic two hours around the northern tip of the island, then cross a bridge to the mainland.
Stroll through Huta Holbung, a small town at the beginning of the trail, then walk 30 minutes uphill to snap some amazing photos.
The easier parts of the hill can be crowded, especially on the weekends.
4. Pusuk Buhit (Lake Toba)
To climb a much more challenging hill on Samosir Island itself, drive an hour west from Tuk-Tuk town to Pusuk Buhit.
The 6,503-foot "hill" can be independently climbed using the three trails to the top, but hiring a driver and guide to take you by tuk-tuk is easy and doesn't cost much.
The variety of muddy trails cuts through farms along the way and can be confusing; this is where an experienced local will come in handy.
Although Pusuk Buhit is a day hike, you'll want to start early in the Tuk-Tuk to see Lake Toba from above.
Clouds tend to gather in the early afternoon, regardless of the season, blocking the view. Plan to walk for at least 4-5 hours, depending on conditions.
5. Sianok Canyon (West Sumatra)
Walking up to the Sianok canyon and along the "Koto Gadang Great Wall" offers an adventurous day hike from Bukittinggi in West Sumatra.
While you can "cheat" and get transportation to the canyon, walking around town gives you a chance to sightsee along the way.
The Sianok Canyon hike in Sumatra is a combination of road hiking, jungle trails, and the great wall itself.
You will pass small cafes and shops on the way; Kota Gadang is famous for the goldsmiths that live there.
Depending on the distance you travel, plan a walk of at least half a day. You can always hitchhike back to town if you don't want to go all the way around.
If you bring snacks, watch out for aggressive monkeys that sometimes ambush hikers.
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