Frequently asked questions and general information
HOW TO GET TO NORTH SUMATRA
The best airport to fly into North Sumatra is Medan, Kualanamu International Airport.
We will send a driver and guide to pick you up at Medan airport/hotel and will bring you safely to Bukit Lawang and to your guesthouse. (Included in tour price, extra if arranging your own itinerary).
light clothes like T-shirts and shorts (daytime), light and warm socks
light long trousers and long sleeved shirts in bright colour (evening and night time)
1 small backpack (25 litres)
comfortable hiking boots/shoes with good aggressive tread for jungle treks
river sandals for crossing the River, for explorer & observation treks and for relaxing and walking around the campsite or villages
hat, sunglasses, sun lotion, insect repellent, toilet paper, raincoat, torch
camera, mobile phone and cards
swimming vert and shorts (or shorts and t-shirt) and towel
personal medical kit and recommended medicine, such as anti diarrhea medicine, dehydration salt, aspirin and antibiotic. Please consult your doctor to arrange your medical kit and vaccinations before departure
plastic or waterproof bag for your personal belongings
mosquito net (optional)
Remember to pack light because you will be carrying it!
For trekking and camping
sleeping mat, sleeping bag & small pillow (optional)
You must ensure you have comprehensive insurance with good medical cover to cover your activities while traveling in Sumatra. Please note that travel insurance is the personal responsibility of each traveler and should cover accidents, injury or loss of personal property.
Please consult your doctor in advance and discuss your individual medication and required vaccinations (Tetanus and Hepatitis A, Typhoid, etc…) and get advice on malaria prophylaxis. You should use an insect repellent all day whilst in the jungle (Deet > 40%) and wear long sleeves/trousers during sunset when the mosquitoes are at their most active. There are mosquitoes around Bukit Lawang but we have had no reports on malaria infection in recent years – but you never know…mosquitos can be dangerous in all South East Asia.
You need to be fit enough for strong exercise if you plan to do a longer trek over a few days. A general health check with your doctor is an absolute necessity before traveling and trekking in the Sumatran jungle and is the responsibility of each guest.
Please note that in and around Gunung Leuser National Park, you will mostly be out in the wild. Tours and treks can involve certain risks and dangers. These include: traveling in mountain steep terrain, trekking in dense rainforest, river crossings that sometimes involve wading and swimming; unpredictable behavior of wildlife; accidents caused by the forces of nature; accidents or illness in remote regions with little or no medical facilities and without any means of rapid or free evacuation; accidents caused by Indonesian traffic.
You should inform your guide about your personal health conditions, such as high blood pressure, allergies, operations, pregnancy and fear of special insects, heights or darkness in advance!
In order to keep you as safe as possible you have to abide by the rules and instructions given to you by your guides at all times. Please note that the tour operator is not liable for any damages or injuries suffered during your tour, however caused, in connection with services carried out by third parties and for death or personal injury.
Bluebirds, phone: (061)8461234
Rumah Sakit St. Elisabeth
Jln. Haji Misnah No. 7
Columbia Asia Hospital (International)
Jln. Listrik 2A
Tourists can arrange a 30-day visa on arrival at Medan airport or on arrival at any other Indonesian international airports for US$35. If you want to stay longer you can arrange a 60-day tourist visa at the Indonesian Embassy before you leave. The exact process and documents required will vary depending on your nationality, the country you apply in and the purpose of your stay in Indonesia. The validity of your passport should be 6 months from the date of arrival in Indonesia.
There is also a 200,000 IDR international airport departure tax which is normally included in your ticket price, if not, it is payable at baggage check in.
Please make sure you bring enough IDR in cash with you to North Sumatra, as there are no ATM machines in Bukit Lawang and surrounding villages.You can change money at most international airports or before your departure at your bank or money changer. Note: guesthouses do not change US-Dollars and they do not accept credit cards. There are plenty of cash points in Medan where you can get money with credit cards or exchange foreign currencies into Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). Note: The maximum amount you can withdraw from ATM machines is 2 Million IDR, so you will have to make several transactions to get enough money for your trip. Due to frequent problems with ATM machines we recommend you take 2 -3 different credit cards with you if you plan to use the local ATM machines. In the Gunung Leuser area around Bukit Lawang and Tangkahan you can only pay with IDR.
In Sumatra there are only two seasons, a dry and wet season. The rainy season lasts from October to February and the dry season from March to September, with transition periods characterized by capricious weather occurring in the months of March and September. Even in the middle of the wet season temperatures can range from 23 degrees to 33 degrees Celsius, except at higher altitudes, which can be much cooler. The heaviest rainfall is usually recorded in December and January each year, but it is usually still hot and humid in Bukit Lawang. It tends to rain every few days, but normally not for a very long time, even in the rainy season.
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia. It is the largest island in entire Indonesia (two larger islands, Borneo and New Guinea, are shared between Indonesia and other countries), and the sixth largest island in the world.
North Sumatra (Indonesian: Sumatera Utara) is a province on the Sumatra island. Its capital is Medan. The province stretches across the island of Sumatra between the Indian Ocean and the Strait Malacca. It borders Aceh province on the north west and Riau and West Sumatra provinces in the south east.
The island includes more than 10 National Parks, including 3 which are listed as the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra World Heritage Site—Gunung Leuser National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park.
The island is home to 201 mammal species and 580 bird species.
Sumatra has a huge range of plant and animal species but has lost almost 50% of its tropical rainforest in the last 35 years and many species are Critically Endangered such as Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Rhino and Sumatran Orangutan.
The people represent many different ethnic groups, speaking 52 different languages. Most of these groups, however, share many similar traditions and the different tongues are closely related.
87% of Sumatrans are thought to be Muslim with 10% Christian, 2% Buddhist and 1% Hindu.
Malay-speaking people dominate the eastern coast, while people in the southern and central interior speak languages related to Malay, such as the Lampung and Minangkabau people. The highlands of northern Sumatra is inhabited by the Bataks, while the northernmost coast is dominated by Acehs. Ethnic Chinese minorities are also present in urban centers.
- Indonesia has several traditions and customs and it is best if you know them beforehand. Some of them are:
- Even though hand shaking is deemed appropriate between men and women, bear in mind that a number of Muslim women prefer to introduce themselves to men by nodding their head, smiling, and clasping their hands without any physical contact.
- Traditionally, when you greet someone, both hands are used when shaking, without grasping.
- Shoes must be taken off before entering a house or place of worship like mosques.
- Usually drinks are offered to guests. It is polite to accept.
- When eating, receiving or giving something, always use your right hand. Right index finger should not be used to point a place, items or people. Use the right hand thumb and fold the remaining fingers to be more polite.
- Most Indonesian Muslims do not consume alcoholic drinks and pork. Hence, the tradition of proposing a toast to honor someone is not generally known.
- If you visit someone’s house you may be asked if you have already eaten – “Sudah Makan?” The polite answer is Sudah (Already).
- Indonesian people are very welcoming and friendly and tend to be very smiley. You will attend to be asked “where do you come from” and call you with “mister” even though you are woman
- Do not feed, approach or touch orangutans or other wild animals under any circumstances.
- Always follow the lead of your guide when encountering wild animals, staying a safe distance away.
- Visitors should not remove, damage, or alter any of the vegetation within the forest.
- Leaves, seeds and shells all play a role within the forest ecosystem and should not be taken out.
- Don’t go to jungle if you feel sick. If the guide feels that a visitor is not well enough authority to refuse entry to the visitor
If you have any other questions please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.