Sumatra is one of the least visited islands in Indonesia, yet one of the most attractive and upcoming destinations for adventure travellers and gap year go-ers alike! As the big brother to Bali situated in Western Indonesia, expect to come face-to-face with Orangutans in the rainforest and experience island life like you’ve never seen it before.
1. The exotic wildlife
There are few places on earth that can compete with Sumatra’s rich biodiversity of wildlife. A typical safari in Sumatra will track exotic animals such as: tigers, elephants, rhinoceros, bears, tapir and a variety of primates. These safaris are relatively cheap and often allow the truly keen animal lovers to stay the night in animal sanctuaries as well.
2. Critically endangered Sumatran orangutan
Unfortunately, the illegal deforestation by logging and palm oil companies has demolished large swathes of the Sumatran orang-utans natural habitat. As a result the primate is now classed as ‘critically endangered’ and experts believe there are now fewer than 7,000 left in the wild. Luckily eco-tourism from wildlife tours has allowed visitors to marvel at these intelligent creatures whilst helping to rebuild their home. This is a truly remarkable experience and a definite must on your visit.
3. Beautiful waterfalls
The changing landscape of Sumatra has created a number of vast waterfalls. The majority are easily accessible and, if you dare, some even allow you to take a dip in the freezing plunge pools! Either way, the sheer size of some of these natural formations are mind boggling and offer some fantastic photo opportunities!
The western coast of Sumatra (and most of Indonesia, for that matter) is home to a landscape that is littered with volcanoes. Whilst the vast majority are dormant, they will still offer a challenging hike and reward your efforts with beautiful views from their heights.
Ever fancied spending the night in the jungle? In Sumatra, experienced guides will take you on a trek through the dense undergrowth, pointing out wildlife along the way, until you reach your accommodation deep in the jungle. You’ll spend the night listening to the noises of the jungle and wake up to delicious breakfast before heading back. Rambo – eat your heart out.
6. Stunning lakes
Sumatra boasts some truly vast lakes, none of which are more impressive than Lake Tabo. Samosir Island is located in the middle of Lake Toba and its stunning natural beauty makes it a must see on your visit. It’s also possible to rent paddle boards or kayaks on the island which allows you to explore all the beaches that would normally be inaccessible.
7. River tubing
You’ve probably never considered floating down a river in a rubber ring, but now you know it exists I bet you’d like to give it a try! There are over 47 rivers dotted around Sumatra and most offer this unique and brilliant activity – I hope you brought your swimming costume!
8. Island life
Take a moment to visualise white sands, crystal clear waves lapping at your feet and coconut trees lining the shore. Heaven, right? No, Sumatra! Overlooked by tourists, just off the coast of Sumatra are some of the most unspoiled beaches in the world. The few bars that do exist are more like small shacks, which means you can sip on your Pina Colada in quiet bliss!
9. Traditional culture
The daily interactions of locals are influenced by religious and traditional beliefs, so much so that you couldn’t ignore them if you tried. For instance, all important acts are only performed with your right hand (such as: shaking hands, passing and receiving money or food), since the left hand is considered evil. Also, it is offensive to touch someone’s head, as it is believed to be a sacred part of the body. Sumatran culture is brimming with weird and wonderful customs and the hospitality of the islands inhabitants make every interaction a treat.
10. Adventure activities
Sumatra boasts some of the most incredible landscapes around. Whether you’re a beach babe, a mountain man, a river raver or a jungle guru, the vastly different environments offer activities ranging from white water rafting to jungle survival lessons. Whatever you’re into, Sumatra can offer something to take your fancy!
Have you ever been to Sumatra? What other reasons might you suggest for people to want to visit?