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Explore North Sumatra

batak dance

Explore North Sumatra Highlights aims to discover the highlight places as best places to travel in North Sumatra such as Tangkahan, bukit Lawang, Berastagi and Lake Toba in Samosir Island.

Tangkahan is sometimes mentioned as the ‘hidden paradise in Sumatra’. It is definitely hidden and for many a paradise. Tangkahan is an interesting place in many ways. Interesting for what it has to offer and an interesting background. The elephants, the jungle, and the clean rivers are obvious attractions. What makes Tangkahan different is that it is a good example on how community based eco-tourism can stop illegal logging, improve livelihood, and develop a sense of pride amongst the locals. This development on the border of Leuser National Park where the bigger river Batang Serangan meets the smaller river Sungai Musam is the hidden paradise of Tangkahan.

Bukit Lawang, also in north sumatra is home to rainforests inhabited by exotic wildlife, framed by towering volcanoes and waterfalls cascading down into verdant valleys. In the village of Tangkahan, a team of elephants and their mahouts work together to maintain a fledgling national park, where visitors can join these gentle giants at work and play in the pristine rivers and jungle paths of the region. Just upriver, the village of Bukit Lawang is the perfect place to see orangutan in the wild. The apes here have grown used to human interaction, so expect some up close and personal encounters.

Berastagi is about 66 kilometers from Medan City. Berastagi is flanked by 2 active volcanoes, namely Mount Sibayak and Mount Sinabung. Near Mount Sibayak, there are hot springs. Berastagi itself is located at an altitude of more than 1300 meters above sea level, making this city one of the coldest cities in Indonesia.

Lake Toba, in north sumatra is the ancestral home of the Batak tribes. The word Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of ethnic groups found in this region. The term is used to include the Karo, Pakpak, Simalungun, Toba, Angkola, and Mandailing; related groups with distinct languages and customs (adat). Toba Batak are known traditionally for their weaving, wood carving and especially ornate stone tombs. The area surrounding Lake Toba is home to many fascinating villages; the setting for ancient performances of dance and theatre on the modern stage.


Day 01: Kuala Namu Airport – Tangkahan 

Upon arrival at Kuala Namu airport, we welcome you before proceeding to Tangkahan a drive of about 4 hours crossing the main road passing several small villages with countryside landscape of rubber and oil palm plantations line. Arrive at Tangkahan, crossing a small river by cable and pulley driven by dugout canoe to reach a simple jungle lodge for check in.

Lunch and dinner at own arrangement. Accommodation at MEGA INN / JUNGLE LODGE (non-star). Very simple accommodation but best available choice

Day 02: Tangkahan – Bukit Lawang [B/-/-]

Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Morning Elephant trekking for about 1 hour through the Leuser National Park started with 20 minutes’ walk to a small elephant sanctuary to meet the elephant and their mahouts. (Remark: Elephant ride and trekking is not available on Monday, Thursday & Friday). Proceed down to the river to help with the morning, bath elephant before climbing on board for an hour trek through the jungle. The trek will once cross deep river, climbing up and down steep jungle routes while mahout will seat on top of its head and using his feet to tap its ears and steer through the underground. Then we leave the river on foot return to the lodge the free at your leisure.

Afternoon proceed the journey to Bukit lawang Gunung Leuser National Park, one of the largest national parks in the world containing over 800,000 ha of virgin rainforest. The journey leads past scenic rubber and palms plantations, and small villages, near Bukit Lawang we hike into the forest giving an up-close view of incredible scenery with various tropical plants including a tangle of enormous trees, twisting lianas, palms, ferns, and wonderful flowers.

Late in the afternoon, we arrive in Bukit Lawang, if the time permit, enjoy a short walk to the river side or crossing the river on a hanging cable plank bridge to the neighborhood resort.

Lunch and dinner at own arrangement. Accommodation at RINDU ALAM HOTEL/ BUKIT LAWANG (non-star). Simple accommodation

Day 03: Bukit Lawang – Berastagi [B/-/-] 

After early breakfast, we are walking for 35 – 45 minutes from the hotel on a rocky path passing stalls & lodges leading to a bend in the river crossing by a cable and pulley driven dugout canoe. Follow the steep trail through the forest lead to the feeding flat form where the Orang Utans are fed twice a day. Watch the Orang Utans at the feeding site. Afterward continue with a short trek walking through the rainforest with possible observation to park’s primates; Long tailed Macaque, Thomas’s Leaf Monkey, White-handed Gibbon & semi wild Orangutans and floral life including a tangle of enormous trees, twisting lianas, palms, ferns and wonderful flowers on the path heading to the Lodge prepared for checking out.

Note: Camera fee inside National Park is IDR 50,000 and handy cam is IDR 150,000 and has to be paid on spot.

Continue drive to the cool and pleasant highland town of Berastagi passing through country side and enormous government-owned estate of oil palm and rubber plantation. Upon arrival at Berastagi, we stop and wander around at a tropical fruit market before transfer you to the hotel for overnight.

Lunch and dinner at own arrangement. Accommodation at GRAND MUTIARA (Superior Room)

Day 04: Berastagi – Samosir Island [B/-/-]

Breakfast at the hotel. Scenic drives to Lake Toba, one of the deepest and largest crater lakes in the world, stop at Dokan, a Karo village with number of traditional houses, we visit one of the houses which still being used by eight families living in together. Next visit is at Sipiso piso waterfall and the long house of king Simarjarunjun.

Arrive at Parapat, a little town at the edge of the lake Toba, we cross the lake by motor boat (ferry boat for about an hour) to reach Samosir Island the homeland of Batak people. Rest of day is free at leisure

Lunch and dinner at own arrangement. Accommodation at TABO COTTAGE (Superior Room)

Day 05: Samosir Excursion [B/-/-]

Breakfast at the hotel. We spend a day cruising by boat around Samosir Island to Ambarita to see the traditional Batak village with its ancient megalith furniture. Then continue to Simanindo to see the Batak Toba traditional houses and to see Folk dance. Proceed by boat to Tomok Village with its historical old tombs of king Sidabutar. Afterward begin walking tour through the terrace of the paddy-field and hill. During trek you will be seeing the scenic Lake Toba from different point of view. It takes about 4 hours including stop to finish it. The trek will end before sunset where your driver will pick you up and drive to your hotel.

Tour Highlight: visiting the traditional villages where the local people of Batak tribe alive, and explore their unique culture.

Lunch and dinner at own arrangement. Accommodation at TABO COTTAGE (Superior Room)

Day 06: Samosir Island – Medan [B/-/-]

Breakfast at the hotel. Morning is free at leisure until the appropriate time to cross over by ferry boat for about an hour back to Parapat. We drive downhill passing by winding road with lovely countryside back to Medan. Enroute we will visit Buddhist temple, then continue to paten store. After we arrive in Medan and then directly transfer to your hotel in Medan for overnight.

Lunch and dinner at own arrangement. Accommodation at SWISS BEL HOTEL MEDAN (Superior)

Day 07: Medan – Departure [B/-/-]

Breakfast at hotel. Morning is free at leisure for relaxing until the check-out time at 12:00 hours. Should there be any day used of room requested until maximum 18:00 hours, it will be subject to the availability upon booking. At appropriate time departure from the hotel to the airport to catch the flight for your onward destination.


Our ‘Explore North Sumatra Tour’ Includes:

      • Twin share accommodation at selected hotel or similar category with daily breakfast
      • Transportation by air-conditioned car with English speaking guide. Other languages guide speaking such as German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian speaking guide available upon request
      • Permit and local ranger in Tangkahan & Bukit Lawang
      • Maximum to 01 hour Elephant Trekking
      • Boat transfer to/from Samosir Island
      • All entrance fee, donations (except the fee for bringing camera or handy cam)
      • Service charge, room tax, VAT, driver and guide expenses, and baggage handling

Our ‘Explore North Sumatra Tour’ NOT Includes:

      • Expenditures of a personal nature, such as drinks, souvenirs and laundry etc.
      • Other tours & meals are not mentioned in the program.
      • Tipping for guide & driver
      • Travel Insurance
      • Domestic or International Airfare
Sumatra, Indonesia
5 days

Explore North Sumatra

Lake Toba, in north sumatra is the ancestral home of the Batak tribes. The word Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of ethnic groups found in this region.

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