Meeting the Critically Endangered Sumatran Orangutans in Bukit Lawang, Sumatera


Bukit Lawang is a perfect place to see the critically endangered Sumatran orangutans and sadly, it is also one of the last places in the world where you have the unique chance to observe the rare Sumatran orangutan in his natural habitat….


Located 90 km from Medan–capital of North Sumatera, you can easily sign up for one of the jungle trekking tours that will bring you through the rainforest of Gunung Leuser National Park, starting from the Bukit Lawang village…


The Gunung Leuser National Park also habitat for many other species of flowers, plants and exotic animals such as the Sumatran orangutan, Thomas’s langur (Thomas leaf monkey) – unique to northern Sumatera, Silvery lutung (silver leaf monkey), Wreathed hornbill, Siamang (black gibbon), Sumatran lar gibbon (white-handed gibbon), Crab-eating macaque (long-tailed macaque), Southern pig-tailed macaque, Sunda slow loris, Wild boar (banded pig), Water monitor lizards, Sumatran peacock, Reticulated python, Wagler’s pit viper, Asiatic softshell turtle, Red giant flying squirrel, Malayan giant squirrel, Lesser mouse-deer, Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhinoceros, Sumatran elephant, Malayan sun bear and Clouded leopard…

The tropical rainforests of the Gunung Leuser National Park together with 2 more national parks on Sumatra, are part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 2004…


First animal we came across on our way up the hill is the Thomas Leaf Monkey. This type of monkey is easy to spot because of its stylish hair… The Thomas Leaf Monkey is friendly and unafraid of humans and because of their stylish hairdo, are also regarded as the Funky Monkey.. We however decided to just call him/them Thomas… Lol


Despite being in Bukit Lawang, it will depend on your luck if you get to meet an orangutan or two during your jungle trekking… If you are lucky, you do get to see the orangutans here but there are also many people who don’t… Remember that this is the jungle after all and the orangutans here live freely in the wild…


We were hiking for a good hour and did not even catch a glimpse of any orangutans.. We however saw the Malayan Sun Bear’s pawprints ascending a high tree and wild boar tracks…

We were resting for a while while or tour guide went “shopping” for sightings and info from his fellow guides… Before he called us and made us trek even higher up the hill…


Panting in exhaustion and half sweating like a pig, our stress and annoyance at getting “slapped” by tree branches, braving the leeches and almost slipping in the mud, (as it rained the day before) just fell away when we caught sight of a juvenile orangutan hanging on a branch nearby and his mother looking on… It was a priceless feeling being this close and witnessing wildlife in the wild.. And not caged away or such… And they were so close within touching distance…

You are of course not to get too close to the Orangutans and other animals as this would increase the risk of passing viral infections and diseases to them, which will endanger their chance of survival as well as risk getting injured by them too. Do your bit to protect the Orangutans and other wildlife!

Website –

Address – Jalan Besar Bukit Lawang,  Bohorok, Kabupaten Langkat, Sumatera Utara 20774

Heartfelt thanks to KBRI Kuala LumpurTourism Indonesia for this kind opportunity and to Jaslin Puasa and Abang Fadli for the kind recommendations

Photos from Jaslin Puasa, Ika Shafarey and Khalishan Alias

2 thoughts on “Meeting the Critically Endangered Sumatran Orangutans in Bukit Lawang, Sumatera

  1. What a great experience! I love orangutans. I have seen them at the Kinabatang River and also at the Sepilok Oranguntan Rehabilitation Center, both in Sabah. Such precious animals. It’s tragic how they are losing their ground due to deforestation and oil palm plantations. Grrrr…


    • I know right, like you I have also been blessed to get to see them a few times in rehabilitation centres like Sepilok, Bukit Merah and Semenggoh, as well as the Singapore Zoo but nothing beats coming face to face in the wild like this….

      Liked by 1 person

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