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Imagine. Witness. Explore.

Published: 02-Jul-2020

Written by: Carly Day



The concept and inspiration for RAW Wildlife Experiences was first born by CEO Jess McKelson in the rainforests of North Sumatra for good reason. This spectacular region of Sumatra, Indonesia has so much to offer: rolling, tropical rain forested hills teeming with wildlife; endless twisting pristine rivers with waterfalls of all sizes; limestone cliffs that lead down to cool, odorous caves teeming with bats; remote villages full of smiling faces and unique cultures.
There are so many incredible things to see and do in this region alone that it would be easy to fill up several months exploring. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have that kind of time, so we’ve picked our top three favourite experiences in North Sumatra that we recommend.


1) Walking with Elephants in Tangkahan.

Do you know what an elephant sounds like as it moves through the rainforest in search of fresh roots and young leaves to eat? Have you seen how a mother elephant will gently guide her young baby across the strong river so that he won’t get washed away? Have you experienced the vibration that travels through your body of the incredible rumbling, growling vocalisation that elephants make to communicate with one another as they explore the jungle?
In Tankgahan you can experience these spectacular moments when you join the rescued elephants from the Conservation Response Unit as they roam through their natural jungle habitat. After joining the experienced mahouts to help bathe the elephants in the river, you will walk alongside and observe these incredible gentle giants for two hours in the Gunung Leuser National Park. Learn about their social structure, eating habits, group behaviour and the battles facing the wild elephants of the area as you relax in the jungle with the experienced guides and mahouts of Tangkahan. A unique experience that you will never forget.


2) Camp in a waterfall cave in the middle of the jungle.

Round off a day of jungle trekking and spotting macaques, gibbons, Thomas leaf monkeys, hornbills, orangutans, and myriad other iconic Sumatran animals with an incredible evening camping in a cave. This special place in the Gunung Leuser National Park has been adapted to allow guests to experience this exclusive location in comfort.
There is a basic jungle toilet and shower, but even better to wash your hair under the waterfall before settling down to a delicious dinner of local jungle food by candlelight. Our guides will set up airbeds and tents for you within the shallow cave so you can drift off to sleep in comfort with the gentle sounds of the waterfall and the forest to send you to the land of nod.



3) The dawn chorus in the jungle.

Life in the jungle starts as the sun rises and ends as it sets over the horizon. Often, by the time our guests start their treks, the animals have already greeted the world with their calls, had breakfast, and moved off to rest before their next bout of activity in the late afternoon. By setting your alarm early and heading into the jungle, you can experience the sounds of the forest coming to life. If you are doing an overnight stay to the waterfall cave, it’s even easier to head with our guides to a nearby location with a cup of coffee and listen to the soundtrack of an ecosystem not found anywhere else in the world.
Multiple groups of gibbons and siamangs with their high pitched 'woops' will call from all around you, Thomas leaf monkeys chatter to each other, the distinctive cry of the hornbills will echo through the rainforest, and if you’re lucky you will hear the unmistakable swoop of their giant wings as they soar through the canopy above you. You might even hear the hooting long call of a male orangutan as he announces his presence to the forest.


There is so much to see and do in North Sumatra that will take your breath away. These are just three of the experiences that have stayed with the RAW team that we think will make an indelible impression of you. A chance to slow down and truly connect with the natural wonders of this hidden paradise.


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