Visit Gunung Leuser National Park

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There is only one place on earth where tigers, elephants, orangutans and rhinos live together in the wild: the Leuser Ecosystem World Heritage Site on the island of Sumatra. Clouded leopards, pangolins, macaques, hornbills, sun bears and unique butterflies also call the region home.

The larger Leuser ecosystem spans 2.6 million hectares (6 million acres), nearly three times the size of Yellowstone National Park. It includes lowland and upland rainforests, nine rivers, three lakes and more than 185,000 hectares of carbon-rich peat. It is home to one of the last remaining intact rainforests in all of Indonesia, a crucial source of clean drinking water and agricultural livelihoods for more than four million people. Gunung Leuser is named after one of the mountains, which stands prominently in the northwestern region of the park.

There are fewer than 80 wild Sumatran rhinos in the world. Most of them live in the Leuser region. At most there are 400 Sumatran tigers I live in the wild. More than 100 live in Leuser. About 85 percent of the world’s critically endangered Sumatran orangutans call this forest home. There are nearly 4,000 plant species that reside in Southeast Asia’s largest expanse of rainforest. It is home to 380 bird species, 194 reptiles and amphibians and nearly 130 mammal species.

As Sumatran’s forests are destroyed, it becomes more likely that the Sumatran orangutans will become the first great ape to go extinct.

It was designated a national park in 1980, one of the top five in the country. The park represents the largest forest block in North Sumatra. This rainforest is a treasure trove of biodiversity, but is highly threatened. Threats have increased since the end of the civil war in North Sumatra. Postwar stability encouraged the rapid encroachment of commercial interests. Elephants and tigers are slaughtered for their skins and tusks. It’s crazy. Between 1985 and 2009, half of Sumatra’s forests were destroyed. The decimation continues today. Despite its protected status, Leuser has lost 20% of its lowland forests to illegal trading over the past five years. At that rate, the forest will disappear in 20 years.

Illegal palm oil plantations are the biggest threat to this unique ecosystem. As global demand for palm oil increases, oil palm farmers are converting more jungle into plantations, which are not biodiversity friendly. This critical ecosystem has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Danger. In addition to palm oil, it faces growing threats from logging, mining and new roads.

Due to the wide range of biodiversity in Mount Leuser National Park (GLNP) and considering its importance to the world, GLNP is included in the Sumatran Tropical Rainforest Biosphere Reserve and Heritage Site by UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area also includes the Rawa Singkil Nature Reserve.

There is untapped tourism potential for Leuser. It’s only two hours from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and three hours from Hong Kong. More than 100 miles of coastline and four diverse ecosystems offer an authentic wilderness experience with fishing, boating, hiking, wildlife viewing, rafting, bird watching, and mountain lodges.

As visitors discover, the trails in Gunung Leuser National Park are not marked with steep, slippery slopes, which is why venturing long distances without a guide is against park policies. There is an entrance fee (about US$20), which is included in the price of the guided tour. Visitors can enter the park for a day or much longer if you’re looking for a wilder experience with a better chance of spotting wildlife. The guides provide everything. Prices for guided tours start at around US$40 per person per day.

Bukit Lawang is the most popular tourist village. It offers easy access to the east side of the national park. It was home to the Bohorok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, which functioned as a rescue and rehabilitation facility until it closed in 2016. They have reintroduced dozens of orangutans into the rainforest near Bukit Lawang, many still call the area home, which offers common sightings of orangutans for today’s visitors.

Gunung Leuser straddles two provinces: Aceh and North Sumatra. The nearest major airport is in Medan. The best way to access the park is from Ketambe.

Indonesia it is the fourth largest nation in the world with over 267 million people. THE Village includes more than 17,500 islands, including Bali, Borneo, Java, Lombok, Sumatra AND Sulawesi.

Find out where to go, what to do and what to say. Learn more about Indonesia than the average Indonesian-speaking traveler. Simple courtesies and greetings will make your trip more productive and rewarding. Our phonetic style makes it impossible to mispronounce important words. Order yours paper copy. Indonesians will glow with joy when you speak just a few words in Bahasa Indonesia. Look at our Indonesian tutorial.

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