The idyllic Indonesian island of Sumatra, known for its dramatic tropical terrain and smouldering volcanoes, is the place to go to lose yourself in nature. Few isles have the allure and ability to captivate like Sumatra holidays do. You can relax on deserted beaches, trek into lush jungles and see plenty of wonderfully wacky wildlife, including sun bears (the smallest bear in the world) and flying foxes (the largest bats in the world). It’s a haven that’s rife for exploring and its enigmatic beauty seeps into every corner, with plenty of adventures to be had throughout the island. Explore the beautiful
mountainous area of Bukittinggi and meet the Minangkabau people who live there. Experience first-hand the matriarchal society they live in (the largest in the world) and learn about how property, family name and land passes from mothers to daughters instead of from fathers to sons. Tailor-made Sumatra holidays offer a tour with a difference, one that’s sure to leave everyone from adventure lovers and beach lounging enthusiasts to culture fiends and first time Sumatra holiday goers longing for another night's stay...
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Holly made excellent suggestions and creates the perfectly balanced trip that ticked all our boxes. The Concierge was very helpful throughout and the absolutel highlights were seeing monkeys and deer on Manjangan Island, and watching the sunset from the magnificent tower.
What can you find in Sumatra that you won't find anywhere else?
Straddling the equator, Sumatra is the world's sixth largest island, and a perfect example of nature in her rawest form, with grumbling volcanoes, lush tropical rainforest, and deep canyons sitting side by side. Much of the island remains undiscovered by the majority of travellers, allowing the Sumatran rainforest to harbour several endangered species, including the Sumatran Tiger and the Sumatran Rhino. While tiger and rhino sightings are nigh on impossible for the fleeting visitor, the Gunung Leuser National Park in Northern Sumatra is home to a wealth of exotic flora and fauna, including a healthy population of orangutans. Sumatra holidays offer the chance to travel to a place unified by its respect and appreciation for the wild and magnificent land so many creatures (big and small) call home.
Which experiences is Sumatra best for?
Head into UNESCO-listed Gunung Leuser National Park to see orangutans aplenty. One of the world’s most important and biologically diverse conservation areas, the park is also home to a number of other exotic and rare species including tigers, rhinos and elephants. The old orangutan rehabilitation centre at Bukit Lawang is one of those valuable conservation success stories, having rehabilitated and released an impressive 200 orangutans into Gunung Leuser, meaning those who are willing to endure the often-humid trekking conditions have a good chance of spotting these beautiful creatures in their natural surroundings, as well as other species including the charmingly quiffed Thomas Leaf monkey. For those that don't fancy the trekking, twice daily feeding sessions attract both semi-wild orangutan, and semi-fit tourists.
For the real rainforest aficionados, heading deeper into Gunung Leuser is a must to explore more remote jungle trails and lose days hammock-bound, swaying over the gurgling waters of the Bohorok river. The village of Tangkahan is another must when on holiday in Sumatra, here an enclave of loggers-turned-conservationists patrol the rainforest on elephants, aiming to prevent illegal logging and poaching in this habitat. This ecotourism venture welcomes visitors too, who can meet and bathe the resident ele's.
For charming colonial buildings and a taste of Indonesian urban character, visit Sumatra’s major metropolis, Medan. See some seriously impressive architecture on visits to Maimoon Palace and the Catholic church of Maria Velangkanni and admire the bright colours and ornate details of the facades. Delve into the island’s bustling Batak markets in the small towns of Balige and Berastaggi and buy hand woven cloths and paintings to take home as souvenirs of your Sumatra holiday.
Take a trip to the picture-perfect Lake Toba to see the towering Sipiso Piso waterfalls and boat out to the idyllic island of Samosir, where you’ll find the Old
Tomb of King Sidabutar as well as plenty of distinctive pointy-roofed Batak buildings. Lake Toba was formed out of the largest known volcanic eruption to have hit the planet in the last 25 million years. Toba is quite simply huge, measuring over 1,600ft deep in parts, and Samosir Island is itself the size of Singapore. Toba experienced an eruption of a different kind in the 80's, when an influx of backpackers brought full moon parties to the lakeshore. Today, things around Toba are considerably calmer, where days are spent relaxing by the lake shore, and visiting the megalithic tombs and Christian Batak Villages in the region. One thing is for certain, holidays in Sumatra are sure to promise sand-coated deserted beaches lapped by clear barrels of surf and equal lashings of R&R.
Marvel at the mighty volcanoes scattered across the island and visit the city of Bukittinggi, which is nestled among them. After plenty of exploring, reward yourself with a relaxing stay on the tranquil island of Cubadak, which boasts salt-white sand beaches and gin-clear waters – the perfect tonic when on holiday to Sumatra.
Who is Sumatra best for?
Sumatra holidays suit anyone who has a love of nature, an interest in living customs and the desire to fill their trip with plenty of fascinating discoveries.
The best way to discover Sumatra
There’s no denying that Sumatra holidays are rich with exciting wildlife, pristine beaches and plenty of travel opportunities that involve learning alongside the Indigenous people. But after a busy holiday exploring, take some time to slow down and relax on a visit to the beautiful island of Cubadak. This exclusive white sand beach is surrounded by calm and phosphorescent waters in the west Sumatra province. It’s an island bordered by jagged mountains, that shelter the paradise spot from the strong sea currents. Dip into the glass-like waters, shade under the palm tree-lined shoreline and indulge yourself in some serious rest and relaxation – you've earned it.
Unique experiences on a trip to Sumatra
- Trek deep into Gunung Leuser National Park and enjoy the unforgettable experience of seeing orangutans emerge from the forest and swing playfully above your head.
- Take a trip off the western coast of Sumatra to the tropical Mentawai Islands, where you can meet the local ‘Flower People’ and learn about their semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
- Explore the sleepy riverside village of Bukit Lawang
- Marvel at otherworldly flowers as you see Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world with an average diameter of one metre, and titan arum, the highest and most fluorescent flower in the world.