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Published: August 7th 2018
Jim, the Habitat employee, helped us plan and execute the next two days of our honeymoon. His brother-in-law (Nia) is a driver in Medan and the driver’s cousin (Wanda) is a trekking guide. This was exactly the hook-up we needed to accomplish our planned activities.
Sunday, we planned to hike into the jungle
to see some wild and semi-wild orangutans. Guides are required by law to hike in this area. Nia picked us up at 7:00 to drive us out to Bukit Lawang
(“Gateway to the Hills”). We rendezvoused with Wanda at his house and he followed us to the trailhead. Wanda had a good command of the English language and was impressively knowledgeable about apes and the jungle in general. We hit the trail with Wanda and his 17-year-old son Fabio.
After 15 minutes on the trail, we saw our first primate. A gibbon high in a tree. Wanda pointed him out and explained several facts about gibbons. One that stuck with us is that gibbons can travel roughly 40 MPH from tree to tree. We also saw large groups of Thomas Monkeys who were most active.
We continued onward. The hiking was strenuous as the trails were
steep and at times slick. Before long we spotted our first orangutan! This ape was wild which meant that it was never in captivity. Some of the apes are semi-wild because the area was an orangutan sanctuary until several years ago. We stopped for some fruit which Wanda and Fabio had packed in. We enjoyed bananas, yellow watermelon, pineapple, passion fruit, and mango stein.
Later, we spotted a mother orang with one of her adolescent sons and a two-week-old baby. These three put on quite a show. They climbed in a few trees while a crowd gathered. The adolescent was working on getting into a termite nest. Eventually, they moved on. We were eating a trail-side lunch when we heard the apes were back. We hustled over to see the same three apes again.
It was a no-brainer to choose rafting back to town rather than hiking. Our hike down to the river was not long but it was a sharp descent. Along the trail, we encountered two orangutans who were known to be a little aggressive. Wanda skillfully distracted them while Fabio led us further down the path. When we reached the river valley floor, an orangutan
was in a low tree posing while tourists took photos.
We took a pleasant plunge into the river and leisurely swam for a bit. There was a flotilla of innertubes tided together for us to ride down the river. The water was cool and the rapids gave us an exciting exit to the jungle. Along the journey we passed several hotels and lodges right along the river. We vowed if we ever return to this part of Sumatra, we would stay in a river hotel rather than in Medan. We got back to the trailhead area which was now crowded with weekend picnickers and monkeys.
We hopped in Nia’s car and headed back to Medan. During the drive we made plans for Nia to pick us up the next morning for another day-long excursion. We were tired and decided to grab some Texas Chicken takeout and eat dinner in the hotel room.
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