This wildlife tour explores some of Indonesia’s most iconic wildlife destinations, first heading to both north and south Sumatra and then onto the famous Komodo National Park. By visiting the national parks of Gunung Leuser, Way Kambas and Komodo Islands you will experience a wide range of ecosystems, as well as having the chance to see a huge range of wildlife. Many species will be endemic to the islands we see them on. The first port of call will be the Sumatran orangutan’s last stronghold in the north of Sumatra, Gunung Leuser National Park. Next is a trip around Komodo and Rinca Islands where we go in search of the world’s largest lizard and aptly named Komodo dragon. Your final stop will be to head to the southern tip of Sumatra and to the mammal rich forests of Way Kambas National Park, this is the only place left in Indonesia where rhinos, elephants, tigers, sun bears and tapirs all still coexist. Add to these species a vast range of smaller mammals and you have one of the world’s most mammal diverse forests. As well as spending most of your time on Sumatra, Komodo and Rinca you will also visit the islands of Java, Flores and Bali making this a great overview of some of Indonesia’s most iconic islands.
Today you will arrive in Jakarta and meet your local guide at the airport. You will be taken to the hotel for the night, the rest of the day will be free for you to rest and relax before you head to Sumatra tomorrow.
Gunung Leuser National Park
This morning will be an early start as our flight from Jakarta to Medan in north-east Sumatra is early. Once we arrive in Medan we will be met by a local driver and transferred inland towards the forests of Gunung Leuser National Park (4.5 hours). Gunung Leuser National Park is a mountainous area of protected forest that is home to the largest population of wild Sumatran orangutans remaining in the world. Over the next 2.5 days we will explore the park and hope to come across some of these orangutans. We have a great chance as the Ketambe Research Station was set up in 1971 (which in 1973 led to the establishment of Bohorok Orangutan Centre) to specifically help protect, rehabilitate and research orangutan. This has lead to numerous orangutans being re-wilded and reintroduced to the forest, for newly introduced individuals food is left on platforms to help supplement their diet. This is also utilised by older orangutans and completely wild (never been hand reared) orangutans also come to take advantage of the free food. The forest is also home to Sumatran rhinos, Sumatran tigers, Asiatic elephants, Sumatran serow, leopard cats, saimangs and sambar deer however most of these species are very elusive here. We will however have a good chance of seeing orangutans, Thomas’s langur, white-handed gibbons, long-tailed macaques, southern pig-tailed macaques as well as a variety of birds, reptiles and insects. This morning we will be driven to our accommodation in the village of Bukit Lawang, since 1987 the Jungle Inn here has welcomed people who wish to explore the forest and whilst the rooms may lack AC they have fans and a great view out over the river and the national park beyond. After settling into the lodge we will have some lunch. You can discuss with your local guide if you wish to have an afternoon hike around the forest here or just rest this afternoon (that is your decision).
Gunung Leuser National Parl
We will have breakfast before leaving for Gunung Leuser National Park in the morning; guiding by a local expert naturalist guide you will head deep into the forest on our quest for the ‘old man of the forest’ and other primates. The forest here is one of the most biologically diverse in the world along with 175 species of mammals, 320 bird species, 190 reptiles and amphibians and around 10,000 plant species; which is around 45% of the recorded plant species known from the West Indo-Malayan region being found here including many endemic species of birds, reptiles and amphibians that are only found in this highland forest ecosystem. For many years the village of Bukit Lawang was the centre for active rehabilitation and release of the orangutans the operation has moved away from the growing human population here, but when we enter the forest and we have crossed the Bohorok River by canoe one of the first places we will visit is the feeding platform. Food is left here in the morning and the afternoons and whilst not guaranteed it represents our best chance of seeing an orangutan up close. Most of the individuals that use the feeding platforms have only recently been released and are still learning about the forest and finding their own food, however sometimes adult females come back after many years of living wild in the forest and they bring their offspring (who were born in the wild) and they learn about this free and easy food source. Despite large scale deforestation in Sumatra the orangutan population in Gunung Leuser is stable and will hopefully lead to the expansion of the species with the future development of protected forested corridors (should these corridors being given the green light by the Indonesian government). As well as visiting the feeding platforms we will also trek through the forest as we try and find fully wild orangutans away from the crowds that can congregate around the feeding platforms. Whilst out in the forest we will also search for other primates such as the beautiful Thomas’s langur, loud and bold macaques and hopefully a family group of one (or both) of the gibbon species here the white-handed gibbon which is more commonly seen and heard and the largest of all gibbons the very vocal siamang. Also regularly seen are slender squirrels, black giant squirrels, Asian pied hornbill, brown fulvetta, Sumatra aceh, Asian glossy starling, yellow-billed warbler and yellow-bellied bulbuls. Whilst out in the forest we will find a nice place to have our packed lunch each day and as the afternoon winds down towards evening we will leave the forest and head back to the accommodation for dinner. If it is possible (it is not always allowed around this forest) we can do a little spotlighting to see if we can find any nocturnal wildlife after dinner.
Today we will have a relaxing morning and after breakfast at the lodge we will be transferred back to the coastal town of Medan. The flight back to the capital is at in the afternoon and so we will have lunch either en-route to Medan or in Medan as we wait to catch the plane. Once we arrive back in the capital city we will catch a taxi to the hotel and once there have dinner and prepare for our next adventure tomorrow when we head to the arid scrub forests of Komodo Islands National Park.
Rinca Island (Komodo National Park)
This morning will once again be an early start as we head to Jakarta airport for our flight to Denpasar in Bali and then connect with the flight to the island of Flores and specifically the town of Labuan Bajo on the western coast. Once in Labuan Bajo we will be met by our local Komodo Islands guide and taken to the harbour, here we will board our boat that we will be travelling, eating and sleeping on for the next couple of days. Once we arrive at Rinca Island we will begin a trek into the heart of the island searching for the legendary and enormous Komodo dragons. Komodo dragons are the largest extant species of lizard and growing up to 3m long they are the top predator on Rinca and the other 5 islands they still inhabit. They once ranged over a larger area but they have been hunted to extinction on all but the 5 islands (Komodo, Rinca, Flores (only small pockets), Gili Motang and Padar) that make up the Komodo Islands National Park. Rinca differs from Komodo Island in being a small island with a small human population, it is less busy and shows you the pristine dry scrub ecosystem that used to cover most of the islands in the Lesser Sunda Archipelago. As well as the iconic Komodo dragons we will also search for water buffalo, wild boar, Timor rusa deer, long-tailed macaques, orange-footed scrubfowl, zebra doves, green imperial pigeons, Javan spitting cobras, Asian bullfrogs and the endemic (to Rinca Island only) Rinca rat. We will explore the island in full today and then in the afternoon we will head to a small nearby island that has a large colony of flying foxes. As the flying foxes begin to leave their roosts to feed the sight is spectacular. There are three species here including Sunda flying fox, Island flying fox and the large flying fox. We will then have dinner on board the boat and sleep offshore. Tomorrow we will explore the iconic island of Komodo where the truly huge dragons can be found.
Komodo Island (Komdo National Park)
Early this morning we will arrive at Komodo Island and begin a hike around the coastal shrub forests of this infamous island. Obviously the main target of today will be to find and get close up views of the island’s most incredible and famous residents the Komodo dragon. We will meet a National Park Ranger and be escorted on our quest to find large Komodo dragons. But whilst here we have a chance to see water buffalo, rusa deer, wild pigs and many bird species. The ecosystem of this island and the other Lesser Sundas is significantly different to nearby islands so many of the species found here will not be found in other islands we visit on this tour. We will spend the morning on the island and also visit the ranger station and local villages along the coast, here the dragons have got very used to people and more importantly food that is left for them and it is here that we are most likely to see many dragons together and interacting with each-other. The only other occasions when large numbers of adult Komodo dragons are found together are when they are in the breeding season (which is January and not the best time of year for the other wildlife in Indonesia) and at a large carcass such as a water buffalo, horse or deer, however these are very rare and hard to come across as they tend to occur deep in the interior of the island. Later in the day we will depart the island and head to the larger island of Flores, once back at Labuan Bajo we will check into our accommodation and have dinner here or at a nearby resturant. Flores is another unique island in Indonesia with a rich and varied range of wildlife and also intriguing homonid remains including the famous ‘Hobbit’ fossils of one of our early ancestors whom lived alongside humans some 94,000-12,000 years ago. This amazing discovery was only found in 2003 and shows that the forests, caves and islands in Indonesia have many more secrets for us to find, as long as we haven’t destroyed everything first.
Flores & Bali
This morning we will have breakfast at the hotel before a guided tour around some of the local markets in Labaun Bajo and then onto explore the underground world of Batu Cermin Cave. This is a wonderful mosaic of stalactites and stalagmites. The cave system is set within an impressive rock formation and through a hole in the cave, rays of light shine through and bounce off the rocks which gives the cave its name (Batu Cermin meaning Mirror Cave). Whilst in the cave there are numerous species of bats and spiders, most of the bats are of the genus Rhinolophus and we will try to identify some of the species we see. After this visit we will catch our flight from Flores back to Denpasar on the popular holiday destination island of Bali. After we arrive in Denpasar we will check into our accommodation and the rest of the afternoon / evening will be free for you to relax and tomorrow we will leave for southern Sumatra via Jakarta early in the morning.
Way Kambas National Park
This morning we will leave the resort before dawn and catch our first flight of the day and travel to Jakarta we will then connect to Bandar Lampung in southern Sumatra. We will then be met by a local driver and transported to Satwa Eco Lodge, (3-4 hours), once we arrive at the lodge we will check in and if time allows we will have an afternoon / evening jeep drive. The lodge is located on the outskirts of the Way Kambas National Park that is home to many species of mammals and birds that are on the brink of extinction and this protected forest (1,300km2) is the last stronghold of many, including the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhino and Malayan tapir. If we have time to head out this afternoon / evening we will most likely head along the jeep track that connects the lodge to the Rhino Centre, Elephant Sanctuary and Way Batin Bridge. Along the various sections of this road many of the areas rare and elusive mammals and nocturnal birds can be seen. After we have checked in we will have a briefing with our local guide before deciding on the best course of action for this evening. Just around the pathway from the lodge to the park entrance can be productive for Sunda slow loris after dark, over the next week we will explore the park and the jeep trails here in full as we hope to find some of the worlds most elusive and incredible wildlife. We will also have dinner at the lodge tonight and tomorrow begin our thorough exploration of Way Kambas and the awesome range of species that can be found here.
Way Kambas National Park
Over the 6 full days we will have morning and afternoon / evening excursions in search of wildlife. The exact itinerary will be decided by our guide and depending on what animals we are keen on seeing and what sighting have been made recently. But the main activities that we will have when here will be jeep safaris along the trails that lead to the lodge and the forest and river safaris along both the Way Batin and Way Kanan rivers. We will also have spotlighting drives along the jeep trails after dark, Way Kambas is widely regarded as the best place in the world for nocturnal birds and it is not uncommon to see large frogmouths, Javan frogmouths, Sunda frogmouths, large-tailed nightjars, savanna nightjars, Bonaparte’s nightjars, Buffy fish owls, brown hawk owls, collared scops owls and reddish scops owls within a few days of spotlighting. Other bird highlights in Way Kambas include Storm’s stork, woolly-necked stork, lesser adjutant, crested fireback, great argus, oriental darter and the critically endangered white-winged duck. In fact only around 24-38 of these rare ducks remain in Way Kambas which is the largest remaining population in Sumatra. However the most conspicuous and sought after diurnal birds here are the 9 species of hornbill that inhabit the forests of Way Kambas. Another very rare non mammalian animal in Way Kambas is the false gharial, a crocodilian that inhabits the coastal swamps. We would be very lucky to see one of these but we should keep our eyes peeled when on river safaris. Most of the mornings will start at dawn and before breakfast we will head out on a jeep or river safari with breakfast afterwards, then the midday heat will be spent around the lodge (where common tree-shrews, plantain squirrels and common garden birds can be seen the lodge grounds), before heading out again on another jeep or boat safari we will also have spotlighting sessions in the evening as this a very productive time for many mammals and of course the forests famous nocturnal birds. Along the roads at night we could see various civet species including small-toothed palm civets, Malayan civets and masked palm civets as well as possibly spotting rare marbled cats, Sunda clouded leopards and the more commonly seen leopard cat. This road is also frequented by wild boar, Asiatic elephants, sambar and Indian muntjacs. Also seen from the roads are squirrels, common squirrels are black-eared squirrels, plantain squirrels, Prevost’s squirrel during the day and larger black flying squirrels and red giant flying squirrels by night. During the day there are also many primate species that can be seen around here such as the iconic and targeted siamang, southern pig-tailed macaques, long-tailed macaques, mitred leaf monkey, agile gibbon and silvered leaf monkeys. Along the rivers (both Way Batin and Way Kanan) can be productive for smooth-coated otters, primates, squirrels, oriental short-clawed otters and as we cruise along the rivers there is always the chance of a real special sighting as Malayan tapir and sun bears have been spotted along these rivers on more than one occasion and the dream would be of course one of the 200-300 or so Sumatran tigers or the even rarer Sumatran rhino! In between all of our wildlife watching activities will we have meals and rest time at the lodge.
Jakarta / Home
This morning we will have breakfast before being transferred back to Bandar Lampang in time to catch our afternoon flight back to Jakarta in the mid afternoon. You should arrange your flight for tonight or if you wish to spend the night in Jakarta and fly back the next day we can make these arrangements for you also.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
Sumatra’s climate is very tropical. This means one minute the weather is hot and humid, the next it is raining in sheets. However, in general, throughout the year, the temperature during the day remains in between 21-30C. As with all tropical climates, Sumatra has a rainy season and a dry season. The dry season lasts from May to September. The wet season however is harder to define and forecast. September is the height of the dry season and this should improve our chances of seeing wildlife, particularly along the rivers in Way Kambas.
The weather on Komodo Islands differs slightly from other areas of Indonesia. The dry season is slightly longer, and the months of the wet season are slightly different. The months between April and October, are the dry season and are prone to be extremely arid, this means that water can become scarce during these months. During the dry season and the summer months, there is typically a cool ocean breeze, which helps to alleviate the extreme temperatures that can soar up to 43C. During these months you will find a lack of humidity as well, further making the temperatures more manageable and bearable.
Our short stays in Java, Flores & Bali should be dry with very little cloud cover and little if any rain.
Everything mentioned in the above itinerary is included. Including accommodation, all transfers, guides, activities and most meals are included (however lunches and dinners in towns and cities are often not included). There will be bottled water provided on request throughout the tour.
We will also have our own private vehicles for transfers and excellent local drivers. We also use expert local guides in Gunung Leuser, Way Kambas & Komodo National Parks, who have years of experience working these areas and all safari activities are included. All your park entrance fees are also included. A chartered boat for your cruise around Komodo National Park is also included as is the ship’s crew. Also included is a good selection of field guides about the local wildlife as well as a selection of documentaries about Indonesian wildlife. If you wish to watch any of these they will be available of the tour leader’s laptop and the books are available for you to use on request.
All of your internal flights (Jakarta – Medan – Jakarta; Jakarta – Denpasar – Jakarta; Denpasar – Labuan Bajo – Denpasar; Jakarta – Bandar Lampung – Jakarta) are all included in economy class.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or spotting scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be both light and durable walking clothes and also light wicking. Long sleeves are good to keep you out of the sun. If you are interested in snorkelling when in the Komodo Islands National Park you can bring any personal snorkelling equipment with you. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4 people these do not stretch too far. We also provide a spot light for nocturnal viewing (this is subject to local condition when we arrive). Also there is snorkelling equipment available on the boat, but you are welcome to bring your own if you wish.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
We do not book international flights, however we do recommend certain airlines that have good connections to and from our tour start and exit point. We are based in the UK and so recommend these airlines based on what is best available from our home airports (in London and Manchester for example), however we can recommend flight options for you based on wherever you are travelling from.
Good airlines to get from the UK to Indonesia is KLM or Garuda, both have a few different options for arrival and departure from Jakarta and provide competitive prices and a good standard of service on board.
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are not required to have a visa issued in advance for Indonesia. You can get a visa on arrival at Jakarta airport, but it is recommended you seek advance from the Indonesian embassy or consulate in your home country for more information.
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Indonesia, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A as well as taking a form of malaria prophylactics (although this is not mandatory). Please consult your doctor about your individual requirements for visiting Indonesia as soon as you have decided on this trip.
Mr & Mrs. King - Kent, UK
Mr. Quinlan - New York, USA
Mr & Mrs. Fet - Budapest
The Simpson family - Port Lyme