SUMATRA - INDONESIA
Sumatra has something for everyone to explore - lush rainforests, exotic
flora and fauna, cascading rivers, sparkling crater lakes, beautiful white
sand beaches, impressive volcanoes, limestone caves and an incredible diverse array of traditional ethnic groups
who inhabit some of the most spectacular volcanic landscapes of the world.
For more see the list of
places to go
and the highlights below.
Highlights of Sumatra
Sumatra, part of the Indonesian Archipelago is the 5th largest island in the world after Australia, Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo, with a land mass of 473,481km2. With a population of over 40 million people, it is made up of many different ethnic tribes speaking 52 different languages including Indonesian, Achenese, Toba Batak, Karo Batak, Melayu and Minangkabau amongst the many. The terrain on Sumatra is mostly mountainous and is a paradise for the adventure traveler.
There are many things to see and do traveling around Sumatra. Jungle trekking, surfing, snorkeling and diving, climbing mountains and volcanoes, whitewater rafting, fishing in the ocean, river or lakes and a huge selection of flora and fauna to see.
One of the more unusual sporting events to see in Sumatra is bull fighting (very different from the Spanish version as the bulls are rarely injured). Horse racing is another popular sport all throughout Sumatra.
Sumatra is mostly mountainous with the equator crossing Sumatra just north of Bukittinggi and Padang. The equator is marked with a small monument and white line across the road so it is obviously when you cross it. See photo bottom right corner of this page.
Sumatra is divided into 10 provinces listed below with each of the provinces capital cities:
Cities, Towns and Villages to visit
Islands to visit
Sumatra is tropical so warm all year round. The monsoon season starts in Nov and ends in February. Travel is still possible during this time of year but can slow things up. On the coastline of Sumatra, the temperate is usually 300C or higher. As the majority of central Sumatra is mountainous, a lot of the tourist destinations like Lake Toba, Bukittinggi and Berastagi are cooler during the day. West Sumatra gets the most amount of rain of about 3500mm per year.
The dry season is the best time of year to visit Sumatra which starts in May and ends September. The best months are June and July. The wet season starts in September with regular afternoon showers and progresses through to Jan/Feb with longer periods of rain. Check out the current temps and forecast:
Binjai - weather.yahoo.com/forecast/IDXX0013.html (close to Bukit Lawang)
Sibolga - weather.yahoo.com/forecast/IDXX0059.html
Palembang - weather.yahoo.com/forecast/IDXX0036.html
There are many endangered species including Orangutan, Sumatran tiger and rhinoceros, Asian elephant, tapirs, crocodiles and gibbons. It is believed that there are only around 7000 orangutans in the forests of Sumatra and they are expected to be extinct in the year 2020 due to deforestation.
The largest flower in the world, which can weigh up to 7kg is also found in the rainforest of North Sumatra. Called the rafflesia arnoldi, when in flower it gives off a pungent odour similar to rotting meat. Discovered by Sir Stamford Raffles who was in control of the British colony of Singapore.
Sumatra is renowned for delicious spicy food. There's an excellent selection of food to try including beef randang often claimed to be from Malaysia but originally from Padang. Some excellent Sumatran food recipes are located on this website under Sumatran Food.
Traveling around Sumatra
Travel within Sumatra is generally slow and uncomfortable but worth the effort. As Sumatra is mostly mountainous there is not an extensive train network so most travel is via bus. Most tourist buses are mini-buses seating up to 16 people. The locals use similar buses and fit up to 30 people (some sitting on the roof until the police are in sight). The mini buses are much faster than the large public buses which are extremely cheap but incredible slow passing the mountainous roads.
Sumatra Travel now have package tours available for trips to Bukit Lawang from Medan including car transfer, accommodation and jungle trekking.. For more details on the tours check out our Bukit Lawang Tours page.
Upcoming Events in Sumatra
Lake Toba Festival - July
Malay Culture Festival - South Sumatra
Paragliding & Tourism Swimming Contest
Sumatra is one of the poorest places on the planet and accommodation facilities can be very basic. There are some 5 star and 4 star hotels in the larger cities like Medan and Padang but elsewhere expect very basic or traditional accommodation like the Batak houses you can hire out along Lake Toba.
For more information about Sumatra and Indonesia, check out the Indonesian Government Tourism website - www.tourismindonesia.com
or the check out the Ministry of Tourism and Culture website
For more information about Sumatra and other travel websites about Sumatra and Indonesia:
www.hellomistertravel.com - First hand experience about traveling in Sumatra.
www.walkaboutindonesia.com - Travel information about other Indonesian destinations.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumatra - General Sumatra information.
http://wikitravel.org/en/Sumatra - General travel information for Sumatra.
http://www.trijaya-travel.com/ - General information as well as organised tours throughout Sumatra.
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/sumatra - The travel 'bible'
Traditional Batak House
Last updated 1st August 2009
© 2012 Sumatra Travel
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