Sumatra has something for everyone to explore - lush rainforests, exotic flora and fauna, cascading rivers, sparkling crater lakes, beautiful white sandy 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.
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:
Aceh (Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam)
- Banda Aceh
North Sumatra (Sumatera Utara)
West Sumatra (Sumatera Barat) - Padang
Jambi - Jambi
Riau - Pekanbaru
Riau Islands (Kepulauan Riau) - Tanjung Pinang
Bengkulu - Bengkulu
Bangka-Belitung (Kepulauan Bangka-Belitung) - Pangkal Pinang
Lampung - Bandar Lampung
South Sumatra (Sumatera Selatan) - Palembang
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
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
Sumatra Flora and Fauna
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.
Sumatran food is traditionally very spicy with lots of chilli, lemon grass, ginger, garlic and coriander. Some of the spiciest food in all of Indonesian is the Padangese food from Padang in West Sumatra. Read more about the Food in Sumatra
Coffee was first produced in Sumatra in the 18th century under colonial domination by the Dutch.
The majority of Sumatran coffee is grown around the Lake Toba district in North Sumatra with it's high altitude. There is another major growing area near Lake Tawar in Aceh province in the far tip of Sumatra. Read more about the Sumatra Coffee.