After several travels I have realized that it is often unexpected and unpleasant experiences that transform themselves into good memories. This is the story of a two-day jungle trek in Indonesia.. The trek offered both positive and awful experiences, plenty to remember.
The starting point of the jungle trek was Bukit Lawang at Sumatra. Sumatra is part of the largest Muslim country in the world, Indonesia. Other than myself, Torben, Birch, Sandy and our guide Asim were on the trek. I already knew Torben from Denmark and I had met Birch and Sandy a couple of months before in Nepal.
Our only luggage was a sheet sleeping bag, a few extra clothes and a couple of cameras – things that could easily fit into each of our small rucksacks. The trek was going to last for two days, including one overnight stay out in the jungle. We began the trek on 1 December at 10 o’clock in the morning, and the first two days of the Christmas calendar had much on offer.
Disappointing Jungle Trek Start
The beginning of the trek was very disappointing as tourism had obviously gained a toehold in the first part of the jungle. The tracks were clear and all the trees had signs marking the name of them. This was not exactly my idea of a jungle trek.
While we were sulking, Asim suddenly shouted at us. Up in the tree tops only 10 – 15 metres ahead of us were an orang-utan and its baby. Asim told us to be very careful and so we slowly approached the apes. Asim found some bread, which we gave to the mother, who then crawled up the tree to give it to her baby. The orang-utans seemed incredibly human – but orang-utan does also mean “human from the jungle”.
After the meeting with the orang-utans we continued. We set course for a higher viewpoint deeper into the jungle and it wasn’t long before our desire for a dense, impassable jungle without tracks was fulfilled – this was our jungle trek. Asim had to chop his way many times and sometimes we had to hold on to the branches and the lianas in order not to slide down the muddy, steep hillsides. After a long march we finally reached the summit, tired and soaking wet. The view was worth all our trouble. There was jungle as far as we could see. A toucan flew by above us and even from a great distance it is a majestically beautiful bird.
We climbed up … we must go down. We had been looking forward to an easy and quiet descent – the reality was quite different. We slipped several times and had to catch on to roots and branches in order not to take a long, dangerous downhill tumble.
At last we reached the river where we were going to camp. Much to our surprise the camp was situated at the other side of the river, and as it had been raining heavily for the past couple of days the river roared uninvitingly before us. Our guide was quite calm though, and he found some lianas and tied them together until they were long enough to bridge the river. Then he tied one end to our side of the river and with the other end in his hand he threw himself into the river. He crossed the river and tied the liana over there. This was our “bridge” and all we had to do was follow it across the river. One after another we jumped into the water and despite it being hard on the arms we all managed to cross the river swinging along the liana.
No 3-starred Hotels in the Jungle
Our “hotel” that night was some branches set up like a tent with a large piece of plastic spread out on top. This was where we enjoyed our supper served by the waiting cook, Borretja. It was a cold night and we were all freezing – our sheet sleeping bags were all wet from the river crossing. What a jungle trek.
Bee Stings and New Plans
We arose next morning at 05.45 and decided to go on a little extra jungle trek before breakfast. We had been walking for about 15 minutes when Birch, walking in front, abruptly yelled that he had been stung in the neck by a bee. We continued on for a few seconds until I also felt a sting on my hand and simultaneously I heard bees humming around my head. So I ran further into the jungle. As I ran, I kept hearing the bees around me, It also felt a sting on my back – I was pannicking. But I did not get stung again. Only one bee was left, it was caught in my shirt – I brushed it off, it was probably more afraid than me. But still we (I) was not really in the mood for continuing the jungletrek back to Bukit Lawang.
Luckily for us, our guide had a solution for this problem. A popular activity in Bukit Lawang is tubing, a tube is an inflated truck inner tube tire, which you climb on to and ride the river. It can be quite dangerous, especially since the river was very wild at this time, but we really did´nt mind. The ride from our camp to Bukit Lawang was fantastic ane excillerating – it really made our adrenalin pump. When we arrived in Bukit Lawang, our mood was fantastic.
A really fantastic jungle trek was finished.
Backpacker extras for Jungle trek with obstacles
>> Facts about Bukit Lawang <<
Bukit Lawang is the home of an orang-utan rehabilitation centre. The centre gathers tame orang-utans that have been in captivity and then teaches them to survive in the jungle. When the training is over the apes are released. In the beginning they return to the centre to get food, but soon they disappear completely into the jungle.
>> Facts about Tubing <<
In this connection, a “Tube” is a tractor tube with a lot of straps tied across it to create a sort of seat in the middle of the tube.
>> Support the orangutans <<
The orangutan rehabilitation center in Bukit Lawang has not been taking in new orangutans since 1996, but you can support the orangutans by supporting the Sumatran Orangutan Society.
Author: Kenneth Karl Nielsen
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