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Exploring Sumatra's Exotic North

Explore the best of North Sumatra with this thrilling 6-day itinerary that takes you through an orangutan sanctuary in the expansive Gunung Leuser National Park, all the way to the picturesque Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world. Here, where you’ll spend some time exploring Samosir Island, meeting local tribespeople, and observing ancient sites. Your accommodation will range from the luxurious Marriott to humble village lodges: it’s all part of the authentic Sumantran experience.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Catch a rare close-up of orangutans as they’re fed at a sanctuary
  • Swim in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Toba, taking in the picturesque scenery around you
  • Take a seat in Ambarita’s ancient Court of Justice where Kings decided the fate of accused criminals
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

Arrive in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, and transfer to your luxury hotel - we recommend the JW Marriott Hotel, Medan. Get settled in and acquainted with your new surroundings, spending the rest of the day at your leisure.

Day 2
Medan - Bukit Lawang

After a restful night’s sleep, you’ll embark on a three-hour drive today to Bukit Lawang, on the banks of the Bohorok River. This area, at the main entrance point to Gunung Leuser National Park, is known for its large orangutan population. Check in to your hotel room at the simple-yet-comfortable Bukit Lawang Cottage. The lodging is rustic - you’ll forgo air-conditioning and hot water in exchange for the magical setting. Enjoy a rare orangutan encounter near the rehabilitation center and feeding platform during morning and afternoon feeding sessions.

Day 3
Bukit Lawang - Lake Toba/Samosir Island

Rise bright and early today, to begin your 10-hour drive to Lake Toba. The ride may be lengthy, but the stunning panoramas make it well-worthwhile. Pass through Brastagi, home to an array of natural beauty that includes mountains and waterfalls, and take a break at the 400-foot-high Sipisopiso waterfall. Arrive in Parapat, on the shores of the immense volcanic Lake Toba, and transfer to a boat, which will whisk you away to Samosir Island. Check in to your humble room at Toledo Inn.

Day 4
Samosir Island

Take your time this morning - there’s no long journey to take today. You’ll be exploring Samosir Island today, taking in its serene vistas, and learning about the exotic history and culture of the Batak. Get up-close and personal with the locals by visiting their traditional villages. In one such village, Ambarita, you’ll find the stone Court of Justice, where in ancient times, Kings would decide whether accused criminals would live or die. Watch folk dancing in Simanindo, and check out the sarcophagus of an ancient King in Tomok. Get back to your hotel before sunset to enjoy a leisurely swim in the pure waters of Lake Toba.

Day 5
Samosir Island - Medan

This morning, you’ll cross back to Parapat by boat, and begin your return journey to Medan (5 hours). You’ll pass through Pematangsiantar, the second-largest city in the province. The landscape here is made up of palm oil and rubber plantations. Upon reaching Medan, you’ll visit some of its tourist attractions, including Maimoon Palace, and the black-domed Grand Mosque. Check in to your hotel of choice - once again, we recommend the JW Marriott Hotel, Medan.

Day 6

Say goodbye to Medan and Indonesia today. You’ll enjoy breakfast at your hotel, before transferring to the airport to check in for your international departure flight to your next destination.


Suggested Accommodations

Bukit Lawang Eco-lodge, JW Marriott Hotel Medan

Bukit Lawang Eco-lodge

On the edge of the Gunung Leuser National Park, surrounded by lush rainforest and on the bank of the Bohorok River, environmentally-savvy guests can relax in nature and comfort at the Bukit Lawang Eco-lodge. Run by YEL, the Foundation for a Sustainable Ecosystem, the profits from the tourism attracted by the lodge go straight back into the preservation of the environment and the community that cares for it. Its proximity to the national park makes it the perfect base for jungle treks, caving and discovering the rich and diverse flora and fauna of the Sumatran rainforest. The cozy cottages comprise a range of accommodation configurations and all are simple but clean and comfortable, with ceiling fans, mosquito nets and outdoor bathrooms with jungle showers. The lodge’s restaurant serves traditional Indonesian dishes made with local ingredients and enjoys views of the river. The outdoor pool is the perfect place for a relaxing dip after a long day in the jungle.


JW Marriott Hotel Medan

The first five-star hotel in Medan, the JW Marriott Hotel features 287 guest rooms with breathtaking views, contemporary furniture, flat-screen televisions, and plug-and-play connectivity for iPods and other portable media. The JW Marriott hosts a number of restaurants, including the all-day Marriott Café; Jade Chinese Restaurant, which serves Cantonese cuisine; Prime Steak House, a formal, upscale venue serving the finest steaks; and Marriott Gourmet, which serves coffee, cakes, and sandwiches to go. Amenities and services include a spa and beauty shop, an outdoor infinity pool, concierge, and foreign exchange. The JW Marriott is approximately 12-15 minutes from Medan’s Polonia Airport.

Toledo Inn

Toledo Inn

A budget, two-three star hotel on Samosir, a large volcanic island in Lake Toba, the Toledo Inn offers budget and luxury travelers a convenient, friendly location. Toledo Inn features a number of modern, comfortable rooms overlooking a series of lush, well-manicured gardens and the clear waters of Lake Toba.

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