1A trip to the Gunung Leuser National Park, in Southern Aceh is a no-frills affair and puts you right in the heart of pristine virgin rainforest and orangutan country. At my bungalow forest stay, Wisma Cinta Alam, mornings were a busy affair with fellow trekkers packing water, strapping up their leg-gaiters and heading out early on the trail.
You have a choice of several paths, all of which start right at the front gate. Within minutes you are transported to a world of cool forests, where the light is dappled and the silence omnipresent. It’s a case of follow-the-leader on these treks, which means, when your guide stops, you stop. You are in the heart of orangutan country, however, there are no feeding platforms; it is pure and real.

My guide followed a fruit trail that littered the forest floor and within minutes we spotted our first man of the jungle; a magnificent creature high in the canopy, near a stand of giant old growth trees that towered 30 meters above our heads.

3Our guide suddenly became excited, as he pointed out not just one, but three orangutans, moving gracefully through the foliage. It takes a trained eye to spot these great primates, unless they are on the move. Most of the time they are silent, and perch themselves high in the treetops, blending seemingly into their surroundings.

Next, as if on cue, a family of gibbons swung effortlessly through the high canopy, like trained acrobats, shattering the silence with their high-pitched calls. To complement the scene, a magnificent lone hornbill cruised gracefully through the steamy jungle air, her huge wingspan gently brushing the foliage.
My afternoon was to be more of an adventure! I clambered into the back of a rather dilapidated truck, filled with air pumps, oars, a river raft plus four guides. Soon enough we were on the river, passing villages and mobs of kids. They ran alongside the riverbanks, trying to keep pace with the raft, furiously cheering and waving. Entertainment for them was leaping off the rocks into the cool clear water, impersonating animal calls during their ungainly falls.

My afternoon was to be more of an adventure! I clambered into the back of a rather dilapidated truck, filled with air pumps, oars, a river raft plus four guides. Soon enough we were on the river, passing villages and mobs of kids. They ran alongside the riverbanks, trying to keep pace with the raft, furiously cheering and waving. Entertainment for them was leaping off the rocks into the cool clear water, impersonating animal calls during their ungainly falls.

5Photos by David Metcalf
www.davidmetcalfphotography.com

Accom: Wisma Cinta Alam, Ketambe, Gunung Leuser National Park – Budget, Clean, Cabins
Bungalow-style forest stay
Aceh/Sumatra Driver and Tour Guide: Ibu Ferzya Tel: + 62 812 156 7052
www.getaceh.com
Forest Guide: Pak Misuardi – Tel: +62 853 736 23237
Putra.ketambe@yahoo.com

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