Meeting our red-headed cousins
Trip Start Jan 16, 2011
44Trip End Jul 30, 2011
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After a quick meal of Nasi Goreng (an Indonesian fried rice dish that we have loved before even leaving the UK!) we felt rested enough to join the boys who worked at Garden Inn in singing and playing the guitar. Lloyd hadn't touched a guitar for 6 months so he was pretty happy! A guide called Omano who the guys at the Inn said was good was there and we booked a day trek through him for the next day. We went to bed early, promising to sing with them again the following night and ready to face the jungle in the morning.
Waking up the next morning, we found that our room was as lovely as we remembered (a big wooden building with a massive bathroom and big windows) and the view from our balcony, across the river to the jungle, even better, We went down to the cafe for a quick breakfast to prepare us for our 8 hour jungle trek we had booked the previous night. Omano arrived and we set off, walking to the jungle.
After 10-15 minutes walking we were at the edge of the jungle, where we met some playful Thomas leaf monkeys, with their cool mohican hairstyles. After watching them for a while we carried on walking and only 5 minutes later came across a mother and 4 year old baby Orangutan, high up in the trees. They came down to have a closer look - hanging above us, meaning we could get some great photos, although you have to be careful to move fast when they start to wee! They almost got us twice!
The mother and baby got bored of us and moved on when a male arrived. He wasn't bothered by us at all and came down twice very low to pick up some yellow leaves off the ground, then chewed them while staring at us. Another male and female came along through the trees, although they stayed much higher. We stayed watching them all for almost an hour. Omano then took us completely off the trail and brought us to a mother and baby, very close this time and we were able to get a brilliant video. They stayed for around 20 minutes before swinging back into the trees, the baby clinging onto its mother's back.
Some more hard trekking (down and through a stream then up a steep climb) and we arrived at another mother and baby orangutan, and a group of tourists. They had been feeding the mother bananas and when they ran out of food she came very close and grabbed onto a ladies arm. The Orangutan was very calm but obviously had a pretty tight grip as the lady was very scared - staying still but saying "I'm very afraid". Unfortunately all her guide could say was "I'm afraid too!" Luckily Omano was able to distract the mother, and move her away from the scared lady by standing very tall over her, making eye contact and pushing against her, scaring her back to the trees. You're not allowed to feed any of the animals intthe jungle and this is why, it was lucky we turned up or the lady might still be there now!
That slightly scary episode reminded us that while looking so amazing and friendly, the Orangutans were still wild animals, which made it even more daunting when we came across "Mina" and her baby, the Orangutan with a reputation for being agressive. Our guide had us ready to run, but luckily we got past ok!
We met our final orangutan while stopping for lunch, a female came down from the trees and very quickly manage to steal a cucumber! She stayed in the treetops watching and so we weren't able to stay in the clearing we had found and had to move somewhere else to eat. After another hours treking we arrived at a waterfall, where we ate Nasi Goreng, out of a brown paper wrapping, with our fingers. The best Nasi Goreng we've ever had!
Omano had told us that this time of year was good to see many orangutans, as there was lots of fruit that they like coming into season. I hadn't wanted to get my hopes to high but I never expected to see as many as we did, it was fantastic! We've put up loads of pictures, just couldn't choose which were the best! Being so close to them was breath-taking, and really hits home how similar they are to humans, especially when you look in their eyes.
After lunch and resting in the sun, we set off on the very difficult two hour trek to the river. Towards the end it was a steep drop down and we were climbing and holding on to tree roots. We were very tired, my legs were shaking, but we made it! At the river we had a swim, the cool water being just what we needed, and rested for a while before being joined by another guide for our white water rafting/tubing back. We rafted down the river and mini waterfalls on three tubes tied together, the water was pretty low (about waist hight) but that was deep enough to keep us moving. After half an hour we had reached the hotel and had just enough energy to climb the steps to our room and get showered and changed!
That evening we had just enough energy to eat, sing and play more guitar! The next day we could hardly move our legs and so, apart from visiting the feeding platform in the morning, we did nothing all day! At the platform we saw another four Orangutans (2 males and a mother and baby)but were quite far away and surrounded by tourists so, while still good, it didn't compare to the trek!
As we didn't have long in Indonesia we booked seats on a minibus to Lake Toba for the following morning. While we we're very sad to leave Bukit Lawang, we took some amazing memories with us.