Harau is only a little over an hour outside of Bukittinggi. It’s a narrow valley between steep granite cliffs, dripping with green trees and ferns. Macaque monkeys and gibbons live among the cliffs’ jungle. Gibbons! For those of you not so enamored with primates, gibbons are adorable, small apes. They have long arms for their acrobatic maneuvering through the trees. Due to deforestation and the creature’s cuteness, most gibbon species are threatened or endangered. It is quite rare to encounter them in the wild. The macaques often descend into the valley to forage. From our porch, we were able to watch the macaques climb down the precarious vertical cliff side and roam the grounds around us. The gibbons, on the other hand, stay firmly in the canopy. But in the mornings we would wake to their calls, their haunting howls echoing across the valley. It was one of the most memorable moments I’ve experienced in all my travels. Listening to them gave me such a mix of feelings. It was thrilling and yet peaceful, and I was filled with such a sense of joy to know they were out there, safe and free. (Don’t miss the video of the gibbon calls!)
Our guesthouse was aptly named Lembah Echo Homestay. They had about a dozen wooden cabins. Wood is a much better barrier than thatch, and it was much nicer than most accommodation we’ve found in Sumatra. It was large and spacious, with a plush bed, and a lovely garden (open-air) bathroom. (Still no hot water, but we’re pretty used to that by now.) The back of our cabin butted up to one cliff side, and from the front we had a view of the valley, a small stream, rice paddies, and the opposite cliff wall.
We cruised the valley by motorbike one day and explored it by foot another. We saw something like 10 waterfalls! Everyone was extremely friendly. No one passes without a greeting. Little kids led us around and showed us their farms. Dane decided to jump in (literally) and try his hand at rice planting.
It was the most amazing and magical few days. I would rank Harau at the top of the most stunning natural landscapes I’ve seen. And it was the perfect end to our Sumatran travels.
P.S. Dane recorded a long video while we were cruising on motorbike through the valley. Travelpod degrades the video quality a lot, so he uploaded it to Youtube to keep the HD quality. Here's the link:
Our last stop in Sumatra was the Harau Valley. The descriptions of it sounded amazing, but it's not really frequented by travelers. Once again, we had the entire valley almost all to ourselves.