Bukit Lawang, Sumatra: The Orange Apes

And you thought gymnasts were flexible!

Thankfully, with Alex dosed up on several different medications courtesy of Julie and a Sumatran Dr, we were able to leave Medan (which was just another big Asian city really) and head out to the wilds of the jungle to spot some orang-utans (the only ape found in South East Asia). Several bumpy hours later we arrived in Bukit Lawang- a small riverside village on the edge of the jungle. Within minutes of arriving we’d spotted a family of monkeys/gibbons swinging through the trees ahead and instantly knew we were going to like it here. Apparently, Bukit Lawang used to be on the tourist trail, but due to floodings, earthquakes and various other natural disasters, it was pretty much forgotten. While it was horrific for the community, for us it meant we had all the facilities a tourist could want (including treehouse cafes which are wicked!) but without the hoards.

96.4% identical... can you tell? :) Mena, the

The jungle trek we did the following day was definitely another highlight and it felt adventurous scrambling up steep slopes and down gullies all the time trying to listen for the sound of orang-utans in the trees. It wasn’t too long before we spotted trees moving overhead and spotted the orange fur. They were captivating to watch- they look so clumsy as they flop around in the trees but somehow they manage to move gracefully and without any obvious effort. The 8 orang-utans we ended up seeing during the course of the day were all semi-wild and had been released from the rehabilitation centre so they were fairly used to humans and came really close to us. They looked like giant teddy bears- cute and cuddley but I don’t think they liked me saying that as one of the ones almost directly above us decided to take a pee, hitting the couple stood next to us and narrowly avoiding us!  Then the ‘King of the Jungle’, an orang-utan called ‘Mena’ started following us which worried the guides a bit as apparently she can get aggressive so we ended up having to throw bananas in the opposite direction to us and she ended up causing us no problems at all.

Lizzy takes a break

Having seen some orang-utans, we trekked a bit further down to the river where we swam and then rafted back to where we’d started.

More photos @ Picasa

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