Bukit Lawang is a small tourist village on the bank of Bahorok River in North Sumatra province of Indonesia. Situated approximately 86 km northwest of the city of Medan, Bukit Lawang is known for the largest animal sanctuary of Sumatran orangutan (around 5,000 orangutans occupy the area) and also the main access point to the Gunung Leuser National Park from the east side.

The village of Bukit Lawang is in the park 90 km northwest of Medan. It is most famous for being one of the last places in the world where one can see orangutans in the wild. Bukit Lawang is situated at the eastern side of Gunung Leuser National Park. As Bukit Lawang is near Medan, it can get crowded during the weekend, especially during the public holiday period (June-beginning of July).

The Bukit Lawang rehabilitation centre for orangutans was founded in 1973. Its main purpose is to preserve the decreasing number of orangutan population due to hunting, trading and deforestation.

The park is named after one of its highest points, the 3,381m Mount Leuser (Gunung Leuser). The highest point in the park is “Puncak Tak Punya Nama” (“The peak with no name”).

Along with the two other National Parks (Kerinci Seblat and Bukit Barisan Selatan) on the island, it comprises the UNESCO World Heritage site of ‘The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra’ (status since 2004).

Part of the Barisan mountain range lies within the park. The highest peak, and the park’s namesake, Gunung Leuser can be climbed. Much of the park is steep and inaccessible.

The best experience is an encounter in the jungle where there are many semi-wild and wild animals. The wild orangutan can be difficult to spot unless you go deep into the jungle. There are also white and black gibbons that make an amazing noise calling out to each other, and Thomas Leaf monkeys. If you are lucky, you may be able to see hornbills, toucans, moon snakes, monitor lizards.

Since there are very few (hundreds) still alive, it is very improbable that either the Sumatran Tiger or the Sumatran Rhinoceros will be encountered, although footprints and droppings have been reported. If you really want to see a tiger, you have to go deep, and be patient.

During the wet season, October to March, expect rain at least daily, towards the late afternoon and early evening. Intensity varies, but invariably the monsoonal rains always arrive. Climate is always very humid, so pack a lot of drinking water if you are trekking.

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