Treks & Tours from Bukit Lawang North Sumatra
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Policies, Code of Conduct & General Trek Info
Policies, Conduct, and What You need to Know
We always trek legally (with permits) and trained and experienced Guides. Your permits are already included in our costs. We will buy the required permits and we will show you your permit. If you are trying to save costs by not including permits, you may not book with us.
We do not cut corners on service, safety or wages to offer cheaper prices. All of our guests pay the going rate and we do our best to offer the same value of service to everyone. If cheap cost is your top priority, you will find it, but please be wary of why costs are so cheap. Every bad experience other guests have hurts Bukit Lawang as a whole and paying unfair wages hurts the people providing the services. Please travel responsibly, pay the posted rates and make sure you are always trekking with a permit. Please consider visiting when it is personally affordable for you or consider booking an option that you can afford, rather than trying to discount something above your budget. We think this once-in-a-lifetime experience is already provided at fair cost and is deserving of responsible tourists willing to pay fair wages for local services.
We only work with local experienced Guides who have put in years working their way up from porters and assistants to the Guide position. We do not believe it is possible to be a knowledgeable, reliable Guide without putting in the years required to gain the experience. All Guides will tell you they are certified, but this is misleading. The 'Guide Certification' process no longer requires testing or proof of ability or experience that was required for the older generation, it can now be bought. We think this is irresponsible and dangerous and the result is some unethical guides working in Gunung Leuser. We work with Guides personally vetted by our team to have the skills, knowledge and ethics to meet our requirements. Young guides coming up must work with us for years as an assistant to the older generation Guides before we will allow them to Guide. Please do your research if booking with an unknown, a Guide that hunts you down, or a Guide offering extremely cheap prices
We cannot accommodate Guests who demand 'fluent English' Guide only. All of our guides have excellent 'jungle English', meaning that although they are not formally educated, and no one speaks perfect English, they all have English skills more than sufficient to meet your needs during a trek.
We do not book or promote captive elephant activities.
When trekking, we remind our guests to not leave any litter or food scraps behind, all such refuse must be bagged and will be disposed of by your Guide.
It is strictly against policy to try to feed or have contact with any wild animals, including semi-wild orangutans. It is for their benefit that human contact is not encouraged. Our Guides do not harass or feed the animals for photo ops or to control 'aggressive' animals. You may see our Guides trying to scare aggressive or conditioned animals away. If you see Guides feeding animals or leaving litter or partaking in any other disrespectful behaviour, we invite you to make a report at the Guide Association Office after your trek. A complaint brought forward by visitors will have a small impact but it is better than not saying anything.
Always remain within eyesight of your Guide and follow his instructions at all times. If an animal approaches you, your Guide will instruct you and will take appropriate measures.
When observing the animals, we ask guests to remain as calm and quiet as possible and take as many photos as you like, without flash.
We recommend that you do not bring money, valuables or important documents on your Jungle Trek. Any such items can be inventoried, you will be given a receipt and the items will be locked away while you are trekking, along with your luggage. It is much more difficult to make police reports for any lost or stolen items taken into the jungle. Thefts of opportunity do happen in the jungle camp areas, by unscrupulous guides, thieves who target visitors in the jungle and other guests.
Guests not willing or refusing to follow rules of conduct or instructions from their Guide during their jungle trek or tour will not be permitted to continue. Our Guides have the right to refuse service under such circumstances for the safety of the group, the guest's safety and the safety of the Guide and his staff
A few things to note before you decide what jungle trek or tour is best for you!
Elderly & Mobility Impaired Guests: For elderly or mobility impaired travellers we do not recommend booking anything longer than a 1-Day trek. For any trek there can be steep and slippery areas. We STRONGLY suggest that you advise us if you will require extra assistance. If you cannot comfortably walk up and down steps at a brisk pace without using a railing, you will need some assistance trekking. For those requiring assistance, we will assign one to two helpers per person who will be assigned to you for the entire trek. There is a small additional charge for this service of 50,000 - 100,000 IDR. Please keep this in mind as it is for your safety and to ensure your group has the opportunity to see as much as possible. Please note: Bukit Lawang and many areas in Indonesia are not wheelchair accessible.
Groups with Children - Students: Children of all ages are welcome on all of our treks and tours. You should be prepared to pay the full prices for children, there are no price reductions for children or students. Permits are required for all ages and are the same price for all ages and status. Discounts only apply to Indonesian citizens. Normally for groups with children 10 and under, an extra assistant is brought for each child, or, two or more Guides are assigned for longer treks with children. This is for safety reasons and so that the group can be divided among Guides if people are wanting to go at different paces or if a different route is required for some of the group. With very young children, we recommend limiting your trek to 3-Hours or 1-Day.
Trek Start Times: Our 3-hour treks can start as late at 1:00 pm, but we generally prefer to start treks in the morning as the animals are generally more active in the morning than in the afternoon. All 1-Day and longer treks normally begin by 9:00 am after you have had your breakfast. Earliers starts are possible on request, extra fees may be incurred.
Rafting: It is generally preferable to return to Bukit Lawang from jungle trekking via rafting for all treks 2-Days and longer. Rafting allows you to trek farther from your starting point and return more efficiently. If you do not wish to return by raft, your jungle trek route will be more circular (for longer treks) meaning you will not get as far from your starting point and your last day is spent walking back along the riverbank (and may include a number of river crossings by foot). For short treks, the return by rafting ride is quite short and therefore the added expense may not be justified, in which case return by walking may be the preference. Please note that all rafting is weather/ water-level dependant. If your Guide determines that rafting will not be safe, you will return by walking, or delay your return.
Join with other Trek Groups: Some guests will ask us to join them to another trek, either because they are looking to save some money or they are just happy to meet and trek with new people. If possible, we will organize a join on request, however joins cannot be guaranteed. Most of our treks are booked as private packages and are not open for joining. For 3-Hour and 1-Day treks, the cost is minimally more for solo travellers, so joins are not necessary to save money. for 2-Day treks, we offer our special deal two dates a month - see page for info. for longer treks joins become much more difficult to organize. If we are able to organize a join for you, please keep in mind that we cannot pre-determine the groups' suitability for trekking with each other. Please be very wary of this, especially for long treks. You are paying good money and coming a long distance for this experience, if you will be upset by being joined with others who are too slow or noisy etc for you, a join may not be the best option for you and the extra cost to go solo may be worth it. Also, if another party in your join cancels, this affects the whole group. We cannot guarantee the join rates. If another party cancels, the rates may be affected or the trek cancelled.
Health & Insurance: Guests are responsible for their own Health Insurance and Travel Insurance. Proof of insurance is not required to travel here, but insurance is not included. If you require assistance in this regard while travelling and do not have insurance, you will be required to pay for any expenses out-of-pocket. You will be trekking in wild jungle and travelling through towns and cities with very different rules and regulations than you may be used to at home. Accidents, thefts and loss can happen and although unlikely, it is always best to be prepared. In this regard we suggest guests to bring photocopies or keep scanned images of any important documents. Guests should also have more than one way to access funds in case of damage or loss (bring two ATM cards, or a back-up credit card that allows ATM withdrawals)
Vaccinations: We are often asked for advice on vaccinations etc., however we are very uncomfortable to give advice in this regard. We can let you know the current status, but we do not know how any particular person may react in this environment, or what may come in the next days or weeks. There are currently no mandatory vaccinations or checks required for entry into Indonesia, but all visitors should make sure their basic travel vaccines are up-to-date. Please take the advice of your doctor or travel clinic. If you are unsure if you require a vaccination, and it is causing you stress, then get it to be on the safe side and for peace of mind. We have long-term expats that live in this area with no problems and no deadly outbreaks of contagious illnesses, however it is up to you to confirm your needs. We know that illness risk maps can target entire countries for illnesses found only rarely or in small pockets, but this info can lead to fear and anxiety for some travellers. If you will lose enjoyment due to worry over possible illness, you should certainly get all of the recommended vaccinations. Also, if foreign medicines worry you and if you are prone to stomach upset or diarrhoea etc., ask your doctor to provide a back-up remedy from home (antibiotics, anti-diarrhoea meds, etc) to carry with you.
General Trek Info
When rafting back, all items are sealed in plastic and secured to the raft. All items will remain dry. Cameras are kept dry. We ask that you bring a waterproof pouch for your camera/batteries and raincover for your backpack for personal use during rainfall while trekking.
We provide and carry all cooking gear, tents, food, water, sleeping bags and sleeping mats. (you will just have to carry one 2 litre bottle each during your trek plus your personal items)
No permanent structures are permitted within the jungle border. When camping, you will be sleeping in tents, under tarps. You will be roughing it. If you are not comfortable sleeping on hard ground or getting in and out of low dome-style tents, or sitting on the ground, please consider the duration of your trek and consider going for a shorter option. Sleeping mats are provided but due to limitations on the amounts of gear the porters can carry, mats are basic and extra fees apply for bringing extra mats. If you require special sleeping mats or double-thick mats, please feel free to bring your own. If you bring an extra mat and require a porter to transport it, there will be a small extra charge.
Be prepared to get wet. Some treks require river crossing. During wet season these crossings can be deep. All gear will be sealed in plastic for any such crossings. You will get wet.
Rain is frequent and normal in the jungle. Normally, there is one heavy rainfall per day. In dry season, you can go many days or weeks without rain, but areas in the jungle can still be muddy and slippery. During wet season, you may have more than one heavy rainfall per day. Be prepared for rain and expect to get wet.
Please also visit these pages for more helpful info: