After a rather stressful experience with monkeys in Bali, I wasn't sure how I would handle being in close range of orangutans. But I loved it! These strange, furry, orange creatures are just unreal. It was so cool to see them up close.
But let me back up a bit. I had scoured the internet for information on Bukit Lawang and I found countless reviews (especially on tripadvisor) praising the guide Rhaman for his fabulous jungle treks. He is now working with an eco-tourism travel agency called Harimau Sumatra. We signed up for a trek with him, only to find out that he hurt his foot the morning of our trek and couldn't take us. I was majorly bummed. But they sent a fabulous replacement and it ended up being one of my favourite days of our trip!
Our guide (unfortunately I can't remember his name) filled us in on the orangutan situation in Sumatra. About 20 years ago, orangutans had been common pets. The government then made it illegal to have them as pets, so suddenly there were all these domesticated orangutans that needed to live back in the wild. So one of the purpose's of the Bukit Lawang Rehabilitation Centre was to re-integrate these orangutans into the wild. Our guided used to work at the centre, so he actually knew all the names of the orangutans we encountered. The orangutans also knew him and knew that he wouldn't give them any food so they didn't attack us. Win! :)
We saw tons of orangutans on our trek but they were all semi-wild (orangutans who had been re-integrated into the wild). It's pretty rare to see a wild one on just a day trek, you'd usually need to stay overnight to see one. We also missed out on seeing gibbons, but I still considered the day a success! Also, as an aside, this was the longest hike I ever did so I was pretty wiped at the end!
Then we ended the day with a raft ride down the river. We weren't brave enough to have our camera out but it was a great time. Fellow blogger Brittany was actually in Bukit Lawang just before we were there and she has a great photo of the raft ride in this post. Actually check out all her Sumatra posts - so good!