"No kingdom on Earth can equal this one, which is the Gate of the World. Its countless islands, from the Moluccas to Northern Sumatra, balanced in an arc between Asia and Australia, shield it from storms of the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Active volcanoes form its spine, and Vishnu, its guardian god protects it from all harm."
~ Christopher J. Koch from A Year of Living Dangerously
Many consider Sumatra to be the last frontier of Indonesia. Still rich in rain forest and sanctuary to many of Indonesia's remaining wildlife, Sumatra is also home to a wealth of diverse peoples and cultures. A chain of towering volcanoes — over 90 and some more than two miles high — nourish the most biologically diverse plant and animal life on earth.
Cycle through the dense jungle to an orangutan reserve, explore the shores of Samosir Island which lies in the center of exotic Lake Toba. Formed in a volcanic depression, Lake Toba is South East Asia's largest lake and home to the intense Batak highland tribe. Immersion in Batak culture will introduce their enduring traditions and unique lifestyle largely unaffected by the outside world. A day hike up the Gunung Sibayak Volcano provides breathtaking views of the area. Our tour ends in Padang overlooking the azure waters of the Indian Ocean.
Day 2: Medan to Bukit Lawan Orang Sanctuary. Ride from Medan to an Orangutan sanctuary set in the richly rain forested Gunung Leuser National Park. After viewing the apes, ride through the area's lush jungle and along its clear streams. Meals and accommodations in guesthouse.
Day 3: Bukit Lawan to Berastagi. A dramatic ride high into the Karo highlands to Berastagi, home of the Karo Batak people. Volcanoes rise up in the distance as we climb past tropical forest. Berastagi has a nice cool climate and peaceful setting. Accommodations in hotel with swimming pool.
Day 4: Berastagi. Day hike up Gunang Sibayak Volcano with a pause to dip in the hot springs. Batak traditional dinner.
Day 5: Berastagi to Lake Toba. Scenic ride with several stops in Batak villages, markets and waterfalls along the route. Descend into the crater holding Lake Toba. Ringed by steep mountains, Lake Toba is the largest lake in South-East Asia and also the center of Batak culture. Afternoon boat trip to Samosir Island. Accommodations in guesthouse.
Day 6-8: Samosir Island. Explore by bicycle Batak culture and beautiful natural scenery in the less visited areas of Samosir Island. Optional sixty mile ride around the circumference of the island. Also rest time to swim in warm lake and laze on the sand. Accommodation in guesthouse.
Day 9: Ferry across the South end of the lake followed by a challenging ride up the crater wall into the lush mountains on the way to Sibolga. Overnight in guesthouse.
Day 10: Sibolga to Hutanopan. A beautiful ride ending with an exciting descent into Sibolga on the shore of the Indian Ocean. Seafood dinner and accommodation at hotel.
Day 11: Sibolga to Bonjol. Ride beneath the volcanic peaks and vast stretches of immensely varied plant life of the Sumatran rainforest. Amidst the ferns, palms, orchids, bamboo, fruit, spice and rubber trees roam Indonesia's last surviving wildlife. Our destination, Bonjol, lies exactly on the equator. Overnight in hotel.
Day 12: Bonjol to Lake Maninjau. A short ride through lush bamboo forests ending with a dramatic, 44 switch-back descent to Lake Maninjau. Swim and raft in the warm waters of the crater lake. Overnight at hotel overlooking the lake.
Day 13: Lake Maninjau to Bukittingi. A short but steep and dramatic ride to this comfortable tourist town. A former Dutch base, Bukittingi is now the cultural home of the Minangkabau people. Afternoon exploring Bukittingi's vibrant market known for its rich inventory of tribal crafts. Accommodations in hotel overlooking the town.
Day 14: Bukittingi to Padang. A scenic ride past the towering Merapi and Singalang volcanoes with a stop in the Lembah Anai Nature Reserve. Sunset in Padang, overlooking the Indian Ocean. Farewell banquet.
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