Tag Archives: Sumatra

World Animal Protection

Welcome to The Jungle: The Insider’s Guide to Trekking in Sumatra

Sumatra is a beautiful untouched paradise nestled in western Indonesia, making up part of the Sunda Islands. Gifted with endless beauty, nature lovers will be captivated by Sumatra’s extraordinary landscapes. From majestic inland mountains and volcanoes to deep valleys, lush rainforest and stunning rice fields.

Inspired Adventures’ Marketing Manager Laura Charbonneau recently joined the Edgar’s Mission team on an inspiring trek through Gunung Leuser National Park, one of the world’s last remaining tropical rainforests and home to some of the planet’s most endangered and exotic species.

We spoke with Laura on what it’s like to leave the existence of the modern world behind and consume the richness of the natural world for 4 days, as she trekked through the lush Sumatran jungle, bearing witness to the extraordinary plethora of life it supports.

Can you describe the terrain of Gunung Leuser National Park?

The National Park is absolutely amazing. With dense jungle surrounding you, there are so many unique types of plants and animals to see each day. A typical day on the trek started with a steep ascent up the hill, followed by moderate ups and downs along the ridge of the hill, and a steep descent at the end of the day down to our campsite by the river. There are many tree roots and vines weaving their way across the jungle floor, so it’s important to be mindful with your steps. At times we would encounter muddy sections due to recent rains, which again meant we needed to take care in our foot placement. Luckily, the local guides are amazing and were always there to lend a hand and provide support in the areas that are trickier to navigate.

What did you find most challenging about the trek?

There were two things that made the trek quite challenging, one being the heat/humidity, and the other being the steep ascents/descents. The weather was typically around 27-30 degrees every day, but with 95% humidity, it made for a very hot trekking environment. This was probably the hardest aspect for most people, so we made sure we were drinking plenty of fluids and hydrolyte to ensure we did not get dehydrated and help keep our energy levels up.

Other than that, the steep ascents and descents at the start and end of the day were the most difficult sections on the trek, especially in the muddy areas. They really get your heart pumping and require a good amount of leg strength as you’re taking big steps up and down.


How did you prepare physically for the trek?

I recently got back into running, so in the months leading up to the trek I focussed on running as my main source of training. I ran 4-5 days a week, anywhere between 3.5 – 15km at a time. In addition to this, I incorporated strength-training exercises to ensure my muscles were up to the task, mainly focussing on leg, hip and core strength. I also went for treks on the weekends, ranging from 12-18km to work on my trekking endurance and ensure my boots were broken in as well.

Anything you packed (or didn’t pack) that others may find useful?

I brought Teva sandals that were really handy for the entire trip and would recommend them to everyone. They were great because they have an ankle strap, so I would wear them around camp and in and out of the rivers when I didn’t want to deal with the small rocks underfoot. They are also made from materials, which dry very easily, so wearing them in the river or during the rain was no issue.

I would also recommend trekking pants for this challenge. I brought both trekking shorts and pants, as I was unsure about the terrain and weather, but ended up wearing pants every day (despite the heat), as it meant I didn’t have to think about the trees, vines, or mosquitoes brushing up against my legs.

Lastly, I’d recommend bringing a dry bag to keep your dry clothes in while trekking. It sounds simple, but trust me, it makes a difference! With the humidity in the jungle, many of the sweaty or wet clothes do not completely dry, so it feels like a nice luxury to put on dry clothes at the end of the day!

What was the overall weather like?

The weather was typically around 27-30 with very high humidity each day (around 95%). We also usually had a rainstorm in the afternoon or evening of most days, which is pretty typical in October.

What are the toilets like? Any hygiene tips?

Toilets in the hotels and lodges are western, but when you’re out and about at restaurants or taking a pit stop on a drive, you may come across a squat toilet.

When camping, the toilets are very basic. There is a designated toilet area, which is closed off for privacy, but it is really just a few holes in the ground, so be prepared to rough it a bit! I would recommend bringing toilet paper and hand sanitiser with you to stay hygienic.

Can you use your phone while trekking in the Gunung Leuser National Park?

My advice would be to take the time to sign off and disconnect for a few days. I had a local sim card, and had very limited, patchy service whilst trekking in the National Park. Most of the hotels have Wifi available, but again, in some of the more rural areas the signal was not as strong, and it is sometimes only available in the reception area.

Any surprises from what you expected?

The campsites were awesome and the food was amazing! We were really impressed by the quality of food the local team provided each day, especially while we were out camping and they were cooking using basic equipment. We felt spoilt by how well we were fed!

Did you spot any wildlife?

Yes, all sorts! Macaques, thomas leaf monkeys, gibbons, many kinds of birds, and last but not least, orangutans! It was really amazing to see them in their natural habitat.

What are some of your favourite highlights from the adventure?

The main highlight was definitely when we encountered an orangutan in the jungle on our third day of trekking. Though we had caught a glimpse of an orangutan early on in our trek, it wasn’t quite the experience we’d all been hoping for, so it was really magical on our last day of trekking to come across one again. We were midway through our day and most had accepted that we might not have another sighting, when one of our guides quietly alerted us that he’d spotted one up in the trees. We all made our way to a clearing to get a good view of her sitting up in the trees in the distance. As we watched in silence, she swung from branch to branch to get a better view of us humans. She perched on the branches for a few moments, looking down at us, with a curious look on her face taking us all in. This moment was absolutely incredible and brought many of the group to tears.

Another highlight was swimming in the river in the afternoons after trekking all day. With the incredible heat, it was so refreshing to hop in for a swim to cool off. One day in particular, some of us made our way up the river a bit to explore a nearby waterfall, which had a perfect swimming pool right at the base. It was such a magical moment to be swimming in this breathtaking location, so secluded and so peaceful in the middle of the jungle.

What advice can you provide for other people interested in taking on a trek like this?

I would recommend training on dirt trails and working on leg strength as well. With the steep ascents and descents, it really helped to have the strength in my legs to lessen the difficulty. Other than that, be prepared to take in the beauty of nature for a few tech-free days in the jungle! There really is nothing like taking in the incredible flora while listening to the sounds of the jungle creatures as you trek throughout the day and camp alongside the rivers at night.

Feeling Inspired?

Check out the upcoming adventures on our calendar!

Fundraisers of The Month: Sonia & Charlton Braganza

Sonia & Charlton Braganza

Cause: Edgar’s Mission
Adventure: Edgar’s Mission Trek for Kindness Sumatra 2018

As our Fundraisers of the Month, Sonia and Charlton have scored themselves a $50 donation to their fundraising page. To be our next month’s winner, make sure you’re uploading your journey to social and use the hashtag #IveBeenInspired.

What inspired you to sign up to the Sumatra Trek for Edgar's Mission?

We have been volunteering at Edgar’s Mission for the last 3 years and it’s had a huge impact on our lives. We love travelling, and over the last few years, we have been looking for ways to make our travels more meaningful. When this came along it was the perfect catalyst to allow us to combine two of our passions – Edgar’s Mission and travel together. This trek also gives us the opportunity to see first hand, the impacts that palm oil has had on this amazing part of the world. Through this trek, we are hoping to raise awareness for Edgar’s Mission and the rainforests. Through our eyes and experiences on this journey we are hoping to connect with peoples hearts and minds.

How are you feeling about the challenge ahead and what are you most looking forward to?

To be honest, it’s a mixture of things! We are feeling pretty pumped!! It’s something new to us, it’s daunting and we know it will be tough, but we are really excited!

What were some of your more successful fundraising ideas?

We decided our major fundraiser would be a “dinner dance’ with a full Sri Lanken plant-based buffet, live band etc. We thought it would be easy… 3 weeks out we thought we would have to cancel with only 30 tickets bought in a venue that held nearly 200! But we somehow persevered and within those 3 weeks, we went from 30 people to 170 people!! It was incredible! We had to close the ticketing early and even had people calling right up until the start of the event asking for tickets! It was such an awesome night, as we got to share with 170 people the amazingness that is Edgar’s Mission, and how and why Edgar’s Mission has changed our lives. The event gave us the chance to introduce people to another way of thinking about things in a more conscious, kinder way. We also were able to share the deliciousness that is Sri Lanken food, and people were blown away with the variety and (spiciness) that plant-based food can offer!
The vibe through the whole night was happiness and you could feel it throughout the whole venue, which was just awesome! We ended up raising nearly $6K just from this night alone!

The whole journey in fundraising has taught us so many amazing life lessons. We went from thinking “what did we get ourselves into” as raising 7,000 was really daunting. We moved from a place of doubting ourselves to believing in ourselves. It really reiterated that if you are passionate about something and put your all into it, it radiates and people will connect and want to be part of your journey!

We had so many people on the night and after ask if we could do the event again! Maybe a change in career is on the horizon!

"Through this trek, we are hoping to raise awareness for Edgar’s Mission and the rainforests."

Have you noticed any changes in your life since taking on your first adventure?

This is our first one, and it has already changed our lives. It has really showed us a side and part of ourselves that we didn’t know was there. In just two months we decided upon and somehow executed our main event. From planning and approaching business for donations and prizes to designing and doing the event set up, we really had to put ourselves out there in ways we never would have. Throughout the journey, we have made connections with amazing people and businesses that we will no doubt continue with. Through the challenges, highs, lows and thrills of this journey, we have grown so much and it has helped us realise that even with all the bad that happens in the world, there are just as many people doing good, spreading light and being the change they want to see in the world!

Fundraiser of the Month

Become our Fundraiser of the Month to win a $50 donation to your fundraising page!

Take a picture whilst fundraising for your adventure and use the hashtag #IveBeenInspired and your adventure hashtag. The most exciting use of the hashtag, with a fundraising focus will be our Fundraiser of the Month – it’s that easy!

World Animal Protection

Fundraiser of The Month: Elaine Di Battista

Elaine Di Battista

Cause: Edgar’s Mission
Adventure: Edgar’s Mission Trek for Kindness Sumatra Trek 2018

As our Fundraiser of the Month, Elaine has scored herself a $50 donation to her fundraising page. To be our next month’s winner, make sure you’re uploading your journey to social and use the hashtag #IveBeenInspired.

What motivated you to take on your Inspired Adventure?

I did a cycle challenge for Plan Australia for Girls’ Education in 2013 with Inspired Adventures and it completely changed my life. I now appreciate how lucky I am to live in this wonderful country and how and why many people in developing countries struggle. As a result of going on the cycle, I now travel to Cambodia about once a year to help out over there with Cambodian Cocoon.

Also, I love Edgar’s Mission. Pam Ahern’s stories on Edgar’s website are uplifting, can be somewhat sad, but nearly always have a happy ending and are educational. I have stopped eating most animals products, however, my aim is to be 100% vegan. I have also visited EM on numerous occasions with different friends to share the joy of Edgar’s and education about the factory farming industry.

I love orangutans and follow the Palm Oil Investigation site and use their app when shopping to avoid buying any products with palm oil, especially uncertified palm oil. It really is tragic what is happening to the world’s rainforests, especially in Indonesia, because of palm oil production. Therefore when I saw this trek, I knew I just had to jump on board!

How are you feeling about the challenge ahead? Have you ever been to South East Asia before?

I am looking forward to the actual trek, however there is a lot of work to do in preparation for the challenge, both fundraising and physically. Sometimes I feel a bit anxious or overwhelmed about it – and sometimes I feel on top of the world. Life can be so busy and it can be hard to find the time to do the organising for fundraising and the training, but I know I will be okay!

What have been some of the highlights of your Inspired journey so far?

I feel confident and in awe of how wonderful my friendship groups are and how people never cease to amaze me with their support and generosity.

"I love orangutans and follow the Palm Oil Investigation site. I use their app when shopping to avoid buying any products with palm oil, especially uncertified palm oil."

Do you have any tips for other people currently fundraising for their Inspired Adventure?

I have learnt that it never hurts to ask – the worst thing that can happen is that someone will say no.

I called my vet a few weeks back, as I remembered he had an Edgar’s Mission donation box on the counter when I took my dogs for their yearly check up, and thought they might be interested in the Husk Cups with EMs logo on the band. I rang them and they said to bring them in. The owner bought a stack of them for all his staff worth about $250! They are now selling the Husk Cups to some of their customers at the front desk.

Have you noticed any changes or transformation in your life since taking on your first adventure?

This is my second adventure, but as I said above, my life definitely transformed and I expect this challenge to do the same.  I have found that so many people do not realise the things that are happening to animals in factory farms and are shocked and astounded when I inform them. I am careful how to approach this with people and wait for the right opportunity to do so, to ‘plant a seed’ so to speak, so that they may investigate this further themselves and hopefully visit Edgar’s and decide to cut down or cut out animal-containing foods.

"I feel confident and in awe of how wonderful my friendship groups are and how people never cease to amaze me with their support and generosity. "

What advice would you offer to other people looking to complete a challenge like this?

To think outside the square and don’t be afraid to ask.

If you are not successful with a fundraiser, don’t give up (I had a garage sale last weekend and was disappointed with the $$ result).  One of my friends had a Thermomix demonstration at her house. The consultant suggested I sell Thermomix raffle tickets, they are $20 each and people tend to go nuts over them. I aim to sell 200 with the help of my friendship group. The first 100 tickets buy the Thermomix (valued at $2000) and the $$ from any tickets sold after the first 100 will go directly to Edgar’s Mission – so if you’re trying to find another way to raise money, ring Thermomix and find out how to contact your local Thermomix consultant.

Don’t be afraid to ask people to help out (such as your vet, local businesses or friends) with fundraising. If you have a friend who makes and sells candles, jewellery, etc. ask them if they would like to donate some of the profit towards your cause if you sell some of the items for them. My friend owns Husk Cups and she offered for me to sell them to raise money for EM. It’s a win for her, and most importantly, EM.  She has also made jewellery to sell on Etsy in the past, and has given me some jewellery to sell at work etc. Show a friend an uplifting video on EM’s website, and open up the conversation about EM’s work that way. Why not invite friends to go on a visit with you to EM in the springtime?

Fundraiser of the Month

Become our Fundraiser of the Month to win a $50 donation to your fundraising page!

Take a picture whilst fundraising for your adventure and use the hashtag #IveBeenInspired and your adventure hashtag. The most exciting use of the hashtag, with a fundraising focus will be our Fundraiser of the Month – it’s that easy!


Spellbinding Sumatra in pictures

On what other adventure can you journey through Gunung Leuser National Park—the last sanctuary of the Sumatran Orang-utan? On this amazing adventure, over three days you will trek through dense, enveloping jungle on the lookout for reclusive orang-utans, gibbons and hornbills and other incredible creatures. Exploring this unique ecosystem, you’ll learn all about the native flora and fauna that inhabits this incredible jungle. And, to conclude your jungle adventure, you’ll tube down river rapids to Bukit Lawang. What more could you want out of an adventure?

Day 1, Medan – Bukit Lawang

Taronga Sumatra 2015_P1060762

Today we head to Bukit Lawang, part of Gunung Leuser National Park—the last sanctuary of the Sumatran orang-utan. We will walk along the riverbank and trek amidst dense jungle until we reach the viewing platforms where we can watch orang-utans feeding.

Trekking time: 1 hour

 Day 2, Bukit Lawang – Adi Black

day 2Today we begin our trek with a deep ascent through the mountainous Gunung Leuser National Park, enjoying the spectacular views en route. Throughout the day we will learn about jungle life, from the medicinal qualities of plants to gathering food. Tonight we camp under the stars, enveloped by dense vegetation, listening to the sounds of the night jungle.

Trekking time: 6 hours

Day 3, Adi Black – Jamur Batu Atas

Taronga Sumatra 2015_P1070065Today we trek through dense jungle and between towering trees. The track can be uneven, so we will trek slowly, tackling the steep ascents and descents together. Be sure to keep an eye out for orang-utans, gibbons and hornbills. You may even spot some of the shier wildlife, including the Sumatran striped rabbit and a variety of birds and butterflies.

Trekking time: 6 hours

Day 4, Jamur Batu Atas – Aras Pinang – Bukit Lawang


On our last day of trekking, we rise early and pack up camp. As we trek, our guide will point out the telltale signs of orang-utans and the other amazing animals that call this jungle home. Arriving in Aras Pinang at noon, we jump on a floating tube and ride the river back to Bukit Lawang.

Trekking time: 4 hours

Day 5, Bukit Lawang – Tangkahan

day 5

This morning we explore Bukit Lawang, before transferring to Tangkahan. Part of Gunung Leuser National Park, Tangkahan is famous for its elephants and wild jungle. The afternoon is yours to enjoy.

Day 6, Tangkahan

day 6

Today we visit the villages of Tangkahan to meet local families before exploring the waterfall that feeds the Buluh River. In the evening, we return to our lodge for dinner.

 Day 7, Tangkahan – Medan

day 7

This morning we head back to Medan, Sumatra’s major metropolis and Indonesia’s third largest city, where we partake in a city tour beginning at Maimoon Palace. Built by Sultan Makmun Rasyid Perkasa Alamsyah between 1887 and 1891, the palace is popular not only for its historical heritage, but also for its unique interior design mixing the elements of Malay, Islam, Spanish, Indian and Italian architecture. After, we explore the Grand Mosque, Chinese temples and remaining Dutch colonial buildings. Tonight we enjoy a final dinner as a group dinner to celebrate a successful adventure.

Feeling inspired?