Wash an elephant in Sumatra Indonesia

There is a very tiny village located in North Sumatra Indonesia called Tangkahan. On one side of the village is the Gunung Leuser National Park, and on the other side are vast fields of palm oil plantations which had been tearing up forest land to plant the lucrative crop.

Tangkahan Sumatra Indonesia

Tangkahan Sumatra Indonesia

The people of Tangkahan resisted going into the palm oil plantation business. There was also a problem of wild elephants coming out of the National Park looking for food and causing havoc in both the village and the palm oil plantations. There were also poachers going into the jungle to take wild animals and cut down trees for the very expensive hard woods. So the people of Tangkahan focused their efforts of eco-tourism to make a different revenue stream and help fight the problems of the wild elephants and poachers.

Elephants at Tangkahan Sumatra

Elephants at Tangkahan Sumatra

Now the village of Tangkahan is open for tourists to come and visit the Elephant camp and pay a small entrance fee which allows you to join the elephants down at the river for their morning and afternoon bath. You can also go for a jungle trek for 1 or 2 hours riding on the back of the elephants. The elephants are not just for show for tourists to come visit. These elephants are taken into the jungle every few days to patrol the jungle to chase away the wild elephants who come too close as well as watch out for the activities of the poachers.


Washing elephants at the river Tangkahan

Washing elephant in Tangkahan Sumatra

The Asian elephants at Tangkahan are the star attraction and the main reason to visit Tangkahan. Though a holiday in Tangkahan is great for the whole family. There are 2 rivers that meet right at Tangkahan and there are some great spots for swimming in the rivers. There are also some beautiful waterfalls to visit. One is great for having a jungle shower massage, just stand under the waterfall and be massaged by the falling water. You can also arrange jungle trekking trips into the jungle (walking yourself, not just on the elephants). As well as wild elephants there are plenty of other wildlife to see in the Gunung Leuser National park including Orangutan, gibbons, Macque monkeys, Thomas Leaf Monkeys and the impressive Rhinocerous Hornbill bird.

There are around 7 different hotels you can stay at in Tangkahan though don’t expect to find a 5 star luxury resort. Tangkahan is in a very remote part of Sumatra. The hotels are very basic though are very comfortable and the staff are very welcoming. One of the best hotels to stay in at Tangkahan is the Jungle Lodge which is located on top of a hill looking directly over the river across to the Gunung Leuser National Park.

Jungle Lodge Tangkahan Sumatra

Jungle Lodge Tangkahan Sumatra

You can get to Tangkahan via Medan, the capital city of North Sumatra. From Medan there are public buses leaving from Pinang Barus Bus Station. The trip on the public bus takes around 4.5  to 5 hours.

There are direct flights into Medan from Jakarta, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Airlines that flight to Medan include Lion Air, Garuda, Jetstar and Air Asia.

For more information about Tangkahan Sumatra Indonesia


Posted in Elephants, Feature article, Indonesia, Sumatra, Wildlife

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