We believe strongly that ecotourism and responsible travel in Sumatra can help safeguard the still-untouched forests deep within the Kerinci Seblat National Park. With a growing population within a valley completely surrounded by protected land, and a severe lack of reliable employment opportunities, ecotourism goes a long way in giving people alternate means of income without further encroaching into the National Park.
Protecting the rainforest is not just about wildlife and the environment. Over 7 million people (about 15% of the total population of Sumatra) and 10 million hectares of agricultural land rely directly on waters that these forests provide – including the cities of Padang, Palembang, Jambi, and Bengkulu. Primary forests help to reduce flooding in the rainy season and reduce drought in the dry season – vitally important for people who live and work so closely with the land. They also capture millions of tons of carbon every year, and likewise produce oxygen. Consequently, they’re a major contributor in helping to slow climate change and giving us all a breath of fresh air. When you travel with us, you are providing much needed alternative income sources to the region, and providing tangible proof that the jungle and wildlife within are more valuable preserved as they are rather than when exploited into oblivion.
Our treks are all small-group, low-impact hiking and camping expeditions that provide sustainable livelihoods to forest-edge communities. As a social enterprise fed up with tourism leakage, we are committed to keeping 100% of money spent on our trips within the Kerinci region (with the possible exception of Indonesian taxes and government fees – it’s not always clear where those end up). We’re proud that 100% of our profits goes directly to WildCats Conservation Alliance in support of wild tiger conservation projects in the Kerinci Seblat National Park, and to other local grassroots conservation and community development initiatives here in Kerinci. After all, healthy communities and a healthy tiger population means a healthy forest.
Travelling in rural Sumatra can be tough— even for the adventurous. There is very little infrastructure and few English speakers ready on the ground. This can make visits, especially to the most wild places of Kerinci, challenging without prior planning and connections.
We know it’s popular among backpackers and independent travelers to try to do everything on their own for a more “authentic” experience, and many believe that they’ll see more if they strike out on their own. However, in our time here, we’ve seen that many who travel to Southeast Asia with this idea usually end up trapped in the same touristy areas as everyone else, as it’s the path of least resistance. This is one reason why places like Bali, Phuket, and even Bukit Lawang are beginning to exceed their carrying capacity, if not already far beyond it. If a traveller does get off the banana pancake trail, they often end up frustrated that things didn’t go quite as smoothly as expected, or that they weren’t able to find that rumored hidden gem. Don’t underestimate the importance of a knowledgeable insider!
For the people of Kerinci, despite their eagerness to show the world their piece of heaven, they often need support in connecting and communicating with travelers abroad. That’s where we come in. Since we live and work in Kerinci 24/7, we know the area and the people here on the ground on a personal level. For visitors interested in really exploring off the beaten path Sumatra, trying new experiences, making friends, and escaping the tired tourist trail, Wild Sumatra is here to help. And in doing so, it’s creating a fine alternative means of income to support Kerinci families and protect these beautiful forests.
We believe strongly that forest conservation through ecotourism is most effective when local community members are directly involved and empowered in their roles. This is why we spend significant time working with villages to learn together about conservation and sustainable tourism practices, and identify and work in partnership with growing local leaders. This is also why we are committed to working solely with guides from Kerinci, and work hard to make sure that all guides and porters come from the communities as close as possible to the forest-edge or site of interest. We also strive to partner with guides that are both experienced in the forest, and experienced with English. However, as tourism to the area is still so new, many guides are still in the process of learning, and may not be 100% proficient. Thank you for supporting and encouraging them in this learning process!
To be clear: as advocates of community-based ecotourism, only local guides accompany visitors on trips with Wild Sumatra unless it’s an exploratory or training trip. We also believe in the importance of guests having an authentically local experience, and for local communities to have full ownership – as such, you will likely not interact with anyone but them during your trip – there are no foreigners inserting themselves. Our guides are all independent—we simply work together with them in equal partnership behind the scenes to support their goals and assist them in areas like training and development, marketing their services, networking, email communication, logistics and planning. Wild Sumatra in Kerinci is not a tour operator, but rather a platform to assist local guides, consulting with them in how best to promote the Kerinci region and their services to a wider global audience.
When you book a tour on this website you are booking a tour directly with the local guide, with all money spent staying in the Kerinci region. In this way, it is the locals at the grassroots who have full autonomy and control, with any non-locals only in a supporting, consulting, partnership, and advocacy role. After all, they will be here long after we have gone.