The Bukit Tapan road is one of only three roads into the Kerinci valley, running between the towns of Sungaipenuh in Kerinci, and Tapan in West Sumatra. The winding mountain road through the forests of the Kerinci Seblat National Park takes about 2 hours to cover the 25 kilometers. Walking and driving slowly along the road between twilight and dawn provides great opportunities to spot many of Sumatra’s interesting nocturnal and crepuscular creatures, including monkeys and gibbons, civets, slow lorises, flying squirrels, and even (very rarely!) tigers. The road is famous among birdwatchers for being prime habitat for a number of endemic birds.
From Sungai Penuh, drive up to Bukit Tapan in the afternoon, around 4 o’clock. Drive and walk along the road until dinner time, possibly going as far as the bridge over the river. Make sure to stop at the serene waterfall found in a picturesque little gully, and to check out the small Japanese cave and bunker, remnants from World War II.
Head back up to the peak of the mountain around sunset to eat at one of the canteens and enjoy the beautiful view of the valley. As night falls, drive back down the mountain into the forest, scanning the dark with torches for any eye shine that might reflect back.
Head back to Sungai Penuh at around 9:00 pm.
Optionally, spend the night camping on Bukit Tapan instead of returning to town. In the early morning, pack up camp and again drive down the mountain into the forest, looking for birds and other wildlife, many of which are often more active in the morning. Be sure to listen for the call of Siamang gibbons, which usually begin their singing around 8:00 am.
Grab a final meal at the canteen at the top of the mountain, enjoying one final view of the valley before heading back to Sungaipenuh before noon.
Activities: Wildlife Spotting, Night Safari, Bird Watching, Walking, Camping (optional)
Terrain: Rainforest, Mountains
Nearest Village: Sungaipenuh, Kerinci regency, Jambi province, Indonesia
- If you’re camping, a waterproof jacket in case it rains, and to keep you warm in the chilly evenings and mornings.
- Your own water bottle, to cut down on single-use plastics.
- We provide all necessary torches/flashlights.
If you are prone to motion-sickness, the drive up to the top of the mountain might cause some discomfort. Be sure to notify the driver, so they know to take it easy.
Unfortunately, since the road is extremely prone to landslides, the trip won’t be able to run if there’s a threat of rain. Animals aren’t generally out and about during the rain, so it would be a disappointing time anyway.
Due to the high elevation (between 1000m-1400m) evenings and mornings can be quite chilly, so make sure you have a jacket, and long sleeves and pants.
Like all of our trips, you travel at your own risk. Keep in mind that you are visiting a wild and extremely remote area of rural Sumatra, far from quality medical care. It’s your responsibility to make sure you are covered with valid travel and medical insurance.
There are now daily flights to Kerinci from the city of Jambi! You can read more about them here.
Sungaipenuh is the best place to base yourself on a trip to Bukit Tapan, as its the closest town to the area, and has a variety of accommodations. Many travelers come overland via the city of Padang in West Sumatra to the town of Sungai Penuh. Expect the drive to Sungai Penuh to take around nine hours, although it can vary by an hour or two depending on the road conditions and the driver, and if you are taking public or private transport. Padang has direct flights to/from the hubs of Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Medan, and Batam. If you are in Bukittinggi, it’s possible to drive directly to Sungai Penuh, roughly a ten hour drive.
The city of Jambi is also a possible launching point. The drive from Jambi to Sungai Penuh takes roughly nine hours as well. The road from Jambi is less winding than the road from Padang, so it’s a bit more comfortable. As mentioned, Wings Air has daily flights to Kerinci. Susi Air also has thrice-weekly flights directly to the town of Sungai Penuh in central Kerinci, although the flights aren’t as reliable as the Wings Air flights, and are difficult to book.
You can read more about transport to/from Kerinci, and what travel looks like within the valley here.
When booking with us, we’ll be happy to assist you with all accommodation and transport arrangements.
We are proud that 5% of the total cost of this trip goes directly to WildCats Conservation Alliance in support of forest rangers and wild tiger conservation projects in the Kerinci Seblat National Park and other areas of Sumatra.
As always, we use only local guides and porters from nearby communities, who are paid a fair, ethical wage above the standard local price.