Our longest and most wild trek, the Sumatran Tiger Trek takes you deep into primary rainforest and through Sumatran tiger habitat. You’ll hike up ridge trails, cross jungle streams, visit peaceful waterfalls, and even take a dip in the the magnificently blue Lake Kaco. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot siamang gibbons, mitered leaf monkeys, hornbills, and a variety of birds and other wildlife. And yes, a few of our guests have even had the good fortune of seeing sun bears and Sumatran tigers, with a huge majority at the very least seeing pugmarks, scratches on trees, scat, and sometimes even a tiger’s nearby “aum” call. While the itinerary below is for five days/four nights, for this Sumatra jungle trek we also have 3D/2N or 4D/3N options as well.
After breakfast at your guesthouse in Lempur, take a short ride to the trailhead to begin your Sumatra jungle trek. The first part of the trek takes you through a hutan adat, a traditionally managed forest buffer zone where forest products like cinnamon, bamboo, ratan, fruits, and more are sustainably harvested by the village. Eventually, you’ll reach the boundaries of the Kerinci Seblat National Park, crossing over the shallow Manjuto river into primary rainforest.
If you started the trek late, make camp there, or continue up Bukit Lintang to the hill campsite. Bukit Lintang is known for having very healthy wildlife populations, so be on the lookout for wildlife as diverse as wild boar to Malayan tapir, sambar deer to Sumatran tigers.
Pack up and continue your journey through the Sumatran wilderness, through some of the most beautiful rainforest imaginable. Head down the other side of the hill, listening and watching for siamang gibbons and hornbills, who each begin their enchanting calls in the morning. Keep eyes on the path for any signs of tiger pugmarks, tapir tracks, or other wildlife signs.
After roughly five hours of trekking, arrive at the unnamed waterfall on Sungai Riang, where you’ll make camp. Enjoy swimming in the refreshingly chilly mountain water, ride the natural rock slide beside the waterfall into the pool below, or continue exploring the surrounding rainforest. Turn in for the night.
Enjoy a peaceful breakfast surrounded by birds singing their morning songs against the backdrop of the bubbling waterfall. Break camp and continue trekking through the primary rainforest of the Kerinci Seblat National Park, making your way back up Bukit Lintang, and down a fairly steep trail out of the hills. This slightly more lowland forest has a different feel, with taller trees growing in this more level landscape.
During the hike, learn about jungle survival from your guide – how to find drinking water, how to identify edible fruits, plants, and other foods for foraging.
On this third night, you’ll make camp near a small creek.
From the jungle stream, continue hiking through lush, untouched forests until you arrive at Lake Kaco, the brilliantly blue swimming hole and natural aquarium deep in the forest, arriving in the afternoon. Follow in the footsteps of Bear Grylls and jump off the tree hanging over the crystal clear waters, and swim around with the abundant fish and brilliantly-colored fresh-water crabs that make the lake their home. The cool, underground spring-fed natural pool makes for a rejuvenating break after so many days of trekking.
Set up camp in the forest surrounding the lake. Before bed, take a night-walk for chances of spotting nocturnal creatures like civets, colugo, slow-loris, flying squirrels, and a variety of tree-frogs and insects.
Wake up next to Lake Kaco and enjoy a leisurely morning, swimming and relaxing in the lake. Eventually, pull yourself away and continue roughly three hours along forest trails looking for birds, wildlife and signs of other animals as you make your way out of the forest.
Take a break at the Siluang Bersisik Emas waterfall before you exit the forest and continue your walk through idyllic rice paddies on your way back to Lempur village.
You’ll arrive back in Lempur generally by mid- to late-afternoon. Spend the night back in the Lempur guesthouse.
*Note: While this Sumatra jungle trekking itinerary is for five days, if you’re short on time you can trim it down to four days/three nights or even three days/two nights, while still having good opportunities to see wildlife and be in Sumatran tiger habitat. You may not go as far as the unnamed waterfall, especially on the three day trek, but will still visit Bukit Lintang, prime Sumatran Tiger habitat, and Lake Kaco. If you want to spend even more than five days exploring the rainforest there, we can arrange that as well. Let us know what best fits for you and we’ll make it happen!
Difficulty: Moderate. While the landscape isn’t too extreme at any points, endurance is necessary for a five day trek.
Activities: Jungle Trekking, Camping, Swimming, Bird Watching, Wildlife Spotting
Terrain: Primary Rainforest, Mountains, Lakes, Jungle Streams, Waterfalls, Hutan Adat
Nearest Village: Lempur, Gunung Raya subdistrict, Kerinci regency, Jambi province, Indonesia
- Each day has roughly six to seven hours of trekking, including rests and stops to study the environment, with only the last day being around four hours. Of course, times can vary wildly depending on if you’re blazing through the forest (why??) or taking more time to observe your surroundings more closely.
- No comfy accommodations here! You’ll be sleeping rough in tents on sometimes uneven/rocky ground, with very thin camping mattresses, under the forest canopy for four nights. Plus two nights in a very simple family-run guesthouse in the village. But you’ll be having an experience of a lifetime.
- Also, as it is a rainforest, expect and prepare for rain at some point during your trek, no matter what season you’re travelling in.
- Terrestrial leeches can be abundant at times. While harmless, they can certainly be annoying – this is not a trek for the pampered.
- This is also not a zoo – the animals here are very wild and extremely wary of people, and the lush environment itself makes visibility difficult. While seeing tracks and other fresh signs of a variety of wildlife is very common, actually spotting large mammals is rare.
- Since you’ll be hiking in the middle of the Bukit Barisan mountain range, at elevations between 1100m to 1500m above sea level, temperatures are relatively cool – expect highs of around 25°C during the day, and down to around 15°C at night.
- Food is very traditional local fare. Vegetarian and vegan options are available, if you let us know ahead of time.
- 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, with wild animals and other dangers that come from being in a natural landscape. Quality medical care is also very far away. It’s your responsibility to make sure you are covered with valid travel and medical insurance.
- A quality pair of hiking shoes – preferably waterproof – are essential.
- Comfortable trekking socks – with the various wetlands and streams you’ll be crossing, your feet will definitely get wet, even with good shoes. Good hiking socks can help prevent blistering.
- Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Preferably made from quick-dry material.
- Your own water bottle, to cut down on single-use plastics.
- If leeches really bother you, you could bring leech socks. I personally find them annoying and not every effective, but some people like them. Spraying insect repellent on your socks/shoes/pants can help keep them away as well. But, expect to be made a meal of, there’s no real way to avoid them completely.
- A headlamp, especially if you want to take any night walks.
- A waterproof jacket in case it rains, and to keep you warm in the chilly evenings and mornings.
There are now daily flights to Kerinci from the city of Jambi! You can read more about them here.
The best place to base yourself before and after the trek is in the small village of Lempur, in the southern region of Kerinci, staying with your guide’s family. It’s also possible to stay in a small hotel in the main town of Sungai Penuh, about an hour north of Lempur.
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. From Sungai Penuh, you’ll be met and driven on to Lempur.
The city of Jambi is also a possible launching point, taking roughly nine hours to reach Lempur, without having to go to Sungai Penuh first. The road from Jambi is less winding than the road from Padang, so 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. Price also includes donations to Pencagura (Nature Lovers of Gunung Raya Sub-district) to support their forest and wildlife protection activities in the area, and to the local village.
As always, we use only local guides and porters from nearby communities, who are paid a fair, ethical wage above the standard local price. One hundred percent of money spent on this trek stays in this rural community – there’s no tourism leakage here!