Looking to really delve deep into the local culture? This itinerary takes you through the Kerinci valley from north to south, and everywhere in between, to discover what daily life is really like in the charming villages of rural Sumatra. From rice fields to cinnamon forests, fishing boats to wild honey hunting, you’ll get a taste of the real Indonesia as you get up close and personal with the farmers, fishermen, and families of the region. A great itinerary especially for those with an interest in photography, agrotourism, and cultural immersion.
Arrive in Sungai Penuh and head straight to your homestay to meet the family and drop off your things. Some activities to do in town:
- Walk through the old neighborhood of Pondok Tinggi filled with traditional Kerinci longhouses. Head to the nearby Mesjid Agung. Built in the traditional style in 1874, it’s the oldest mosque in town, and still actively used.
- Visit the lively Pasar, or wet/dry market, in the center of town. Get some Sarabi and other goodies for breakfast.
- From the Pasar, grab a Bendi (horse drawn carriage) to some of the nearby batik workshops where you can watch the creation process (and maybe even participate!).
- Take a motorcycle ride up to Bukit Khayangan or hike up the hill behind Sungai Penuh to get a beautiful view of the Kerinci valley from Mt. Kerinci in the north, to Lake Kerinci in the south.
- In the late afternoon, head to Bukit Sentiong on the edge of town for the grilled corn stands and a nice view of Sungai Penuh and the Kerinci valley at sunset.
- In the evening, visit Pasar Malam, the carnival-like night market, to eat Martabak, Sate, and other lovely street foods.
- Drive up to Bukit Tapan at night for some wildlife spotlighting (an additional cost for renting a vehicle and driver).
- In the morning, head to one of the villages on the edge of Kerinci Lake. Meet up with some fisherman there for some canoe rides and to watch/participate with them as they fish.
- Visit an English class at the local high school in the village.
- Stop for lunch at one of the restaurants that sits atop or next to the lake.
- Head further south to the hills around Lempur to see cinnamon farmers at work.
- Explore the village of Lempur and the nearby lake of Danau Lingkat, and take a ride on the bamboo rafts and enjoy the scenery.
- In the evening, follow a local honey hunter as they harvest honey from wild Indonesian honeybees.
- Meet up with your host family in Lempur, learn to cook a traditional meal, and turn in for the night.
- After breakfast, head to the rice fields to watch the farmers plant and harvest the Lempur heirloom rice Beras Payo. Participate if you want to get your hands dirty!
- Say goodbye to Lempur and head up to the Kayu Aro area. Don’t forget to pick up some Dendeng Batokok, tender strips of beef grilled to delicious perfection, in the town of Siulak Deras on the way up.
- Walk through the endless green tea fields and take a tour of the old tea factory in village of Bedeng VIII (Delapan).
- Eat lunch in Aroma Pecco, a small pond and oasis in the middle of the largest tea plantation in the world.
- Visit the sugar processing ‘factory’ (really just some people in a shed pressing and boiling raw sugar cane juice).
- Explore the coffee farms that are switching over to organic Arabica coffee with the help of a local NGO.
- Head to one of the nearby villages to meet your host family.
- Explore the village and check out the other highland farms in the area that produce cabbage, potatoes, chilis, etc.
- Head back to your homestay for dinner and turn in for the night, and on to your next adventure in the morning.
Activities: Walking, Canoeing, Fishing, Farming
Terrain: Villages, Lakes, Highland farms
Nearest Village: All over the Kerinci regency, Jambi province, Indonesia
- Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Preferably made from quick-dry material.
- A waterproof jacket in case it rains, and to keep you warm in the chilly evenings and mornings.
- Sunscreen. Being so close to the equator, it’s easy to burn quickly-especially when the air is so deceptively cool.
Remember, you’ll be staying in the homes of rural Sumatran farmers and fisherman, so expect conditions to be very, very basic – you’ll definitely be stretched outside of your comfort zone!
This itinerary is also jam-packed – we’re happy to tailor it to your travel style, or adjust it on the fly.
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 at the start of the tour. To reach the town, many travelers come overland via the city of Padang in West Sumatra. 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 Sungaipenuh, 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 21st Century Tiger 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.