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Visit Orangutan sanctuary Sumatra in Bukit Lawang that provides a haven for the endangered species to live in their natural habitat.

Sumatran orangutan faces the critical danger of extinction. Bukit Lawang, which is also part of Mount Leuser National Park, together with Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Kalimantan province are among places to see orangutans in wildlife.

This ecotourism is celebrated for its jungle adventure, also makes the main east point to enter Mount Leuser National Park that is home to large species from flora to fauna. Bukit Lawang used to be a rehabilitation center for orangutans who have been illegally captured before reintroduced to their natural habitat.

Location and How to Get There

Bukit Lawang resides in a small village about 90 km northwest Medan, adjacent to the bank of Bohorok river and just right on the outskirts of Mount Leuser tropical rainforest. The place is known to be the largest Orangutan sanctuary in Sumatra, with more than 5,000 species living in the area.

bukit lawang jungle trekking to visit sumatra orangutan

From the city center of Medan, Bukit Lawang is 3 hours away. Once you get there, there’s not only Sumatra Orangutan to visit, but also explore flora and fauna, and other activities like jungle trekking, rafting to experience. 

This lovely tourist village also provides retreating activities for all. People love just to sit back and relax on the hammock near the riverbank, lying to hear the peaceful river flow sounds or enjoying Indonesian culinary in the nearby restaurant. Staying in the guesthouse allows you to have a refreshing morning and jungle atmosphere with monkey guests stop by your balcony now and then. 

Orangutan Sanctuary Sumatra Programs

As the main Orangutan sanctuary in Sumatra, Bukit Lawang was established in 1973 by a Swiss-based organization with the main goal of protecting the remaining red-haired apes from the devastating species decline. The surrounding rainforest is home to other species including Sumatran leopards, rhinos, pangolins, and many more. This place is tropical rainforest heritage of Sumatra, also listed as one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.

Sumatran orangutan conservation programs aim to protect the species from poaching, hunting, illegal pet trading, and deforestation. To preserve the species, here are some of their programs before it is closed in 2002 :


As many Sumatra orangutans are captured as an illegal pet or forced to be taken from their mother and habitat, the rehabilitation center plays an active role in working with Indonesian authorities to address, investigate, and precede the case and take legal action when necessary. One main problem is the human-orangutan conflict which resulted in the orangutans being shot, taken and sold, or forced to live in captivity.


The lucky Sumatra orangutans who survive the bad circumstances, both kids and adults, are taken into the rehabilitation center. This process is not only to return the animal to the jungle, but it’s way before. Once held in captivity, the orangutans mostly suffer from physical injuries and traumatic experience that prevent them from behaving as they should.

The rehabilitation process includes treating the species until they’re healthy enough, as well as teaching them the survival skills to live back in the wildlife. 

Reintroduction to The Wild

After having a certain period of quarantine, Sumatra Orangutan reintroduced back in the forest – that is, when they can adjust and integrating to their natural habitat, capable of hunting food, and make a home of their own. Once released, the orangutans are still monitored by rangers to ensure their safety once in a while.

sumatran orangutan

Alas, Bukit Lawang rehabilitation center has been closed since 2002 due to the uncontrolled interaction between orangutan and humans. The species became too dependent for food and exposed to food poisoning, while the humans are also exposed to disease from direct contact with the orangutan.

Despite the closing of the rehabilitation center, Bukit Lawang continues its vital role in providing ecotourism and a haven for Orangutan sanctuary in Sumatra as well as other protected animals in the jungle for sustainable biodiversity of Sumatran rainforest.

Plan a visit to Orangutan Sanctuary in Sumatra ? Please take a look our customized itinerary.

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