Who: A Swede named Isak, orangutan whisperer #1 (and amazing guide) Utti, orangutan whisperer #2 (and even more amazing guide’s assistant/cousin) Yan and moi
What: A rigorous trek through the jungle, home to ORANGUTANS, TIGERS and RHINOCEROSES
Where: The tiny North Sumatran town of Butik Lawang
When: June 12th-15th
Why: Refer to “what” above
The Story in Pictures:
7am rise and shine, breakfast, walk from the Ecolodge on the jungle’s perimeter up a steep hill, stop (panting, out of breath already) and read this sign:
Establish some facts, namely: Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered (there are less than 7,000 of them left). The jungle is technically called Gunung Leuser National Park or Panduan Taman Nasional Gunung Leuser in Indonesian.
Less than an hour in and we spot our first orangutan:
Hiii! Does it get cuter?
Then we hike A LOT, uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill. I am severely unfit. At some point I find it perfectly acceptable to take off my sweaty tank top and wear just my sports bra. (Note: It is not acceptable, but way less so when you’re just working out at Equinox, k girls?)
I also find it perfectly acceptable to wear a knock off North Face fanny pack.
At another earlier* point I proceed to swing from a vine just so I can caption a picture with “Me, Jane.”
(*I was trying to do this all in chronological order but this was clearly pre-taking my shirt off)
(Also, are captions supposed to refer to the following or preceding picture? I have no idea so I’m doing a little of both.)
Somewhere around here—it was hott, things are hazy—I saw a family of white face gibbons which I was not lucky enough to capture on camera.
Next up we bump into Summa (her park ranger given name) and baby:
Do you see that munchkin face peeking out from the trees?? Sooo cuuute until five minutes later Summa chased us, like legit ran after our motley crew and little Yan (OW #2) had to toss her a bag filled with fruit that was *supposed* to be our snack later.
Six orangutans sighted, one chase and zero pineapples later…we made our way to “Hotel Jungle”:
That’s Utti’s joke, btw (like Hotel California…get it?) Here he is modeling the sleek, minimalist interior:
Not shown in pictures but also part of the excursion: white water rafting, pot-smoking, tons of noodle soup, rubber trees, monkeys and GIANT lizards everywhere.
Finally, some fun facts about orangutans:
- They’re the only great ape found outside of Africa
- Female orangutans give birth only once every 6-8 years
- Close relatives of humans
- Legend says they can speak but choose not to because they fear they would be forced to work if they were ever caught talking (my personal favorite, obvs.)
- Orangutan arms can have a reach of more than eight feet
- They spend 90% of their time in the trees, sleeping in nests
- Mosquitos bother them and they use branches as fly swatters
- Deforestation and hunting have made them in danger of extinction
And if you’re interested: http://www.orangutan.org.au/donations…i just did!