Project Description





Highlights: Montane & cloud forest ecology / Volcano geology / Geothermal springs & fresh water invertebrates

Volcanoes in the Mist – 3 Days

 What could be more thrilling than climbing an active volcano in the first light of dawn while Lar Gibbons and Black Siamang sing their territorial calls from the treetops, and jets of steam and sulphur gasses explode into the air from the huge caldera?

‘Volcanoes in the Mist’ provides students with an opportunity to bring their classroom geology lessons wonderfully alive on one of the most active volcanic islands on earth. It gives them a chance to expand their comfort zone, overcome difficulties by working together as an expedition team and rewards them with a profound sense of accomplishment.

In addition to traversing a 2,250 meter active volcano in central Sumatra, students will study the flora and fauna of tropical forests; investigate stream invertebrates, geothermal springs and the fascinating culture of the indigenous Batak Karo people, who for millennia have known this stunningly beautiful volcanic region as home.

Study Focus: river macro-invertebrates, Batak Karo culture

  • Following the group pick up at Medan International Airport, we transfer by charter tourist class bus to the cool volcanic highlands of central Sumatra. At 473,605 sq. km, Sumatra is the world’s sixth largest island. It straddles the Equator, has the greatest botanical diversity and the greatest concentration of volcanoes in the world.
  • On our drive to Berastagi, we will stop for a picnic lunch beside a clear mountain stream to learn about the rich macro-invertebrate life of the waterway using various collecting methods. Armed with dip nets, specimen trays and magnifying lenses, student teams will challenge one another to see who can collect and properly identify the most species. It’s an engaging and fun activity.
  • Arriving in Berastagi at sunset time, we climb a hill overlooking the Berastagi Valley for stunning views of the surrounding volcanoes. We should witness a flaming sunset while enjoying horse and buggy rides around the hilltop park.
  • A great Batak Karo welcome feast awaits us at our lodge on the slopes of Sibaya Volcano. Traditional local delicacies will showcase the wonderful array of foods produced in the rich volcanic soils of this region. Following dinner, traditional Batak Karo songs and dances will offer us keen insights into the sophistication of this ancient central Sumatran civilization.

Overnight: Mout Sibaya Multinational Guest House

Study Focus: montane & cloud forest ecology, volcano geology, geothermal springs

  • We rise early for a great day of adventure. Following a hearty breakfast, we set off on foot to the start of the trail to Mount Sibaya. As we ascend the mountain through the montane forest, we may spot hornbills and gibbons on their morning feeding forays. Very often, black siamang (the world’s largest gibbons) can be heard booming their calls through the rainforest from huge inflated throat pouches.
  • As we climb higher, the forest becomes miniature with lichens, mosses and orchids growing at every level from tree crowns to the ground – this is the ‘Cloud Forest’, almost perpetually bathed in mist.
  • Soon we enter the great caldera of Sibaya where fumaroles blast steam and sulphur gases high into the sky. “It’s like being on the ‘Discovery Channel’ 24/7” according to many student impressions. We have time to thoroughly explore the giant caldera, learning first-hand lessons in volcanic geology, before eating lunch on top of the world and beginning the descent through the cloud forest back to the valley below.
  • A geothermal spring at the base of the volcano offers further lessons in geology and provides the perfect spa to soothe sore feet and any tired muscles from the trek.
  • We enjoy another great dinner back at our lodge and have a closing celebration around a camp fire.

Overnight: Mout Sibaya Multinational Guest House

Study Focus: montane birds, Batak Karo culture

  • It’s a more leisurely morning at our lodge as we enjoy a big breakfast and take a short hike for bird viewing. High elevation birds are most active in the morning hours, as are the Batak Karo peoples, attending to their vegetable patches and spice gardens in the rich volcanic soils.
  • Before our return to Medan for the return flight home, we will visit an ancient Batak Karo village where centuries-old houses with roofs resembling water buffalo horns stand proud against the sky. Learning how these people have lived successfully, if somewhat precariously, for countless centuries on the most active volcanic island on Earth, will provide inspiration for every student.
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