Project Description





Highlights: Primates in the wild / Tropical rainforest / River hydrology / Fresh water macro invertebrates & cave ecology

Red Cousins of the Rainforest – 3 Days

Few people ever have, or ever will, know the thrill of coming face to face with orangutans in the wild. Sumatra’s legendary “Man of the Forest” is now listed as critically endangered as logging has destroyed most of this great ape’s habitat.

Students on this unique study adventure will not only learn what they can do to help save these wonderful relatives of ours, but will experience so much more. The complexities of the world’s oldest and richest rainforest will take on personal meaning as we trek through Gunung Leuser National Park. Students will have first hand lessons in river hydrology as they raft the Grade 2 rapids of the beautiful Bohorok River and explore limestone caves inhabited by roosting bats and nesting swiftlets.

A ‘Survivor Lunch’ where students will learn about traditional foods of the jungle and forest dwellers methods of cooking in bamboo will be a highlight of this unique learning adventure.

Study Focus: tropical rainforests, primates in the wild

  • Following pick up at Medan International Airport, we transfer (2.5 hrs. ) to Bukit Lawang, a small settlement on the border of Gunung Leuser National Park, one of Southeast Asia’s largest protected rainforest reserves.
  • We check in to Eco Lodge and enjoy a delicious lunch before setting off on an afternoon trek through the oldest and richest rainforest on Earth. Wildlife encounters may include several species of hornbills, gliding lizards, langurs, macaque monkeys, black siamang (the world’s largest gibbons) and the real showstopper – Sumatran orangutans!
  • We will schedule our hike to arrive at a feeding station deep in the forest where orphaned orangutans are fed twice a day as they are weaned back into the wild. Everyone in our group will don surgical masks for this close encounter to prevent the spread of human airborne viruses to these animals. The Sumatran orangutan is the world’s most endangered ape due to habitat destruction and we do not want to compound the problems these “red cousins” of ours face in their struggle for survival.
  • Returning from our trek, there will be time to swim in the pristine Bohorok River before dinner and an evening of songs, games and stories around a riverside camp fire.

Overnight: Eco Lodge, Bukit Lawang

Study Focus: river hydrology, cave ecology

  • We rise early with the song birds and the leaf monkeys scrambling through the trees of our lodge compound in search of their breakfasts.
  • After a hearty breakfast ourselves, we set off on a 3-hour rafting expedition down the beautiful Bohorok River. The grade 1-2 rapids along this route are perfect for rafts made of large inner tubes lashed together. This makes for a very wet, wild and wonderful river run – a complete immersion experience! What better way to learn about the hydrology of a river than to go with the flow, riding the chutes and haystacks, getting spun into back eddies and watching the force of erosion against cut banks?
  • Returning by vehicle to our lodge, we enjoy a good lunch before setting off on a hike to a series of nearby caves. Here we will learn lessons in cave geology as well as investigate the interesting habits of cave creatures – cave crickets, cave hunter spiders, insectivorous snakes, cave racer snakes and edible nest swiftlets.
  • Our last adventure of the day will be to cook our own dinner, forest dweller-style over an open fire. Students will face a real “Survivor” show challenge in building a fire, cutting sections of bamboo for cooking containers and tea cups, and steaming rice wrapped in banana leaves. Only animals and plants native to the Sumatran forest and river estuaries will make up this meal: chicken, ginger, black pepper, rice, durian, mangostene, rambutan, banana, etc.

Overnight: Eco Lodge, Bukit Lawang

Study Focus: stream macro-invertebrates

  • We can all enjoy a relaxing morning, taking in the wonderful sights and sounds of a rainforest dawn before we indulge in a large buffet breakfast.
  • Our final study session will be collecting and classifying the many macro-invertebrates of the Bohorok River. Armed with dip nets, collecting containers, magnifying lenses and identification charts, student teams will be challenged to see which can collect and identify the most species.
  • It will be hard to pull everyone away from this engaging activity, but it’s soon time to head back to Medan International Airport for the return flight home. Boarding the flight back to school, no one will believe that a weekend of learning could be so much fun.
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