Stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Strait of Melaka, North Sumatra borders Aceh province on the northwest with Riau and West Sumatra provinces to the southeast. Covering an area of 72,981 square kilometres the land is a variety of low plains and rising mountain ranges which run the length of Sumatra. Easy access by air from Medan, nature and dramatic seascapes deliver visitors a multitude of exploration opportunities. From rolling landscapes, cool highlands to lush jungles, clear rivers and calming hot springs. The island is a mix of cultures, religions and culinary explosions to satisfy all the senses. Trek in search of orangutans, climb mountains, visit volcanoes or retreat to idyllic deserted beaches in search of clear barrels of surf.
Encompassing five islands or island groups including Hinako Islands, Nias, Telos and two other remote island groups to the north. North Sumatra is one of Indonesia’s last surfing frontiers with similar swells to Mentawais during the peak swell season from May to September.
For those looking for adventure, the province provides visitors with a playground of activities and is home to one of the worlds largest lakes. Toba Lake is at the heart of the island groups. Created after a massive volcanic explosion over 70,000 years ago, the same explosion which created Samosir Island is home to friendly inhabitants. Small restaurants along the shoreline share the local cuisine serving fresh grilled fish and spicy sauce condiments. These residents are known for their willingness to share the culture often inviting visitors to take part in local song and dance sessions in the evenings.
Between Beratagi and Lake Toba, a stopover to Sipiso-Piso Waterfall is one not to be missed. The largest waterfall in Indonesia is surrounded by green bush, jungle and rice fields with water splashing over 390 feet onto the rocks below. When foot travel is exhausted, take a private car or motorbike through the local Karo villages spread along North Sumatra. Built in the traditional way the indigenous culture and daily life here is still prevalent with thatched roof longhouses adorning buffalo horns, a visit which is sure to enhance your trip.
Mount Sibayak still bubbles with mud and sulphurous steam, where an early morning trek is rewarded with a memorable sunrise. Retreating to the base of the volcano to enjoy a warm bath in the natural hot springs and a meal from the swim-up pool bar is a welcome way to relax after a long hike. Those looking for some active experiences – swimming and tubing down the Bohorok River with its clear blue and refreshing waters, stopping along the waterway to spot monkeys and monitor lizards. Jungle trekking in Gunung Leuser National Park delivers a plethora of wildlife including massive monitor lizards, wild peacock, tigers, tapirs, rhino, orangutan and various monkey species including the thomas leaf monkey. The orangutan, however, is the main attraction to the park and one of the few places to see them in their natural habitat and the opportunity to get up close and personal to feed them. While nearby bat caves are home to nesting bats, swallows and other birds.
Surfing and exploring the underwater paradise of the Banyaks is for many, a dream come true experience. Coral islands, pristine beaches and the laid back atmosphere is every surfer’s idea of paradise. Located in between the bigger islands of Simeuleu and Nias is the archipelago of Pulau Banyak with tropical climates much like the neighbouring islands’. Temperatures here can be lower than some would expect. Cooler than that of other Indonesian islands such as Bali. A haven for turtles, the Amandangan Beach on Pulau Bangkaru is home to the green turtle rookery, hawksbill turtle and leatherback turtle. Snorkelling and diving the Banyaks cannot be missed with sightings of the rare dugong, nine other mammal species and over thirty fish species. The North Sumatra province is one of Indonesia’s richest with 30% of the commodities leaving from here and attracting visitors for its rich flora and fauna, tropical panoramas, rice fields, white sandy beaches and lush rainforest areas filled with wildlife.