Eyes of SWILD


Orangutans, Trekking, and Bat Caves in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia

Canoe ride

Bukit Lawang is hidden in the interior of Sumatra. It's a friendly village with a river running through it, lots of kids and a few small shops. Just a canoe ride across the river lies a short trek to the orangutans.

Orangutan platform

I've seen quite a few on TV. It's completely different when you're right in front of their climbing platform. A gamekeeper is feeding them bananas.

Sumatran Orangutan

This orangutan was a little shy. He hung around for a while and then took off. I must admit, he was a pretty messy eater, but a joy to watch.

Leech infested river

Five of us went trekking further into the jungle. Wading streams, slipping down cliffs and sliding through the mud. Leeches were a problem at times - condoms were issued to the guys during the river crossings.

Cooking dinner

Food never tastes better than when its prepared for you and you're starving to death. The 'kitchen' was primitive, but our hunger was sated. The problem with the leftover scraps were the rats.

The rats came at night

We got to sleep under a tarp. It started raining. And then the rats paid us a visit scampering over our sleeping bags. They were very incessant and scared one of the girls half to death.

Off exploring

Visiting the surrounding villages is best by motorcycle. You can really go a long way out. All the local people were very friendly and always interested in talking with visitors.

The chasm from hell

The Bat Caves of Bukit Lawang are a very interesting hike away. Many chasms had to be crossed over extremely flimsy tree bridges.

The Bat Cave

Even climbing down into the caves was pretty tricky. This was not a typical 'tourist' tour. We scraped ourselves numerous times on the sharp rocks.

Dare you enter?

The final part was squeezing through a narrow 'portal'. The problem was that the bats were constantly streaming out and would fly through your hair.

Jumping giant spiders

Inside the caves, you could hear the bats, but couldn't see them. What you could see were the enormous spiders hanging from the ceiling just over your head.

River tree fort

This small tree fort was exquisitely positioned over the river where you could escape the rush of the village and relax in a cooling breeze. Just what the doctor ordered.