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Other Places of Interest

Gunung Leuser National Park

The Gunung Leuser National Park is UNESCO listed and one of the world’s most important and biologically diverse conservation areas. It is often described as a complete ecosystem laboratory because of the range of forests and species types.

The Park has one of the richest tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia, covering some 8000 km2 and straddling the border of North Sumatra and Aceh provinces, and is one of the remaining places with orangutans living in the wild. This rainforest is immensely biodiverse, hosting approximately 750 different species of animals: elephants, rhinos, tigers, siamangs, thomas leaf monkeys, macaques and gibbons are just a few of the species found in this unique eco- system. In 2011 it was placed on the list of world heritage sites in danger.

The highest point of the Gunung Leuser National Park is 3,404 m with the summit of Gunung Leuser which gives the area its name. Its wide range of eco-systems includes rivers, volcanoes and lakes. Because of the great differences in altitude and the diversity in soil, the Gunung Leuser National Park also has an enormous wealth of plant species. 45% of all recorded plant species in the West Indo-Malayan region can be found in this area. The flora contains approximately 10,000 plant species, including the spectacular Rafflesia Arnoldi and Amorphophallus Titanum, the biggest and the highest flowers in the world.

Gunung Leuser National Park’s habitats range from the swamp forests of the west coast to the dense low land rainforests of the interior. Most of the area around Ketambe is virgin forest.

The park receives a lot of rain throughout the year, but rain showers tend to lessen in frequency and duration between December and March.

By arry f firdaus from buitenzorg, Indonesia – flickr: Buluh River #1, CC BY-SA 2.0,


One of the best places in Asia to spot orangutans in the wild, Ketambe is in the heart of the Alas Valley, and is the main tourist centre to access the Gunung Leuser National Park from Aceh. A handful of guesthouses are spread along the road through Ketambe, hemmed in between the river and the jungle. Ketambe is a small but charming village and one of the most chilled out places in the North of Sumatra. Certainly worth a visit to either go jungle trekking or spend a few lazy days relaxing beside the river are likely to be a highlight of your Sumatran adventures.

Ketambe has a few basic shops and restaurants but Kutacane, 43 Km away, is the closest town of any note and the place to go for transport and banking.
Kutacane is connected to Banda Aceh through regular flights. From Kutacane there are many labi-labi (small buses) to Ketambe that take approximately one hour. All north-bound buses from Kutacane for Banda Aceh, via Takengon, pass through Ketambe.