Travel to the Island of Sumatra, Indonesia – Episode 616

categories: asia travel

Travel to the Island of Sumatra, Indonesia - What to See, and Where to Hike (Podcast)

Hear about travel to the island of Sumatra in Indonesia as the Amateur Traveler talks to Luke Mackin from about this far-flung destination he now calls home.

Luke says of Sumatra, “Sumatra is the largest island of Indonesia, that’s fully owned by Indonesia, the westernmost island. It’s huge. It’s about the same size as California. Not that many people visit or even know about it. Where I live in Kerinci is only 300 miles away from Singapore but a world away. We live in a very rural area. I really feel like Sumatra is Indonesia’s most diverse island. You can do anything from surfing to rainforest hiking. There are ancient temples. There are very few tourists. Outside of one or two spots in Sumatra, you will be one of a handful of tourists, or the only tourist. If you want authentic Indonesia, Sumatra is a great place.”

Luke recommends a cut across Sumatra from Jambi city to Kerinci to the west coast. He also talks about some of the more typical destinations like Bukit Lawang, Ketambe, Lake Toba, Bukittinggi, and the Harau Valley. Bukit Lawang and Ketambe are where you can see Orangutans.

In Jambi he recommends we visit the Muaro Jambi Temple Complex which is a huge Buddhist temple complex. He recommends you rent a motorcycle with a sidecar and driver or bikes to tour this large area.

The Kerinci Valley is in the mountain range that runs down the spine of Sumatra. From Jambi, it feels like you are landing in the middle of nowhere. He recommends spending 3 days doing a rain forest hike in the Kerinci Seblat National Park which is the 2nd largest national park in all of Southeast Asia. There is a lot of tiger activity although it is unlikely that you will spot one, but never go into the forest with less than 3 people.

Most people who come to Kerinci come to climb nearby Mount Kerinci, an active volcano. It is covered with tea fields. You can also climb Mount Tujuh which has a huge lake at the top. “It’s gorgeous. It’s a lake surrounded by cloud forests and mountains. When you go up there it’s like you stepped into the Lost World.”

On the west coast, there is a collection of beautiful islands off the coast that you can take day trips to.

This is not a fancy trip. If you want more an upscale trip then Northern Sumatra has more tourism infrastructure, but if you want to get off the beaten path and see more traditional Indonesia then explore this central part of the island.

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Show Notes
Visit Kerinci – Ten Reasons to Explore the Secret Valley of Sumatra
Bukit Lawang
Lake Toba
Harau Valley
Danau Maninjau / Lake Maninjau
Jambi City
Odua Weston Jambi
Muaro Jambi Temple Compounds
Padmasana Foundation
Mount Kerinci
Lion Air
Kerinci Seblat National Park
Mount Tujuh
Lake Kaco
Bukit Tapan Road
Minangkabau Highlands
Rimba Ecolodge
Green Hill


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Travel to the Island of Sumatra, Indonesia - What to See, and Where to Hike (Podcast) #travel #sumatra #indonesia #wildlife #orangutan

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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

5 Responses to “Travel to the Island of Sumatra, Indonesia – Episode 616”



Was great talking to you, Chris! Thanks for listening to me ramble about this incredible island I’ve fallen in love with.

While listening to my verbal diarrhea, at least two things jumped out at me.

1) I said civets were Felidae (where the actual big/small cats fall), when I should have said Feliformia – the suborder for all “cat-like” mammals, which includes cats, mongooses, civets, hyenas, etc.
2) A British lieutenant by the name of S.C. Crooke was the one who rediscovered the Muaro Jambi temples in 1820, not Germans or the Dutch. (

Chances are, there’s more I got wrong as well!



Hi Chris,
Love your show and especially the Sumatra episode. I went about 5 years ago and had a fabulous time diving at Pulau Weh all the way up on the north tip. It took something like 25 hours to get there from Medan, with not one but two flat tires and a passenger count of 28 in a 12-seater minibus, but was well worth the effort. πŸ™‚



Yeah, those minibuses in some countries can be a trip. I remember being on bus in Turkey and thinking they could not possibly get anyone else on… they got 6 more people on.



Never made it to Sumatra when we were living in Bali. Being a coffee addict, I would have loved to organize a trip to Sumatra to explore the coffee production and buy a ton to bring back. It might have to be a trip to start reconsidering.

Samsul Arifin


I know some similar places in Indonesia,such as Ubud in Bali. Now is rainy season in Indonesia, there are lots of good natural scenery

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