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harry_ej
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The Gunung Leuser NP consists of about 8500 km2 of mountanous rainforest. It is located betw. the borders of the Aceh and North Sumatera provinces and is one of the last refuges of the Orang Hutan population in Sumatera.

When the park was established, much of the area around was still covered in pristine rainforest however the last 2 decennia all the area around the park has been logged and converted into cultivated land, mainly oil palm plantations and the last 10 or 12 years farmers and landowners have started nibbling on the fringes of the park. Since 1996 a road was build into the park. A lot of logging (around this road inside the national park) has been going on since then and an estimated 17.000 hectares of National park have been destroyed.

More and more talk is going on now that at least parts of the park should be given up to be logged and turned into farmland. The population of Sumatra is on the rise and land is getting more and more scarce. Many people feel and think (also high ranking people) that too much valuable land is being held by the park.

I think in the next 10 years or so the park will be partly given up in favor of the farmers and loggers, so much that around 2017 the park will probably be about half the size it is now. I think in the years after that the situation of the park will be really precarious and we will see a further reduction of the park size, probably to a quarter of it's current size or probably less.

Anyone who still wants to see it as it is now, is adviced to do so quickly because nobody can predict how soon and fast the logging of the park will start. I'm probably too positive in my predictions, most sumatran conservationists share my worries.



pPamela
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Agree with you Harry.
I went on a trek with Pak Mus to the hot springs area and the noise of the chain saws in the back ground was so shocking and so sad.
Actually you can even hear the chain saws when you walk up the hill in Ketembe.
For anyone wanting to go have a look at Ketembe see my photos at the bottom of the page.
And travellers it is so easy to get there.
As a lone female I travelled all through this area alone and without a guide book last October/November.
You catch a bus in Medan at the Padang Bulan terminal to Kutacane. This is a 7 hr bus trip in a mini bus- quite comfortable from my point of view.
(by the way left my big backpack in Medan at Spoutnik guest house and only took a small day pack).
If you get to Kutacane before 5pm you can get the local bus ( 1 hr) up to Ketembe.
If you are too late you can stay overnight in the Maroon Hotel ( 60,000/night) and get the 7.30 am bus to Ketembe the next morning.
All the accomodation is situated on the road you enter Ketembe.
Places to stay are Pak Mus, Sadar Wisata, Cinta Alam and a few others.
Maybe Harry can name some of the others.
I loved Ketembe so much I stayed 8 days at Pak Mus and went on a trek to wild orangutans- sadly only saw one.
But a guide friend from Medan Faisal brought down 4 travellers and with one of the guides from Sadar Wisata Slamet they saw 4 orangutans the next day- some people are very lucky.
And from Ketembe one can then get a bus passing through Blangkerjeren, to Takengon where the beautiful Lake Tawar is and spend a day or two there.
Great clean place to stay in Takengon in the middle of town is the Gayoland Hotel- you get soap and a towel for 50,000/night.
Please note the Regallie Hotel mentioned in the new Lonely Planet Indonesia is not 150,000/night as quoted , but 250,000/night.
I found this out at 10.30 pm at night, but the people from that hotel were wonderful and took me down to the town to the Gayoland Hotel.
And from a safety point of view Takengon is very safe.
That night I ate out in the street parallel to my hotel at midnight surrounded by Indonesian men with no problems at all.
Everyone smiled and invited me to sit at their tables.
I even met a young man who could speak some english, bought him and his friend some dinner ( $3 AUD) and I engaged him as my guide for the next morning to walk around the lake and have someone to chat to.
Lake Tawar is breathtaking beautiful and in my opinion much nicer than Maninjau or Toba.
It is so much more natural and not developed like Toba or the less so Maninjau.
From Takengon it is a 8 hr bus trip to Banda Aceh- where one sees some of the most beautiful scenery along the way if you get the 10am bus.
Then from Banda Aceh one can get the 1 hr ferry over to Pulau Weh for a few days.
In total I spent 18 days in Aceh and loved it- a very special place in Indonesia.
Pamela.




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Hello Pam and Harry,
Thanks for the info I plan to take a trip to Sumatra next year. Be honest I little bit worry about visiting Aceh in general since the issues of separatis movement (GAM) army.
I was in Indo for a whole month of August last year.
This year is time to sow and gather to finance next trip Emoticon: Smile Emoticon: Smile



pPamela
User
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Maple-leafs,
You were in Indonesia last August, where were you?? I flew to Padang from Jakarta on August 4th and visited Painan, Kambang, then flew to Singapore on 17th August and then returned about 25th August and went back to Painan and Kambang and then early Sept moved onto Bukittinggi and Lake Maninjau.

I would not worry about Aceh, I travelled there as reported above and found the people really friendly and helpful and had the best time.
I am hoping to be back in North Sumatra late Dec-early Jan next year.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Pamela.




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