Way Kambas Sumatra


We are planning to visit next august Sumatra, but we cannot make up our minds yeat about Way Kambas..Way Kambas seems to hoast a lot of mammals, but we read quite a few negative reports about this place. First of all, the rangers at Way Kanan seem to walk only for certain hours during the day and are not willing to walk longer even if you would pay it. that means, you have to sit aorund from 8 to about 4  clock in the afternoon doing nothing…so some tourists have left this place rather disapointed. Most of them even did not see a lot – regardless of the reputation to be a very mammalian place!

the Satwa Eco Lodge seems to be more flexible and offers a variety of trips, but we haven’t heard anything about this lodge so far.

We would be very grateful for any information about this place! Thank’s for your help!

Carmen and Tobbe


  • vladimir dinets

    Way Kambas sucks. They just milk you for money without letting you see anything. The only way to find any nocturnal wildlife is to sneak into the forest at night, which is relatively easy to do after midnight. Of course, all those stupid restrictions are “for your own safety”, as usual. Unfortunately, there aren’t many options for lowland forests on the island. For mountain forests, there are three very nice national parks.

  • Curtis Hart

    I was there recently and did ok. I only went on one hike with the rangers, for a couple reasons. I was bitten by so many leeches on that hike that my feet swelled up and I couldn’t have spent much time out the next day. Also, all prices were double what they were listed in the guide book and other trip reports, and I just didn’t have the cash. There were a few mammals in the yard at night, and I did get my lifer Siamang there. Chances for Rhino I calculated at 2%, which was actually higher than I expected. I think there is a place about 5 miles from the camp, across the river if you can convince them to take you there, where you’d have a better chance. It’s either a clearing or salt lick or something. I spent a lot of time talking to the rangers in broken Indonesian and English. I had no problems sneaking away at nearly any time of day, but a friend’s close call with a tiger there kept me close. If you rented your own vehicle, or a bicycle and roadcruised, that may improve your odds.

    Good luck,

    Curtis Hart

    • Trent Binford

      Those Leeches sound awful! I hope this wasn’t the same trip you gave me your leech-proof socks. Thanks again.

      • Curtis Hart

        No, I had some, we just left rather suddenly, and I didn’t put them on. Big mistake. I had “leech balls” on each ankle, I’d say 80+ bites under my socks.


      • vladimir dinets

        98% DEET repels all leeches if you put on a lot and add more every two hours (even more often if wading through water).

  • carmentobbe

    thank’s for the replies.
    It sounds not really promising .we just got the price list of the Satwa Lodge in Way Kambas and its much more pricier then Way Kanan! They charge for a 4 hours boattrip 120 Us dollars! I don’t mind to pay for guided tours, if the guide is motivated and knowledgeable and if the money really goes into conservation.. but in this case I doubt both…

    I guess we will visit the northern part of Sumatra which sounds a lot more nicer. We will go to Ketambe in gunung Leuser and kerinci Seblat Np. What do you think about those two places? we will visit Bukit Lawang only if we fail to see the siamangs and thomas leaf monkeys properly in the other two places.

    Has anybody any infos about bukit Barisan Selatan NP? I tried to contact an agency which gets in touch with two guides over there, who only speak bahasa, but so far I haven’t got any answers.

  • vladimir dinets

    Bukit Barisan is great. We saw a striped rabbit there simply by driving through late at night. Kerinci Seblat is one of the best parks in the country; often you can simply walk in for free and camp at different elevations for as long as you want (and you will want to camp there forever, believe me). Gunung Leuser is a bit worse in terms of obligatory guiding racket, but a lot of stuff can be seen along the park borders.
    If you decide to go to the south, don’t miss Krakatau: not many mammals, but still worth the trip.
    Note that crossing the island N to S takes about 3 days by car or 4-5 days by bus, so fly between cities if you can afford it.

  • carmentobbe

    dear Vladimir,

    we will definitely go to Kerinci and do there some camping – this sounds very good!

    Where have you been in gunung Leuser and what have you spotted over there? I would love to get good footage of Thomas leaf monkeys – but preferably not in Bukit Lawang… apparently the guesthouse Pak Mus in Ketambe should get visits of Thomas leaf monkeys eating? Have you heard of this?

    Which place did you visit in Bukit Barisan Selatan NP? And how did you organize the visit? We have not so much time unfortunately ( probably 1 week in total )

    There seems to be more leeches than on borneo… well at least I’m now mentally prepared to get eaten alive or use buckets full of DEET!



  • vladimir dinets

    In GL, we were at the main park entrance close to Medan. There was a Thomas’ leaf monkey at the orangutan feeding station, but we don’t know if it’s a regular occurrence. The area is good for bats as there are lots of caves and abandoned buildings. The river has water shrews. We only did short night&dawn forays into the forest proper as we couldn’t afford guided walks (and generally hate them), saw lesser tree-shrews, one shrew (probably Crocidura paradoxura) and a few squirrels and rats.

    In BBS, we drove the main road twice, stopping for short walks on side roads. Once at night (saw a striped rabbit, a palm civet and a rat that we IDed as Niviventer inflatus) and once in the morning (lots of nice birds but no mammals).

    Neither place had too many leeches (probably 1/100 of what you find in Taman Negara in rainy season).

  • Israel

    hi Carmen 🙂

    for Gunung Leuser National Park I stayed at the Pondok Wisata Ketambe in Ketambe/Gurah. There were Thomas’ leaf monkeys in the garden all the time. Fantastic animals. And I found orang-utans quite easily in the forest. I don’t think a guide is required here – the owner of the guesthouse was quite happy for me to go out in the forest alone and the guards at the posts didn’t seem to care.

    Mt. Kerinci is simply amazing — but quite depressing with the poaching and deforestation etc. I stayed at the Subandi Homestay in Kersik Tuo at the base of the mountain. Apparently its common for birding groups to see sun bear and golden cat on Mt. Kerinci (the closest I got to either was sun bear droppings). Siamang are here but seem quite hard to see, probably due to hunting, and you’ll see loads of mitred leaf monkeys (the ones here are reddish and grey)as well as lots of squirrels and tree shrews. Some very nice night birds as well (Rajah scops owl, short-tailed frogmouth and Salvadori’s nightjar).

    I’ll repeat what others here said about Way Kambas (I think I told you about that before anyway); I’m glad there are others that think the same as me — on a bird forum I was blasted for daring to say the costs were too high there!

    I haven’t been to Bukit Barisan, and Krakatau was erupting when I was in the area so never visited that island 🙂

  • Ramon


    Better late then nothing. I just found your comment here about way kambas. Well, I have some good friends there and they really good. I agree mammal is difficult to see but not always. It is true also that some of the rangers is not helping. But it just a matter that you need to find right guys there.

    If you want to birdwatching (specially night bird — one of the amazing place in Asia) and see wildlife you now can contact Mr. Dicky Tri Sutanto (dekine_green@yahoo.com) he is — that actually rare there, a staff of Way Kambas NP but he is conservation man. He will arrange any for tours. Or you can ask The Satwa Elephant Eco lodge (ecolodgesindonesia.com). The guides name Sugeng and Harry is good.


  • catherine claire oelrichs

    Way Kambas – its the best! there is a delightful ecolodge at the gates now (ecosafariindonesia) and the naturalist, Heri, is astounding. people are now travelling from all the world to way kambas, booking Heri the guide, and having total satisfaction. the best mammal trips are booked as dedicated mammal safaris, with early starts, late finish and midday rests. Mega fauna – elephant, tiger, rhino, tapir – hard to see. Gibbon, jungle cats, civet, mongoose, otter, squirrel – many species of each much easier. Great birding also!!
    Various dedicated bird tours, 2 mammal tours – Steppes discovery and International Park Tours.

  • Fendy Alexander

    If you need anything information about Way Kambas and Gunung Leuser Bukit Lawang to see orang utan. You could contact us by email info@poskotiket.com. We could give more specific information due we have some clients go there and feel satisfied for nature and wild tour.

  • Antee

    I am going to Way Kambas in a few months and wonder if anyone have any suggestion about a book/fieldguide thats include Indonesian mammals?

    Does it exists something at all? Can´t find anything…

    • Jon Hall

      I am not aware of anything – a combination of Borneo and SE Asia field guides covers most stuff… but not all. Definitely a need for a field guide for Indonesia.

    • Fendy Alexander

      Way Kambas is for elephant conservation. If you want to see wild animals or birdwatching Way Kanan is the best places. Also for Rhino Conservation in there. If you need anything information could visit us as local operator for Way Kambas in http://www.tri-royal.com or whatsapp +628116507531. We will help to give more details

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