Batu Katak

Is a small village and developing eco-tourism place about  18km from Bukit Lawang, where the local community protect and conserve the local environment. Its sits on the Berkail Rivers and its karst forests border the Leuser National Park

Batu Katak is a small village with about 250 inhabitants. It sits besides the Berkail River and is surrounded by the Leuser National Park. Although it is only 18km away from Bukit Lawang, it is virtually unexplored by foreign tourists.

 

The route to Batu Katak takes 40 mintues to 1 hour by motobike with the road passing mono-culture rubber and oil palm plantations on one side and on the other, a mix of small scale agriculture, agro-forests and fabulous views of the mountains.

 

Arriving in the village visitors will pass a couple of warungs and a few simple houses with the track  lined with rubbish bin holders. Passing through the village it is noticeably clean, the air is fresh and with only a couple of guesthouses it is scarce of tourists. 

 

Batu Katak is only busy at weekends when local tourists flock to picnic, swim and relax by the river. During the week, the place is quiet and is a great place to get away for the day from the bustling Bukit Lawang.

Overview

Batu Katak, like many villages and communities living on the edge of the national park, have a lack of income and turn to working in mono-culture agricultural for income or worse, illegal loggingor animal trapping. But the local community at Batu Katak, could see the damage and destruction of their forests and decided that they should try to preserve and protect whats left. 

 

It is an interesting place to visit with a nearby Karst forest which connects to the national park. The karst forest is geologically important with towering limestone rock cliffs, rock formations and cave systems. It is also biologically important as White-handed Gibbons, Siamangs and the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan, amongst other wildlife, live in this forest.

 

It is also well known that the famous Rafflesia flower, Rafflesia arnoldii, and Titum arum, Amorphophallus titanum, known as the 'corspe flowers', found only in North Sumatra grow in these forests as well as in the national park. Read more about these incredible flowers below. These huge flowers only grow in a few places in North Sumatra, which is what makes Batu Katak so special.  

 

However, this karst forest is owned by a local cement company which want to mine the cliffs, potentially putting these animals at risk. By offering trekking here to see the amazing flora and fauna, its support the local community and helps them to continuously protect and hopefully prevent the destruction of this unqiue environment.

Whether you want to trek to see the incredible 'corpse flower', explore the many caves or trek to see the resident groups of Gibbons, there is something for everyone! Have a look below

Before Your Trip

Gibbon Eco-Trek & Tubing

Enjoy a 1/2 day trek in the nearby Karst forest to see gibbons and afternooon thrill of tubing down the river

 

Start your journey from Bukit Lawang at 6.30am by car or motobike with a certified guide, arriving in Batu Katak around 7am where you will meet your local guide.

 

You will start your trek through an oil palm plantation alongside the towering limestone cliffs and karst forest. It may be possible to see Gibbons sitting eating fruit at the edge of the forest.

 

Once entering the forest you will trek for about 4 hours clammbering up through the forest, passing big strangling fig trees and rock formations. Chances of seeing gibbons or even wild orangutans are good here. At the top, guests can take a break, snack on some fruit and rest. Your trek will continue through the forest whilst looking out for other wildlife, and making your way down.

Lunch will be eaten at one Orchid Guesthouse. After lunch guests will trek alongside the river through oil palm and rubber plantations for about 45 minutes before jumping in your rubber tube and tubing back down river taking in the views and forests sounds.

siamang gibbon trek batu katak

Duration: 8 hours

Start time: 6.30am

Included: certified guide with motorbike ride, local guide, small water, fruit, river tubing

Cost: 600,000 p/p

Group Size: 1-4 persons *

Fitness: Low/Average

What to bring: rucksack, large water bottle, flipflops, camera, insect repellant, suncream, clothes for tubing

* it more than 2 people, we suggest to have a car for the day as the costs works out cheaper

Corpse Flower Trek

Half day trek to see the incredible Rafflesia or Titum arum flower

You will leave Bukit Lawang with a certified guide and arrive in Batu Katak around 9am to meet the local guide.

 

You will cross the Berkail river and trek through oil palm and rubber plantations alongside the river for about 45 mins, where you might see some Thomas-leaf monkeys. You will cross the river again to enter the national park.

 

Depending on where the Rafflesia flower is located, the trek could be 30 mins to 1.5 hours. Trek through up through the forest, through rock formations and around the mountain and clamber over tree roots. Whilst trekking guests may see White-handed Gibbons, Siamangs or wild Orangutans.

* please note that the Rafflesia flowers only at certain times of the year, but Titum arum can flower throughout the year 

Closed titum arum batuk katak.JPG

Duration: 4 - 5 hours

Start time: 8/9 am

Included: permit, local guide, certified guide with motobike ride, small water, fruit

Cost: 700,000 p/p

Group Size: 1-4 persons

Fitness: Average

What to bring: rucksack with own water bottle, flipflops, camera, insect repellant, suncream, clothes for swimimng, extra money for snacks

* it more than 2 people, we suggest to have a car for the day as the costs works out cheaper

1 Day Gibbon Trek

Full day trekking in the Karst Forest searching for Gibbons, Siamangs & Orangutans

Start your journey from Bukit Lawang at 8am with a certified guide, arriving in Batu Katak to meet the local guide. You will have a drink before your trek starts.

 

Trekking will start through a oil palm plantation alongside towering limestone cliffs where you might spot a Gibbon or Siamang. Entering the karst forest you will trek for a 5 hours searching for gibbons and other wildlife. You will clamber up through the forest, through rock formations, passing large trees and rocks.

 

There's a good chance of seeing a wild orangutan during the trek. You will pass through agricultural land as the forest is fragmented. 

 

Your guides will stop frequently for rest breaks and snack on fruits. Lunch will be provided in the forest. After lunch your guides will start the slow trek down to the river, where you can cool off, swim and relax.

karst forest batu katak.JPG

Duration: 6-7 hours

Start time: 8am

Included: guide with motorbike ride, local guide, small water, fruit, lunch 

Cost: 700,000 p/p

Group Size: 1-4 (minimum 2) *

Fitness: Average

What to bring: rucksack with large water bottle, camera, insect repellant, suncream, hat, clothes for swimming

* it more than 2 people, we suggest to have a car for the day as the costs works out cheaper

Water Cave Trek & Tubing

Trek through the amazing karst forest to explore the water cave within limestone cave system, then enjoy the thrill of tubing back

Starting in Batak Katak at 9am, this trek will take you through a palm oil plantation which border towering limestone cliffs with forests. Siamangs and White-handed Gibbons are often seen here.  Trek through this forest for 1.5 - 2 hrs with some up and downhill climbs, hoping to see a wild orangutan. 

 

Walk alongside agricultural land before walking up a small river to the cave. Here it is so peaceful and beautiful with a small river and rocks. You will rest at the entrance of the cave before entering. There's a small entrance to the cave, but once inside complete blackness hits you....time to switch on your head torch.

 

Walk through the cave with stalactites, rock deposites and rock formations. Watch out for water crickets, spiders, maybe a snake or a turtle. Deeper in the cave, hear the clicks of bats. Explore for 1 - 1.5 hours walking through ankle-deep water before exiting through a narrow opening to an agro-forest.

 

Trek for another 1/2 hours towards the main river. Here you will jump in a rubber tube raft and enjoy the relaxing trip back down the river. 

Guest entering water cave-Batu katak.jpg

Duration: 7 hours

Start time: 9am

Included: certified guide with motorbike ride, local guide, fruit, lunch, tubing, head tourch

Cost: from 800,000 p/p

Group Size: 1-4 persons

Fitness: Average

What to bring: rucksack with water bottle, flipflops, camera, insect repellant, suncream, clothes for tubing

* it more than 2 people, we suggest to have a car for the day as the costs works out cheaper

Corpse Flowers

Rafflesia-Arnoldii

Rafflesia arnoldii Photo by Rendra Regen Rais. Taken from www.rafflesiaflower.com

Louise-sitting-with-rafflesia-arnoldii-flower-batu-katak

Rafflesia arnoldii

The Rafflesia flower, is commonly known as the 'Corpse Lily/flower' because it gives off an unpleasant, pungent odour of rotting flesh. Rafflesia is in the genus of parasitic flowering plants, only found in Southeast Asia, but Rafflesia Arnoldii is endemic to Sumatra.

 

It is noted for producing the largest individual flower in the world! The flower can grow up to 1 meter in diameter and can weigh up to 11kg. The Rafflesia begins its life parasitising on only 1 type of vine, feeding from its host for several years. Once its finished feeding it will burst out of the vine as a flower bud which will grow in size over several months, eventually blooming into a flower. However, the flower only blooms for a few days, during which it has to be pollinated.

The flowers are so rare that it's a wonder that a nearby flower is of the opposite sex and that insects, attracted by the rotting flesh odour, can cross-pollinate it!

The Rafflesia flower has no leaves, no stem or no roots. It is one of the rarest plants on earth, growing only in certain pockets of Sumatra. Like many of the animals in North Sumatra, it is on the verge of extinction. The vines that the Rafflesia depend on to grow are threatened by deforestation. If the vines disappear from the forests then so do the Rafflesia flowers!

 

We're lucky that it grows in a few places near to Bukit Lawang..... but Batu Katak is one of the best places to see this magnificent flower.

Read more about this amazing flower on the Rafflesia Flower website

Amorphophallus titanum

Amorphophallus titanum is commonly known as Titum arum. It is also referred to as the 'corpse flower' like the Rafflesia flower due to the rotting flesh odour that it gives off. Titum arum is native to western Sumatra and Java, and it grows here in the rainforests of North Sumatra.

 

Batuk Katak is a great place to see it as it grows near to the village as well as in the jungle. Over 2000 specimens have been recorded in the area surrounding Batu Katak. Titum arum is another giant plant, with one of the largest flowering structures in the world, called inflorescence  which can grow over 3 metres. The inflorescence consists of an inner spike which is surrounded by a petal-leaf structure, which rises from a tuber below the ground. This tuber, a swollen stem modified for storing food, can weigh up to 75kg and is the largest structure of this type in the world. 

This flower requires 7-10 years of growth before it first blooms. The spathe, a petal-leaf that surrounds the inflorescence, will open up over 12 hours but then it starts to wilt. However, they can stay open for up to 48 hours, depending on the weather. During this time, flies and beetles are attacted to the rotting flesh odour and will pollinate the plant. The plant will then not produce another flower for another 7 - 10 years, making it an extremely special flower to see.

The titum arum is classified as 'Vulnerable' because the areas where it grows are under threat from deforestation. By joining an eco-trek to see this amazing beautiful flower, visitors are supporting the local community to protect the vulnerable forests where the titum arum grows outside the national park. Seeing the titum arum is certainly a 'once in a lifetime experience'!

Read more about this amazing flower on the Live Science website.

The Rafflesia flower blooms only once a year for just a few days. The best time to see them is between August to December. The Titum arum however can be seen throughout the year but only if its time for it to bloom. However, we have a team in Batu Katak looking out for these flowers and the possible times they will bloom so we can give out guests the best possible chance of seeing them 

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