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