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Sumatra is one of the biggest islands in Indonesia. In ancient time, people named this island as Swarnadwipa the Island of Gold. Traveling to Sumatra is interesting because every single province have their own distinctive culture and ethnic groups. Sumatra is divided into nine provinces: Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Riau, Jambi, Bengkulu, Bangka-Belitung, Lampung and South Sumatra.

A Touch of Nature from North to South

If you love nature, Sumatra is the place. Starting from Aceh, Taman Nasional Gunung Leuser, one of the largest national parks in the world. The park is the home for the orangutan, gibbons, monkeys, tigers, elephants, and the sumatran rhinoceros. Bukit Lawang is one of the popular place for tourist to see rehabilitation of orangutans.

When entering North Sumatra, you can visit the Great Bukit Barisan Forest Park with the zoological museum in the Karo highlands, 59 km from Medan. Enjoy the gazebo with an exquisite Karo ornament design on top of the roof. Danau Toba is the famous lake at the heart of the Batak people. This is the largest lake in Southeast Asia and is one of the deepest lake in the world (450 meters). In the middle of Lake Toba, is Samosir island, the original home of the Batak Toba. Before reaching the lake, you will pass through Parapat which is the main tourist resort.

For surfer lover, do not miss the Nias island. It is heaven to ride your surfboard. Nias island is part of the West Sumatra province also have an interesting performance called Lompat Batu a traditional thrilling high jump ritual over a stone object about 2 meters. Two hours driving from Padang, you will meet the Bukittinggi highlands which is surrounded by three volcanoes: Tandikat, Singgalang and Merapi. Beautiful coral reefs are found on the offshore near the Mentawai iland. The Mentaai people are one of the indigenous ethnic group which live in comparative isolation. Gua Ngalau Indah is a deep cave cover with bats all over. You would not be able to see it, but would hear and sense as they fly close over you.

Contuinue your journey to Lampung and go to the Taman Nasional Way Kambas, the place of the big elephant. Several elephants are trained to carry visitor and do simple tasks, with the hope that people will see them as useful and valuable.
At South Sumatra, you can walk through in the natural pine forest called Punti Kayu and experience the fresh pine tree scents.

More Exciting Places To Be Explored

The more you explore the island, the more interesting experience you will get. Minangkabau culture (West Sumatra) is the largest matrilineal society in the world. According to the local tradition, The Minangkabau derive their name from a victory in an ancient fight between the Sumatran and Javanese water buffalo over land ownership. Traditionally, the Minangkabau people live in multi-family longhouse named Rumah Gadang.

Step into the Pugung Archeological Site, from the megalith, pre-historic and classical Hindu Buddhist period. The site is located in the Pugung Raharjo village, 40 km from Bandar Lampung. In this area, a museum also has been built with the collection of stone inscriptions, ancient Chinese porcelains, Polynesian statues and the statue of Bodhisatwa.

One of the most popular handicrafts in Sumatra is the traditional hand woven cloth. In North Sumatra, they call it Ulos. Ulos Ragi Hotang a type of ceremonial mantle worn to announce the birth of a boy or used at wedding ceremonies. Songket from Minangkabau, a sarong or shawls woven in bold color silk combined with artificial gold thread. The motive is usually in geometric shapes. In Lampung, they make Tapis sarong, a woven cloth with embroidered gold couchwork.
Collect them all, and see the beauty inside it, the beauty of Sumatra!