After passing a long trip through oil palm (Elaeisis guinensis) plantation, finally we were encountered at a building which was big enough in that area. On a plank was written “Tangkahan Visitor Center”. Our team was consisting of male and female students of post graduate (S2), and university students from Biology Study Program USU, rushed to enter the building which was functioning as the gate to a place which is popularly called “The Hidden Paradise in Sumatera”.
Being an assistant to a lecturer in Ecological Study, I was one of five university students who joined in the research team.
After doing formal procedures, the group then moved into the ecotourism of Mount Leuser National Park (TNGL). To enter this ecotourism park is not just simple as to enter shopping mall or plaza. Here, we have to complete all the administration such as permit and not allowed to harm the environment.
This spot was chosen as “a field study of forest ecology” for post graduate students of Biology USU due to its richness in biodiversity.
After crossing the river of Batang Serangan with raft, soon we stepped up the hill which was covering with thick bamboo trees. This bamboo hill located at the acute angle which originated from the meeting point of Buluh River and Stream of Batang Serangan River. This is not just a common hill, because some well organized accommodations with ecotourism atmosphere are available here. Such accommodation is very luxury for us, in doing research we get used to stay in the tent.
On the east side of the hill, right on the opposite is Buluh River with its quiet stream, shallow and greenish jungle vegetation. Really, as soon as we crossed over the Buluh River, the gate to TNGL was right in front of our eyes. This river is the natural border between the tourist spot and TNGL.
Accommodations on the bamboo hills and bank of Buluh River are called the Bamboo River area. This location is managed by local community.
After choosing the room and lunch, we were welcomed by four rangers from Tangkahan Tourism Institution (LPT). This is a non government organization which is made to protect the beautiful nature of jungle and to get benefit from tourism activity. Some LPT rangers formerly were illegal loggers. But soon they were aware that such activity resulted in bad condition for their settlement, and finally they turned to be the jungle protector.
“Welcome to Bamboo River!”
One ranger came to talk to us with friendly manner. Then they guided us to go into the jungle area. This afternoon, we entered TNGL for Analysis of Vegetation in order to know the quality structure and composition of a forest ecosystem. In fact, the forest in Bamboo River is amazing. There are some species of trees with diameter more than two meters and height of more than 50 meters. The species of trees are Shorea sp, Altingia sp, tualang, Ficus sp, meranti and Eugenia.
Besides, there are some species from non wood product with great value. Some of them are ornamental plants like Orhidaceae, Araceae, Begoniaceae, Balsaminaceae, Rubiaceae, liana, rattan (Calamus sp) and some medicinal plants. Thick canopy of trees always give shelter to all biodiversity in tropical rain forest.
Afterwards the area of forest was getting dark. Here the dark comes earlier because the light can not penetrate the tree canopy and the sun sets earlier in the hills. Our inventory activity must stop. When going out from the jungle, we still could see some animal species which also moved to its nests. Some of primates like long tail macaque (Macaca nemestrina), oak (Presbythis sp) and some bird species like hornbill (Bucheros bicornis), hawk (Heliastur sp), honey bird (Nectarinia sp), and some finch birds (Lonchura sp), flew slowly to its nest.
On arrival in accommodation, I got one bonus that I personally found it; it was a scorpion (Androtocnus sp).
It displayed its tail to me. I jumped to take my digital camera to snap it for documentation. Unfortunately, the photo was not so good because my fear was more than my scientific view point.
This was the gloomy weekend in Bamboo River due to drizzling rain. We were heating up the atmosphere in the café with a guitar and a few cups of cappuccino drink.
Sun rises with the red bright day. We would walk along the river to find a river biota sampling. In the clear and cool water, we collected plankton, benthos, and nekton. We brought them back as the gift for laboratory such as aquatic insect, baung fish, shrimp (Crustaceae), and jurung fish (Tor sp). All data from the samplings will be an indicator whether the area is still in good condition or not.
Ecolodge Bamboo River
We did two jobs at the same time like we did in Bamboo River. Besides doing research, we were also on tour. On the second day, instead of going back to acommodation, the research team were doing picnic along the riverside. Without doubt, we joined with tens of peoples to do water activity like swimming, bathing.
Later on, we saw two elephants (Elephanus maximus) carrying with tourists on its back. I got information that tour package with elephant could be arranged for five days and five nights plus overnight camping in the jungle. The trip will end in ecotourism spot in Bukit Lawang. For the time being, this package is temporarily stopped because of disturbance by wild animals on the track.
Frequently from the upstream of Batang Serangan River, some people were seen swinging in the current. They were floating on inner tube. It is used by local people as a mean of transportation after having worked in the upstream. For visitors, this activity is considered as the best way to do a water tour.
One of uniqueness in Bamboo River is the hot spring that flows from the gap of stones. A lot of visitors crossed this river just to bathe in this hot water. You must be careful, because the depth of the river in front of the small cave is about five meters. Everybody must queue to enter the spring well with temperature around 43 Celsius degree.
In Bamboo River, there are many choices for you to do tours with special interest. This area is suitable for those interested to do active tour. If you want to try a best ecotourism sensation, just do it by yourself. Sometimes by sitting on the stone like doing meditation is extremely beautiful. But you and I are different in taste, aren’t we?