Tangkahan, Elephant Trekking

Tangkahan, Elephant Trekking


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Tangkahan is a small village on the border of Gunung Leuser National Park located in North Sumatra. It is situated at the junction of 2 rivers, the Buluh River and the Batang River. Tangkahan specialises in eco-tourism activities like jungle trekking and Elephant trekking.

There are 7 trained elephants at Tangkahan which are available for jungle trekking though their primary role is to patrol and protect the National Park from illegal activities like animal poaching and illegal logging. These elephants were original troublesome elephants that were involved in destroying fields and houses in surrounding villages. Now they serve to protect not only the villages but other elephants in the wild.

Tangkahan Elephant

When you arrive at Tangkahan you need to pay 2000Rp at the Visitors Centre to go down to the river. Then to cross the river it is 10,000Rp per person for 3 days, you can cross as many times as you like.

Tangkahan river crossing

Tangkahan River Crossing

Elephant camp at Tangkahan

The Elephant camp is a 15 – 20 minute walk up river from the visitors centre in Tangkahan. They bathe the elephants everyday at 9am and 4pm. You’ll need to purchase a ticket at the visitors centre for 20,000Rp per person before you go to the elephant camp. The elephant camp now has a new additional. A baby elephant about 1 year old comes down every morning and afternoon for wash with all the elephants.

Elephant trekking

There are various options for experience trekking in the jungle on the back of an elephant. There is a minimum of a 1 hour trek up to a 4 day trek through the Gunung Leuser National Park to Bukit Lawang.

In 2012 they changed the price of the Elephant trekking and removed the option of 2 and 3 hour treks. Now only a 1 hour trek on the elephants is available and the cost is 650,000Rp per person.

For more information and prices for longer tracks contact the Elephant Jungle Patrol via their website www.elephantjunglepatrol.com. Trekking to Bukit Lawang is possible and will take 4 days.

For more information about how you can help save the Asian elephants check out the Elephant Family webpage. They are raising funds to help elephants all over Asia and Sumatra Indonesia. They currently have a veterinarian onsite in Medan, Sumatra who is helping to ensure the health of elephants all over Sumatra.

Hot spring

Just across from the Jungle Lodge is a small cave with a hot spring pouring hot water into the river. There is a large log tied up at the river bank which allows you to lay back and enjoy the mixture of the hot spring waters and cold water flowing down the river.


Just before the Buluh River meets the Batang River there is a small waterfall. You have to walk up a small creek about 100 meters to reach the waterfall. Great for sitting under to get a jungle massage!

There is also another larger waterfall about an hours trek up the Buluh River. Most of the way you need to walk in the river as there are no jungle trails and some sections you need to swim up river.

There is also the waterfall picture below. This waterfall is located in the direction of Pantai Salak. You first have to cross the river then walk around 4 kilometers. The waterfall is located behind the river Salak. You can get a guide to take you for around 150,000Rp or less if you bargain nicely. At the bottom of the waterfall is a beautiful pool of clear water, excellent for swimming. Be careful on the rocks of the waterfall as there is alot of moss so very easy to slip.

How to get to Tangkahan

There are 2 ways you can get to Tangkahan. From Medan there are only 2 buses a day leaving from Pinang Baris Bus Terminal, leaving at 10am and 1pm and taking around 4.5 – 5 hours (longer if raining). The cost is 15,000Rp per person.

Buses leave Tangkahan at 7.30am and 2.30pm to go back to Medan.

You can also get to Tangkahan from Bukit Lawang either on the back of a motorbike, a very bumpy 3 hour trip or hire a 4WD to take you. Prices for a 4WD can be up to 1,000,000Rp (US$83) for a one way trip.

Accommodation in Tangkahan

List of Hotels and guesthouses in Tangkahan

Jungle Lodge (8 reviews) is probably the nicest place to stay. Located 10 minutes walk from the river crossing. For pictures, prices and contact details click here.

Jungle Lodge accommodation Tangkahan

Mega Inn (7 reviews) located right at the river crossing. Prices from 50,000Rp – 85,000Rp per night. For pictures, prices and contact details click here.

Mega Inn Tangkahan

Green Lodge is located right at the elephant camp. Prices start are 85,000Rp per night. For pictures, prices and contact details click here.

Bamboo River Hotel (3 reviews) located right next door to Mega Inn. Price is 100,000Rp per night. For pictures, prices and contact details click here.

More information about Tangkahan

Recently a lot more information is being released on the internet about Tangkahan. Here are some of the better websites for more information about Tangkahan as well as organised travel there:

Organised travel to Tangkahan:



Information sites about Tangkahan:



More great photos of Tangkahan contributed by Pamela from Australia travel.webshots.com/album/558220008eKUdnh

Last updated 4th April 2013

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