When visiting Medan, capital city of North Sumatra, and you are looking for some real excitement, why not try Rafting down the rushing Asahan River.
Located at the center of Bandar Pulau subdistrict in the Asahan Regency, the Asahan River track is praised as one of the Best White Water Rafting spot in the World after the Zambesi River in Africa, and Colorado River in the US. Asahan, one the major rivers in North Sumatra province, has its source in the great Lake Toba and offers endless excitement for rafting enthusiasts especially professionals.
The outstandingly fast and continuous river is a 22-kilometer course that will definitely give you endless adrenaline rush as its water debit can at times reach up to 120 cubic meter per second. With an average depth of 5 meters, the rafting courses are classified from Grade 4 to 5 difficulty levels (in the scale of 1 to 6).
How to get there
The best way to get to Asahan River is by taking a rented car. From Medan's Kualanamu Airport, it will take around 4 hours to drive to Kisaran City and from there, just continue driving to Pulau Raja village, and after passing Bandar Pulau subdistrict, you will arrive at Tangga village — and start your rafting adventure. Total trip time is around 5-6 hours. Please note that different operators may offer different routes.
River rafting is the most challenging and desirable activity at Asahan River, and you should have your rafting adventure pre-arranged from Medan. Bonafide adventure travel agencies here can do that for you. Kayaking, cycling and jungle trekking are sometimes included within the package. Depending on your length of stay, you may want to include a trip to Lake Toba.
Besides river rafting, you can also have a moment of joy contemplating and blending in under the cool breeze of the famous 250-meter high Sigura-gura Waterfall.
Asahan area has several magnificent waterfalls. The famous ones are Simanik-manik Waterfall, Simonang-monang, and Ponot.
Kampar is a long river that rushes down from the Bukit Barisan mountain range that forms the spine of the island of Sumatra along its west coast. The river then meanders through the Riau province, to finally pour out in the Malacca Straits, on the east coast of Sumatra. Along its long course the river divides itself into two large branches known as the Kampar Kanan (the right branch of Kampar) and Kampar Kiri (its left branch).
They then converge at Langgar in the district of Pelalawan at Kampar’s estuary. Here they are joined by many other rivers causing Kampar to funnel out into a wide river mouth. At each high tide, high waves from the sea flow in and meet the down stream current of the Kampar. Where the two opposing energies meet, and furthermore, caused by the funnel shape of the river, Kampar’s phenomenal tidal bores emerge, rushing deep inland reaching to over 60 km upriver.
These tidal bores are known locally as “Bono”, which rush in with loud roaring sound at a speed of 40 km an hour. The surf on the river can rise as high as 4 to 6 meters, at times creating barrels, the darling of surfers.
Best site to surf by the village of Teluk Meranti, although there are other spots like Tanjung Sebayang, Tanjung Pungai, and Pulau Muda, all in the district of Pelalawan. Although quite used to the phenomenon, local inhabitants are mostly scared when the Bono appears, which they believe are spirits of the Seven Ghosts. Many boats have sunk in this river when caught in the bore.
To get to Teluk Meranti one must travel through Pekanbaru, capital of the province of Riau. As a busy business airport, Pekanbaru is served from most major cities in Indonesia, most often from Jakarta, Medan and Batam.
Internationally, Pekanbaru is served from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by Air Asia. It takes some 4-7 hours by car from Pekanbaru north to Teluk Meranti. There are car rental companies in Pekanbaru.
The ride from Pekanbaru to Pangkalan Kerinci lasts 1.5 hours, then from here to Teluk Meranti takes another 4 hours. Alternatively you can take a speedboat from Pangkalan Kerinci to Pulau Muda or Teluk Meranti, which takes around 4.5 hours.
Whereas, when you travel from or through Singapore, the journey to Teluk Meranti is by sea through a rather arduous route. From Singapore’s Ferry Terminal take a boat to Sekupang in Batam, then connect with a ferry to Tanjung Batu, in the Karimun islands, where you can find ferries to take you to Teluk Meranti.
Take a trip into the wild with an adventure to the Mentawai islands. Be surrounded by tropical rainforests and immerse yourself in the traditions of the local people. While the physical distance between the mainland and Mentawai is not great, this remains one of the most isolated places in Indonesia, and was only subject to outside influences at the start of the 20th century. A long way from the world of shopping malls and theme parks, this is where travellers come to get a truly off the beaten track adventure.
The remote location of these islands means that the Mentawai people have had very little contact with the outside world. The archipelago is thought to have broken off from the rest of Sumatra about 500,000 years ago and it is only since the 20th century that outside influences began to have an impact on the local people. Today, the Mentawai still abide by traditional practices and live largely off the land. Local people have a strong spiritual relationship with the forest with a belief system that emphasizes harmony with creation. The other big attraction for visitors to these islands is the world class surfing. With some of the best surfing conditions in the world, monster waves and swells that remain all year round, this is ranked by serious surfers as a must visit destination.
To access all the beauties offered, you can rent a boat owned by local people. You can find the boat along the beach. The rate depends on your bargaining skill.
Independent travellers will need to be able to speak reasonable Indonesian to negotiate with local guides in Sirebut. They also must organise their own travel permits with police.Probably the easiest way to get to Sirebut is to join a trekking tour. These tours normally depart from Bukittinggi or Padang and will organise transport to the island.
An overnight ferry service departs from Padang. It is best to regularly check times with ferry operators as timetables can change depending on weather conditions. Some resorts which operate on the islands will arrange flights and airport pick-ups for you.
Lakey beach is a long, wide, palm-lined, white-sand stretch of beach fronted by reef. Much of the bottom is rocky, but farther up the beach it's sandy and good for swimming. It is already well known among the world’s surfers community. The waves here appear to sweep to the left in direction, instead of right, as is common. The uniqueness of this fact, with the added, natural beauty of the beach has become a sensation, especially among surfing enthusiasts. Aside from that, the sea breeze is fairly strong as well which supports the activities of surfing, wind surfing, or kite surfing.
Besides surfing, you can also swim off the beach, but be careful to remember the size and strength of the waves here are pretty fierce. Dangerous rocks are also widely scattered along the surrounding beach. However, the crystal clear sea water does make for an excellent snorkeling site. There are specific spots marked off especially for this particular activity because of the beauty of the coral reef and the variety of tropical fish to be seen.
You can also take sightseeing tours through the waters surrounding the beach by using a charter boat. You can obtain information for these tours at your hotel, or from a tourist booth along the beach. While on these tours you can also have the boat stop for fishing directly from the boat. If you're lucky, while on this tour you might catch the glimpse of a passing dolphin’s fin breaking through the waves. At dusk, watching the sun sink behind the horizon will be a one of a kind of luxury that nature offers before closing the day. The sea water will recede and local sea farmers will comb the sands collecting seaweed that the tide left behind on the rocks.
To get to Lakey beach, you need to fly in through the city of Bima on the eastern coast of Sumbawa. There are daily flight services from Bali to Bima’s main airport, the Muhammad Salahuddin. From Bima you can take a taxi-bemo (public transportation) which will take you to Hu’u (about a 3 hour drive), or private transfers can be arranged (maximum 4 people). From Hu'u, Lakey beach is around a 30-45 minute drive.
Alas River, Rapid Flows for the Adventurous
Alas River flows directly into the Indian Ocean; it has exceptional rapids that attract whitewater rafting enthusiasts for all over the world. Situated at 165 km southeast from Takengon, Alas River cuts through Mount Leuser National Park. This area is especially popular among the young and adventurous. The sharp bends and many rapids are challenging to white-water rafters.
Rafting and kayaking is possible on the Alas river from the village of Angasan down to the city of Gelombang, close to the Indian ocean. In the upper areas of the Alas several rapids are demanding a good performance. The boat is passing pristine rainforest and many wildlife can be seen, especially monkeys and a big variety of beautiful rich coloured birds.
From Kutacane to Gelombang the water is rather quite and we call this part of the trip jungle-Safari. Nevertheless also great scenery is shown. On rafting-trips longer than one day we sleep in tents on the shore of Alas river, having BBQ and playing guitar in the evenings.
G-Land (Plengkung Beach), Outstanding Wave for Challenging Surfing Experience
Indonesia is most proud of the Plengkung Beach at the eastern tip of Java Island. Aside from its enchanting natural beauty, the long curving coast line here is recognized as one of the best surfing sites on the face of the earth. More familiarly known among world’s renowned international surfers as G-land, the beach, located in the Banyuwangi Regency, is a paradise for surfers offering some of the most outstanding waves in the world. For, Plengkung Beach is dubbed “The Seven Giant Waves Wonder” by international surfers for its legendary 7 rolls of waves that can reach up to 6 meters high.
The popular name G-land itself is said to have been given by surfers, where the G is said to refer to three different meanings; “Great”, "Green" or "Green Land", and “Grajagan”. There are also others who suggest that the name G-Land was given because of the curving coast of Plengkung Beach that resembles the letter “G”.
What makes G-Land's waves unique is that they break after 1-2 km, rolling from east to west with heights reaching 4-6 meters in about 5 minutes intervals. This is hugely favored among surfers since they can then enjoy thrilling long barrels. No wonder the beach has hosted at least five international surfing championships. With seven layers of towering waves constantly hitting the shores in the “go to left” formation, G-land is also favorite with left-handed surfers.
The waves of G-land are considered 2nd best waves in the world after Hawaii only. Whereas Hawaii offers constant waves all year, the peak of waves in Plengkung Beach occur predominantly between the months of April to August. Besides Plengkung and Hawaii, similar waves can be found only in Australia and South Africa.
The vast swathe of white sandy beach is surrounded by pristine lush green tropical forests secluded from any hustle and bustle of city life. Obviously you will not get any phone reception here or even a television network. However, that is exactly what makes this beach so special: it is a perfect place to escape from the “modern city” atmosphere so that you can truly enjoy what nature has so generously provided. In other words, forget all else, just get into the water and surf!
There are two main routes to get to Plengkung Beach. The first and longest route is overland by car by the Banyuwangi-Kalipahit road. The distance from Banyuwangi to Kalipahit is about 59 KM, this is followed by the Kalipahit-Pasaranyar road for 3 km. From Pasaranyar, the road continues to Trianggulasi-Pancur for another 15 KM, before you finally reach Plengkung (Pancur-Plengkung) after another 9 KM.
The second is via the land-water route. From Banyuwangi you can head overland to Benculuk for approximately 35 KM, and followed by the 18 KM route from Benculuk to Grajagan. From Grajagan Beach take the speed boat to Plengkung Beach. While others actually arrive by boat direcly from Bali.