teradesa.com Mount Leuser National Park is one of the conservation areas in Aceh. This 792,675-hectare area includes various types of ecosystems, so that the various types of animals and plants that can be found are very diverse.
The natural landscape in GLNP is also very enchanting, moreover some areas of this area were originally tourist attractions. This is an added value in itself, so it’s a shame to miss the panorama of this national park.
History of mount Leuser National Park
Actually, the proposal for the establishment of a national park in the West Aceh area has been going on for a long time. It is known that in 1928 FC Van Heurn had proposed the Alas, Kluet, Tripa River, and all types of ecosystems totaling 928,000 hectares to the Dutch as the government at that time.
In 1934 A Ph Van Ahen, the Governor of Aceh, established the 142,800 hectare Gunung Leuser Nature Reserve. Subsequently, the surrounding conservation areas were also established, namely Gunung Leuser Wildlife Reserve, Kluet Wildlife Reserve, Langkat Wildlife Reserve, and Sikundur Wildlife Reserve.
Furthermore, in December 1976 the conservation area was expanded by adding Kappi Wildlife Sanctuary, Sikundur Tourism Park, and Lawe Gurah Tourism Park. Shortly afterwards, the status of the conservation area in Gunung Leuser became Gunung Leuser National Park.
The decision was issued based on the Decree of the Minister of Agriculture No.736/Mentan/X/1980 by adding 292,707 hectares of Protection Forest and Production Forest, bringing the total area of the national park to 792,675 hectares.
Natural Conditions of Leuser National Park
1. Location and Topography
Gunung Leuser National Park is geographically located between 02°55′ – 04°05′ north latitude and 96°30′ – 98°35′ east longitude. Administratively, the park is located in five districts: Southeast Aceh, South Aceh, East Aceh, Langkat, and Tanah Karo.
The five districts cover areas in two provinces, namely the Special Region of Aceh Province and North Sumatra Province. The topographic conditions in this national park are flat, hilly, mountainous, to steep.
2. Climate and Hydrology
The average air temperature in Gunung Leuser National Park is between 21.1° – 27.5° Celsius with rainfall in the range of 3,000 – 4,600 mm per year. The highest rainfall is in the Leuser and Simpali areas, while the lowest is in the Alas Valley area which is only 1,300 mm. The rainy season lasts throughout the year, with no significant drought.
The air humidity in this area is between 62% – 100% or an annual average of 86.9%. The rivers that flow in this national park are the Alas River and the Mammas River, as well as tributaries in the Leuser-Simpali series and also the western Alas.
3. Ecosystems and Zoning
Several types of ecosystems exist in Gunung Leuser National Park, namely mangrove ecosystems, lowland tropical rainforest ecosystems, mountain tropical forest ecosystems, and sub-alpine mountain ecosystems.
There are eight zones applied by the national park in managing this area. The eight zones are the core zone, usury zone, utilization zone, rehabilitation zone, traditional zone, religious zone, special zone, and also the gray zone.
Flora and Fauna of Leuser National Park
There is a wide variety of flora and fauna that can be found in Gunung Leuser National Park. These range from species that are familiar and often found in everyday life, endemic groups of Sumatra Island, to species that are classified as rare and endangered.
More than 4,000 species of plants have been identified in Gunung Leuser National Park. The flora also varies from trees with edible fruits to rare plants.
The group of plants with edible fruits include two species of forest durian (Durio exyleyanus and Durio zibethinus), forest rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum), forest orange (Citrus macroptera), duku (Lansium domesticum), rambai (Baccaurea montleyana), and also menteng (Baccaurea racemosa).
There is also rukem (Flacourtia rukem), limus which has mango-like fruits (Mangifera foetida and Mangifera guardrifolia). All these species are sources of germplasm that have bright long-term prospects for development.
Rare flora growing in the national park from the Gunung Leuser area include the giant umbrella tree (Johanesteisjmania altifrons), a liana with parasitic flowers that can reach 1.5 meters in diameter (Rhizanthes zippelnii), and also Rafflesia atjehensis. Shoe orchids (Paphiopedilum liemianum) and pouch semar (Nepenthes sp.) can also be found.
More than 127 species of mammals inhabit Gunung Leuser National Park. Meanwhile, the aves group is known to number 387 species with 350 resident species. It is also known that there are around 89 species of animals classified as rare living in this national park.
Some of these rare species are the Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), orangutan or mawas (Pongo abelii), sambar deer (Cervus unicolor), jungle cat (Prionailurus bengalensis-sumatrana), and siamang (Hylobates syndactylus).
Meanwhile, there are also forest goats (Capricornis sumatraensis), hornbills (Buceros bicornis), as well as Sumatran elephants (Eephas maximus-sumatranus) and Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris-sumatrae) which are two species endemic to Sumatra Island.
Other animals that can also be found in this National Park are squirrels (Callosciurus albescens), Sumatran rabbits (Nesolagus netscheri), ungko or kedih (Presbytis thomasi), and hoogerwerfi rats (Rattus hoogerwerfi).
The most common reptile species in the area are crocodiles (Crocodillus sp.) and common snakes. There is also an endemic type of fish that lives in the Alas River, namely jurung fish (Tor sp.), this fish has a length that can reach 1 meter.
Activities and Tourist Destinations
There are many tourist attractions that can be visited in Gunung Leuser National Park. Therefore, various activities can be done more enjoyably in this area. Starting from simple activities such as animal observation, to quite extreme ones such as rafting and mountain climbing.
1. Alas River
One of the rivers in Gunung Leuser National Park is the Alas River. This river is usually used by visitors for rafting. While rafting down the swift and ferocious water flow towards South Aceh Regency, visitors can also enjoy the charm of tropical forests and traditional settlements on the banks of the river.
2. Gurah Recreation Forest
Gurah Recreation Forest or also commonly referred to as Lawe Gurah Tourism Park is one of the interesting locations to visit in this national park. The panorama of this forest is very enchanting with various types of flora, lakes, waterfalls, animal observation sites, and also hot springs.
The tour manager has also provided a special track for visitors who want to go trekking. Trekking starts in Gurah, then continues to the hot springs near the Alas River. The time required is usually about two hours with a distance of 5 km.
There is also a viewing tower where visitors can observe life in the Leuser rainforest. In addition, if visitors want to enjoy the sensation of living in harmony with nature, they can visit the camping area located in the forest area or stay at a guest house.
3. Sekundur Forest
In addition to Guruh Recreation Forest, there is also Hukan Sekundur which is located in Sekundur, Langkat, North Sumatra. This 18,500-hectare area has natural caves and panoramas that are still so natural. If you come at the right time, visitors can meet various species of wildlife such as elephants and deer. In addition, visitors can also camp in the area here.
4. Kluet Wildlife Sanctuary
Kluet Wildlife Sanctuary is an area dominated by coastal forest ecosystems covering an area of 20,000 hectares. Therefore, suitable activities to do here are kayaking on rivers and lakes, enjoying the natural panorama on the beach, and exploring natural caves. However, as a habitat for Sumatran tigers, visitors are advised to be careful.
5. Orangutan Rehabilitation Station
This orangutan rehabilitation center covers about 200 hectares and is located between Bahorok and Bukit Lawang, Langkat, North Sumatra. Interestingly, not only orangutans can be found here, but also various other primate species and groups.
6. Mount Leuser
Mount Leuser is the highest mountain peak in mount Leuser National Park, and the national park is named after this mountain. Its height reaches 3,304 meters above sea level.
As the highest mountain, the time required to reach the summit is about 14 days. Even so, visitors must ensure that they are physically and mentally strong because the journey is quite strenuous. The ascent starts from Angusan Village, which is located in the western part of Blangkejeren.
7. Kemiri Mountain Climbing
Mount Kemiri is the second highest mountain peak in Gunung Leuser National Park. The height of this mountain reaches 3,314 meters above sea level.
Visitors who love nature adventures can climb this mountain peak in about five to six days. Along the way, visitors will encounter various animals such as siamangs, gibbons, and also orangutans.
8. Mount Simpali
Another mountain peak that can be climbed is at an altitude of 3,270 meters above sea level. The time needed to climb Mount Simpali is about one week with the starting point being in Engkran Village, then along the Lawe Mamas Valley.
This valley is the habitat of one of the rare animals, the rhino. There is also the Lawe Mamas River which has a very swift current, making it a challenge for visitors. This river merges with the Alas River which is located about 15 km north of Kuracane.
9. Mount Perkinson
One of the luck for visitors who climb to the top of Mount Perkinson is that at one point on the way there will be a unique and rare flower, Rafflesia. This flower grows in an area that is at an altitude of about 1,200 meters above sea level and an enchanting moss forest. The travel time to climb the peak of the mountain at 2,828 meters above sea level is about seven days.
10. Lau Pengurukan
Lau Pengurukan is a paradise for visitors interested in exploring natural caves. The reason is that in this area there are tons of caves such as Pintu Air Cave. Pintu Angin Cave which is the longest cave with a 600-meter long passage with vertical holes. There is also Palonglong Cave which also has a vertical hole, Patu Cave, Pasar Cave, Rizal Cave, Pamuite Cave, and Pasugi Cave.
The way to reach this location if you do not bring a private vehicle is to start from Medan city by taking a bus to Bukit Lawang. After that visitors can rent a car which is usually a Jeep Land Rover type. The journey then continues to Tanjung Naman Hamlet for about an hour. After that, walk to Lau Pengurukan for approximately two hours.