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KUALA BARU > WHAT TO SEE AND DO


Click to enlargeClick to enlargeKuala Baru is located on the fringes of Leuser National Park. Rawa Ulue Bubu (The Ulue Bubu Swamp) has an interesting wildlife. Orangutans, Tigers, Mouse deer, and birds like Hornbills and Shama. To see the area go by local canoe through the swamps and then walk in the forest. You need to use a local guide. The Singkil swamps can be reached both from Kuala Baru and Singkil.

An unusual attraction is beach trekking between Kuala Baru via the even more isolated village of Buluhseuma to Kedai Trumon in the north. In the late 1990ies about 50 backpackers did this trek over the years, but it stopped during the Aceh conflict. The walk is beautiful between the ocean and the forest. It is an adventurous walk and you should bring a guide. There are several rivers to cross. Click to enlargeApproximately 35 kilometers north of Kuala Baru is Buluhseumah; a very nice place to stop over for a couple of nights. Contact the Village head (Kepala Desa). They will be over-delighted to see you. The people here are truly isolated. Their main income is from wild bee hobby collecting. For them it is important that the big trees stand. More information about this trek will come. Read the report below from Senne Vliegen who did the trek in July 2010.

Click to enlargeMost of the men in Kuala Baru are fishermen. Around 05.00 in the morning they get their boats and canoes ready in the river. They all leave for the sea through the river mouth to the south of Kuala Baru and return back in the afternoon with fresh fish. Purchasers are waiting for them at the boat landings on the river side. The wheeling and dealing goes on until sunset. Some fishermen also look for Ikan Lele (k.o. cat fish) in the swamps. Tarik Pukat is another and very interesting activity. A big community group pulls a huge net towards the beach in order to catch fish. This is fun to sea and take part in.

Click to enlargeKuala Baru is well-known for its handicraft. In almost every home in Kuala Baru the women do embroidery. They have learnt it from their mothers. The patterns are often inspired by fish, birds and trees. Most of the production is sold in the region, but some of it can be great and unique souvenirs.
Two home industries to mention are:Click to enlarge
Uning Baya Souvenir Jl. Tanah Tinggi, Kuala Baru. 20 employees.
Adami Souvenir Jl. Tanah Tinggi, Kuala Baru. 12 employees.

Culture and traditions are strictly controlled by community representatives. They control traditions and rules for the sea, the river, the forest, and the fields. It is for example forbidden by traditional law to fish with bombs and poison. The culture is strongly influenced by the two major ethnic groups of Kuala Baru, Acehnese and Pesisir (a coastal mix). This can easily be seen in wedding decorations and the traditional dancing.

Senne Vliegen of Belgium made a beach trek from Kuala Baru to Buluhseuma in July 2010. Here is his report (edited) and his photos (See also his report from his visit to Rantau Gadang from Singkil)

Click to enlargeKuala Baru - Buluhseuma and back (two-day trek):
I took a public robin from Singkil to Kuala Baru. I paid Rp. 20.000, although locals told me afterwards the normal price would be only Rp. 5.000 (without luggage). I met with my guide already arranged from Singkil. (can also be arranged directly in Kuala Baru). We started walking around 9.30 in the morning.

Click to enlargeDuring the walk we saw a lot of Monitor lizards (biawak in Indonesian) and one big Orangutan. The walk is beautiful between the sea and the swamp. Most parts of the walk is on the beach, some parts have to be done in the forest next to the beach because large trunks of trees are laying on the beach. The beach is also more narrow now after Tsunami (and Nias Earthquake) because the land level has gone down by about 1 meter. (The beach is wider in eastern monsoon season). It is best to wear strong sandals, as light sandals are not suitable for the forest and shoes become too wet and too heavy on the beach. Sun lotion (and a hat) is also essential. We arrived in Buluhseuma after 7-7,5 hours. I think it's around 28-30 km. We met a few villagers on the way, but it's unlikely you see many people on the way.

Click to enlargeI stayed at the Kepala Kampung's house in the first part of the village (closest to Kuala Baru). Actually there are 2 or 3 parts (small villages) in Buluhseuma. You can stay in every part. The parts are connected by a small river (5 min). The total population is a few hundred people. The population has decreased since 2000. Apparently some inhabitants moved to Kuala Baru during the Aceh conflict.

I gave the Kepala kampung Rp. 100.000 for my stay. I got dinner, breakfast and some additional snacks throughout the evening and morning and coffee/tea several times. People are very friendly in Buluhseuma. I was even invited at a religious party in a private house in the village. I only stayed one night. If you have time it is better to stay a few nights to get a better insight in the village life.

It is possible to trek further from Buluhseuma to Kedai Trumon, which is 30-35 km to the north (Trumon is on a main road). However I decided to return to Kuala Baru the next day. We saw a lot less animals (no large ones) than the day before, so you will probably have to be a bit lucky to spot an orangutan. I think you need to speak at least basic Indonesian to do this trek. A guide is a good idea, not because the path is too difficult (you just follow the beach), but because you have to pass a group of water buffalos on the beach. I paid 100.000 per day for the guide.

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