Tangkahan – The Elephant Paradise

Peaceful jungle retreat in Gunung Leuser National Park

Tangkahan well-known as the hidden paradise of Gunung Leuser National Park, is an Eco Tourism area in the Langkat district of North Sumatra. The peaceful jungle retreat is located along the Kualsa Buluh River next to the dense rainforest, just 2.5 hours far from Bukit Lawang driving on a bumpy road through Palm oil plantations and rural villages. It is the perfect place to lay back from strong traveling and spend a memorable time with seven rehabilitated adult Sumatran elephants and a few small calves.

The tiny, remote village Tangkahan was practically built on the logging trade in the 1980s and 1990s, because the people became aware of the damages by such activity. They collectively decided to stop illegal logging and transform the area into a functional, self-sustained ecotourism destination. So in April 2001 the community banded together to form the Tangkahan Tourist Institute (Lembaga Pariwisata Tangkahan – LPT) and fixed regulations prohibiting the exploitation of the surrounding rainforest. So the Conservation Response Unit (CRU) was born – a team of Sumatran elephants and their mahouts that helps safeguard the national park to protect it from encroachment.

Even if you only observe the elephants on your day trip to Tangkahan (from a distance of about 50 meters, without touching the animals!), you are supporting this region. EcoTravel’s Tangkahan Adventure does not include any activities or direct interaction with the elephants but helps the animals as well as the villagers in and around Tangkahan!

However, for an extra charge EcoTravel guests can book a voucher for the daily bathing ritual and help washing the elephants in the Buluh river (up to 1 hour). Another option is to join “Angon Gajah” (up to 3 hours). We have launched this very special elephant experience in Tangkahan on October 1st 2017: “Walking With Elephants” or “Angon Gajah” is a tour developed for visitors who want to be close to elephants in their natural environment. This 3-hour tour gives EcoTravel guests the chance to spend time with the mahouts, help wash the Sumatran elephants in the river and walk alongside the elephants as they explore their natural jungle habitat. Note: CRU/LPT Tangkahan does not offer this tour as a private tour, other travellers will also join the trek! All Tangkahan activities are not operated by our team, but only arranged by us! Note: Our EcoTravel team does NOT offer elephant riding!

Although elephant activity is under worldwide criticism we are still supporting the locals in Tangkahan as well as this ecotourism project as it is unique for Indonesia. To remove the elephant activity option from our program for guests who want to get closer to the animals would weaken the CRU/LPT and is not an option for the time being.