Friday, March 21, 2008

A river journey in Sumatra, Indonesia

Sometimes, it's the places you least expect that prove to be the most child friendly. Like the Indonesian jungle ...

When our son Dax was 19 months old we took him to the jungles of North Sumatra, in the Leuser national park - a huge, primal rainforest that's home to elephants, orang-utans, clouded leopards, any number of civet cats and other squirrelly looking things. Bit off the track if there's any medical emergency and not much in the way of soft-play areas or TV. I wasn't unduly worried, though - Dax had travelled quite a bit by then, and we thought if we were sensible there was no reason why he couldn't come along. We were there as guests of Mike Griffiths, a laid-back New Zealander who ran the Leuser International Foundation, which in turn was charged with protecting the national park. We met him through our friends in Bali, Nick Blackbeard who runs the Bali Bird Park and Victor Mason, author of several books on Indonesian fauna, both of whom accompanied us. The main purpose of the trip was to photograph and log as many species of butterfly as we could for Victor's upcoming book. We flew from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Medan, North Sumatra's capital and main city - from there it was a four-hour Land Rover ride to the Disitung river as the only access was up river by boat to our base, the National Park Elephant Camp.

Full article by Bill Bailey

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