Washing Elephants in Tangkahan

Attraction Sumatra EcoTravel Bukit Lawang, Jln Besar Orangutan, Bukit Lawang/Bohorok, North Sumatra 20774, Indonesia Published on: 13-11-2015

2 hours
08:30 AM - 04:30 PM
02:00 PM
04:00 PM
First-time visit
90.00 USD

Washing Elephants in Tangkahan is good for

Good for family with kids Family with kids Good
Good for senior Senior Good
Good for couple Couple Good
Good for solo Solo Good
Good for group Group Good
  • Highly recommended by fellow travellers.
Tangkahan is a small village on the border of Gunung Leuser National Park located. It's situated at the junction of 2 rivers, the Buluh River and the Batang River.

Image copyrights belong to authors

Why Washing Elephants in Tangkahan is special ?

Tangkahan is a small village on the border of Gunung Leuser National Park located in North Sumatra. It is situated at the junction of 2 rivers, the Buluh River and the Batang River. Tangkahan specialises in eco-tourism activities like jungle trekking and Elephant trekking.

There are 7 trained elephants at Tangkahan which are available for jungle trekking though their primary role is to patrol and protect the National Park from illegal activities like animal poaching and illegal logging. These elephants were original troublesome elephants that were involved in destroying fields and houses in surrounding villages. Now they serve to protect not only the villages but other elephants in the wild.

Source: http://www.sumatra-indonesia.com/tangkahan.htm

What to explore at Washing Elephants in Tangkahan?

Ride patrol elephants on a choice of treks with a well-designed and comfortable howdah to experience the adventure of wildlife patrol. Steep slopes and dense vegetation bring you the excitement of the jungle. At the end of the trek you can bathe with the elephant as they spray water to cool off in the forest river. You can join the bathing twice a day 8:30- 9:30 am in the morning, and 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm in the afternoon, and choice your elephant for a hand feeding. According to the senior mahout the bathing time is the golden time to establish an emotional contact between this social animal and mahout.

We offer various elephant packages from a short distance rides overnight forest trip to Bukit Lawang, sleeping in a tent…

For elephant enthusiasts there is a chance to learn how to handle Sumatran in bean elephant’s mahout package. It takes only 3 days to learn to use the basic commands and be able to handle the animal by your own. You will experience all the works that a mahout does to care for the elephant, including bathing the elephant, cooking its food supplement, and riding an elephant by yourself! At night time, there will be a slide program on the conservation and basic biology of the elephant, you can also discuss in more detail about elephant history in Sumatra with our friendly mahout.

Take home an elephant souvenir. Various items from t-shirt, hat, elephant jewelry and mahout personal tools are available at the local souvenir soup.

Be swept away on raft rides, tube over rapids and through caves. Taste the sweet oranges at the local orange groves, all accompanied by the gentle call of the argus pheasant and the cry of the gibbons.

Source: http://tangkahanecotourism.com

How to get to Washing Elephants in Tangkahan?

There are 2 ways you can get to Tangkahan. From Medan there are only 2 buses a day leaving from Pinang Baris Bus Terminal, leaving at 10am and 1pm and taking around 4.5 - 5 hours (longer if raining). The cost is 15,000Rp per person.

Buses leave Tangkahan at 7.30am and 2.30pm to go back to Medan.

You can also get to Tangkahan from Bukit Lawang either on the back of a motorbike, a very bumpy 3 hour trip or hire a 4WD to take you. Prices for a 4WD can be up to 1,000,000Rp (US$83) for a one way trip.

Source: http://www.sumatra-indonesia.com

Selling points

  • Enjoy the elephants in their own surroundings
  • Amazing Experience
  • Much more than just washing
  • Big fun and awesome experience
  • Raw Wildlife Encounter
5 Days Medan Lake Toba Trip

Are you planning a trip to Medan? Check out popular trips from our experts. Copy and make it to your own plan. Customize it Now!

5.0 days
448.56 USD
Total travel distance
Number of places
21 places




Sumatra EcoTravel Bukit Lawang, Jln Besar Orangutan, Bukit Lawang/Bohorok, North Sumatra 20774, Indonesia

Plan a trip to Medan based on your personalized interests.

Tips for you

  • In order to keep you as safe as possible you have to abide by the rules and instructions given to you by the EcoTravel team at all times. Please note that the tour operator is not liable for any damages or injuries suffered in consequence of anything, however caused, in connection with services carried out by third parties and for death or personal injury.
  • You should not go alone to avoid getting lost.
  • You should bring 1 small backpack (30-35 liters) and comfortable boots for jungle treks (additional sandals for crossing the River only for overnight treks)
    What to bring
  • You should bring T-shirt and shorts in case you can get wet.
    What to bring
  • You should bring cashes in case there are no ATM machines in Bukit Lawang and around but it is possible to change foreign money like Euro.
    What to bring
  • You should bring raincoat, plastic or waterproof bag for your personal belongings.
    What to bring
  • You should bring long trousers and long sleeved shirts in bright colour (evening and night time)
    What to bring
  • You should keep a clean environment to save out nature.
  • You should use an insect repellent all day whilst in the jungle (Deet > 40%) and wear long sleeves/trousers during sunset when the mosquitoes are at their most active.
  • Please make your reservation for the ride & bath with the elephant 2 (two) hours before. Unless you reach the time limit/it’s full (10 persons in the morning and 10 persons in the afternoon).
  • You have to pay $112 with 1 hour elephant riding & washing in the river.
    Ticket and Pricing


TripAdvisor View more

The ride from Bukit Lawang was one full of expectation and pot-holes. And what I thought would be a time of joy was really a moment of heart-break followed by a time of wonder and contemplation. I had not expected to have my heart broken on seeing this small herd of elephants enclosed in a small pen awaiting our pleasure. But here they were , here were their mahouts and here were around 20 tourists waiting to give these wonderful beasts a scrub in the river. And here I was lost for words and full of sadness that we have brought these monarchs of the jungle to this. Talking with the mahouts as we made our way to the river and then as the ritual washing took place it was clear to me how much they loved their charges and how important the relationship was. I was told that besides this parade for the tourists that the teams of rider and elephant do regular patrols of the jungle on the lookout for poachers and illegal felling. I was also told that to the best of their knowledge only seven elephants remain roaming the jungle. that means this captive herd is half the population and suddenly the care and attention took on a new light. This small group is responsible for saving the Sumatran Elephant from extinction. Sure they do circus tricks, sure they are captive but as was obvious once we arrived at the river, if they really wanted to leave and strike out on their own again in the jungle they could. Herd instinct though keeps them together. Should you go? Yes it is important. your contribution is helping preserve a vanishing species. Should you wash them? it is up to you though they do seem to like that attention. Should you engage with them? Yes. They are intelligent and gentle and seem to appreciate the interaction. But as with a visit to the wildlife of Bukit Lawang, tell the locals why you have come. Tell them how important their environment, their jungle and their animals are to you. So after you visit, spend some time exploring the surrounds and meeting and engaging with the people who live in the village. Spend some money. Ask questions share experiences. These are a wonderful people. Please don't ride the elephants though it is not a dignified activity for them and by that I mean no disrespect to their mahouts and their families. There is a different dynamic and relationship and set of permissions operating which we as tourists are not a part of.

0 Comment

Recommended itinerary

Scroll to top