Tangkahan is a breeding ground for wild elephants on a clean river in the Sumatra’s tropical forest. It is in the village of Namo Sialang, Batang Serangan, Langkat, about 3.5 hours from Medan. To see it on the map, click here.
The unique activity there (rarely found in other tourist attractions) is the opportunity to bathe the elephant and ride it while roaming the forest. Various kinds of trees and tropical forest vegetation combined with hilly land make Tangkahan not only an attraction but also a place to learn about nature, living creatures, flora and fauna, the rivers, waterfalls, hot water, valleys and even rare plants such as Rafflesia. There are also many activities you can do there, such as rafting on the river, tubing, and trekking. Tubing is an activity of using inflated truck tubes to float in the river. The topography of the hill that has many cliffs is suitable for those whose hobby is climbing.
What to Enjoy
- Bathing the elephant
Tangkahan is a Sumatra elephant sanctuary. There is a herd of elephants, including elephant calves who like to jog at will. Of course you should not miss the opportunity to bathe the elephants in Tangkahan. For approximately 1 hour, you can get close, touch, brush the elephant’s body, and play with water spray with them. The cost is Rp100,000 ($7.5) per person, including fruit for elephant food.
- Elephant ride
Besides being able to bathe the elephants, you can also go around the forest riding them. The mahouts (handlers) take them for walks as a form of enrichment so that their instincts as wild animals are not lost. By paying Rp 650 thousand ($45), you can join the mahouts through the tropical rain forest on the back of an elephant.
- Jungle trekking and river tubing
Take jungle trekking or river tubing across the Buluh River for fun. In fact, this is the most favorite activity in Tangkahan. The dense tropical rainforest has an abundance of miraculous flora. One of them is a large climbing liana. There are half-day trekking packages, some are all day, some are camping while staying overnight.
- Play in the waterfall
Tangkahan has several waterfalls. Some are small and not named, but there are also big ones like Gelugur Waterfall. While soaking in the waterfall, you can see monkeys hanging from the trees. How fun!
- Hot bath
Uniquely, there are several natural hot springs in Tangkahan. They are on the side of the river and close to the forest. After being tired of trekking and tubing, a warm bath before returning to the inn will rejuvenate your body so much.
Note: Playing in waterfalls, swimming in rivers, and taking warm baths are included in the trekking and river tubing fees.
What to Expect
A variety of lodging facilities such as Bamboo River Lodge, Green Lodge, Jungle Lodge, and Tangkahan Inn are available in the area. There are tour guides, who are ready to take you to various places you want to visit. Bargain on their fees before booking, ranging from Rp 250,000 ($20) to Rp 300,000 ($25)/day. Entrance fee: Rp 3,000 ($0.25)/adult, parking Rp 5,000 ($0.40/bike and Rp 10,000($0.80)/car.
What Visitors Say
“The place is okay for bathing, but the road access is still not good.” Ika Annisa (Source)
“Great for camping.” Wiwid Kurniadi (Source)
“Visiting here feels like I don’t want to go home.” Idris Rizal (Source)
“With a combination of choices of outdoor activities that you can do there, Tangkahan makes your vacation seem complete. It is a true escape and the beauty of its river simply can’t get my mind away of it.” Rifkysetya (Source)
“Overall, it is right that Tangkahan is called a hidden paradise in North Sumatra. With all the excitement, and experience that we will get there, Tangkahan Ecotourism is a must-visit place after Lake Toba.” Juleebrarian (Source)
Next point of interest: