Tangkahan, referred to as the hidden paradise in Sumatra located in border area of Gunung Leuser National Park, is an ecotourism area in the Langkat district of North Sumatra, just two hours drive from the neighbouring ecotourism site of Bukit Lawang or four hours drive from Medan.
In the 1980s and 1990s, local people were actively cutting down trees illegally from the park for commercial timber. However, after a time the people became aware of the damages wrought by such activity and the errors of their ways, and thus collectively decided to stop illegal logging and transform the area into an ecotourism destination. Thus in April 2001, the residents gathered and passed local regulations prohibiting illegal exploitation of the forest and established the Tangkahan Tourism Institute (Lembaga Pariwisata Tangkahan, or LPT).
LPT established an MoU with GNLP Management in April 2002 to manage the Tangkahan forest for ecotourism purposes. LPT developed the Community Tour Operator (CTO) system, which provides accommodation and local tour guides for visitors. In addition to amazing Gunung Leuser National Park forest trekking in the area.
Tangkahan is combinations of vegetation and topography makes it a marvellous tourist spot rarely found elsewhere. The Batang and Buluh rivers, converging exactly in this zone, are typical of rainforest streams, with diverse varieties of vegetation and colourful rocks and Sumatra Elephants on their banks. The clear, bluish green river water against the panoramic view creates a mystical atmosphere. The Best season to Visit is June to October.
Tangkahan is also the base of the Conservation Response Unit (CRU), consisting of a team of ex-captive Sumatran Elephants and their mahouts (elephant tenders) that regularly patrols the national park to protect from any possible encroachment. Visitors can also do elephant jungle trekking for one or two hours by joining the mahouts atop an elephant’s back for a stroll through the forest, or enjoy four days three nights elephant jungle trekking from Tangkahan to Bukit Lawang.