Sumatra like a local: Off-the-beaten-path adventures that bring you into the heart of this entrancing region. Taste the incredible food and connect with the locals and endangered primates through intimate exploration and our unique “giving-back” adventures.
Activity Level: Challenging
Hi Fitness level is required. If you want to experience the most from this trip, you should be able to jog for at least a mile without stopping, balance on one leg for at least 60 seconds. There will be a fitness test before being allowed to join for a few of our adventures on this trip.
Altruism Index: 5
We will spend a total of one to two days over the 15 day journey working on a social project changing peoples lives and supporting the eco system. Every trip over $1,500 of your money goes into making big changes, and we hope that you will help us to raise money for the cause through the support of your friends and family.
Service Level: Basic
Simple and clean accommodation. Many optional activities and some public transportation may be included.
Group Size: Min 6 pax, Max 13 pax
Our group size will remain intimate allowing us to move swiftly, have more interaction with your guide, and tailor experiences to your specific interests.
Travel Experiece: Mixed Bag
Pampered and rustic Experience. We will be in both wealthier urban areas and poorer rural areas. You will be spoiled with massages, intimate boutique hotels, and fine dining (included). You will also get to stay with the people, often featuring a night or two home stay with the locals. These safe but down to earth experiences remind us what we have, and how people with so much less live often with so much more peace and happiness. These trips allow you to see what other tour groups never will, giving you memories you will have for a lifetime.
Jud Yaski is an adventure veteran with over 22 years of international travel, extreme sports, and corporate hospitality under his belt. Jud has traveled through Cambodia for the last 10 years. His love for this country and its peoples, along with inside knowledge of this magical place are reflected in the extraordinary adventures he will be sharing with you.
Cambodia and Sumatra are both very special destinations that are beyond the bus line of most group travel. Join us to explore these stunning countries like a local, staying in villages, face to face with ancient primates. Help save an endangered species, support a village, and be part of operations for cleft palate children. Join us and travel with meaning.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Arrive at Siem Reap
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Explore the temples
Koh Ker, Cambodia
Into the heart of Cambodia!
Arrive in Siem Reap
On arrival into the the great Kingdom of Cambodia (Siem Reap International, REP) we’ll be escorted to our charming boutique hotel in the center of town. The remainder of the day will be at leisure to rest up before the fun starts tomorrow. Dinner is on your own but feel free to join our tour leader at one of our favorites to eat as a group.
The afternoon is free to explore the city, shop, and rest up from the travel. Our private escort will be on hand to explore the city with the group. This is your day to catch up and rest, go shopping, and enjoy this spectacular city.
At our welcome dinner this evening you will meet fellow volunteers and we’ll go over our volunteer adventure.
A Day of Majestic Temples
After a healthy breakfast, we’re off to some of the most famous temples in the world. Our guide will take us through 2,000 years of history, with commentary on past and present throughout the world renowned Angkor Wat Temple complex. We will see Ancient jungle temples and sacred statues of many giant Buddha faces. Lunch will be enjoyed local style, and then off to more ancient sites.
Angkor Wat, the main temple, was built in the early 12th century, but then disappeared in the jungle after the Khmer kingdom abandoned the temples 2 centuries later. The temples were rediscovered in 1861 and today are one of the greatest ancient cultural sites in the world.
After the temple tour, we will stop at a creative orphanage where they have managed to be self sufficient through selling the amazing art that the children create. Spend some time browsing their art, playing with the kids, and perhaps you will even come home with a very special art piece!
Next, we’ll witness sunset on the great temple complex from high above either in a very safe, but exhilarating tethered balloon ride, or for those who prefer - from the safety of solid temple bricks or a traditional floating river boat along an ancient moat. Either way, in addition to great images, you will gain an immediate understanding of the lay of the land.
For those who want the ultimate experience you may take an optional 45 minute hot air balloon flight, gliding effortlessly above this majestic land as the sun slips below the temple peaks. (Price & more details TBA)
Tonight, we reconvene for a delicious welcome dinner at New Hope. This grass roots, rapidly growing Non-Government Organisation (NGO), focuses on 'free education for all' as the founder's recognition of the vital role education plays in helping break the cycle of poverty. New Hope’s activities and programs address the daily issues facing families in crisis situations and, at the same time, find ways to work toward a better future. Aside from a school, health center, computer center, & music room, they have a fantastic restaurant that gets children off the street and teaches them the skills needed to be hired in the hospitality industry. The food is delicious! The night ends back at our quaint, boutique hotel, to be greeted by an in-room masseur to work out our travel weary muscles (included).
At One With The People
Today is another extraordinary experience. We'll explore an area in the remote Cambodian countryside seen by few travelers and experience a special day of interaction with local school children. On the way there, we will stop for road-side goodies. This is a great chance to have a truly local experience having some traditional coffee and desserts at a “locals only” roadside coffee shop. We will soon arrive at a small, very rustic school that is greatly in need of supplies.
The children of this school are eager to learn English and about the world outside Cambodia. After we donate to the school and take some group pictures with the kids, we will continue on to a village where we built a foot bridge in 2011, a new school kitchen in 2013, and a library in 2015. This year’s project is still in the works and we’ll announce the exciting details to all those signed up in the coming months. They welcome visitors with enthusiasm, since so few travelers make it out to their rural home. Enjoy lunch at our “tree house like home” before an afternoon filled with amazing photography opportunities and exploration with our guides! A visit to the school to say hello to the kids and see first hand the important projects we have helped build will follow. Another home cooked meal awaits for dinner before settling down under a blanket of bright stars with few lights to dull them away.
*For one night only we will be staying at an actual rural village in a unique open air house on stilts built just for us. This is not a hotel. There are two shared outhouses with toilets and a separate building to take bucket showers. The open air sleeping space is communal and all beds are queen size with mosquito nets. Double padded mattresses with mosquito nets will be set up for those who do not have a bed. Solar panels provide electricity for lights and a few communal plug outlets. While this portion is not luxury, it is why you have come across the planet: to live and breath life in a rural Cambodian village.
Explorations of the original Angkor style temples from King jayamaran the IV. These temples are hours away from the hustle and bustle of Angkor, but just as majestic in their own right, minus the tourists. We are often the only ones climbing amongst these ancient stones which was the original capitol of Cambodia.
Then to the Circus! Join us for a touching story and unbelievable feats, both of social programs and of human will and training as these formerly street kids out perform many Cirque Du Soleil acts.
Koh Ker, Cambodia
Explore the "City of Temples"
Siem Reap, Cambodia
The circus: great food and entertainment, Cambodian style
The Unseen Temples
Meals: Breakfast/ Lunch
Wake up to the sounds of the village, witnessing village life in a way you never could from the high-rise windows of an insulated hotel. You will witness life as it was, perhaps two thousand years ago. This is truly a dream come true for photographers, want to be anthropologists, and lovers of native cultures. This morning we will be working on a meaningful project that will impact the lives of these people for years to come. We work with Ponheary Ly Foundation to support their fantastic work.
After a hearty breakfast is served, explore Koh Ker a remote temple ruin right next to our village. These Temples are just as amazing as the Angkor ruins nd all to ourselves). In fact this is the first of the great temples before the capitol was moved to Siem Reap. The temple has been taken over by jungle vegetation and is quite exotic. After a great photography session among the ruins, bid farewell to our new friends at the village and make our way back to our charming hotel in Siem Reap. Tonight, grab a great dinner at a local restaurant with the group (optional) or explore the restaurants on your own.
Amazing Options & an Evening at the Circus!
Today we have options. For those that couldn’t get enough of the most amazing temples in the world, we’ll set up a transfer for you to head back to Angkor. Other options include a cooking class, shopping, volunteering at one of the local non profits we work with, exploring the markets, or just plain relaxing. There will also be a full day optional excursion to the largest waterfall with the largest Buddha statue in the region overlooking it (Optional activity prices & more details TBA)
This evening we’ll treat you to a unique and wonderful award winning circus composed of kids in need and trained in the circus arts. Each act shares a story meaningful to the struggles and history of these amazing people. The money goes to help the causes of Phare, the Social enterprise that runs it.
The Great Lake Of Cambodia
Tonle Sap is Cambodia's great lake. Its size changes with the yearly rains from 1860 square miles to 4500 square miles! We will explore the lake by boat and visit stilted floating villages including Kampong Khleang. Observe the wonders of rural Khmer life where the locals live on the lake, literally. An ethereal canoe ride through a floating forest will show off this areas beauty. A tasty lunch will be served at a river restaurant on stilts!
This evening we’ll enjoy a fabulous dinner to celebrate the unforgettable adventure we’ve had in Cambodia, and wrap up the first part of our journey with another massage before bed! (included)
Farewell to Cambodia
This morning we will be transferred to Siem Reap Airport to fly to Medan. Onwards to Sumatra!. Bid farewell to this diverse land of Asia for now. After this trip of a lifetime we’re sure you’ll be back!
We will travel to Medan, arriving in the evening. We will grab our first meal of Indonesian Cuisine in this bustling city. This town is famous for unique indo-chinese seafood eateries. We enjoy a unique and wonderfully local experience before heading back to our hotel for an early night's rest so we are ready for an early morning journey to Bukit Lawang: the gateway to the land of the Orangutans!
From helping endangered Orangutans up close and personal, to rafting down the great Bohorok river. Prepare for an adventure of a lifetime! We are now off to a place less traveled, not to be found on a group travel itinerary . . . Until now.
Medan, Medan City, North Sumatra, Indonesia
Into the Jungle!
Berastagi, Gundaling II, Karo Regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia
The Land of Volcanos
Samosir, Samosir Regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia
Welcome to the jungle!
In the morning, our bus will be waiting to whisk us off into the magical jungle of Bukit Lawang, the gateway to the Gunung Leuser National Park and land of orangutans.
A sumptuous local roadside lunch breaks up the ride before arriving at our jungle hideaway in the afternoon.
After we arrive and get settled in to our hand crafted boutique jungle hideaway, You will have time to rest and recharge. Then We will enjoy dinner at our local guide’s home and restaurant as he shares the amazing story of these creatures, and how human impact is both saving and endangering them.
Encounter with Orangutans
We awake to the gentle roar of the great roar of Bohorok river that once swept away this small village many years ago. They are still recovering from this catastrophic flood. We will spend a day (or two) of adventure, connecting with a critically endangered primate known as the Orang-utan (“forest man” in Indonesian), as well as a chance to see a gibbon, or perhaps a Thomas leaf monkey. There are even giant water lizards. Don't worry, they dont bite!
For those in great shape, we will take a 2 day, overnight trek deep into the heart of the jungle, staying at a riverside camp (optional), falling asleep to the sounds of the jungle around you. In the morning you will visit a beautiful waterfall and then raft back home!
For the rest of us, we will enjoy a challenging but manageable 3 hour hike where we will still have an opportunity to engage with these stunning creatures and then enjoy a white water rafting trip back to town on a fun but safe river.
You will likely see Thomas leaf monkeys, macaws, and of course our orange haired primate cousins! There is nothing more inspiring and powerful than coming face to face with a “forest man”, which when you see their expressions and their movements, you can’t help but realize these critically endangered beings are indeed, just a few chromosomes away from us.
For those on the day hike, you will have time to meet the ridiculously friendly locals, perhaps singing a song by one of the many fireside gatherings along the river, or sipping a cocktail at one of the many friendly guest houses. Bukit Lawang isn’t just about doing. It is a place where locals meld with travelers. This is not a tour bus destination, and we will be one of the very few small groups that come here every year. You will have an opportunity to slow down and blend in, really absorbing the fantastic and welcoming Indonesian culture and people.
We encourage you to get pulled in to a fireside jam, or take a group of locals and westerners up on a drink. In fact, you will find it hard to walk down the street without being invited in to one of the many gatherings that spontaneously evolve in the cafes and along the riverside in this very special village. Tonight those of us who are doing the day trek will have dinner at a charming local restaurant and will have time after to sing popular songs with the locals and backpackers or just enjoy the serenity of your jungle hideaway.
Tubing Adventure & Cultural Experience
In the morning, those of us who did the day hike will enjoy a day of discovery around the region. We will start with a Becak ride (a motorcycle rickshaw taxi) to a tofu making shop, a palm sugar distillery, and a school where we will have lunch and donate supplies. After lunch we will stop at a rice field for photo opportunities and then back to the river front for rest and relaxation.
For those who are on the two day jungle trek, your morning will be spent on a fun filled 1 hour rafting ride back to town where you will have the day free to clean up and rest, going through your stunning images of orangutans, Thomas Leaf, and macaw monkeys. You may even have a chance to encounter a 4-foot-long monitor lizard! We will then all come together for a great dinner at Bukit Eco Lodge, a marvel of bamboo architecture. If you have the energy, join us for a fireside gathering with locals and learn some of their jungle games and sing songs!
A day to rest, re-charge, and give back
This morning, enjoy sleeping in, shop at the local craft stalls, and just be.
For lunch we will walk down a forest path to visit a very special non profit. Saskia and her husband have dedicated their lives to helping orphans after the flood that destroyed the town and ending many lives. A decade later they are still committed to helping the underprivileged, with and without parents. Their school allows many children to get the education they would not otherwise get. Aside from a fabulous buffet, you will hear a touching story and see how one (or two) people CAN make a difference.
Speaking of which, we will continue down the trail until we get to the hill where we are engaging in an important program we are helping develop: Planting fruit trees in the jungle. This keeps the critically endangered orangutans from eating other crops in nearby farmer’s villages. The farmers are losing their livelihood and want to kill the primates in order to save their farms. Our efforts should help to significantly remove that pressure. After a couple hours of planting, The refreshing river just below will be our swimming hole. The rest of the evening will be open again to have some time and space to soak it all in before continuing on to more discoveries.
To the Land of Volcanos
Our Bus will pick us up after a great breakfast, bright and early, and take us on an exciting adventure to a volcanic town, known for calderas, hotsprings, and street food. We will enjoy lunch at a panoramic restaurant, then arrival in a few short hours to the volcanic town of Berastagi. We will witness a ghost village deserted by the danger of volcanic eruptions, a vulcano monitoring center, and a great local market. The evening will culminate in a sumptuous culinary adventure Anthony Bourdain style, as we sample the generous offerings of savory (and sweet) street food the little town serves up. We may even be lucky enough to be serenaded by an amazing local street band.
Scaling Volcanos and Soaking in Hot Springs
This very early morning is worth getting up for. . For those in great shape who are ready to hike up a mountain before sunrise (optional), your efforts will be rewarded as you witness the glow from local active Sinabung volcano from atop mount Sibayak, capturing images from the spectacular surroundings. You may even be lucky enough to witness an eruption from the not too distant caldera.
For those not ready to hike up a crater at dawn, you will get to meet us in the morning for a soak in the healing waters of a local hot spring with 7 wonderful pools, all of different temperatures; one of the benefits of an active volcano!
Once we have returned to our hotel to enjoy breakfast, we will jump onto our bus and continue on towards the largest volcanic lake in the world. On our way we will stop at Dokan village and see the king’s grave and waterfall (time pending) on the way.
We will savor a local roadside lunch, and soon be at the shores of the largest volcanic lake in the world: ancient Lake Toba, where a ferry will be awaiting us to take us to the island of Samosir: a Singapore size island in the middle of the sunken caldera that is now this great lake. At our charming waterfront bungalow we will have the rest of the day at leisure to swim in the pool and explore the town after a very full day. We will enjoy another great meal at one of the excellent eateries in this cute one street town.
Samosir: A Day of Exploration and History
Today we will get to relax while learning about this fascinating culture. We will charter a private, colorful boat that will take us on a journey through the lake and through time. We will see ancient stone chairs where chiefs decided the fate of criminals, tombs of kings, Traditional dancing, an island of Egrets, and a great BBQ on the boat with swimming and sunbathing. Let’s not forget a chance for shopping at local craft markets.
Our last night’s dinner will be one you won’t forget. Enjoy a traditional meal at a charming local restaurant overlooking the lake, where we will have a private musical group serenading us during the meal. For those who are still up for more fun on our last night at the lake, come on down to Roy’s where you can sing karaoke like you never have before . . . With a live band backing you! They’re surprisingly talented!
The Journey Comes to and End, but not without Giving Back!
As the sun rises, a breakfast at our lovely hotel will be waiting, before leaving our island paradise and heading to the Harapanjaya Rehabilitation Center on the way to the airport, where we will be seeing the life changing work we contributed to.
This amazing center is supported by non profits and allows kids with illnesses and injuries to get help they would never otherwise have. Today we will visit with the children whose lives we ultimately helped save through sponsoring the Cleft Palette Surgery Program before the trip. We will also get a tour of this impressive facility seeing some of the children we helped save, and have a chance to donate more to the programs they support if interested. After this moving experience, we will have a goodbye lunch to celebrate our once in a lifetime experience together, and hop on the bus for the ride back to the the airport where we will catch our flights home. Farewell to this off the path, hidden jewel of Indonesia. You now have an exciting island checked off your bucket list that not many people you meet in your life will have had the opportunity to have experienced.
For those of you interested in our 5 day extension to the land of Tsunamis and some down time at beautiful beaches, ask us about the Pula Wei Hidden Sumatran island extension.
**75.00 USD per person of the total Sumatra trip cost below will be donated toward our cleft palate surgery program for underprivileged children in Sumatra. We are not a 501-c3 registered in the USA and therefore the 75.00 USD might not be able to be used as a tax write off. Please do consult your accountant/tax professional for more information if interested.
ALL Meals and non alcoholic drinks!
Transportation & Fees:
Personal items & equipment
Sumatra visa must be obtained upon arrival
Gratuities & Donations:
(optional: School supplies, shoes, clothing, money)
(see itinerary below for opportunities)
Travel Insurance (required)
Feb 1 - Feb 13, 2019
Starting at: $3199.00*
This 13 day exploration into a majestic land of temples and smiles will change your perspective forever. Our privately guided tour gives you a true sampling of the many faces of this magical country, while offering a unique opportunity for you to connect with the people of this land through giving back, first hand.
Apr 6 - Apr 13, 2019
Starting at: $2895*
This privately guided green adventure to the Big Island of Hawaii (Hawaii Island) will open your eyes to an tropical paradise of Hawaii while earning up to 30 CE Units! Our creative learning expeditions allow you to gain all of your CE credits while experiencing the best the island has to offer.
*Starting prices based on double occupancy.
Join for FREE for inspiring stories from the Non Profits we work with, updates on our latest adventures, and eco travel tips for giving back however you travel.
I had a great time this past week and want to thank you for all the work you and Jud and Joe did in planning the adventure. Your willingness to change plans and be so accommodating made the trip extra special for me. And of course, the humor. What can I say? I felt like we were all part of a close family. I have told several people about Destination Earth and hope they will contact you. Thanks again, Kathy
Jud and Steve did a fabulous job on my recent tour with them to Myanmar and Sumatra. They really listen carefully to our desires and are open to making any adjustments in their planned itinerary to give everybody everything they want to experience. For example, the main reason I signed up for the trip was to photograph the ancient temples in Bagan. Well, following a less than stellar sunset shoot at the temples on our last night due to weather, even though we were flying out about 10 AM the next morning, they scrambled and put together a sunrise shoot that turned out to be mind blowing incredible! I’m so thankful for that 🙏🏻 and it remains as one of my top two memories of the trip. All along the way we stayed very comfortably in great hotels and ate wonderful local food. So, thanks guys, we’ll definitely do it again!
"DO IT!!! Steve, Jud and Tom, our guides were the best hosts and had crazy knowledge about where the best places were. Spectacular and breath taking!"