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awakening travel - mentawai tribe




Ready for another journey? Mentawais is a tropical island chain situated along the western coast of Sumatra. On this tour, we’ll visit the Siberut tribe and witness their shamanic culture famous for their ritual tattooing, shamanic ceremonies, and clan society. Unpolluted, beautiful nature, exotic wildlife, and perfect waves, make that place a mecca for surfers and anthropologists. Moreover, this tour is a part of “Awakening Travels” – the series of unique excursions created in collaboration with indigenous people in different parts of the world in order to help to protect their culture, traditional way of living and to ensure that the benefits of tourism are shared equally among the local community. By participating in “Awakening Travel” trips, not only you’ll get the rare opportunity to experience close and meaningful contact with authentic, indigenous culture of Mentawais, but you’ll also make positive impact on lives of people you visit. 10% of the payment for this particular trip goes directly to environmental, social or educational programs run by local people – Mentawai Ecotourism. Choosing this journey you contribute to a community-run model designed to protect the Mentawai culture and forest environment. The profit made on your trip to Mentawai goes toward our community’s Suku Mentawai ‘Cultural and Environmental Education Program’ (CEEP).

What will you experience

  • Visit one of the most pristine islands in South East Asia

  • Dive into Mentawais’ unique, tribal and ritualistic culture whilst staying with Mentawais shaman in a traditional Mentawai uma (ceremonial longhouse)

  • See firsthand ancient traditional tribal rituals

  • If you’re interested in hand-poked tattooing and planning give it a try – do it here! Traditional Mentawai tattoo artists draw their tattoos by using a needle that they beat with a small mallet. The tip of the needle is dipped into ink made from sugarcane fluid and soot.
  • See all tones of green colours of the rainforest and river mangroves in central Siberut Island

  • Relax by the perfect beach and snorkel, fish or surf whilst staying in a local homestay resort

Who is this trip for

  • Adventurers looking for something beyond the ordinary
  • People who aren’t affraid of getting wet n’dirty
  • Those who are OK with a “bush toilet” and “river bathroom”
  • Drama-free adventure hunters
  • Active and open-minded travelers
  • People at any age with average physical fitness and health
  • Tattoo anthropologists and hand-poked tattoo artists
  • Culture lovers who dream of discovering faraway tribes
  • Photographers who want to capture the soul of the tribe
  • People who love nature and prefer outdoor activities
  • Those who can bear simple traveling conditions
  • Those for whom authentic experiences are more important than a comfy couch.

What to prepare

“Always be prepared! The scout’s motto is simple, but true.  An expedition is something a bit more special than normal travel so make sure you have:

proper jungle trekking boots, quick-drying, long jungle trekking pants, quick-drying, long sleeve trekking shirt, light waterproof jacket, light sleeping bag, light air mattress, training gloves, flipflops or sandals, trekking hat, comfortable, waterproof backpack (60L), personal, waterproof backpack (10L), dry-packs, mosquito repellent, own first aid kit, “Malarone” or other anti-malaria pills, torch and spare batteries, personal knife or multitool, vitamin supplements, power bars.

What do we offer

  • Duration:
    12 days / 11 nights (incl. 3n in “uma”, traditional longhouse of Mentawais)
  • Best time to travel: IV – IX
  • Weather:  hot & humid with frequent rainfall
  • Difficulty (1-10): 7
  • Comfort (1-10): 4
  • Be ready for: spending some nights in basic conditions, electricity from a small generator, mosquito net, thin sleeping mattress, basic bathroom with water from the well.  
  • Departure location: Jakarta, Java
  • Price range: from 4000 USD/per person
  • The number of participants in the group: 2-10
  • Availability of the tour: on request


Sumatra is the world’s sixth-largest island and the second-largest Indonesian island, after Borneo;

This lush gem holds some of the richest and most diverse tropical forests on the planet, giving shelter to many rare species –  besides tigers, rhinos, orangutans, and elephants, see the rarest parasite plant in the world – Rafflesia Arnoldii Sumatra giant flower, commonly called the corpse lily;

The main products are oil (the greatest earner), timber, rubber, tin, tobacco, palm oil, tea, coffee, sisal, and rice;

Off the western coast of Sumatra, in the northern part of Indonesia, around 70 islands and inlets make up the Mentawais Islands Archipelago, one of the most consistent and most wave-dense surfing destinations in the world;

Fascinaiting Mentawais are the native people of the Mentawai Islands in West Sumatra province. They’re the original residents of the Mentawai Islands and also one of the oldest tribes in Indonesia;

The Mentawai tribe lives a semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle in the coastal and rainforest environments of the islands.



West Sumatra Capital
Total area
6011.35 km²
93 070
Population density
15 /km2

day-by-day itinerary



Selamat Datang; welcome to Indonesia! Our representative will welcome you upon your arrival at the international airport in Jakarta, Java. Together you will check-in for the next flight to Padang in Sumatra. Here you’ll be accommodated in a 5-star hotel in the city center. Later we will take you for dinner to a local restaurant where you’ll have a chance to try traditional Sumatran cuisine – spicy food lovers should be satisfied.

Accommodation: hotel

Meal plan: dinner.



Early in the morning we’ll transfer you to the harbor where you’ll board a private speedboat and start your 3-4 hours long journey to the island of Siberut. Once there you’ll visit the local market to buy necessary all supplies for the expedition as well as gifts for the tribal families who are going to be your hosts. Later you’ll get on a small motorized canoe travel up the river going through the dense, tropical jungle. Eventually, you will have to get on feet and start trekking together with local guides and porters. Simple lunch will be served on the way. In the afternoon you will reach the first village of Mentawais where you will be accommodated in the traditional “uma” – the long house. The evening will pass on talking with locals and getting to know their unique culture and life in the jungle.

Accommodation: uma (traditional longhouse)

Meal plan: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

DAY 3-4


Today you’ll awake among Mentawais. First, enjoy the local breakfast. Then, you can join in with the locals in their daily activities; fishing, sago processing, making the sago (the staple food of the Mentawaians), and baking it; manufacturing a bow and arrows, and making the poison for the arrows, bark cloth processing. If you’re lucky there may be a chance to witness a shamanic ceremony. Mentawais have developed truly unique culture with the important role of tattoo making and teeth sharpening. Next day you will leisurely hike around the area and get to know a number of the local clans and get to learn about their cultures. It is recommended to bring gifts and provide them to the village heads as we enter into each village, small trinkets are fine and are mostly just a sign of your intention to come as a peaceful visitor.

Accommodation: uma (traditional longhouse)

Meal plan: breakfast, lunch, dinner.



In the morning you’ll start going back to Muara Siberut where your private speedboat will be awaiting. Time to set course to beautiful island of Sinai where you’ll be accommodated in Macaronis Resort 4*. This is an ideal place to enjoy the true, tropical paradise!

Accommodation: hotel (local 4*)

Meal plan: breakfast & lunch.

DAY 6-7


Two days of leisure on a paradise island! Snorkelling, surfing, swimming in a crystal clear waters or maybe just lying on the beach with your favourite book in hand? Take your time and enjoy your holidays. You deserve it.

Accommodation: hotel (local 4*)

Meal plan: breakfast.



In the morning you embark your speedboat and return to Padang. We will drive you to the airport where you catch your flight to Medan. Here you will be accommodated in the five stars hotel in the city.

Accommodation: hotel (local 5*)

Meal plan: breakfast.



The day’ll start with a quick sightseeing city tour. You will visit the Great Mosque, the Sultan’s palace and beautiful Chinese temples. After lunch you will drive to Tangahan (approximately 4 hours); on the way stopping by in traditional villages of Binjai and Batang people. Tangahan can only offer accommodation in a simple lodge but it’s beautifully located on the edge of the jungle and by the river. Dinner and overnight.

Accommodation: lodge

Meal plan: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

DAY 10


Time for another adventure. After breakfast you’ll go for a trekking through Sumatran jungle. Keep your eye out for various kinds of monkeys, parrots and other wildlife! Maybe you will get lucky enough to spot the Rafflesia – the world’s biggest flower? Volunteers can also try “tire white water rafting” – very popular amusement here. Don’t worry – someone will catch you up before the river will bring you to the ocean! Afternoon will be free to enjoy with a cold beer at hand. Overnight in the lodge.

Accommodation: lodge

Meal plan: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

DAY 11


Get ready for exciting off road drive to Bukit Lawang. You can pick 4×4 jeeps or a motocross as your ride. The trip will take around 3 hours and you will enjoy beautiful, tropical landscapes on the way. Upon arrival you will be accommodated in the best hotel in town ***. After lunch we will take you to the nearby Gunung Leuser National Park where the orang-utan rehabilitation and research centre is located. You will get on a special platform to see orang-utans during feeding time and later you will have a chance to encounter wild orang-utans during few hours long trekking in the jungle. In the evening you will be back in your hotel.

Accommodation: hotel (local 3*)

Meal plan: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

DAY 12


In the morning you’ll be transferred to Medan’s airport where you’re gonna catch your flight to Jakarta and then to your next destination.

NOTE: You’ve heard of Bali, right? Known for its stunning scenery, tropical climate, and kind hearted people over cultural richness. We’ll be happy to extend your stay in Bali for an extra cost, so think of staying for a bit longer in Indonesia, making sure you enjoy Bali’s laid-back atmosphere, beach and fantastic food! According to your wish, we can extend the tour by more days in Java or/and Bali.

Meal plan: breakfast or breakfast box.

Happy Customers

“We spent 5 days with the Korowai people, lived with them in tree houses. This was anything like we have ever done before. Far Horizon & Adam were terrific I can recommend them highly. They have planned a trip of our lifetime. ”
- Rakib Hassan

Independent Traveler