Located in the Province of West Sumatra, Siberut Island is separated by the Mentawai Strait from Sumatra mainland about 155 km from Padang and has been declared by UNESCO as Biosphere Reserve. Mentawai People who lives in and around the National Park becomes the main attraction for visitors who take their time to walk through the inland.
The Mentawai are a tribe of people living with the exception of owning pigs and cultivating sago. Most of their activities are hunting and gathering food looked after with devotion by their medicine men “The Sikeri, or Shamans. These are the healers of the tribe, who practice a form of animism called Jarayak. The Mentawai also practice one of the oldest forms of tattooing, which represent the important elements in their lives. Their social activities are centred around the Uma, a communal longhouse which may be occupied by 30 to 80 people.
Traveling in Siberut is only for those who are able to endure the hardship of going basics and want to experience traditional village life. It is recommended that you arrive in the morning at the port of Siberut Island, and take direct trekking into the tropical rain forest of Siberut Island for 5 days; enjoying stunning views and beautiful jungles abounding with unique plant and wildlife and the chance to meet the people of Siberut.
Make sure that you have your tour package and organize by your travel agent or local guide so you will have a chance to visit a cave in central Siberut or waterfalls in the northern and southern parts of the island, upon request or oaring and zig-zaging enormous and thick prop roots of mangroves with traditional sampan for another activity to enjoy the scenery. Trip to Siberut island can be organized by travel agent in Padang and Bukittinggi. To enter the national park, permission can be obtained from the park office in Maillepet.
The park office located two kilometers from the only one lower-end budget class hotel available in Muara Siberut, named Syahruddin Hotels. This hotel will be your home base before travelling to villages, with their 10 rooms, three communal baths, and several bungalows are available prior arrangement. Meanwhile in the villages, you might get invited to overnight in one of the villager’s traditional houses UMA.
Take boats that leave Padang, West Sumatra, to Siberut, about 2 or 3 times a week. The journey takes 10 hours and is overnight. One boat leaves Padang on Mondays, Wednesday and Thursday at 8pm, arriving in Siberut at 7am. The return journey leaves Siberut at 8pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, arriving in Padang at 7am. Mentawai Express operates a morning speedboat on Thursday; the return trip leaves Siberut on Friday. Sumber Rezeki Baru runs an overnight ferry from Padang to Siberut on Monday and Wednesday. The return trip leaves Siberut on Tuesday and Thursday. Beriloga, Mentawai Express and Sumber Rezeki Baru operate boats to other islands in the chain, such as Pulau Sipora and Pulau Pagai Utara.
When to Go:
Best time to visit is from January to September. The dry season runs from May to September however this does not preclude travel at other times of the year with it remaining hot year round. Temperatures tend to be hotter on the beaches and cooler inland. From June to July the seas are in their roughest condition, boats from Padang to Siberut are often cancelled because of bad weather, therefore you may have to wait for up to a week after your planned departure date.
Mentawai Express boat from costs 85,000 IDR for a space on deck or 100,000 for a bed in a room within four hours trip. Sumber Rezeki Baru boat from 67,000 IDR for a bed in a room within ten hours trip overnight. Surf Camp and Surf Hostel range 400,000-600,000 IDR per room, it can fit to two person.
Before traveling to Siberut, it is advisable to take prophylactic doses of anti malaria medicine at least one week before departing for Siberut, and should be continued up to two weeks after leaving. Accommodation is basic but comfortable. Water is provided but you need to bring other basic necessities with you such as beer, soft drinks, snacks and personal items including toilet paper etc can be bought in Padang. There are no proper stores and ATM available, so bring needed estimated cash with you. Don’t forget to bring your own sleeping mat and preferably mosquito net. Electricity is still a luxury for most of the islanders; it is recommended to bring full-charged extra battery or power bank for your entire electronic device.
Eco Travel Tips:
If possible, walk whenever you can to enjoy the landscape, and get some exercise. You are living with the locals, who directly benefit from your stay. Clean water is a limited resource; reduce the amount of water you use for bathing or showering. Support the local community by hiring local guides. They are easy to find in Maurusiberut, where you can literally find one at the docks and be off on your trek within hours of arriving from Padang.