Wednesday, 15 April 2015

MENTAWAI ISLAND

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MENTAWAI ISLAND



Take a trip into the wild with an adventure to the Mentawai islands. Be surrounded by tropical rainforests and immerse yourself in the traditions of the local people. While the physical distance between the mainland and Mentawai is not great, this remains one of the most isolated places in Indonesia, and was only subject to outside influences at the start of the 20th century. A long way from the world of shopping malls and theme parks, this is where travellers come to get a truly off the beaten track adventure.  

Located off the West coast of Sumatra, the Mentawai archipelago includes four municipalities, Siberut, Sipora, North Pagai and South Pagai. is the biggest of the Siberut islands and remains largely covered with tropical rainforest. From the moment you arrive on and see the white coral beaches, ancient rainforests and hear the cheeky black gibbons playing in the trees you’ll find it hard to resist falling in love with the place. This Siberut island is home to a rich array of bio-diversity which has earned it designation as a UNESCO biosphere reserve.


The remote location of these islands means that the Mentawai people have had very little contact with the outside world. The archipelogo is thought to have broken off from the rest of Sumara about 500,000 years ago and it is only since the 20th century that outside influences began to have an impact on the local people. Today, the Mentawai still abide by traditional practices and live largely off the land. Local people have a strong spiritual relationship with the forest with a belief system that emphasizes harmony with creation.
It is believed people first came to inhabit these islands at least several thousand years ago. Most anthropologists classify the Mentawai people as Protomalay which means they have a mostly Neotlithic culture but have not been effected by Buddhism, Islam or Hinduism.


Tatoos are an important symbol in Mentawai culture and reflect maturity, manhood and status. The art of this body painting has been inherited from ancient ancestors and the ink is made from natural fibres.

The biggest town on Siberut is Muara Siberut on the southeast coast. This is the major point of entry for tour groups from the mainland. From here, you can travel with a with a local guide and trek inland to some of the Mentawai villages. If your bahasa is good enough, chat to the locals and enjoy their hospitality.


The other big attraction for visitors to these islands is the world class surfing. With some of the best surfing conditions in the world, monster waves and swells that remain all year round, this is ranked by serious surfers as a must visit destination.

With some of the biggest breaks in the world, this is the place to come for some world class surfing. There is no ‘off’ season here, the surf is great all year round. Warm water, perfect barrels and limited crowds – once you surf the Mentawai islands, no where else in the world will compare.


Trekking through the incredible jungle landscape, jumping over swamps, paddling in pirogues (tradtitional boats), surrounding yourself in lush green vegetation, all of this will be the experience of a lifetime. If you’re willing to brave the bugs and mud, a  walk through an equatorial forest here will leave you lost for words. 

Many travellers make the trip to the Mentawai islands to absorb the culture, meet local clans and learn about ancient traditions. Come and see how a shaman (traditional healer, sometimes called a witchdoctor) does his work. According to Mentawai beliefs, illness and accidents are nothing but symptoms of a trouble mind.  


The waters surrounding the islands are ideal for snorkelling and diving.
Ecotourism activities are popular here too. As a habitat for rare primates, the natural rain forest of Mentawai is the perfect place for research or other educational purpose. Here, you can conduct research about:

•    Snub-nosed monkey/Simakobu (Simias concolor) monkey family eat leaf as primary food
•    Joja or Lutung Mentawai (Presbytis potenziani) easily identified for the long tail, white face and black hair head
•    Bokkoi atau Beruk Mentawai (Macaca pagensis)
•    Kloss Gibbon/Bilou or Siamang Kerdil (Hylobates klossii) famous for the beautiful voice, different compared to general monkey

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