The Village Ketambe
It seems that Ketambe - local name is Balai Lutu - is just a place like every village, situated on the only non-coast road, splitting Aceh into east and west. The village Ketambe is about one kilometer long. Houses existing only left and right side near the main road. The river Alas flows from north to south about 100 meters parallel to the road. There are a mosque, a basic school, a local restaurant, a simple shop, a small souvenir shops with local products and a car wash.
If you pass the village, you wouldn't realize that it is a very special place. Its position at the border to the Gunung Leuser Nationalpark makes it famous. Ketambe is a perfect starting point to go for trips into the jungle to see really wild living orangutans and expirience the original jungle life.
Ketambe - View from Mountain
Entrance to Leuser National Park
Ketambe village - Entrance gate
Road in front of Friendship Guesthouse
Ketambe Local Restaurant
Forest in Fog
Local Market in Aunan
Mobile Vegetable Shop
Kids in Traditional Alas Clothes
Saman - Traditional Men Dance
Women prepared for Traditional Binas Dance
Inhabitants of Ketambe are Alas people. Their mother language is Alas but most people speak Indonesian. Only about 87,000 Alas people live along the banks of the river Alas. In the south and west Gayo people (230,000) and Batak-Karo (800,000) live. In the north the Acehnese live (3,600,000). In general Alas people follow the Islam, but they still seek the assistance of a dukun (shaman, occultist). They perform ceremonies so that their crops will prosper and be protected from plague. There is believe in "black" and "white" magic. More info
Climate / Environment
The climate is pleasant, the mean daily temperature under the forest cover in the lowlands rarely exceeds 26°C during the day, or drops below 22°C at night. In general, the driest months are February, June and July. The wettest month are usually March, April, September, October and November. In the wet season it rains mostly at night. Then it will be a little bit foggy in the morning. Ketambe is a very quite place. Only few cars passing through. The only noise you will listen is the flowing river, singing birds and playing kids.
Facilities in Ketambe
Ketambe has only few simple facilities for shopping. There is a local small supermarket, where you can buy things like cookies, sweets, drinks, toiletries and cigarettes. Food, full meals and drinks (even beer) are available at the guesthouses. Local markets in villages arround Ketambe taking place once a week from 6 to 10 AM: Tuesdays in Seldok (15 km from Ketambe), Wednesdays in Aunan (4 km from Ketambe) and Fridays in Lak Lak (8 km from Ketambe). Over there you will get fresh vegetable and stuff of daily needs. Mobile phone connection and mobile internet with 3G and 4G (local SIM-cards from Telkomsel only) is working most of the time in Ketambe!
The next possibility for proper shopping is the small city Kutacane, about 30 kilometers south the main road. At the post office you can send and receive money with Western Union. You can buy a SIM-Card with 4 GB data volume for about 60,000 IDR. There are no money changers in Ketambe and Kutacane. Since 2021 its not possible anymore to get cash in Kutacane with international debit or credit cards from any ATM. We recommend to arrive with cash Indonesian Rupiah in Ketambe.
Tourism in Ketambe
There are six guesthouses in Ketambe. If you arrive from the south the first one is "Thousand Hills" (left), about 100 meters further is "Pak Mus" (right), then "Pondok Wisata" (right) and "Wisma Sadar Wisata" (left). About 150 m north on the riverside there is the Friendship Guesthouse & Restaurant. Its the only guesthouse in Ketambe which has concrete bungalows with western style toilet and shower. There are also cheaper wooden bungalows with attached bathroom.
Some meters further is the last guesthouse on the road through Ketambe "Cinta Alam". About 3 kilometers forward (Gurah area) is the former government owned "Gurah bungalows". Currently its called "Leuser Ketambe Guesthouse" and operated by the owner of "Pak Mus". Note that Gurah area is not the same place as the village Ketambe. So ask the driver to drop you of in Ketambe (not Gurah).
Every guesthouse will offer you short trips or guided trekking tours into the nationalpark. Usually trekking tours will be organized from the guesthouses. Our guesthouse use local guides and porters from Ketambe only, so the money is going to a local family.