Ketambe is a village in Aceh.
Ketambe is a small, quiet and remote city in the most south of Aceh. In the 1970's the Indonesian government tried to increase its influence in the region by building a hotel facility and making it, besides Bukit Lawang, an official entrance to the Gunung Leuser National Park to see wild Orang Utans, black and white-handed Gibbons, Hornbills etc. Ketambe is besides this a small but charming village, worth a visit to both go trekking and to just relax for a day or two, since not many tourists take the long but beautiful way to Ketambe.
Notice that Ketambe is located in Aceh which is partly governed by muslim sharia laws. Show respect for that by for example not using drugs (acctually drugs are not prohibited in Holy Quran only alcohol is) or alcohol in public. No special dresscode for women (except not wearing very short shorts and tops out of respect) required, most local women do not wear a hijab during daily work neither.
- To/from the north: Take a small minivan taxi from Blankenjeren direction Kutancane, tell it to stop in Ketambe. It departs in the morning/early day. Buses to Blankenjeren leaves from Takengon or/and from Bireun/Banda Aceh. Minivans to Blankenjeren leaves from Kutancane in the morning and should pass Ketambe between 11:00-12:00 AM. Ask at your hotel. Buses to Blankenjeren takes about 3-4 hours and from there to Takengon it is another 4-5 hours. A long but very beautiful ride.
- To/from the south: There is a regular minibus service going to/from Kutancane about twice an hour (see entry of Kutancane for transport details to here). It leaves from the small centre in Ketambe and from the market in Kutancane. The bus costs normally 15.000IDR, takes between 50 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes and will drop you off at you preferred guest house. Just tell them if you already know your guesthouse. Be aware some drivers want to drop you off at another guesthouse that might give them a comission. The last public transport goes between 3 and 4pm. If not many people want to go at that time price for the transport might increase.
By foot: There is a possibility to make a trek from Bukit Lawang to Ketambe (or the other way round) by crossing the national park. This would take over a week and cost a several hundred dollars. Speak to the rangers in Ketambe or Bukit Lawang if interested.
Due the size of the village there is no reason to use any vehicle, you can reach every corner of the village by walking.
Gunung Leuser National Park: Rangers all over the city arrange 1-3 days trekking, possibly longer, to the national park. It is fixed prices starting at 25 $ a day and onwards. In order to get the best experience with great Orang Utan sightings and to support local economy take a local guide and do not hire one in Medan. So go to Ketambe and you will for sure find a good guide there.
The old government hotel: Follow the main road 15-20 minutes north of the village center to the old government hotel. There are some old communist paintings and devestated houses. Interesting enough it seems like people are still working in the reception. However, the hotel does not seem livable at all. It looks like they stopped maintaining the place since 15-20 years ago.
- Trekking: do a trek in the national park (see above). Besides just trek to see the manifold wildlife (real wild Orang Utans, black and white handed Gibbons, Longtail Makaks and other types of monkeys, Hornbills, Snakes, Lantern bugs etc) there are many places to trek to, like a lake (6 days return), the summit of Mount Leuser etc. Ask your guide or guesthouse.
- Rafting: all guesthouses and guides can organise several days Rafting trips through the jungle and even towards Singkil. Rafting here is more about seeing wildlife than strong rapids, but it is still a lot of fun.
- Tubing: Tubing down the Alas River.
- Relax: It is a quiet village where not much is happening. Sit on hotel veranda and relax. Maybe you can watch some soccer games together with the locals.
- Pindra Ramadani (Trekking Guide @ Friendship Guesthouse), ☎ +62 852 7065 2242. Great local guide based at Friendship Guesthouse. The price is 250 000 per day in the jungle. edit
There is only one small shop in the city centre, here you can buy basic indonesian goods. There are also some handcraft shops next to the main road with some interesting crafts.
Notice: There are no ATM in Ketambe. The nearest ATMs are in Kutacane and they only accept Mastercard.
All the hotels probably have a small restaurant where you can eat typical indonesian food (Nasi Goreng etc.), some of them also serve western food like pancakes.
As alcohol due sharia law is prohibited there are no bars or places to grab a beer. If you ask young people at hotels those might be able to illegaly get you some beer the next day. Make sure that you don't drink it in public. Sept 2015: Some restaurants do sell beer. Nonetheless the local "Jungle Juice" (palm wine) is easily available, also drunk by locals and very cheap.
There are a range of hotels, most of them looks very empty only having one or two guests, a little more in main season July/August. The hotel standard in Ketambe is very basic without a flushing system in toilets or proper showers. However, renting a small hut with a little veranda is as good as it gets. Listen to the wildlife in the completly dark is an experience in itself.
- Friendship Guesthouse, ☎ +62 (0) 852 9688 3624, . Ahmad,the owner, is a great local man who cares a lot about his guests and the local people. He is able to organize all types of treks (for a wilder experience, trek in the West of Ketambe - the old research station). Prices for a room is 70 000 (Jan 2016) with bathroom attached. Ahmad can also arrange for pickup in Kutacane if you have missed the last bus - price is 100 000. edit
- Ketambe Leuser Guesthouse, ☎ +62 (0) 853 6062 6329, . This perfectly located, ex-governmental Eco Resort is the only one that sits right in the Gunung Leuser Park and is now run by a very lovely family; it is located approx. 1 km after the village on the left side. Wildlife of all sorts are visible within the close area and/or from the balcony. The chalet sits close to the Alas river and offers spacious rooms (cold shower, no A/C). Treks and raftings can be easily organized, as well as shuttle services that run to/from Medan and Kutacane. 150k-200k IDR. edit