Seven Days in Sumatra's Islands
The Ancient Traditions Tour
Photo tour led by Carl Ottersen
in partnership with Andi Afrianto
Off the coast of Sumatra are a string of fabulous islands: the larger string of the Mentawai islands, and some smaller jewels closer in to Sumatra. Other than their outstanding beauty, these islands and nearby Padang are great places to explore the culture, art, crafts and lives of two distinctive and ancient traditions: the Mentawai and the Minangkabau.
Touring Sumatra is ideal for the photographer, with the light and shadow playing off its myriad hills, steep mountains, verdant forests, dark jungles, deep lakes, surf scoured islands and the constant presence of ancient cultures. These seven days are much about stopping to photograph the natural scenery and local life as it is to see the places mentioned. You will learn and practice several photographic techniques: composition, street photography, unusual angles, portraits, film/shutter/aperture combinations, depth of field, using light and many others. Photo skills will be reviewed "as-you-go" and also at the end of the day so you get the best from these opportunities. At the end of the day you will also have something to see and enjoy, always with photography in mind.
Everyone has to arrive at Padang airport by the early afternoon at the latest, as we have to take a boat to the islands by 7pm. Dinner is on board and we will use the time, if the crossing is calm, to have an orientation session.
Day One • Siberut Mentawai
We arrive at Siberut Mentawai Island just after dawn. Once breakfast is done we report to the police station (as we must), then take a boat to Kesagu, gateway to the jungle). From Kesagu we walk to Rorogod. On the way your guide Andi will tell you about the islanders and their life style. We eat and sleep in Rorogod, in a traditional Mentawai long house.
Day Two • Mentawai culture
Today we show you how the local people make kabid, the traditional loin cloth made of bark, as well as the poison they make to be used for their arrows. In the afternoon we go hunting around Rorogod with them. Great photo hunting too!
Day Three • Wild Nature
We walk to a nearby village to see the daily activities of the villagers. Afterwards we head off to Kulukubuk, where you can enjoy its beautiful and natural waterfall. During photo shoots you can even swim there - all work and no play is boring!) From the waterfall we walk to Sikalio and back to Rorogod. In the evening the villagers will dance the Turuk, a sacred dance that goes with the barbecued pig that all share. Fabulous photography all day.
Day Four • Back along the trail
After breakfast, we walk from Rorogod back to Kesagu, taking the boat from Kesagu to Muara Siberut. During this time we shoot for the activity around us, the traders, the porters, the myriad boats. In the evening we sail back to Padang, then head off to a wonderful island hotel on one of the smaller islands that sit in Bungus bay.
Day Five • Island hopping
Small coralline islands dot the coastline here - we spend the day island hopping from one to another: places like Pagang, Pasumpahan and Pamultusan. This is a mix of scenic landscape photography and simple fun, for these islands are little jewels that many people never visit.
Day Six • Bull Races
The Pacu Jawi (bull race) started ages ago when farmers wanted to show how strong their bulls were before selling them at market. Now it is a celebrated and popular event that many people come to see. The action is tremendous! After getting mud splattered we head back to the hotel to relax and review the many photos you will have taken.
Day Seven • Padang
We arrive in Padang the early afternoon, leaving us time to check into the hotel and tour the town, focusing on its old quarter market and street activity, before having dinner and a relaxing evening reviewing the photos, dining gracefully and ending the tour on a high note.
Reserve your place on this tour
Once we receive your request we will call and email you to confirm details.
Bookings are made directly with the photographer. For more details please contact Carl Ottersen by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Fees are exclusive of your own travel to and from Padang.
- Fees do not cover international travel and medical insurance.
- 50% to be paid on confirmed booking.
- Balance of 50% paid at least 45 days before the tour start date.
- By credit card or bank wire transfer.
- 100% refund if made 30+ days before the tour start date.
- 50% refund if made 15+ days before the tour start date.
- 25% refund if made 7+ days before the tour start date.
Just to be clear, filling in and sending this form does not commit you to anything or any payment until the booking is confirmed, which will be done with the photographer directly after you both have spoken and agreed everything.
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Carl offers photo tours in Italy and Indonesia. He is the author of six books, mostly on travel, which are full of wonderful photographs. His photographs and articles have been published in several travel magazines and travel related websites. Carl also has an ongoing exhibition in Jakarta, Indonesia in partnership with JW Marriott to promote educational support for children.