Explore The Mentawai Tribe, Siberut Tours - The indigenous people of the Mentawai
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.
How to get to Mentawai Islands?
Sebang Merauke Air flies between Padang and the Mentawai islands. It is a 30 minute flight. Flights can be booked via a number of local agents including Mentawai Air. Some resorts which operate on the islands will arrange flights and airport pick ups for you.
An overnight ferry service departs from Padang. It is best to regularly check times with ferry operators as timetables can change depending on weather conditions.
Probably the easiest way to get to Sirebut is to join a trekking tour. These tours normally depart from Bukittinggi or Padang and will organise transport to the island.
Independent travellers will need to be able to speak reasonable Indonesian to negotiate with local guides in Sirebut. They also must organise their own travel permits with police.
What to do in Mentawai Islands?
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
SAMPLE OF MENTAWAI EXPLORATION PACKAGE TOUR:
Explore Mentawai Tribe
Duration: 06 Days/05 Nights
Starts/Ends: Padang or Jakarta
DAY 01: PADANG – MUARA SIBERUT (D)
Boarding at Muara Harbour at 18.00, overnight on board
DAY 02: MUARA SIBERUT – THE NATIVE’S VILLAGE (B,L,D)
Early in the morning arriving in Muara Siberut, after getting permit from the local government, taking motorized canoe to Rorogot or Madobak, it depend on the water n the river, walking to Sakaleo or to Bat Nusa about 3,5 hours. Overnight at Sakaleo or Bat Nusa at Native’s House
DAY 03: EXPLORING THE NATIVE’S ACTIVITIES (B,L,D)
After having breakfast exploring the daily activities of Native’s Mentawai Tribe Such as: Hunting, Fishing, Making Sago Powder (Main food of Mentawaian Tribe), when you are lucky, you have chance to see the traditional dances of Mentawai during the Ceremonies in the evening.
DAY 04: WALKING TO ANOTHER VILLAGE (B,L,D)
In the morning free at own leisure together with the Native’s before leaving to Bat Alemoi by walk about 2,5 hours. Overnight at Native’s House at Bat Elemoi
DAY 05: BAT ELEMOI – MUARA SIBERUT ((B,L,D)
Half day exploring the native’s activities before leaving to Muara Siberut such as: To see how they making Loin Clothes from the Bark of Tree, Making Tatoes, Bow and Poison Arrow, Etc. The Ferry depart to Padang in the evening, Overnight on Board.
DAY 06: PADANG - AIRPORT (B)
Arrival on Muara Harbour at Padang, take a breakfast in Padang City then proceed to Airport for your next destination.
Should there be any futher questions, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss about your requirement of tours you needed for your Holiday in West Sumatra. E-mail us NOW for any of your inquiries !
View our Sample Tour Package