Do you want to trek Mentawai jungle? Read some tips.

The only water supply are little streams or rivers. Showering in the nature. Read more on tips and tricks for Siberut trekking in the post.

I’ve written about our Mentawai experience but now I’ll share some information about the actual jungle trek, guides and money.


Hey! We’re still traveling 🙂 Check out our Instagram profile @wejusttravel!


Tips and tricks on Siberut trekking

1. How to get there?
To Padang you can come by a plane, usually from Jakarta. Buses, waiting in front, are very cheap and take you from the airport to the city. To way to the island of Siberut is more tricky. Ferries drive are quite dependent on the weather but you can see the schedule on the picture below.
Taxi from the city to the port costs you around 50.000 IDR/person and takes one hour. Tickets for the ferry without bed cost 81.000 IDR (you can rent a mat for 40.000 IDR) and VIP bed with air-con costs 125.000 IDR. It takes you 10 hours of very slooow riding and if you have a weak stomach, don’t forget about the motion sickness pill. Just keep in mind it doesn’t go every day. Fast ferry takes around 3 hours and goes to the island on thursday and saturday (cost is 250.000 IDR).

Picture of the schedule for the ferries. Minggu is Monday and so on. More info on SIberut trekking in the post.

Schedule for the ferries. Minggu is Monday and so on.

2. How to pick a guide? *read the update in the end about guides.
Probably the trickiest part on this adventure. You are totally dependent on your guide and we’ve heard stories first hand of guides leaving their costumers in the middle of the jungle; guides being ‘possessed by ghosts’ and forced their customers to fancy resorts. We talked to our Shaman hosts who told us guides pay them abnormally low amounts of money for accommodation (and take all the money for themselves) and even stealing from them.

Speak the language.
It’s better to have a guide born on Siberut because he speaks their language and has many connections. Some guides are affiliated by a guesthouses/hotel and are more reliable because people have a person to complain to (this is not a guarantee that everything will be perfect). They usually charge more.

Ask, ask, ask. And state your mind.
The trick is to define the day plan as much as possible. Ask about it many, many times because it always changes and some guides like to stay at a certain house more days than needed, because they have company of their friends. If you want to move to another place, if you want to go deeper in the jungle, say it loudly and firmly.

Bad and good guides.

Picture of our guide Levi or Wilek or Maley who left us in the jungle with almost no food. Read more tips and tricks on Siberut trekking in the post.

Levi or Maley or Wilek. Don’t choose him to be your guide.

 

Most of the guides are very young and love the smell of money. They all know each other by names. On the picture above is our guide LEVI (or MALEI in Mentawai, or WILEK) who left us in the jungle without food and money for three days. You can read about it here. ALAN is another guide who was possessed by a ghost and changed the plan of our neighbors in the guesthouse.
Our friends were quite satisfied with Matheus (+6285264137645, Facebook: matheussakaliou@yahoo.com) and the porter we were left with, Sulai, was very caring, he’s Matheus’s cousin. He doesn’t have a phone but you can ask for him on Siberut. He will be happy to help.

3. What about food?
Water and food is about 100% more expensive than in Padang, that’s why is good to buy as much as possible in Padang. Keep in mind that you’ll be feeding yourself, guides, porters and the families as well. Locals share their food with you but it’s not something you would eat everyday.

Although we had all food, drink and gifts (mostly cigarettes, tea and sugar) included in the price, our guide left us with no food and water. We would still recommend you buy (2 people):

  • 5 kg of rice (70.000 IDR)
  • 10 cans of sardines in tomato sauce (150.000 IDR)
  • 20 packets of noodles (40.000 IDR)
  • 10 l of water (40.000 IDR)
  • Chocolate bars and candy for the children (50.000 IDR)
  • 30 packets of cigarettes (never enough of those) (450.000 IDR)

And take everything you don’t need, clothes, accessories, medicine, toys, hairbands for girls. They’re happy to have anything you give them 🙂
All together around 50€.

Here is an estimate what you use per day, including 2 tourists, one guide and a family you live with:

  • 1,5 kg of rice
  • 4 packs of noodles
  • 1 l of water (you drink tea or boiled)
  • 5 packets of cigarettes
  • 3 chocolate bars and 10 candies
  • Guide should tell you exactly how many food and water he’s going to buy in Padang and on the island. 1 week is a lot of water. Go to the store with him and be involved. This is the mistake that we made and in the end it was too late. Don’t forget the tobacco for the Shamans and their wives. You can only buy it on Siberut.

4. Gear
Jungle is wet and slippery, mosquitos are all over and malaria is still present. There is no trash bins. These three topics you need to cover on your own.

  • You can buy rubber boots in Padang for 100.000 IDR.
  • Buy at least 30 %DEET repellent somewhere else as it seems Padang doesn’t have it. Houses in the jungle have enough mosquito nets so no need to buy it. Cheap doxycycline pills can be bought here, we had no side effects.
  • Don’t forget to bring a raincoat. It rained every daywhen we were there.
  • Bags for any kind of trash. You don’t want children use used tampon applicator as a flute, do you? 🙂 They’re also good to protect clothes and camera from water.
  • Camping gear like sleeping bag, warm clothes, etc.
You need boots for the muddy jungle. Read more about tips and tricks on Siberut trekking in the post.

Boots. In the end I gave them to Sulai.

 

5. How much to pay?
Guides usually give you a price for the whole thing, everything included (even taxi and ferry tickets). Of course, you have to bargain a bit. We paid 5 million IDR and another million for stuff we bought, for 7 nights. 380 € for both. The prices differ a lot, we met people who paid 1.5 million for 2 nights (95 €).
You have to pay in advance and by that you loose all control of food, water and cigarettes, how much they pay the locals. It would be better if somehow you would pay the locals and make a fair price but it would take a lot of energy. We really do hope things will get better.

6. Go with the flow!
Leave your worries, doubts and bad thoughts on the ferry and relax. What happens, happens. You will have a beautiful experience anyway. Just be mindful of what’s going on with the plan, food and cigarettes.
If you have any questions on Siberut trekking, please leave a comment below. We’ll be happy to help!

 

*Update april 2016: Our friend Saška sent us some valuable information about good guides for Mentawai trek (fyi, she really recommends Ricky beach house, a great location 30 km south of Padang). Her experience:

Three guides are from the same family and (sometimes) live in Aman Agus house. Everyone in Siberut port know where it is (4 km, village Muntei). They will probably be in the port if they don’t have a customer. Their names are: Agus, Lugi in Sarul. Sarul is Matheus’s brother and was also her guide (only two in the group). Price for 4 days was 5 million, everything included (except for the drive from/to Padang). But they opted to pay only for the guide (400.000 IDR/day) and everything else by themselves, and payed altogether 3.2 millions.  je brat od Matheusa in je bil tudi njen vodnik (bila sta samo 2 v skupini). Cena štiridnevnega treka za 2 osebi, vse vključeno

Her comment about the guide: Sarul was really nice and funny a s a guide but from what I’ve seen Korne (Kornelius) is the best guide. We met him and his two tourists by accident and hung out wth them. He is totally devoted to customers, arranged everything from food preferences, jewelry making, sago worms and more – a really active, good guide. His price was 3.2 million for 3 days, all included. And one more comment. Korne looks like a cave man so don’t be repelled by his looks. We were scared of him in the port because of his strange looks. Don’t believe the first impression 🙂

Contact data

Syarul Manai: Syarulmanai@yahoo.com, tel.: +6281372265185

Agus (from Muntei): je na facebooku (Agus Tinus), tel: +6282385655117

Kornelius: je na facebooku kot Korne Sakaliou.

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19 Comments on “Do you want to trek Mentawai jungle? Read some tips.

  1. Hi i saw ur blog from Bigblog and i voted for u.
    Ps im from indonesia and i participate too

    Good luck for us

    • Thank you! Nice of you to stop by 🙂 Will check out tou blog. Good luck to us all!

  2. Thanks so much for this! My boyfriend and I are gearing up for a trip to Siberut next week and found all of this information really helpful. Right now it’s looking like we’re going to get a tour organized by Matheus. By chance did your friends mention anything else about him outside of just being satisfied with the trip? We were really hoping to work with Gejeng but have had a difficult time getting in touch with him, and have been a bit paranoid about finding a good guide ever since.
    Thanks again!

    • Hey guys! Good to know that it was helpful for you 🙂
      Matheus is very organized and I’m sure he can handle a problem if it occurs. He arranges all the activities. The downside is that he has more tourists in one group (we had a privilege of being the only one and that was very important to us) and that the families are more used to tourists. Oh, and he will tell you what to buy because he will buy some stuff.
      We had a bad guide but the experience was still amazing 🙂
      Don’t be scared, just don’t plan too much. You’ll enjoy it because it’s such a unique experience 😀
      And if you have any more questions, we’re here!

      • Eyyy guest if you felling good for you guide go with him but hi don’t I hope no thanks just you know guyyy take care

    • my name is malay, if dont wont to problem respek in the local people in mentawai, and people say like this no respekc in the local i give all to activity so why people say like this and show everything sowhat again

      • Levi, we respect the locals but you as a guide have to respect the tourists also. We told it like it happened.

        • You don’t know situasion if you pay lest this normal you almost know guy good time batileiinanmui matei kap sitaimaeru you live

        • But you don’t know me or sulai I pay sulay why it my guest problem about that because sulaiiiii OK . and not really sure someone ask about guide

  3. Currently in Padang trying to sort a visit to the tribes, your blog is full of such useful information thankuou! Currently in the process of finding asuitable guide, the first man who approached us it seems was your guide..now going by the name of Wilek, and a man named Alan has also been discussing with us too… Not entirely sure what to do!

    • Hey guys! Internet on Banda is really slow. Hope you’re having a nice time. If you stay at Bridget, she knows couple of good ones. Alan seemed to be possessed by a ghost, couple of months back 🙂 Not sure if he’s very reliable. Please report back how was your jungle experience 🙂

      • I’m alan … why you not posted my comment before , i told you if you don’t know the situation as well and don’t know what happened actually , don’t judge me just from the one side that you said i’m possessed like a ghost ,i dont like and your posting is 100 % not match with me and with what that happen actually ! … is i ever make a bussines with you ? … everything i arrange with the people is always i finished as better ! … f you a smart person you are not posted and punished some people just from the one side ! … and even i never make a bussines with you … you have make my name is sounds bad without you don’t know what happened actually … this is the good attitude from you ? …

        • Hi Alan. We just came from the 5-day trek in Myanmar and we didn’t use the internet.
          I know Mentawai has a problem with good consistent guides and people should be prepared for that. Guides have to be responsible and sincere.
          I talked to your customers who were really looking forward to have a nice experience but got a bad one. I wrote what happened, their side of the story and you have told your side of it. Now people can decide for themselves.

    • Hi…Katie your really good person in the word and your boyfriend also take care.your give information about guide not really sure yes or not thanks so much good time for you

    • I’m Alan and i very unsatisfied about statement that was i’m possessed like a ghost and change your neighbours plan in guesthouse. i will explain the misunderstanding of what you ear from the trouble and tell the truth ! …

      The crew from the guesthouse is call me and said any guest will go to mentawai and i come and talking with them. they ask me how to get there. i’m explain . and i asking about they schedule and helping them to arrange the time to going there and we make a deal and they agree. in the trip i need to explain that was when during the trip is walking i’m sick and the trip must be finish early and not complete yet and i give it back ALL of they money. and should i clarification here that I am not a ghost as you say and I execute properly with good trip even though I did not receive a salary and a token of gratitude from them. and I think you might be smarter than me in the act and act especially in providing public assessment of an object and I do not understand and why you simple enough to give a statement in the event that there is no connection at all with you and you do not know clearly about the root of the problem. and you need to understand that in assessing an individual’s personal is not that easy. and you are specifying the name of me as if I was a criminal for you and everyone. and what you hear and get very different from the truth, and even you do not know the root of the problem. I hope you can understand and be wise in making a statement object.

      Sorry i’m not a ghost.

      Alan.

  4. Nobody right nobody wrong like songs with Michael piranti this truu so about guide thing about this okyyy guest enjoyyy your day

  5. Hello everyone..How is your day?I think if we pay guide expensive as much as Mr Matheus its not big problem to find quality guide for jungle tracking in Mentawai because PRICE DETERMINE THE QUALITY..Maybe the first thing we are need to know whats make the tracking is expensive is boat gasoline into the village tribes..Here is some phone number of local guide in Mentawai which can give better price than Matheus….
    Santi +62813 6414 1141
    Sarul +62813 7226 5185