Visiting Mentawai tribe with kids

Mentawai people, living on the Siberut island off the west coast of Sumatra are definitely highlight of any trip to Sumatra. It’s becoming more and more difficult to find so unique places, places where you get a feeling that you are traveling to the past. Even more in Asia that is developing so fast. But visiting Mentawai tribe with kids? Here you will find some tips.

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I visited the island this year. But alone. When I was preparing for the trek I just realized, that it would be just to much for my 6 year old son. It’s not just because of the trek. We are used to hike in the mountains in Slovenia or elsewhere where we travel. But on Siberut island its not just the trekking that is quite difficult, especially during the rainy season, when everything is under the water (also in “dry” season, that is not really dry, but it is maybe just raining a little bit less, it can be unbearable hot and humid) but there are also some other things. Malaria and other tropical diseases, poisonous animals, lack of any medical assistance, the remoteness of the villages, places where you sleep…

And what is my opinion after I returned from the island? Well, if you would ask me before my accident in Tibet I would say it’s worth to try it. But after my accident and all that complications with health care in a developed country like China, I am not sure any more.

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So, I would leave the decision to every individual. But if you decide to visit Mentawai tribe with kids, here are some information, recommendations from the first hand:

– try to visit the island in so called dry season from February till June and skip the rainy season from July to January. From August the sea can be very rough and speed boats are very often cancelled. But also the dry season is not really dry. It still rains almost every day and it can be really hot and humid.

– it is recommended to use anti-malaria medicines before arriving to the island. You have to bring also other medicines (antidiarrea and seasickness, first aid and antibiotics, Mosquito repelliant DEET…) Health care on the island is very, very basic.

– due to the remoteness of the island and villages and the fact, that there is no mobile network signal in the jungle, it is advisable to bring satellite mobile phone. But you can still have problems getting proper signal due to the thick canopy of the tropical tress;

– It’s good to have some waterproof bags, where you can store your clothes and valuable belongings. I would also recommend you to buy rubber waterproof boots and some sort of sandals. And don’t forget to bring toilet paper.

– the most important thing is getting the best guide possible. There are stories from the first hand about guides, who left their clients alone deep in the jungle, without food and water. I really recommend the guide name Agus (FB: Sakukuret Agus), who was born and raised in local Mentawai village but is now leaving in Padang. I recommend to get in touch with him before you arrive to Padang and also to meet with him as soon as you get to Padang. Some travelers also recommended guide Kornelius, Syarul Manai and Lugi. All 3 are from families connected to Agus.

– there are 2 ways to get to the island. The cheapest one is to use night ferry and the fastest and most expensive one is to use speed boats that leave on Tuesday and Saturday. But please check the available info about their schedule. All boats can be delayed due to the bad weather and really big waves.

– if you decide to visit the island with your kids, I would recommend you to visit just a village or two, close to the main river and spend as much time as possible with them, talking to them, experience their way of life. On weekends villages can be even more lively, because families are visiting their grandparents deep in the jungle.

– The last and the most important – don’t you dare to visit the island without cigarettes. Locals are totally crazy about them. 🙂

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Read more: In the kingdom of Mentawai people

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Mentawai with kids

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