Meet the Mentawais

The Mentawai lifestyle should be of interest to almost every society for it contains elements of hunter-gatherer, animal husbandry and subsistence level settled farming traditions; all of these forms of existence are at the roots of every contemporary scociety. However traditional Mentawai communities can not be reduced only to a lens on the yesterday of our modern technological societies, they are also an example a sophisticated socialization that balances subsistence with a unique pattern of family well being, in essence a window on a potential tomorrow.

Dr Philip Cook, University of Victoria, BC. Canada

Mentawai Culture

Meet the Mentawais
Meet the Mentawais

Take a trip into the wild and immerse yourself in ancestral practices and traditions. Discover heavy spiritual semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer people who have chose to continue living their traditional tribal lifestyle.

If you can move beyond the perception of the Mentawai as only «primitive», then you may be able to appreciate a culture whose veneration of the child, centrality of healing, and the emphasis placed on a rich web of connectivity linking the individual to his or her clan and community, ancestors of the past and future, as well as the spirit of creation manifest in the natural cycle of daily life in the rainforest, makes our own lives seem narrow & disconnected. Dr Philip Cook, University of Victoria, BC. Canada

The Mentawai People have lived for centuries on their unique Archipelago of Islands, now reduced to a few settlements on the southern tip of Siberut Island, they still have a strong traditional lifestyle though their future is threatened by external forces such as logging, introduced diseases, and large scale settlement of Non Mentawai due to economic and population pressures in other parts of Indonesia.

Is giving money a mere means of easing our western conscience? Money is an inevitable part of modern life, even for these tribes. We give them money for experiencing their life, but our aim is to help them use this money to preserve their culture. Have some chats with your guide along that week, as you will be staying in his family & friends’ houses, he will help you to understand the situation more deeply. He is the son of tribes’ people.

Jungle Trips

Different options, from 2 to 7 nights trip, your final choice depends from the ferry schedules, let’s match them with your dates of arrival and departure from Padang. The longer you stay, the lower the rate per night is.

Leave Padang early morning and reach the Island of Siberut early afternoon, your guide waits for you at the harbor, he brings you by local transport to the local town for shopping food & water, he will be cooking for you along the trip. Then you board a local canoe that brings you an hour & half north Siberut, you’ll then be trekking for around an hour, depending on the condition of the trail, till you reach the Uma where you sleep the first night.

Any first & last day is a canoe ride & a trek from/to the harbor, on the last day you leave the jungle early morning and reach the harbor early afternoon. If you choose to stay only 3 or 4 days then you may hang out only in one Uma, activities such as making poison, experiencing using bows & arrows, making buckets, fishing with the fishing women, cutting wood, making clothes & dressing with, preparing Sagu, fill your days, one activity per morning, one per afternoon.

If you choose to stay 5, 6, 7 or 8 days, then the more activities you do, the more also you may trek going to other Umas. Evenings are usually dedicated to chat with your hosts, sharing your respective dinners. What ever is the option you chose, please bear in mind that organizing a traditionnal party, killing of a pig and Shamans dancing celebrating that meal has an extra costs of around 3.000.000 IDR to be paid directly to your host, as for performing any traditional tattoo, a small tatoo may be charged an additionnal 100.000 IDR.

The ride by traditional canoe is not by paddling but by using a small motor that obviously requires petrol, a 3 hours go & back ride that significantly increases the final fare. The fare also includes shopping your food & water, as well porters for food & water, renting the canoes, your accomodation paid to your hosts by your guide, fees for any of the local people that take part to any of the activities, presents such as cigarettes or sweets for your hosts, your guide cooking, your guide salary. The Ferry tickets go & back are not included but we drop you at Padang Harbour & pick you up on the way back for free.

Be finally aware that this stay in the Jungle can turn to be uncomfortable for our Western bodies, especially if it has been raining. Trekking trying to keep your balance on small trunks is tiring, if you fall you may sink to your knee in mud, travel as light as possible, trekking shoes are the best option, a rain poncho is highly recommended. Mentawai traditional food is Sagu & boiled Pig which may not be of such a complement to your rice, veggies, chicken or fish daily menu. Mosquitoes, especially at nightfall are a bit of an annoyance, use trousers & long sleeves shirts, even socks, mosquitoes repellents, your guide has mosquitoes nets for you; a mat on the wooden floor may not garantee you sweet dreams, finally dont forget nights are sometimes cool in the Jungle.

Impossible to perform such a trip without a guide, you would get lost very easily, local guides will not let you go on your own anyway and shall we recommend you to hire a reliable guide.

Mentawai Tour Prices (USD)

Group Size12345
3 Days/2 Nights300400550640720
4 Days/3 Nights400425560680770
5 Days/4 Nights450500640730810
6 Days/5 Nights450510700770850
7 Days/6 Nights450550730800900
8 Days/7 Nights450600775850950

Please contact us if you would like further information or to book.
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