Siberut Island is the largest island in the Mentawai chain at the off the west coast of Sumatra. Muarasiberut is the port town on Siberut and the only town of significance on the island. The main reason for going to Siberut is for jungle trekking and meeting with the Mentawais people. Beside, the natural sightseeing around the island is adorably marvelous.
You will need to catch a ferry from Padang across to the Pulau Siberut, which is a 15 hours trip, what a long yet exciting journey. Well, it depending on weather conditions, sometimes of the year the ferry does not run. You will need to bring Indonesian Rupiah with you as there are no banks or ATM facilities on the island.
Two thirds of the island is covered in rainforest which offers difficult but rewarding trekking. The island is also surrounded by spectacular coral reefs. Siberut is a home to the 30,000 Mentawais people who still live throughout the chain of islands. The Mentawais people been living in the forests of the islands in similar style for thousands of years, they using stone tools and hunting for their food in the forest.
At the western part of Siberut Island, there is Siberut National Park. Home to various types of monkeys and gibbon species as well as some small tribes of Mentawai people. The island is known for the primates, among Bilou (Hylobates klossii), pig’s tail langur (Simias concolor), Mentawai langur (Presbytis potenziani) and Pagai island monkey (Macaca pagensis).
It is believed that the Mentawais people migrated down to these islands from Nias but they remained isolated for centuries until discovered by the Dutch in around 1621. In the late 19th century the Dutch permitted Protestant missionaries to visit the island to try to convert them to Christianity. Sir Stamford Raffles described the Mentawais as the most content people in the world, far less spoiled than his own society.
The Mentawais hunt for monkeys as a food source and then use the skulls of the monkeys to decorate the outside of their houses. Once the skulls are placed on the houses it is forbidden to touch them. Touching these skulls brings disrespect and misfortune to the families that live within that house.