Free Bali Photo Map


An immersive Journey to the Souls & Spirits of the Forest

With David Metcalf & Toine IJsseldijk
16 – 23 June 2023 (8 days, 7 nights) Siberut. Optional: Bukittinggi & Pacu Jawi Tentative dates.
30 June – 7 July 2023 (8 days, 7 nights) Siberut. Optional: Bukittinggi & Pacu Jawi Tentative dates.


For some of the tours there is the possibility to visit Bukittinggi and the famous Pacu Jawi, traditional bull races in the highlands of West Sumatra (a 2.5 hour drive from Padang). An event not to be missed! See some amazing images of this event further below.

If you are interested to join but dates do not suite you please contact me and let me know what month or dates you are able to go. We may be able to adjust some dates or plan an additional tour around your availability. We have quite a few others interested who look for alternative dates as well, for instance during school holidays. As it’s a great experience for kids as well!

If you have a small group of minimum 3 confirmed people and you have dates you can all go we can guarantee the tour for you as well, either private or shared with a few others.

Come with us on a once-in-a-lifetime Siberut Island Mentawai culture and photography tour. Visit the Mentawai tribe on Siberut, to immerse in their traditional culture, believes and rituals. It will be an unforgettable trip, to the heart and soul of the island.

We will travel by canoe upriver deep into the interior of Siberut, to stay with the still traditional indigenous Mentawai people. Some of the Mentawai still live in large traditional long-houses, called Uma, which are spread out in river valleys deep in Siberut’s protected rainforest. We will stay in an Uma and experience Mentawai daily life, culture, believe and sacred rituals up-close.

Traditional Ceremony

In February we attended a major ceremony that took place in the Uma in Butui.
We may adjust dates or itinerary if there is the possibility to attend a traditional ceremony.

About Siberut and Mentawai

Siberut is the largest of the Mentawai Islands and lays about 150 kilometers west of Sumatra, in the Indian Ocean. Large parts of the island are still covered in rainforest, home to one of the oldest Indonesian tribes, the indigenous Mentawai. The Mentawai have been living isolated for centuries and today still practice a semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle. They are animistic and live in complete unison and peace with their natural and spiritual surroundings. The Mentawai belief links the supernatural powers of ancestral spirits to the ecology of the rainforest and they believe that all things in nature have some kind of spiritual essence, and balance is key to a peaceful coexistence. When spirits are not treated well they might bring bad luck such as illnesses or even death, and they’ll haunt those who forgot them.


Traveling to this remote part of the world is an adventurous journey and we may need to adjust along the way, but this is the planned itinerary:

Day 1:

  • Arrive in Padang, West Sumatra and transfer to our hotel.
  • Afternoon: Time for last minute shopping, followed by a traditional Padang food dinner.
  • Evening: program briefing.
  • Overnight at a hotel in Padang.

Day 2:

  • Early morning check-out from our hotel and transfer to the harbor, to catch the 7am fast-boat to Siberut Island.
  • We travel to Muara Siberut, in the south of the island, where we will arrive either around 10.40 am (on Thursdays) or 13.45 pm (on Tuesdays and Saturdays).
  • To safe travel time by canoe and if road conditions allow we will drive by open pick-up car to the small village of Rogdok, which lies further up-river. This drive is a bit less than an hour.
  • From Rogdok we take motorized canoe and continue our journey upriver, to Muara Butui. This canoe trip will take about 2 hours, depending on water levels.
  • From Muara Butui we hike to the traditional village of Butui, which consists of a handful of traditional Uma spread out in the Butui river valley. Our destination is the last Uma upstream, which belongs to Aman Manja and Aman Sasali, two of the youngest remaining traditional Mentawai Shamans on the island. This will be our base for the next few days. The hike is about 1 hour, following the Butui river.
  • Late afternoon & evening: time to relax and get to know the family.
  • Overnight at the Uma in Butui.

Day 3:

  • Full day time for exploration and photography: traditional hunting, fishing, food preparation, portraits, etc.
  • Evening: traditional songs by Mentawai shamans.
  • Overnight at the Uma in Butui.

Day 4:

  • Full day time for exploration and photography.
  • Preparations for a traditional ceremony, including a pig sacrifice.
  • Evening: traditional ceremony with music and dance, a night you will not forget!
  • Overnight at the Uma in Butui.

Day 5:

  • Full day time for exploration and photography: traditional hunting, fishing, food preparation, portraits, etc.
  • Evening: traditional songs by Mentawai shamans.
  • Overnight at the Uma in Butui.

Day 6:

  • After lunch we pack up and hike back to Muara Butui and take the canoe to Rogdok, and then by pick-up car to Muntei.
  • In Muntei we will visit the Yayasan Pendidikan Budaya Mentawai (YPBM) in Muntei, a non-profit organization initiated by the Indigenous Education Foundation (IEF), in 2017. The YPBM’s vision is to provide Mentawai youth and the broader community access to learn about Mentawai cultural and environmental knowledge through non-formal, extra-curricular education programs.
  • Dinner at the YPBM in Muntei.
  • Overnight in basic accommodation in Muntei or near the beach in Maileppet.

Day 7:

  • Morning to relax.
  • We then go to the harbour to catch the fast-boat back to Padang, either at 12.00 noon (on Thursdays) or 14.30 pm (on Tuesdays and Saturdays). We will arrive in Padang around 6.30 pm.  If we are lucky we will see some dolphins accompanying the boat and enjoy a nice sunset from the roof-deck of the boat!
  • Upon arrival we transfer direct to our hotel.
  • Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Padang.

Day 8:

  • Transfer to the airport.
  • Optional: extension to Bukittinggi and the Minangkabau highlands, to see the famous Pacu Jawi!

Cost & Inclusions


USD 1,500 per person – Minimum 4 and maximum 8 participants


  • Hotel in Padang on day 1 and day 7 (based on twin-sharing).
  • Overnight at traditional Uma on day 2, 3, 4 & 5.
  • Overnight in a beach-front guesthouse in Maileppet on day 6.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Fast-boat to and from Siberut.
  • Transport by motorized canoe.
  • All meals during the itinerary.
  • Porters to help carry luggage when and where necessary.
  • A local guide.
  • Local tips.
  • Gifts for the Mentawai.
  • A donation of a pig for the ceremony.


Single Supplement: USD 70 per person
This includes a single room in our hotel in Padang, for both nights.


  • Flights to and from Padang. We can help you make (domestic) flight arrangements if you want.
  • Alcoholic drinks.
  • Other personal expenses.

Our Mentawai Hosts

Our main hosts are Teteu and her family. She has 2 sons and 4 daughters and a dozen grand children. Her 2 sons Aman Manja and Aman Sasali are two of the youngest still traditional Mentawai Shamans on Siberut. The entire family will look after us and make sure we really get to know Mentawai daily life and customs.

Aman Sasali


Aman Manja

The Journey

Upon arrival in Muara Siberut we will travel by motorized canoe up-river, to eventually as far as we can. From there we follow a small river and hike deeper into the forest, to an Uma.
Hikes will often follow rivers and creeks and small trails through traditional forest. Some trails are an easy walk, others are muddy, and sometimes very muddy..! So it’s not always a walk in the park, but we take our time to make sure we all enjoy and get to our destinations safe and sound.
Porters will help carry your luggage.

Sleeping in an Uma

We will sleep together with the Mentawai on the floor of the Uma, on a thin mattress and under a mosquito net. So we will not be alone… It’s a bit like camping on a sometimes crowded camping ground. It’s all part of the journey and the lack of comfort is more than compensated with the overall authentic atmosphere and experience.

Our Meals

Supplies to the interior of Siberut are extremely limited. There are only a few very small shops in the social villages, selling basic household necessities. No vegetables, no fruit, no meat. The Mentawai live from what the forest and their small gardens and little livestock provide.
We bring with us a supply of rice, noodles, vegetables, (canned) fish, corned beef, eggs, spices, etc. Meals in the interior are basic but sufficient, and are complemented with traditional Mentawai food and seasonal local fruit and vegetables.
Most of the time we will eat together with our hosts, as togetherness is what it’s all about.


That’s simple. In the interior of Siberut there are none, with the exception in some of the small social villages. But that’s not where we stay… Rivers and creeks will be your natural bathtub, the bush your toilet. If you really cannot do without a proper bathroom then this trip is maybe not for you. But hey, there’s a first time for everything, isn’t it..? This trip will certainly take you out of your comfort zone and the lack of bathrooms will just make that happen a bit faster.
An afternoon bath in the usual crystal clear river, surrounded by rainforest and often spectacular sunset is something you will not forget…

What to Bring

  • Light clothing for hiking. Most practical are fast-drying trousers with removable legs and a light t-shirt. We will get dirty and wet, no matter what.
  • Light hiking shoes with a good grip.
  • Socks.
  • Rain poncho. Mostly for in the canoe if it happens to rain.
  • A pair of change.
  • Sun glasses.
  • Hat or cap, mostly against the sun while in the canoe.
  • Sun block. Again, for in the canoe.
  • Mosquito repellent.
  • Sleeping bag or blanket.
  • Slippers.
  • Toiletries.
  • Personal necessities (medication & supplements, etc. Forget about make-up!)
  • Some cash money – no ATMs during our stay on Siberut.
  • Backpack.
  • Flashlight.
  • Your camera stuff.
  • Batteries! There is no electricity where we stay. It may sometimes be possible to recharge batteries in a nearby social village, but not guaranteed and this will take time. 
  • Two copies of your passport.
  • A passphoto – you never know.
  • Travel insurance.


  • Trekking poles. We will provide natural walking sticks though.
  • Inflatable neck-pillow. Handy on the fast-boat.
  • Aqua shoes or similar. Practical for short walks to and through the rivers and creeks. And the toilet… Avoid open sandals.

Minangkabau Highlands

Extend your stay in West Sumatra with a few days, and visit the Minangkabau Highlands! A fantastic destination offering spectacular scenery all around, as well as the unique Minangkabau culture.
We can help you with ideas and an itinerary, if you like.

Pacu Jawi – Traditional Bull Races of West Sumatra

And when you extend, note that on most Saturdays you can visit the traditional bull races, called Pacu Jawi.
Here some photos of this spectacular event.

Your Tour Hosts

About David

I am David Metcalf, a native New Zealander, and have lived in Indonesia for a total of 15 years. I am based in Bali and am a professional photographer. I have travelled extensively all over Indonesia, and have been working with indigenous communities in Kalimantan, Bali and Sumba.
My focus over the past few years has been on indigenous education, youth development, film making, art, indigenous tourism and bringing people together from different cultures, communities and countries through The Togetherness project, which I founded in 2020 during the Covid crisis.

I am also the co-founder of The Indigenous film festivals held in Bali 2018,19,20 and Kuching, Malaysia in 2019 , and the Indigenous celebration in Bali in 2018, which brought together 240 Indigenous people from Indonesia and 8 other countries, through music, dance and story telling.

I have been leading photography tours and cultural education experiences into many communities in Indonesia and abroad over the past ten years.

About Toine

I am Toine IJsseldijk, also going by my name Yusuf. I have been living and working in Indonesia for over 30 years, as biologist, nature and cultural expedition leader and as a sales and marketing professional.
I have travelled the Indonesian archipelago extensively and currently live in a small plantation in the mountains of central Bali.
I am a serious photographer, mostly focusing on wildlife and cultural photography.
I have visited Siberut regularly since 1990, when a traditional Mentawai family adopted me as one of them. Ever since, I enjoy the privilege to spend intimate time with them and attend their most sacred of ceremonies and rituals, as family. I speak their Mentawai language enough to get along.
My Mentawai family is still not much interested in changing lifestyle and today they are some of the few remaining authentic Mentawai. Join us and visit them!

Where is Siberut exactly?

If you wish to join or require more information please contact Dave on Whatsapp +62 8111331255 or email /