BSN alumna opens ethical guesthouse and jungle expeditions in North Sumatra, Indonesia!

During her two-year management placement at the Bukit Lawang Trust Education Centre, BSN alumna Lily Morgan fell in love with the slower, rugged and wilder side of life found in North Sumatra, Indonesia.

Although the vast island of Sumatra suffers from severe poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a horrendous case of nepotism, the island’s natural beauty (think undulating jungle mountains, sprawling rice paddy vistas and crystal clear rivers that would have Pocahontas drooling) along with the incredibly close-knit community spirit had Lily hooked!

Bukit Lawang, home to BSN Alumna

Bukit Lawang is famous due to its proximity to the Leuser National Park, one of the few remaining places one can see orangutans in their natural habitat. Wild hornbill, Sumatran elephants, tigers, rhinos, pangolin, siamang monkeys and macaques are just a few of the other breathtaking species found within this mind-boggling ecosystem, which is very much under threat.

Whilst volunteering at the BLT school, Lily learned the local dialect and began to fall for another aspect of Sumatran life: a slightly older and definitely more rugged Jungle Guide, Ishako Ranto. Together, they now run Sumatran Ethical Expeditions, a trekking and touring company which focuses on taking their guests on truly wild expeditions, wherein jungle survival tricks and skills (such as river crossings, natural tent assembly, jungle cooking, etc) are shared in an effort to keep the area’s authentic traditions and knowledge alive.

BSN Alumna Lily, her partner Ishako and their son

Some days there’s no electricity, other days tremendous thunder cracks above our heads, as mosquitos feast on our feet… But most days, the sun shines bright down on our Koi ponds, the tropical birds sing between our vegetable bushes, and our dog is no doubt mucking about in the mud, whilst we BBQ with guests and gaze at the mountainous, volcanic jungle on our horizon.

Lily MorganBSN Alumna

Lily and Ishako are passionate about ensuring the survival of local traditions and customs and have, therefore, built their guesthouse in accordance with Ishako’s tribal roots. Additionally, all vegetables and fruits are grown on-site, and the pair have recently purchased a buffalo to bring back the traditional rice paddy ploughing methods.

Every morning, I pinch myself as my son and I walk our working buffalo, Betty, down to the riverside for her morning bath; never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined living on the border of the Sumatran jungle, running a guesthouse and ethical trekking company, but here we are!"

With connections to many of the non-profits in the area (such as the Bukit Lawang Trust, the first Sumatran Trashbank, Sumatra Ranger Project, Atova volunteering and many more), Lily and Ishako hope to also share the trials and tribulations of non-profit work with their guests, who always participate in weekly rubbish pick-ups and English playgroup sessions!

Lily and Ishako hope very much to see some friendly BSN faces visit them in the jungle! Find out more at

I definitely owe some of this wild lifestyle to my wonderfully whacky Year 3 teacher, Mr. Taylor. He taught so effortlessly, with such an underlying passion and love for every and any natural landscape, inspiring us all to look a little closer, listen a little harder and love a lot deeper. I will never forget how he crossed multicoloured Doc Martens whilst playing us a tune on his guitar, and how he exemplified going against the grain in order to enjoy this world to the full!"

Lily MorganBSN Alumna

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