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Excavating a steep slope in the tropics

Posts: 3
Location: Ketambe, Indonesia
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I recently moved to Ketambe, Sumatra with my husband Safar after many years of waiting and saving. We have over 2 hectares of very steep land in a valley between two mountain ranges. The views are incredible but it makes for an extremely difficult working and building environment. We just took our first plunge into preparing the land by bringing in an excavator. Over the space of a week they created surface for a road over 400m long (it had to be very windy to get up an almost 45 degree slope!) and created several terraces that we later plan to build on. It was a pretty full on experience bringing mixed emotions. On the one hand it was awesome seeing the progress, on the other it was painful watching good soil being lost and many small trees being taken down. But I guess we can't have it both ways and starting with a clean slate now will set us in the right direction to regenerate properly from here. We wouldn't have been able to do much without vehicle access.

Besides a long driveway, future structures we plan to build will include a workshop, our small home, a series of bungalows, an ecolodge with several rooms, outdoor kitchen with cob oven, and cafe & restaurant. These will almost all be built with earthbags / superadobe using local labour (plus ourselves of course). We're also creating a natural plunge pool from the spring water and river rocks.

The land has spectacular views up and down the river and valley in all directions, 9 huge durian trees, lots of bananas & palms, a natural spring, 2 resident eagles and lots of dragonflies and frogs. Ultimately, the goal is a huge food forest, native tree jungle and permaculture garden with goats, chickens and maybe some ducks or geese later on. Safar has already planted over 1000 trees and plants - but I'll go into more of that with another post later!

When (or if) tourism ever comes back here we hope to invite people to stay and experience our place. Ketambe is a pretty unique village as it's one of the only places left to see truly wild orangutans in an amazing old growth rainforest, so in the past that's attracted travellers from all over the world.

It's going to be a very long process and family and friends want me to keep them up to date, so I decided to start documenting everything from the start. I didn't find a whole lot of info here regarding dealing with very steep slopes in tropical climates so thought it might be useful to share here too!

Full post here:

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[Thumbnail for sumatra-jungle-earthworks.jpg]
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