Trekking @ Moncong Lompobattang South Sulawesi

 
  • Written by:  Heinz von Holzen
  • Date Posted:  October 5th, 2011
  • Category:  Sulawesi
  • Comments:  No Comments »

Moncong Lompobattang

Translates in the native Sulawesi Language as fat belly, which actually makes sense when you look at the mountain from the far distance. Looking like an old man laying on his back exposing his excess. The Sulawesi coastline is longer than that of the entire continental United States, and any given location on the island is no more than 100 km from the sea. Striking landscapes and remarkable people are the hallmark of South Sulawesi, a province gaining notoriety as a unique travel destination. The costal and lowland regions of South Sulawesi are inhabited mainly by the proud and outspoken Bugis. These Mongolian descendants are believed to have settled along these shores well over 1000 years ago and have since had one of the more colorful histories of any Indonesian people. It is thought that in ancient times, they sailed from here in their hand built wooden boats to as far field as Madagascar and northern Australia, leaving behind artifacts and loan words, and returning with foreign goods as well as treasures from the sea.Trekking@Gunung Lompobattang

South Sulawesi

Is a lush mountains region of caves, waterfalls and large lakes. Irrigated rice agriculture is widely practiced in lower elevations. As you travel into the mountains regions, any kinds of vegetables including cabbage, carrots, beans, shallots, garlic and potatoes are the main crops. The clean mountain air as well as the incredible rich soil are the foundation to grow some of the finest Arabica coffee in the world that is sold globally in the most exclusive delicatessen shops. A little by surprise we enjoyed greatly an abundance of delicious citrusy passion fruits. Hiking @ Gunung Lompobattang

Makassar

Gateway to eastern Indonesia for centuries, Makassar is the most important city in Sulawesi. Like many other of the nation’s overcrowded metropolises, Makassar might appear oversized and out of control at first glance. Luckily for the adventurous mountaineer there is absolute no need to actually venture into it and get choked up in the notorious traffic of this  this 1.6 million people city.Trekking@Gunung Lompobattang

Makassar – to Malakaji the starting point

Makassar is well connected with the rest of Indonesia, as many flights between Java or Bali and the easternmost islands call here on route. A short 50-minute flight from Bali will bring you in comfort to the starting point of your venture. One will be positively surprised by the wide open, spacious and most comfortable and modern airport that was opened in 2008.  After arriving it took us only a few minutes to negotiate a reasonable price for the 4-hour journey from Makassar to Malakaji the starting point of our hike  on the slopes of Lompobattang. When it come down to money every driver knew where this remote and far away place is, but the when we eventually sat in the mini van the driver had to get first directions and to his misfortune found out that Malakaji was not exactly there where he thought it was. He only miscalculated the trip by a good two hours or approximately 75 km.Hiking Adventure @ Gunung Lompobattang

The Drive

The costal road leads south east from Makassar towards Tana Beru the heart of the Bugis shipbuilding industry. The countless road works along the way will only allow very slow progress which  gives you the opportunity to enjoy the scenery with rice fields and Moncong Lompobattang to the north and the ocean to the south.Leaving the airport take the toll road into the city and then follow the southern main road along the coast towards Talakar and then on to Jeneponto which will take about 2 ½ hours. Then just before Jeneponto in Bontosungu follow the road sign and  turn left towards the hill village of Malakaji. The 40 km journey is exceptionally scenic and colorful, passed beautifully crafted rice terraces and in higher elevations vegetable plantations and miles of coffee. In Malakaji follow the main road passed the Market towards the police station, where you have to turn right at the V-junction in the direction of the final destination Lembang Bu’ne where you find your guide to the summit.Trekking Adventure  @ Gunung Lompobattang

Tana Baru 

Round-bellied prahus are still fashioned here with simple hand tools and with very little use of metal nails. Teak cords are hewn into blanks, then fastened with wooden pegs according to ancient design retained in the communal memory. Rituals are employed in all phases of construction, from the selection of the tree to the final launching, to ensure that the craft will be seaworthy. The finished 200-tone pinisi or lighter vessels called bago appear to be unstable till fully loaded with copra or timber.Hiking @ Gunung Lompobattang South Sulawesi

Bira

on the Southeastern tip of the peninsula  a relaxed white sand beach resort area that is very popular among locals during weekends, offering any kind of water sports ranging from scuba diving to banana boat rides. Simply, very basic and inexpensive rooms are plenty full, but oven fully booked during holidays. There is no shortage of food stalls offering a wide selection of local favorites.Trekking @ Gunung Lompobattang

Malakaji / Lembang Bun’s 1298 m

The last thing we expected was, that our arrival in Malakaji created a substantial amount of excitement throughout the village community. After seemingly years of peace finally two lonely strangers with white faces have made their way to this isolated mountain community. Then the fact that these two very old strangers intended to climb their home mountain was seriously too much for everyones imagination. How could you climb a mountain like this if you are in your fifties or sixties. “Impossible” was written all over their faces.   Within minutes after our arrival  at the village Warung we were surrounded by numerous  curious kids and even more curious moms,  all neatly dressed with hijab,  traditional religious Muslim head dresses.Hiking @ Gunung Lompobattang

In search of a guide 

Obviously it was our intention to find as quickly as possible two knowledgeable porters, who could guide us to the summit of Lompobattang and then on to Bawakaraeng. This request was reason enough to call for an emergency town council meeting. The village chief was mobilized, and he was assisted by a few of his closest advisors. The meeting was held in his home and we were treated to a cup of delicious  locally grown, roasted Toro Arabica coffee. As anywhere in isolated regions of Indonesia, time is never an issue, and of absolute benefit to all attendees if the gathering lasts as long as possible. This will give everyone a chance to smoke an extra cigarette that we where forced to buy to make the meeting possible. It was during this meeting that we were strongly advised that a passage from the summit of Lompobattang to Bawakaraeng is not possible due to resent terrible wet weather  causing severe landslides. Ropes and serious mountain gear were required to safely pass this danger and apparently very steep section. Reluctantly we accepted the advice as we thought that we were told yet another myth from the fare away hills.After a seemingly endless long hour of a not very productive meeting we decided to go back to the Warung and see if at last we would be able to find the right person to show us the way to the summit. Shortly after “very old” man showed up who was not very impressed by the weight of our back packs and left the scene briskly. Then all of a sudden out of nowhere appeared Nuhung our guide and host for the next two days. Just as the village council decided,  Nuhung insisted that a passage from one to the other mountain is not  possible and we negotiated  a more than reasonable fee  of about US$60 for two porters for the trip to the summit.Mountain Adventure @Gunung Lompobattang

Malakaji to Pos 1, 1750 m, 1 1/2 hour

The first portion of the trip actually leads up the main road which is a bit of an overstatement as the road was built yesteryear and consisted of roughly cut stones the size of a big feast. If you are lucky and climb Lompobattang during a dry period, which happens extremely rarely then you can actually enjoy the first portion of the trek on the back of a howling motorbike. Enjoying the ride would be a serious overstatement as it is serious hard work to hold on to your driver during the up hill battle. Fortunately a ride up is mostly not possible, as the path tends to be very slippery. We immensely enjoyed this first portion of the hike in the warm late afternoon sun. We made our way up passed the colorful buildings of  the  village and later through the very stony vegetable and coffee plantations. With great satisfaction we marveled the stunning views of the mountain we climbed the following morning.Trekking@Gunung Lompobattang

We actually expected to camp in Pos 1 and were not prepared for a rather big and very positive surprise. Pos 1 turned out to be the second home of our guide Nuhung in the midst of his three-hectare vegetable and coffee farm. What astonished us even more was that his simple wooden house had constant power supply and that his lovely wife and mother in law prepared a sumptuous dinner of steamed rice, potatoes and boiled vegetables. It was then during dinner that we decided to depart very early the following morning and not to spend a night at the summit, which saved us all the trouble to carry our camping gear for hours up the steep slopes of the mountain.Volcano Adventure @Gunung Lompobattang

Pos 1 – Pos 2, 1857 m

Departing the next morning just before 5 am allowed us a comfortable first hour walk in the bright moon light under crystal clear sky. First we needed to back track for 20 minutes down into the valley across barren cornfields ending at a small river, which actually ends at the official Pos 1.  From here the path ascends for about 175 meters up a rather steep hillside through a healthy forest full of thick, thorny and spiky bushes. After a good 20 minutes the track then flattens and leads for perhaps ½ km across a small plateau ending on one of several fast flowing mountain streams. Hiking @ Gunung Lompobattang

The forest

The following 1 ½ hours are rather monotonous leading relatively straight up the ridge in dense mountain forest offering very little views of the surrounding. One by one you pass after 30 minutes Pos 3 at 2025 meters, then 25 minutes later Pos 4 at 2262 meters. As you gain  altitude the forest gradually looses  thickness offering every now and terrific glimpses of views of the immediate surrounding as well as the valleys surrounding Lompobattang. 20 minutes later you reach Pos 5 at 2412 meters, and a further 25 minutes later you arrive at Pos 6 at 2701 meters, which marks the end of the forested section and the beginning of the final upper section, which is simply breathtaking. Here we enjoyed a good rest in the early morning sunshine and      strengthened our bodies with a well deserved snack.Trekking @ Gunung Lompobattang

The finale to the summit 

From Pos 6 it will take approximately one hour of High Mountain trekking at its absolute very best to reach the summit.  Several sections are potentially very dangerous and are seriously steep requiring additional care. The path first descends steep down towards a narrow crest for  approximately 100 meters altitude ending in a very bushy valley, and then straight up over a very narrow ridge allowing glorious views in every direction. Very few mountains in Indonesia are steeper and of such diverse terrain making this section especially memorable. A flatter bushy section leads into a narrow passage across a small ridge, then steeply up for 50 meters on a very exposed rock face, followed by a section of almost knee deep thick grass. It is for sections like this in the remount wilderness of Indonesia that gives one the inspiration and drive to return to many more such strenuous adventures time after time.

The camp

Within 30 minutes the final camp site  before the summit is reached, from where the summit can be seen high above. This site offers plenty of space for several tents and a rocky overhang gives additional protection in case of a sudden weather change. There is even a small stream with terrific fresh water a short 200 meters down hill hidden in the woods.Trekking @ Gunung Lompobattang

The summit 2886 m

Within a further 30 minutes of comfortable and most enjoyable hiking the summit is reached which marks the finale of yet another very special and exciting mountain, in yet another fare away remote wilderness of Indonesia, that is rarely visited by foreigners.As on most mountains it is crucial to bring a good rain coat. The very early morning hours normally offer perfect weather conditions with crystal clear nights and mostly stunningly perfect sunrises. However, then slowly around 10 am clouds start to creep in which bring with them often heavy thunderstorms. We were told that this weather pattern happened  virtually daily which is obviously the reason why this area is so rich in many fast flowing sparkling clear mountain streams. In our case weexperienced a short but very heavy down pour just after our arrival in Lembang Bu’ne, and then again for the last hour during our journey down from the mountain, making the steep path exceptionally slippery.Hiking @ Gunung Lompobattang

Direction to Gunung Lompobattang

Trekking Adventure @ Indonesian Volcanoes

 

 

 

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  • Welcome to Trekking and Volcano Adventures in Indonesia

    Unfortunately Indonesia is far too often for the wrong reasons in the lime light of the world press. Terror, tsunamis, earthquakes, destructions of rain forest and corruption seem to be the favorite subject of the media. To my great disappointment far too few people talk about the incredible cultural diversity of the nation, the enormous size, and totally forget to focus on the unbelievable beauty of this great nation.
Beside the incredible beauty of Indonesia, a nation is only as good as its inhabitants. I cannot think of another place on earth where you would find so many incredible kind people that will be delighted to look after you in a way normally only kings and royalty are treated.
 Hopefully these colorful stories will encourage many readers to pack a good pair of quality hiking boots and a backpack big enough to store the impressions of the countless memorable discoveries awaiting one throughout Indonesia. Selamat Jalan and happy trekking Heinz von Holzen Trekking @ Indonesian Trekking Adventure
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