- Elevation: 958 m (3,143 ft)
- Prominence: 910 m
- Ribu category: Spesial
- Province: Kalimantan Barat (West Kalimantan)
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: Bukit Unta
Batu Daya is one of the most iconic mountains in Indonesia but very few people know of its existence. Along with Gunung Kelam (also in West Kalimantan), Puruk Sandukui (Central Kalimantan) and the huge Merabu karst region in East Kalimantan it is an area which is bound to become a major natural tourist attraction in the next couple of decades, particularly if the Indonesian capital is relocated to Kalimantan and local infrastructure improves.
At present, other than oil palm plantation workers, well-read local nature lovers, and international rock climbers very few people seem to know about it. Batu Daya can be seen on flights between Ketapang and Pontianak, and sometimes on descent or ascent to/from Pontianak in clear weather but is totally invisible to users of the Trans-Kalimantan highway which passes within about 25km of it near Sandai. From Ketapang to Sandai takes about 5 hours by road and then it’s a further hour (minimum) through the plantations for the best views of the mountain.
To reach the base of it from Sandai you need to take one of several oil palm plantation roads which are as bumpy as you might expect and have various security checkpoints (Global Palm Resources). You will be waved through if you mention Batu Daya and after about 30 minutes from the main road will be able to see it in the distance. From this perspective, it resembles a giant impenetrable spacecraft about to lift off! It really does live up to its name of ‘Stone of Power’ and you may well be overwhelmed when you first glimpse it.
To get closer to Batu Daya you need to head further in to the plantations towards Pabrik (the palm oil factory) or better still the SMP (Indonesian school which is either no longer used or not for its original purpose). Slowly, it will become apparent that the mountain is comprised of 3 different peaks, all of which offer excellent rock climbing. Given its many different apperarances from different perspectives, no wonder it is also called Bukit Unta (‘camel hill’).
A Japanese rock climber explored this area a couple of years ago (2015?), and allegedly paid locals about 3 million Rupiah for the ceremony before climbing it. This price seems to vary between 1 and 3 million but what factors are taken into consideration by local village chiefs is unclear. They certainly seem to regard it as a sacred mountain that needs sufficient respect, particularly from those wishing to climb. According to the Japanese climber’s research, the three peaks (from west to east or left to right when seen from the south) have the following names and heights: Batu Daya (955m), Kuang Kande (958m) and Belah Hulu (807m). These heights have been taken from US Army Maps of Borneo in 1944 (when Batu Daya was spelt Batoe Dajeuh) but we hope to also have more recent data available soon.
Information by Dan Quinn (August 2017)
Below is a bagging report by Mike Libecki (originally published on the American Alpine Journal website) regarding Batu Daya southeast face.
In 2011, after authorities denied me a visa to return to Socotra Island, Yemen, due to war mayhem, I looked at my long list of areas to explore, with more than 20 expeditions on the docket. Batu Daya caught my eye; I had never been there. The first two weeks of December are in the rainy season, but I decided to go. I arrived at Jakarta and flew to Ketapang. A few hours drive, a few hours on a speed boat, a hitched lift on a big truck working the palm oil fields, and I was near Batu Daya, staring at its massiveness. I made this journey with a local guide and new friend, Herry, from Kalimantan. We paid locals to camp at their house near Batu Daya. As in so many places, these people were wonderful and kind. I had many good meals and laughter with them, but with a roundtrip from home limited to two weeks, there was no time to lose.
Herry and I hacked through the jungle with razor-sharp machetes. It took a few days to reach the base of Batu Daya, some of the worst suffering of my life. Hours of slogging in swamps, razor-wire bushes, 35°C, 95%+ humidity. Jungles are the worst; I would rather freeze. I have been in many jungles, always a sufferfest. Respect to all fellow jungle explorers. Of course, there is something wonderful about suffering: the pay off, survival and/or summit, seems so much better. We had a base camp near the foot of the tower, making beds out of vines and trees. The route looked like it would allow a fast ascent, and Herry asked if I could teach him some rope work, so he could follow me up, as he had always dreamed of going to the summit of Batu Daya.
We left super early and climbed all day. The rock was good and highly featured, with solid jungle foliage and vines to hold. The runouts were quite fun, as everywhere there were sweet holes and pockets in the stone. The worst part was getting to the jungle after the end of bare rock. This jungle was the thickest, most insane, I have ever seen. After four hours of being shredded by the vines and organic razor wire, we reached the summit as the sun disappeared.
Herry was able to light a fire, and we sat waiting for the sun to light our descent. It was a creepy night, and I wiped several bugs and spiders off my neck and face. Next day we reached base camp by nightfall, and the following morning got lost trying to find our way out of the jungle. I got increasingly worried as we spent all day walking through muddy swamps and razor-wire bushes and vines, but 20 minutes before full darkness we stumbled onto an old, barely visible bulldozer trail. Definitely some of the worst suffering I’ve experienced.
Locals say there was a team that tried to climb Batu Daya 10 or 15 years ago, and one climber died. I talked with an elder local who helped carry the body. Other than that I can find no information on attempts or successes. I graded our 650m route on the southeast face V 5.10 A1.
Originally nominated as a Spesial by Chris Whiting.
- Getting there: 6 hours by car to within sight of the mountain from Ketapang, or 8 hours from Pontianak. Lots of flights between Ketapang and Pontianak but some have a 10kg baggage limit. From Ketapang, follow the coast north to Siduk (90min) then take a right inland on a rough, dusty road across to the Trans Kalimantan road via Sungai Kelik. Once on the Trans Kalimantan road turn left (north) towards Pontianak until you reach the Sandai area.
- Accommodation: A couple of basic hotels in Sandai. You can probably stay with locals or camp on their land at the foot of the mountain. Lots of choices in both Ketapang and Pontianak. Penginapan Adam in Ketapang is good value.
- Permits: Not required if you just want to take photos from afar, but rock climbers will probably have to pay for a traditional good luck ceremony conducted by local shamans prior to climbing. Apparently you need to request permission in Keranji village (30km away from the actual mountain) before staying at Desa Tunas Harapan itself which is just 2km from the rockface).
- Water sources: Unknown – assume none.
- Travel insurance: We recommend World Nomads insurance, which is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities including mountain hiking.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):
Origins and Meaning
‘Stone of power’ in Indonesian.