- Elevation: 2,830 m (9,285 ft)
- Prominence: 514 m
- Ribu category: Spesial
- Province: Sulawesi Selatan (South Sulawesi)
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none.
Bawakaraeng is the most popular hike in South Sulawesi, because of both its proximity to Makassar and also its considerable height. The trail itself is in excellent condition although, since the enormous October 2004 landslide that took a large part of the mountainside down with it, the hike is a considerable 7-8 hours from the trailhead to the summit. Bawakaraeng’s slightly higher neighbour is Moncong Lompobatang but, considering that most hikers don’t have the time to traverse both in the regular timescale of 4 or 5 days, Bawakaraeng is definitely a worthwhile mountain in its own right.
The trailhead is at the pleasant village of Lembanna (1,500m), about 2 and a half hours drive from Makassar. On the way you will pass through the popular hill resort of Malino (after about 2 hours) where there are several decent hotels and stunning views down the valleys. Do try the strawberries – perhaps the nicest in Indonesia! About 8 km beyond Malino, you may have to ask for the correct right turn to Lembanna as it is not signposted.
There is a brand new route map sign in Lembanna at the start of the hike, showing the 10 Pos with water sources marked in blue. Also earlier in 2013, new cement markers were installed at all the Pos, although some of the elevation data is way,way off and a couple of the markers are a slightly different places to the original Pos locations. It matters not – route finding shouldn’t be an issue given how well-trodden the trail is. The likelihood is that you will meet plenty of other hikers, especially on weekends, and perhaps even Tata Rasyid, the guardian of the mountain who climbs on a regular basis for the frequent traditional religious celebrations that take place up the mountain.
Once beyond the tomato, onion and carrot fields of Lembanna, the first section of the hike follows a small stream up through pine woodland. Pos 1 (1,720m) is actually a junction – left to continue up Bawakaraeng or right to Lembah Ramma (Ramma Valley) – surrounded by what look to be wild tomato plants with small fruits. According to our guides these are not tomatoes, not are they edible. They may, in fact, be poisonous so avoid the temptation to try them. Pos 2 (1,810m) and 3 (1,835m) follow in quick succession and are both delightful grassy spots next to streams. You will probably see cow pats on the trail and hear the jangling of bells tied round cows’ necks even if you don’t meet any actual cows. Following this, you enter the forest proper.
Pos 4 (1,980m) is marked with an old grave which is one of the locations of the ancestor worship that happens on the mountain. It is not just student hikers that climb Bawakaraeng – you will probably meet lots of local families (including small children) carrying up with them what look to be Indonesian picnic items such as a pot of rice and a bucket of eggs and so on. In actual fact, these people are pilgrims. There is great spiritual significance attached to this mountain by local Muslim people, many of whom have conducted special Bawakaraeng Pilgrimages for several centuries, with those descending being called ‘Haji Bawakaraeng’. It would be highly unlikely that many of these poor people could ever afford to visit the usual Mecca. This unique tradition has not always been looked kindly on by authorities and it is said that in the 1960s some were arrested or even executed for carrying out what appeared to be a practice at odds with mainstream Islamic teaching.
Pos 5 (2,170m) is where the views start to open out, back down to the wide Sungai Jeneberang (river), the reservoir further down this river, and to many lesser hills in the middle-distance. You should also be able to spot the west coast of Sulawesi. For those who have not started the hike early, this is a lovely spot to camp with lots of space and even a few wild raspberries. You will also see what you might mistake to be the top of Bawakaraeng rather close by. In fact, this is the first summit which must be climbed first before descending and re-ascending up to the true Bawakaraeng. This was not always the case – until the immense landslide that occurred in October 2004, the hike was considerably shorter. This landslide is said to be the largest of its kind in Indonesia. Looking at the photos on Google Earth you can begin to imagine the sort of devastation that resulted. An entire village was wiped out at the foot of the mountain. So, this huge areas must be avoided by traversing round the side a little. The first of two memorials to hikers who have died (apparently due to hypothermia) on the mountain is near this section.
Pos 6 (2,370m) is fairly unremarkable but Pos 7 (2,557m, the summit of the peak near the landslide area) is a lovely spot to sit for a while and enjoy the views from the boulders. The trail then descends to a col at about 2,35om before rising again up Bawakaraeng. Without this descent and re-ascent, the hike would be a little tiring. With it added the hike is considerably more exhausting especially as you keep thinking you are close only to find you still have a distance to go. A second memorial to a hiker is passed before reaching Pos 8 (2,440m) and the reliable stream that runs down the mountainside across bare rock. It is up steeply after this, on to Pos 9 (2,610m) and then more magnificent views in good weather, especially of the shapely little Bulu Boholangi to the north.
The Pos 10 marker is at the southern end of a large area suitable for camping between the gnarled, near-leafless trees. From here you should be able to make out an Indonesian flag waving in the breeze plus a summit pillar just beyond. It is just 5 minutes from the camping area (which is nicely protected from the heavier gusts of wind that are common up here) and the summit itself. The slightly higher Moncong Lompobatang ridge lurks beyond, past a couple of other peaks of a similar height and the Karisma Valley. The mini-top just beyond the top with the pillar is a lovely vantage point and while the true top is often covered in hikers, this second top is usually much quieter and suitable for serious contemplation. Somewhere down in the valley is a special rock called Batu Makaya which renders compasses useless and allegedly even interferes with GPS devices. Needless to say, this is another point of religious significance for the Haji Bawakaraeng.
It takes about 5-6 hours to return the same way.
Bagging report by Dan Quinn (September 2013)
Should you be continuing on to Moncong Lompobatang via the Kharisma Traverse, please read Gita’s full report below…
Kharisma Traverse Report (starting from Bawakaraen
g – Lembanna)
It was Idul Fithri day 1 when we (Gilles and i) decided to do traverse Kharisma valley. We don’t have a lot of information about this mountain and trek but from GB we knew that this mountain is quite popular. As our last destination of this trip is Pantai Bira so it’d be normal if we start the trek from Lembanna (North side). The ojek took us to Pak Sapri’s house, a guide who use to guide the tourists. We were happy if he doesn’t mind to go with us as it was Idul Fithri day. But… unfortunately we didn’t bring enough money for the amount that he asked, so the solution is to bring us only until pos 5 and we pay half of the price.
We started 2.30pm from Lembanna. Walked through the gardens of villagers we were welcomed by the pine forest in Pos 0. The distance between poses not too far, around 20-30 minutes. We reached pos 5 in 2 hours, we decided to camp here. The area is open (beware of the storm and win) but it was good weather, the wind was quiet and calm, and we still had some views. Water could be taken around 50m by going down. The next morning, we started 7am and targeting to reach summit in the afternoon. Pos 5 to 6 required 30 minutes. Pos 6 to 7 was quiet longer, maybe almost 1 hour. Pos 7 is located on top of the hill (fake summit) from here u can see the Lompobattang and the real summit of Bawakaraeng. Pos 7 to 8 was quite tough as u have to go down the hill, cross the river and climb up again to pos 8, takes u about 1h 30 minutes. Pos 8 to 9 was normal, 30-40 minutes. From Pos 9 you can see that the trek pass through the ridge on your left side. Start to be an open area with rocks… The hike to the BW summit (5h) is uneventful, some views on the spectacular 2004 landslide are available on the right side of the trek if weather permit.
As there is no official sign, you can follow the rope/ribbon tied in the tree every 2-3 meters. We found that it was really helpful as you will walk in a bushy path/trail and sometimes u are not sure where the trail goes. The ropes unbelievably will lead you to kharisma valley, even to Lompobattang.
Don’t climb back to the saddle, the track goes horizontally straight from there. It s a long way down (4/5h) to camp 2 (water). 2h more and you ll reach the small Parang Bintolo village and base camp of student hikers (largest wooden house just before the mosque). You can stay here and enjoy the hospitality of Mr (i couldn’t remember his name)
From Parang Bintolo village, try to get to Malakaji (hitch hike or ojek) from Malakaji, take pete-pete to Bantaeng then you will arrive in the main road that connects Jeneponto and Bulukumba
Bagging report by Gita Saraswati, August 2012
- Getting there: The popular hill town of Malino is just two hours from Makassar by car. Public transport: From Makassar take pete-pete service to Malino in Terminal Sungguminasa (2 hours trip -20k/person). In Malino, pete-pete will finish at the market. Take ojek to Lembanna (20k/person)
- Accommodation: Plenty of hotels in Malino and Makassar. There is also a UNHAS base camp in Lembanna.
- Permits: Not necessary. Contact Pak Sopri as RW in Lembanna if you need a guide.
- Water sources: Pos 2, 3 and 8 are the best sources.
- 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
Bawakaraeng means ‘Lord’s Mouth’. (Anthony Jukes, 2011)