Bukit Raya

Facts

Elevation: 2,300 m (7,546 ft) Prominence: 2,017 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerTinggi Sedang Province: Kalimantan Tengah (Central Kalimantan)
Google Earth: kml Other names:  
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Bagging It!

This mountain is the highest peak in the Schwaner range and indeed the highest peak in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). It lies on the border of West and Central Kalimantan and, although it can be climbed from either province, by far the commonest approach is via Rantau Malam on the West Kalimantan side. Just getting to Rantau Malam is an adventure in itself and most Jakarta-based groups that climb Bukit Raya set aside 9 or 10 days in total including getting back home again (usually via Pontianak).

It is one of the most expensive mountains to hike in Indonesia outside of Papua, mainly because of the cost of transportation by boat to the starting point plus the Dayak ritual and associated costs. The high cost is not helped for solo travellers unable to share costs with a group or for foreigners who have to pay a daily rate to the National Park 30 times more than the local rate for Indonesians, even if you live, work, and pay taxes locally. The mountain is located in the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park. You need a permit from the Park Office from either Sintang (Jl. Dr. Wahidin No. 75) or in Nanga Pinoh. Although this hike is definitely needlessly heavy on administration, Park Staff are very helpful and can be contacted via WhatsApp (Bu Ivonne on 0852 8386 2785).

The actual hike itself from/to Rantau Malam can just about be done in three full days (return) by very strong super-fit hikers who do not waste daylight, have a strong local guide/porter with them and are lucky with the weather and transport connections. The best way to do this is to camp at Pos Linang both nights. However, definitely the most sensible option is to plan for 4 full days in the forests (many slower groups require 5 days). The length of the trail from Korong HP to the summit is 23km (one way) and since 2017 there are new official Taman Nasional signs every 100m for the final 20km to the summit. There are plenty of leeches on this mountain even in the dry season so best use leech socks.

Note that the cost of a guide/porter is Rp175,000 per day but you must pay him for 6 days (!) meaning Rp1,050,000 even if you finish in 4 days. Food for both yourself and your porter (s) and utensils and cooking gear is also the responsibility of the hiker(s) but you may be able to borrow a stove from the locals if you ask in advance and give them a tip. You also need to pay for a pre and post-hike traditional Dayak ritual. This involves the slaughter of white chickens which the locals then eat with you (unless you are a vegetarian in which case you simply pay for the locals to eat chicken whilst you eat some rice and salad). Expect to get a little chicken blood on your shirt. The exact price of the ritual varies according to the weight of the chicken and in 2018 one kilogram costs between Rp60,000-Rp80,000. You will also be expected to pay for miscellaneous costs like cigarettes and coffee for villagers whilst you are there. A typical price breakdown is found below.

A realistic itinerary looks something like the following:

Day 1: Get to Nanga Pinoh (preferable) or Sintang. This is fairly straightforward if you fly to Pontianak and then onward to Sintang. The tiny airport at Nanga Pinoh is not large enough for anything other than very small aircraft and these occasional flights can be cancelled quite easily due to bad weather. Therefore Sintang is the closest reliable airport with several daily flights at a new terminal about 30 minutes out of the town centre in the direction of Nanga Pinoh. Have 2xRp6,000 ‘materai’ stamps ready for your permit from the National Park – get your permit from the Park Office in either Sintang (preferably, although this means an hour extra roundtrip from the new airport) or Nanga Pinoh. Park staff will give you several documents. One is your receipt, one is to give to the locals in Rantau Malam, one is for the police in Serawai and one is for the military in Serawai. Decent hotels in Nanga Pinoh include the Amaranta and the Cantika (Nite and Day). Best buy gas canisters in Nanga Pinoh (there are Indomarets).

Day 2: The trip along the Melawi River to Serawai. Remember to put sun cream on. If you are a group of 3 or more then the best thing to do is charter a speedboat from Nanga Pinoh to Serawai (call Bang Udin 0821 5620 8466). If not, pay Rp250,000-Rp300,000 per seat on a speedboat that leaves from Dermaga Lim at around 9am. Best reserve at least a couple of days in advance. The speedboats usually stop at a riverside warung in Nanga Nua after 2 hours for 20 minutes. There are lots of gold mining operations on the edges of the river, the legality of which is unclear. During the dry season (especially August/September) you can also get to Serawai by car (Rp250,000 per seat, again leaving early or mid-morning, and again prior reservations recommended – try Ishak 081352509822). Both speedboat and car journeys take around 4 hours. Once in Serawai, take your letters from the National Park to the Military (Koramil) and Police (Polsek) buildings which are next to each other about 5 minutes from the centre of Serawai. This is just a formality and you won’t have to do anything. Although there are very small warungs in or near Rantau Malam, Serawai is the last place for supplies (i.e. food) so stock up here. There is also a phone data signal in Serawai which oddly seems better than the patchy one in Nanga Pinoh. So Serawai is also the last place for sending emails etc although electricity doesn’t come on until 5pm. Several penginapans available. Penginapan Saudara (Rp100,000) is fine and close to the jetty but being opposite a mosque it can get very loud in the morning.

Day 3: From Serawai to Rantau Malam (110m) up the Serawai river. You will probably have Bang Itom and his klotok. He is from Rantau Malam so will be on stand-by for you while you are there. His number is 0823 5190 5397. Look out for more gold mining operations and once again remember to put sun cream on. This is once again a lengthy boat journey and upstream requires about 4 hours. There used to be the option of using ojeks overland for the final section (via Tontang) but in 2018 this is no longer possible. Note that it is possible to reach Rantau Malam from Nanga Pinoh in one very long day, but you would have to get your permits the day before, visit Koramil and Polsek, set out very, very early and have all your supplies ready so you don’t need to buy anything in Serawai. Single travellers would find this difficult but a group who have charted a speedboat to Serawai early could certainly manage it.

In the dry season, due to lower water levels, the klotok will have to stop a few km before Rantau Malam, so you’ll have to get an ojek for Rp50,000 (one way) for the final 15 minutes into Rantau Malam. Once in Rantau Malam, having checked in at your homestay who should be aware of your arrival) have a walk to the simple wooden church, from where you can see the cliffs of Bukit Mamulu (approximately around 1,100m in height) and just about make out Bukit Raya in the far distance in clear weather. Generator electricity comes on at about 5pm for 3 hours only so have your bags packed and torches ready.

A traditional Ot-Danum ritual ceremony (upacara adat) is held in the evening at around 7pm at Rantau Malam prior to setting out on the actual trek the following morning. This costs Rp200,000 plus the cost of chicken and miscellaneous costs (see below). The cost will depend on the size of your group and cannot be accurately given in advance. You are given a red bead on a string around your wrist for good luck in the forests.  You will also need to sign 2 or 3 different visitor books and leave them Rp20,000 or so. Homestay in Rantau Malam (Rp100,000).

Day 4 (HIKING): The first day of proper trekking. Note that most of the Pos are fine to camp at and have water nearby, but large groups may find tent space difficult except at Pos 3 Menyanoi, Pos 4 Mangan, Pos 5 Rabang, Pos 8 Tohotung and the summit (where there is little or no water). That is, there is only limited space at Pos 6 Jelundung and Pos 7 Linang.

Set out no later than 7am but don’t put your boots on yet as you will need to cross the river first. The old trail used to go via Pos 1 Batu Lintang but now amost everybody uses the Korong HP route. Ojeks are possible in dry weather from Rantau Malam to Koronghape / Korong HP (438m) which is the forest entrance or ‘pintu rimba’ and has HP (Hand Phone) in the name because you can indeed get a simple phone signal here (unlike in Rantau Malam itself). Ojeks cost Rp75,000 in 2018 and take 40 minutes as opposed to 2 hours on foot along very hot logging roads leading up and down. There is no obvious sign at the forest entrance at Korong HP, perhaps to dissuade folk from trying to do this without a guide.

From Koronghape, the proper trekking begins and one of the finest views of the trek is only 30 minutes into the forests. On your right you should be able to see Bukit Baka in the distance, the other ‘hill’ that gives its name to the National Park, plus a higher peak on the left that locals call Damar. The trail leads onward to a new trail sign (625m) after 3.3km (about 90 minutes from Korong HP). You are now just under 20km from the summit! Continue for 500m to Pos 3 Sungai Menyanoi (640m) where there is a stream, then on to Pos 4 Sungai Mangan (also around 640m) which has only small pools of water in the dry season and on to the huge tree and National Park hornbill (enggang) signs at Simpang Lekawai (655m).

If you can make it to the camping area at Pos 5 Hulu Rabang (720m) (estimated 6 hours total trekking time from Korong HP) then you have made a good enough start in terms of distance even if you haven’t done much in the way of ascent yet. This is a nice spot with a flowing stream, but be warned that there are a lot of sweat bees in this area which can be a nuisance until dusk. If you still have energy then consider continuing to Pos 6 Hulu Jelundung or Pos 7 Linang which is 200m from a waterfall. You should hear plenty of hornbills in the skies above you today and may even see or hear proboscis monkeys (charmingly known in Indonesia as ‘monyet Belanda’ or Dutch monkeys).

Day 5 (HIKING DAY 2): From Pos Rabang, the trail continues via Pos 6 Hulu Jelundung (1,260m) and Pos Bayangan (1,365m) to Pos 7 Linang (1,350m). Pos Linang has a bad reputation for leeches but in dry conditions there are very few and indeed the space is one of the flattest areas to camp at on the trek. From Linang, it is only 5.5km to the peak, but this is where the hard work begins. Aim to reach Pos 8 Soa Tohotung or nearby Soa Badak (1,580m) and camp there. Note that Pos 8 is 200m off the main trail so unless camping there you will not pass by it. Neither would you pass by the overgrown cement pillar that marks the boundary between West and Central Kalimantan. From Rabang to Tohotung would not take longer than about 6 hours.

Day 6 (HIKING DAY 3): A very early start today, wasting no daylight, with the aim being to reach the summit by mid or late morning (estimated 3-4 hours from Tohotung). The trail climbs steeply before you reach the base of a large cliff (1,980m) known as Jempol. From a little further along (at 2,015m) there are some excellent views. You will need to use all fours limbs to climb up the steep, mossy, and increasingly overgrown trail from this point onward. Whereas lower down you can easily cover 1 kilometre in a short time, here to the summit takes a much longer time as there are many gnarled branches acting as obstacles to progress as you gain the summit ridge. Look out for pitcher plants here. There is also a National Park sign about rhododendrons.

Eventually you will have reached the peak which is a small clearing. The summit is known locally as Puncak Kakam referring to a mythical bird of ancient times. Most sources state that Bukit Raya is 2,278 metres high but based on SRTM analysis and also August 2018 GPS data we conclude that Bukit Raya is at least 2,300m and may be as high as 2,305m. Views are limited at the peak unless you climb onto a mound at the base of one of the shrub-like trees. In clear weather there is a decent view in one or two directions. There are two simple wooden Dayak shrines to ancestors and to the forest, in which cigarettes and coins are traditionally left. Look for the small wooden statues below. There are also one or two black squirrels than enjoy eating food scraps left by hikers at the summit and they are quite tame.

After photos at the summit signs, it is best to try to descend at least as far down as Pos Linang (1,400m) which should take around 4 hours.

Day 7 (HIKING DAY 4): An early start in order to descend all the way back to Rantau Malam. From Linang you will need at least 9-10 hours to Korong HP, so if possible camp further down the previous night. The final 2 hours from Korong HP to Rantau Malam can be brutal in sunny conditions and there are lots of uphill sections, so consider phoning for ojeks to collects you there (Rp75,000 per person). Homestay in Rantau Malam (Rp100,000) and a post-hike ritual and meal.

Day 8: An early start, preferably no later than 6am onboard the klotok (who should be on-call waiting for you) to Serawai (3 hours as it is downstream). Then onto a speedboat (the regular public ones leave around 9am) and back downstream to Nanga Pinoh (just under 4 hours). Some may opt to then travel back to Pontianak overnight which is at least 8 hours by road.

Day 9: Back to Pontianak (either by road or flying from Sintang) and onward home.

Typical costs to/from Sintang Airport (dry season, 2018) for a single foreign hiker.

Shared car from Sintang Airport to Nanga Pinoh: Rp100,000 per person x2 = Rp200,000.
Speedboat from Nanga Pinoh to Serawai: Rp300,000 per person one way. = Rp600,000.
Klotok rental from Serawai to Rantau Malam: Rp2,5000,000 (return, can fit 6 comfortably).
Rantau Malam homestay: Rp100,000 per night for 2 nights = Rp200,000.
Miscellaneous village costs: Rp300,000.
Ritual cost: Rp200,000.
Guide/Porter cost: Rp1,050,000.
Chicken costs: Rp360,000.
Ojek in dry season from klotok to Rantau Malam: Rp50,000 x2 = Rp100,000.
Optional but recommended ojek for you and your porter from Rantau Malam to Korong HP  Pintu Rimba: Rp75,000 x2 = Rp150,000. Note you would need to pay this again on your way down if you want picking up at the forest entrance.
Entry permit for foreigner (daily price alters according to weekday (cheaper) or weekend): Rp905,000.
Food and gas for you and your porter: roughly Rp400,000.
Estimated MINIMUM TOTAL for one foreigner hiker: Rp6,965,000. Not including accommodation in Nanga Pinoh or Serawai if required. A single Indonesian hiker would save most of the ticket price listed above, as locals only pay 1/30th of the price charged to foreigners. Notable group savings include sharing the high price of klotok hire. Most other costs are difficult to share. Also note that foreigners without decent Bahasa Indonesia language skills are likely to have to take two guides/porters with them, meaning an extra Rp1,050,000.

In the dry season, speedboats between Nanga Pinoh and Serawai may be cancelled or not fill up at all. Shared taxis from Pinoh to Serawai possible at this time for around Rp250,000 per person, which usually leave no later than mid-morning.

In the wet season, speedboat seats from Pinoh to Serawai may be a little cheaper at Rp250,000 per person and klotok hire from Serawai to Rantau Malam slightly cheaper at Rp2,300,000 and possible all the way to Rantau Malam saving the need for a return ojek between the klotok and Rantau Malam (Rp100,000 return total).

Bagging information by Dan Quinn (August 2018)

Practicalities

Getting there From Pontianak to Sintang you can take a 9hr bus (Rp150,000) or shared car or a flight (around Rp500,000). From Sintang to Serawai is an 8 hour journey by speed boat and costs Rp350,000 per person. Alternatively, a boat from Nanga Pinoh to Serawai is about Rp250,000 to Rp300,000 per person. Note that, although there is a small shop in Rantau Malam, Serawai is the last reliable place for supplies i.e. food. Klotok hire Rp2.500,000 from Serawai all the way to Rantau Malam.
Accommodation Plenty of hotels in Pontianak. A small number of options in Sintang and Nanga Pinoh. Serawai – basic penginapan at Rp100-150,000 a night.
Permits In 2018, porters cost Rp1,050,000 for the entire trek – reasonable. It is customary to have a traditional ritual prior to starting and then completing the hike called Ngukuih Hajat which costs approx Rp200,000, plus an additional (larger cost) for chicken, rice and salad leaves. This is for good luck on the hike. You need to arrange a hiking permit, preferably done in advance by emailing Ivonne at bukitbakabukitraya@gmail.com and sending a photocopy of your passport photo page.You then collect this permission letter (‘surat ijin / SIMAKSI) from the Sintang or Nanga Pinoh park office. Unfortunately, the price of admission to all National Parks throughout Indonesia were increased by several hundred percent in 2013 and as a daily rate. Foreigners currently have to pay Rp150,000 per day per person for being within the park (and Rp225,000 if your dates fall on a public holiday). There is also a trekking fee of Rp5,000.
Water sources Available at (or nearby) most of the Pos on the Rantau Malam route, but difficult to find at the peak.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm): kumai

Location

Origins and Meaning

Literally ‘big’, ‘large’ or ‘great’ hill in Indonesian.

Links and References

Wikipedia Indonesia

7 thoughts on “Bukit Raya

  1. As you’ll see from above, the cost of this trek is incredibly high, especially for foreigners. The question of whether or not it is worth is not an easy one to answer. But, put simply, if you haven’t done much trekking in Java then you ought to consider some of the classics there first, as they can be done for less than a tenth of the price, in a much shorter time and with a lot less hassle. I actually paid more than 7 million, as I ended up chartering a speedboat (alone) back to Nanga Pinoh as by the time I got to Serawai on the way out all the cars and public boats had already departed. It cost 1 million, so 700,000 more than I budgeted for. Admittedly I could have stayed the night in Serawai again, but was keen to get out, and there was no gurantee of a public speed boat the next day anyway, due to the very low river level (no rain in 2 weeks) though a car would probably been heading out in the morning.

    With my excellent guide Bang Silik, I actually made the new record by doing this trek in 3 days (from/to Rantau Malam). We didn’t waste much daylight, and dry conditions meant far fewer leeches than in wet weather. It also meant we could get ojeks to Korong HP to get going by 8am on the first day. We made it to Linang by 5.30pm just as it was going dark, and then went for the summit on the second day (took about 4 and a half hours up and 3 and a half back down to Linang where we spent a second night). The third day of hiking was the toughest and took nearly 12 hours as we didn’t get ojeks back from Korong HP and walked the final hot 2 hours on foot. Exhausting!
    Met two groups on the way down, both of whom were definitely planning on 4 or 5 full days in the forest. The first camped at Rabang on the first night but were still there at 9am on their second day (which in my mind is a waste of 3 hours of daylight!). The second, much larger, group may have been lucky to have reached as far as Rabang on their first trekking day. It’s really important to get a good start and get in as far as you can by setting out early.

    As part of the ritual you get a red bead on a string for good luck in the forest. I was very sad to see that mine had fallen off my wrist by lunchtime on the first day in the forest. I didn’t mention it to the guide, as I thought it might mean bad luck to him. Anyway, quite astoundingly, on Day 3, heading back out, I noticed my GPS batteries were dead, so I paused for breath, look down, and there was my red bead, left where it had fallen 2 days earlier! What are the chances of finding such a tiny thing on a trail 23km one way, and with so many leaves soon covering over whatever falls to the ground. Quite remarkable!

    Some of the main positives from a personal perspective:

    This is a real adventure. Even getting to the starting point is a serious mission. It’s one you’ll remember for a long time.
    National Park staff are very friendly and helpful.
    The local Catholic Ot-Danum folk have a deep respect for the forest and, along with the national park should be supported so that even greater areas of Kalimantan are not turned into Oil Palm plantations.
    My porter, Bang Silik, was fantastic. Very strong, happy to go at my pace (quite rare), very knowledgeable. Absolutely recommended 100%.
    Pak SIndang, whose house I was staying in, was very friendly and helpful.

    Some of the main negatives from a personal perspective:

    The entry ticket price for a foreigner is, I feel, too much. I did the hike in 3 days, but still had to pay for 5 days’ worth of entry tickets at a price 30 times greater than an Indonesian would pay. I pay taxes locally, so I feel this should be taken into consideration. My interest in visiting Bukit Raya is much higher than is normal, so if they want more visitors they need to consider these prices.
    I’m a vegetarian so I have no interest in eating chicken at all. It may be good luck for numerous villagers to have a meal both prior to and after your hike but it seems a little unfair given that the one who is paying for it is not eating much of it. Certainly, if this situation occurred in the UK then it would not be seen as very reasonable, especially as the visitor has already spent so much money just in getting to the starting point as it is. The ritual itself was quite interesting and worth the Rp200,000. Paying for chicken and cigarettes on top of that feels a little too much, although it is common with the Dayaks in Kalimantan it doesn’t seem to be such a big thing on the Malaysian side where if you have come to hike a mountain then that is what you are going to do, rather than having to pay to feed members of the village in both directions too. Hikers are already putting money into the local economy by being there and hiring local guides and staying in local houses. Paying for meals for people seems a step too far, after all that.
    The idea that the foreigner is really rich in Indonesia is also prevalent in this area. When asking about the ojek price to Korong HP, it was suggested that I could pay more because I was rich. I didn’t find this particularly nice. They also went through my national park documents very carefully, as if to find anything that could suggest them charging more. And indeed they found one…. A mention that non-Indonesians are supposed to either take a National Park member of staff with them (or at least minimum of 2 porters/guides) meaning an extra Rp1,050,000. I argued with them successfully about this, saying that I was experienced and could speak the national language and had no need for a second guide. I was on the verge of cancelling if they had pushed me as even for a ‘rich bule’ this trek is already incredibly expensive. For those without adequate Bahasa Indonesia skills, as things stand with the way documents are worded, you might end up having to pay for 2 folk to accompany you, a smash in the teeth when you’ve already paid a greatly inflated entry ticket price as it is.

    All in all, I think it will be hard to encourage more than the current trickle into this area without making it much more affordable. The Indonesian Seven Summits list is the main reason why most Indonesian hikers visit this area, and even with that there are not very many of them. So, I suppose the experience is a good one, but totally overshadowed by the high cost. For the same price you could do a large number of amazing things, which makes justifying a trip here difficult unless you have a particular research purpose or have run out of mountains elsewhere.

  2. Am finally getting round to this hike. Going next month, 9-15th August (start/end Nanga Pinoh). No others coming yet, probably due to the higher cost than usual, but should anyone read this in the next couple of days and wish to join please do leave a message.

  3. I had been hoping to hike this in October 2014 until I heard the bad news about the huge increase in the cost of entrance permits for foreigners at all National Parks within Indonesia. Altogether, if you want to complete this hike as a foreigner (without a KITAS) you are looking at paying well over Rp1 million just for being there, before the cost of guides, porters, food and transport and so on.

  4. Thanks, Nick, for the following information….

    Taman Nasional Bukit Baka Bukit Raya
    Reaching puncak Bukit Raya

    Pontianak to Sintang – by road, 8 hours; by plane (Indonesia Air, Kalstar) 35 minutes
    TN Bukit Baka Bukit office is located at Sintang; park permits
    Jl Dr Wahidin Sudirohusodo 75
    tel: 0565-23521; http://www.bukitbakabukitraya.dephut.go.id
    Email: bukitbakabukitraya@gmail.com
    To Serawai – by speedboat, 7-8 hours, Rp 300,000 per person – last stop for purchasing supplies
    To Desa Rantau Malam – by klotok (slow boat), 7-8 hours, Rp 1,500,000 (rent boat), guides/porters here
    To puncak Bukit Raya – 3 days
    (Source: verbal communication with staff of Taman Nasional Bukit Baka Bukit Raya, Jakarta Convention Centre, 26 May 2013)

  5. I just back from the Bukit Raya 2 weeks ago. It was a wonderful trip, and I can summarized so much thing unexplored yet around this region. I’ll share some more details in due soon.We went via Desa Rantau Malam route (via Pontianak ). Cheers

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