Butak

Facts

Elevation: 2,868 m (9,409 ft) Prominence: 1,673 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerTinggi Sedang Province: Jawa Timur (East Java)
Google Earth: kml Other names:  Also spelt ‘Bhutak’
Rating: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (11 votes) Add your rating
Loading...

Photos

Bagging It!

 

Gunung Butak is the highest mountain of a large range west of Malang, East Java. As it is under 3,000m in elevation, it is less popular than other, higher peaks in the region (many of which can be seen from the top). There is a delightful grassy meadow near the summit called Cemoro Kandang which is perfect for camping and the views at the top are spectacular.

There are three main starting points for this Ribu and the most popular and easily reached is Tuyomerto village near Batu, Malang. Up until 2015 or so, the mountain was known only to hiking enthusiasts and a few local villagers – indeed, most locals had never heard of Butak and it was necessary to say ‘alun-alun’ or ‘savanna’ (alternative names for Cemoro Kandang) or ‘Gunung Kawi’ (a lower peak in the range but also the name of the range as a whole until recently).

As of 2017 things have changed dramatically with a considerable increase in the number of people climbing this mountain and the smaller Gunung Panderman which is part of the same range but much lower at just 2,045m. The trail up Butak is no longer overgrown, and there are signs for both Panderman and Gunung Butak (spelt ‘Bhutak’ on the signs here for some unknown reason). From Batu, take an ojek to Kampung Tuyomerto, which takes about 15 minutes, and follow the road as far up as you can go.

The old basecamp is gone but there is an attractive new wooden building (1,350m) above Tuyomerto village where hikers can purchase very affordable entrance tickets, find guides and porters, and leave their motorbikes overnight. There are even a couple of warungs to purchase snacks and drinks.

Pak Budi remains the best guide and can organise other villagers as porters. A guide can take you up and down in one long day (start early!) or a guide and porters will take you one-way and carry your gear to the camping area at Cemoro Kandang / Alun-alun / Savanna – you then carry your own gear down the next day. You can also hike at night in time for the sunrise and then straight back down – this means no need for camping gear but then again you won’t be able to savour the atmosphere properly unless you do camp up there.

From the new wooden building above Tuyomerto, it takes approximately 5 to 6 hours to reach the large grassy camping area known as Cemoro Kandang (or ‘alun-alun’ / ‘savanna’) (2,670 m) and the hike is almost 10 km following a fairly modest gradient. It takes about 3.5 to 4.5 hours to come down the same way. There are several places on the trail where it is possible to camp, but none are anywhere near as pleasant as Cemoro Kandang.

From the base camp, the climb through the cabbage fields and other agriculture to Pos 2 (1,575 m) takes about 45 minutes. From Pos 2 you continue up a valley in degraded/secondary forest before the steepest section of the hike up to Pos 4 (1,980 m), which takes about 1 hour. After this climb, the trail has a very nice gentle gradient, which mean you can hike at a good speed. Look out for edible physalis plants (‘ciplukan’ fruits) growing by the trail at an elevation of around 2,200, – 2,400m.

After another 3 hours you should reach Pos 6 (2,460 m), faster if the trail is clear. The route to the alun-alun – known as Cemoro Kandang (2,670 m) – and camping area is much clearer from here, and should take no more than 2 hours. The views in good weather are lovely from here as you walk beneath tall trees and see Semeru and Arjuno-Welirang in the distance. As the trail skirts round the mountain, you will see a peak to the right (west north west) which is part of the same range as Butak but difficult to reach from here. It is called Gunung Kawi and is approximately 2,550m in elevation. In clear conditions, to the left of Kawi is Gunung Liman and Gunung Lawu in the far distance, and then the pyramid-like rocky summit of fiery Gunung Kelud in the foreground. Looking north, you may see the large forested range called Anjasmoro which lies west of Arjuno-Welirang and has an unusual-shaped peak.

Once you have arrived at Cemoro Kandang (2,670m), look for a suitable flat area to pitch your tent (preferably away from the main path to minimise noise from other hikers at night). In some areas the grass is very clumpy. There is an excellent source of drinking water from a spring with pipe, and beyond the spring, further south, is a brilliant view to the summit of Java’s highest peak Semeru.

The highest point is a 30-minute climb up to the top of the ridge that surrounds the alun-alun and in good conditions you can see Arjuno, Semeru, Liman and Lawu in the far distance. This ridge is presumably the remains of an ancient volcanic crater wall, though these days there is no obvious volcanic activity here. In previous years it was not always easy to find the trail to the true summit, but as of 2017 there is a signpost for Gn Butak about 250m south of the spring (follow the path on the right) and at the point at which you have a very clear view of Semeru to the east. In good weather, you may even be able to see the large stone cairn and flagpole at the summit from Cemoro Kandang itself. After admiring the panorama of the giants of East Java, it is 20-25 minutes back down to Cemoro Kandang from the summit, unless of course you wish to camp on the sumit ridge which is certainly large enough for 4 or 5 tents.

Whilst most hikers return the same way to Tuyomerto (in under 4 hours for fast hikers), there are at least two other routes worth considering if time is not an issue. Firstly, a trail continues south from Cemoro Kandang to an ancient well and some interesting ancient grave sites and small caves. It heads roughly southeast and eventually brings you out at Kraton Gunung Kawi (roughly 1,200m according to Google Earth) which is a place where people go to pray for good luck and so on. This is a shorter trail than Tuyomerto, but is less frequenty used and also apparently takes longer. Allow a full day to to get down to Kraton Gunung Kawi. Of course, the Kraton ought really to be called Kraton Gunung Butak, because Gunung Kawi is in the opposite direction – north-west rather than south east.

The mountain can also be climbed from the west. The other trail – alos shorter than the Tuyomerto route) starts at the village of Sirah Kencong (roughly 1,100m). This trail actually leads directly up to the summit ridge rather than via Cemoro Kandang – see the GPS tracks page for details of this route.

Bagging information by Daniel Quinn and Andy Dean (updated May 2017).

Practicalities

Getting there There are regular flights and train services from Jakarta to Malang. Batu is also around 4-5 drive from Surabaya, which has more frequent flights. There are lots of angkots to Batu from Malang – though you may need to change vehicle a couple of times. Taxis from Malang to/from Batu are also available and it costs around 100k Rupiah from Batu to Malang Airport, a journey that takes 1 hour.
Accommodation There is a good range of places to stay in Batu and Malang.
Permits Rp8,000 per person (2017) on the Tuyomerto route. Take a photocopy of your passport photo page just in case.
Water sources An excellent spring is available at Cemoro Kandang camping area (2,670m) near the summit.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm): surabaya

Location

Origins and Meaning

There are two possible origins. The first possibility is that it comes from ‘botak’ meaning ‘bald’ in Indonesian. The mountain is rather grassy near the top which may lead it to be described as ‘bald’. The alternative origin is from the Javanese word ‘buta’ meaning ‘hidden’, unable to be seen.

Links and References

Wikipedia English
Wikipedia Indonesia

19 thoughts on “Butak

  1. Did this one again last weekend – still one of my favourites in Java. It was surprising to see how much more popular Butak now is after a gap of 8 years – nobody had heard of the name back in 2009! I got the Gajayana night train from Jakarta to Malang and with my co-hikers sped off to Tuyomerto to meet the reliable Pak Budi and Wassis our strong porter. Quite why all the signs spell Butak with an ‘h’ is not known.,,,.. would be interesting to check the Bako map of the range to see what their spelling is.
    Great to see more hikers enjoying this place but it does inevitably means there’s a bit more litter on the trail now (and a bit more noise from campers in the middle of the night).
    We were very lucky with the weather…… no rain at all, a brilliant sunset seen from the summit, distant mountains peeking above a sea of clouds below.
    I did meet one group who had climbed from Kraton Gunung Kawi. It had taken them a full day. The sky at night was beautifully clear.
    Flights back to Jakarta from Malang on a Sunday afternoon tend to be very pricey, so I got a train to Sidoarjo, Gojek to Surabaya airport, and flew back from there instead.

  2. Gunung Butak Traverse
    I have climbed Butak twice from Batu and found the descent by the same route rather uninspiring. A more interesting, but strenuous, option is to traverse the mountain from Batu, via Cemoro Kandang and Gunung Kawi, to the Chinese temples at Desa Pesarehan (Kawi temples) on the southern side of the mountain. I have not done the traverse; the information below is from a guide at the Kawi temples in December 2015.
    For the traverse, I would recommend climbing from Batu, camping at Cemoro Kandang below the summit, and descending to the Kawi temples the next day – rather than the reverse. This is for two reasons: (a) the Cemoro Kandang – Kawi leg is longer than the Batu – Cemoro Kandang leg, and (b) the vertical height on the Cemoro Kandang – Kawi leg is greater. The Batu trail head is at about 1,300 m cf the Kawi temples at about 800 m. In fact, the Kawi guide informed that if one were to ascend from the Kawi temples side, an additional camp on the mountain would be necessary (in open fields, known as Savana 1).
    The Butak summit is known locally, from the Kawi side, as Gunung Sembilan (nine). The only reliable source of water between Batu and Kawi temples is at Cemoro Kandang.
    The Batu guides/porters, with whom I have climbed, do not know the Cemoro Kandang – Kawi temples trail. It may be necessary therefore to arrange for a guide from Kawi to meet you at Cemoro Kandang for the descent to Kawi. Encourage the Batu guides to join for this descent to learn the route.
    Of course, logistics for a traverse of the mountain would be more complicated, including repatriating the Batu guide/porters. The road trip from the Kawi temples to Malang takes about one hour and from Malang to Batu another hour or so. There is simple accommodation and some larger hotels at the Kawi temples.
    Kawi temples guide/contact: Dino – 0877 8000 0183; dinodiorama9@gmail.com.
    Batu (Desa Tuyomerto) guide/contact: Budi – 0815 5671 6354 (as of August 2015)

    • Just completed summit 5-July-2016. Great views and weather. Camp site almost deserted due to Lebaran. Guide Budi definitely recommended – we paid Rp500,000 for the 2 days

  3. Armed with gps me and my wife tried to hike this one. We left Tuyomerto about 2am. Soon after the start of the hike we saw two reasonably big creatures standing on our path. My wife’s first word was puma 🙂 These were two of those cat-like animas, about 80-100cm height. I doubt pumas live here, but I wonder if anybody knows what kind of animals we could have ran into ?
    Needless to say, we turned back 🙂

  4. cukup menarik untuk mendaki gunung butak ini via dusun Tuyumerto-pesanggrahan batu, trek yang bervariatif dan jalur yang tertutup semak dan ilalang yg cukup lebat …

  5. I was in Batu last week and decided to go to Gunung Butak.

    After I downloaded the very useful gps track from this website, I decided to start walking from Songgoriti at 1am to reach the summit for sunrise. There was full moon and together with the headlamp made the visibility good for walking.

    It took me more than expected to reach the summit because the last half of the climb before the alun-alun was quite overgrown and with many trees and branches to jump or go under, making difficult keep a good pace.

    My plan after reaching the summit was to descent following the track to Sirah Kencong, but I met some Indonesian people who were camped at the summit and they told me to join them to walk to Kraton Gunung Kawi. As this route was not commented here, I decided to do it and log the track.

    The route from Butak to Kraton Gunung Kawi (KGK) is in better condition than the one from Batu to Butak.

    As you descent from the summit, the path heads south and after descending 100m you arrive to one area called Telaga Gentong, where there is a good water source, a small hut made of branches and tin and space to camp. There is also a Holy Place where people do some rituals.

    From here you have 3 – 3,5km of flat/up/down terrain and the last 3,5km are pure descent, in some parts quite steep. The path is easy to follow, i took the risk of doing it on my own because the people I met were waking too slow to reack to KGK before dark.

    The track log is ready to download and transfer to GPS device on wikiloc.com (user pedro2)

    Please keep paths and capms clean, bring a 500ml empty bottle with you to use as a garbage bin. All your food wraps, even the part you tear off, cigarette butts, tissue after going to “toilet”, batteries, etc can fit in there… you would be surprised. And avoid cans and other food “containers” that you cannot put inside the bottle unless you take them back with you. Please avoid increasing the amount of litter in Indonesia’s beautiful Nature.

  6. Gunung Butak: Few locals know of the mountain as Butak; instead, they know of Cemoro Kandang, the alun-alun (open tussocky fields) below the main peak. Mention’ Cemoro Kandang’ when making enquiries.
    Butak is apparently Javanese for ‘botak’, bald, perhaps referring to the open tussocky fields. Cemoro is Javanese pronunciation of ‘Cemara’ (Indonesian), the tall trees with drooping, needle-like leaves that grow above about 2000 m. The origins of ‘Kandang’, meaning ‘stable, enclosure, pen’, is obscure.
    The highest peak is known locally as Gunung Gede (Javanese) or Gunung Besar (Indonesian), and lies immediately to the west of the water point on Cemoro Kandang. It can be identified easily as the section of the range without any trees – those to the left and right are covered with trees. The peak is marked by a two-metre high stone cairn.
    Guides at Desa Tuyomerto: There are two Budis – Budiraharjo (father) and Budiardi (son – 0877-5997-6182). I climbed with Budiardi – highly recommended.
    Overgrown Tracks: Indeed, much of the forest is depleted and suffers from periodic fires. Accordingly, primary regrowth covers much of the mountain and obscures the track. Budiardi is doing his best to keep the track open for climbers.
    In addition, knee-high undergrowth covers much of the track. You should wear knee-high gaiters and/or long trousers to avoid having your shins ripped red and raw.
    Summary: Despite an uninspiring climb, the views of East Java mountains from the summit are awesome. To the west – Kelud, Liman and Lawu; to the east – Arjuna/Welirang, the Semeru-Bromo complex and, peaking up behind this complex, Ruang and Argopuro. Butak certainly offers the best views of all the mountains of East Java. Highly recommended.
    Contributed by Nick Hughes, September 2013

  7. My girlfriend and I made it to the top about a week ago, it was a wonderful trip! We walked on our own and used Dan’s gps track, thanks a lot!

    The track was very overgrown, and we made a couple of wrong turns.
    There has also been a wildfire so a lot of trees had fallen over the track. This made it challenging at times and time consuming.

    However, when we saw the sunrise over Semeru and Bromo it was all worth it. The views over Kelup and Arjuno are just breathtaking as well.

    Photos for those who might be interested:
    http://www.skogtur.blogspot.com

    Didrik

    • Wow, beautiful pictures! Look like you had a wonderful trip!

      If you only had time to trek one mountain, which one would you do: Gunung Butak, or Gunung Rinjani? We are planning a trip to Indonesia for next year 2015, but we will probably only have time to do one since we’ll also be visiting family & relatives.

      Thanks,
      Lufi

      • Hi Lufi,

        Just saw your comment.

        If I just had time for one of those two I would choose Rinjani. The lake segara anak is just too beautiful to skip.
        However, Gunung Butak is without a doubt the more quite mountain in terms of visitors (at least the time we went there).
        So if your are after a more “wilderness experience” this might be the one to chose.

        I got some photos from our trip to Rinjani here:
        http://skogtur.blogspot.no/2012/04/gunung-rinjani.html

        Whichever you choose enjoy the mountains!! 🙂

  8. thanks Dan . i made it. guided by your Gps Track 😀 . i climbed this mountain alone . thanks God u give your nice track . 😀

  9. I finally made it to the top of Butak (September 2012), guided by Pak Budi (hp:085749225243) of Tuyomerto, who is very capable and helpful.

    I did this as a day hike, starting at 05.00, reaching the summit by 11.00. and returning to Tuyomerto at 16.30. This is close to the limit for a hike entirely in daylight; for a day hike on this route you’ll need a dawn start, confidence in your speed and a flashlight in case you’re not back for sunset! During my September visit, the lower stretches of the trail were quite overgrown. There is lots of potential for erosion through landslides on the steep ascent section between 1700m and 1900m and there were many fallen trees to scramble over at about 2300m altitude. Potential hold-ups abound.

    The hike was as described by Dan, except that the alun alun campground is at 2670m (not 2460m), there are no “Pos” signs at any of the campsites and the musholla photographed in 2009 has completely vanished. I heard there was a dispute between Tuyomerto villagers hoping to pipe spring water from the alun alun and the “owner” of the well, who is from a different village; perhaps that has affected the maintenance of the trail.

    A path comes in from the east at a small campsite at 2500m (what Dan calls Pos 6?) and the trail above that is in good condition. It would be interesting to check out that eastern route, or the alternative from Sirah Kencong on the Blitar side as the paths on the upper slopes of the mountain are much more user-friendly than the approach from Tuyomerto suggests.

    The alun alun remains an excellent campsite, having a stone well with a water pipe, a stream and even a plastic shower curtain! Pak Budi refers to the alun alun as Cemoro Kandang; in fact, “Cemoro Kandang” seems to be a better-known term around Tuyomerto than “Gunung Butak”.

    It is easy to understand Andy’s difficulties finding the summit trail. It’s actually a steep, but straightforward 40 minutes along a well-trodden and well-defined path- the hard part is getting on it! After entering the alun alun from the Tuyomerto side, the main trail crosses the clumpy grass area and then descends into a slight depression, passing half a dozen flattened out tent pitches before reaching the well in the center of the crater. The most prominent trail continues from the right side of the well, crosses the grassy area for a few hundred meters and then enters the forest before descending toward the southeast, as described by Andy. Before that, however, you must turn off to the right on one of a series of less obvious trails heading off toward the forest, about 100m away. The trail we took was the fourth of these, about 300m after the well, just beyond a slight crest. This trail is flat and slightly overgrown for the first 20 meters after entering the forest, but then starts to climb and becomes clear and well-defined.

    We had excellent views of both distant mountains and nearby plains. The complex topography of Gunung Kelud was especially appealing, seeming almost within touching distance.

    Logistics note: If you fly into Juanda Airport in Surabaya, Liza Travel (telephone: +62341333037) runs a share taxi service to Malang/ Batu. Although there was only one other passenger, I paid just Rp80,000 to be dropped at my hotel in Batu. Of course flying in and out of Malang would be better, but flights there stop by mid-afternoon.

  10. Sounds like Butak is becoming something of an elusive beast! If you have photos and/or fancy writing a full account for Panderman then we could add a new page for it. A chap living in Malang mentioned that it might deserve its own page.
    Congratulations, John, on what appears to have been an excellent week of gunungs in Jawa Timur.

  11. An unforeseen hitch thwarted my attempt to climb Gunung Butak.

    Visiting Tuyomerto village the evening before the planned hike, I recruited a guide who seemed confident of the route.

    Next morning we set out briskly from Tuyomerto and quickly gained altitude. After leaving the plantation area, we entered a forest trail, passing well-used campsites and trees nailed with signs opining that the beauty of nature is proof of God’s greatness. But with our altitude reaching 1800m and the summit looming large ahead, an uneasy suspicion began to form in my mind about the rapidity of the ascent.

    Indeed, it soon transpired that we were in fact climbing completely the wrong mountain!

    The summit we attained was actually Gunung Panderman (2043m), the pyramid shaped peak that lies at the northeast edge of the Butak-Kawi massif and towers above Batu city.

    This hike- about 4 hours round trip- is actually very enjoyable in itself and must be popular, judging by the well-worn trail and TNI commemorative plaque and pillar in a clearing at the summit. There are spectacular views toward the north- Arjuno, the Anjasmoro range and the farmed valleys in front of them and a clear sighting of both Butak and Kawi from a campsite at about 1900m. Still, a disappointing alternative to the Butak summit I had expected!

    With hindsight, my ojek driver had implanted a firm idea in the guide’s mind that the “puncak” I wanted to reach was Panderman, and he remained “buta” to my insistence that the puncak I wanted was Butak, since he was not familiar with that name.

    On the bright side, I now have a pretext to return to Batu to set things right…

  12. We just had a rather wet and misty trip to Butak, and failed to reach the summit. No view and no summit bagged is not a good way to start the hiking season.

    The hike was a little more challenging than expected, partly because of the wet weather, but also because the trail was very overgrown in places. We were lucky to secure the services of 4 excellent porters in Tuyomerto, who hiked at a good pace with our bags while also wielding their machetes to clear the overgrown trail. Their 200k rupiah for a one way service was well earned. Ask for pak budi in Tuyomerta village.

    Our porters left us at a windswept, misty, and wet alun-alun and returned to Tuyomerto. Cold and wet, we decided to take a break in our tents and eventually decided to leave the summit bagging to the morning when we hoped the weather would have cleared up. Unfortunately, we woke up to rain and mist and at 5:00 am we headed off towards the summit (location stored in a GPS) along the path through the alun-alun. However, as the trail entered the forest below the summit, it was also quite overgrown and hard to follow. The trail seemed to be heading off in the wrong direction, downhill to the southeast. We turned back and bashed around in the forest and understory for a while trying to take the direct route to the summit. With time pressing on and a 2:30 pm flight from Malang, we returned to break camp, soaking wet with the bitter taste of our multiple defeats – no view, no summit, and no time for a good breakfast.

    We stayed in the Sumber Hotel in Batu, which is highly recommend. Simple, clean accommodation and the staff were very friendly and helpful – they organised an early wrapped (di bungkus) breakfast and our ojeks to Tuyomerto. We also booked the same ojeks to bring us back to the hotel on Sunday, and the hotel arranged our taxis to malang and allowed us to used the mandi get cleaned and changed into dry clothes.

    Judging by Dan’s photos, the views from Butak are spectacular and in sunshine the meadow campsite would be a lovely (if lumpy) campsite. We may well return an try this as a day hike when we climb Semeru later this year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *