// Lewotolo


Facts

Elevation: 1,449 m (4,754 ft) Prominence: 1,415 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerKurang Tinggi Province: Nusa Tenggara Timur
Google Earth: kml Other names: Ile Ape
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Eruptions: 1660, 1819, 1849, 1852, 1864, 1899, 1920, 1951

Photos

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Bagging It!

Gunung Lewotolo (AKA Ile Api) is by far the best-known peak on the island of Lembata. It sits on its own peninsula just northeast of the island’s main town and port of Lewoleba. Almost without fail, the active volcanic mound at the top emits large quantities of sulphurous gases on a near-permanent basis and therefore it is almost impossible to reach the true summit. However, the fascinating, wide crater can be reached, as can the slightly lower northern top, from where you can see the island volcano Batu Tara, as well as Ili Ujolewung further to the east. It is climbed a handful of times per year – usually by tourists who have read about it or, having admired it from Lewoleba town, simply cannot resist a day trip to the volcano.

The volcano is circumnavigated by roads, and there are at least three different routes up, perhaps the easiest of which is from Desa Lama (450 metres up the mountainside above Desa Jontana – on the southeastern side of the mountain). This village is now largely unoccupied but is maintained as the ancestral home of the villagers in the region, and contains their heirlooms such as elephant tusks (one was over two metres long), Moko drums, Portuguese (?) canon, and other artifacts of cultural/spiritual significance prior to the arrival of Christianity. Surrounding villagers perform ceremonies, known as the Bean Festival, in Desa Lama in October corresponding to the harvest of a local bean which traditionally provided protein in their diet. The maidens of the surrounding villages are attributed an important role in these ceremonies, suggesting that they continue to serve a central role in “match making”.

A visit to Desa Lama is highly recommended but only with the permission of and accompanied by village elders from Jontana. Jontana is less than an hour by car or motorbike from Lewoleba. To reach Desa Lama requires a sturdy truck or a ‘ojek’ willing to drive up an often bumpy, rocky track for a further 45 minutes or so. The alternative is to add an extra 90-120 minutes each way onto your hike by simply walking up on foot to Desa Lama.

From Desa Lama, a narrow trail leads up behind the buildings and through ‘kebun’ including coconut palm. At an elevation of about 800m, the plantation ends and the trails continues, faintly, up grassy hillside punctuated with beautiful eucalyptus trees. This ridge gets steeper and steeper, but the views both up to the smoking cone of Ile Api itself and back down to the coastline on either side of the narrow peninsula are stunning. You should be able to see the dormant peak of Ili Werung to the south. Further up, you will reach some rocks – a perfect place to stop for a rest and admire the view which now includes Ile Boleng on Adonara island to the west.

The next section is the steepest and trickiest on both ascent and descent as you simply have to scramble up steep, loose rock interspersed with low grasses before reaching the magnificent crater rim (elevation 1,375m) after about 3 hours from Desa Lama. All of a sudden, an amazing volcanic panorama opens up in front of you. The yellow and white cone smoking away, the white sand into which local hikers have written their name, the black rocks which form the crater rim and lead round to the northern top, and the views across the ocean.

The crater is very shallow – enough that you can clamber down onto the sand and write your name amongst all the others should you wish. Alternatively, to get a few different perspectives, follow the rim clockwise up to the slightly lower northern top (2,423m). It takes about 20 minutes to get there, via one slightly tricky section of steep, crumbling cliff, but the views to Batu Tara and Ili Ujoelwung make the effort thoroughly worthwhile. It is from here, perhaps, that the finest views to the smoking cone itself are to be had.

The true peak itself is seemingly always too active for it to be possible to ‘bag’ the highest point without seriously endangering yourself so you will have to be content with the beautiful views. Local people informed us that it last erupted in 1980 though we can find no news reports. There was a major eruption in 1951 and the mountain appears to be persistently active – small amounts of smoke were seen emitting from its crater, almost continuously, during our visit.

To return to Desa Lama takes about 2 and a half hours, but be sure you are on the correct ridge on the decent and take extra care on the steepest sections.

Bagging information by Nick Hughes, updated by Dan Quinn (August 2013).

Practicalities

Getting there There is a daily flight for Lewoleba to/from Kupang but the most popular approach to Lewoleba is from Larantuka on Flores. Ferries make the run there via Waiwerang, Adonara’s capital, several times a day. The crossing takes just over 3 hours in total and costs about Rp40,000 per person. The closest major airport served by big planes is Maumere, about three hours by road from Larantuka. The volcano is about one hour by car or motorbike from Lewoleba.
Accommodation There are two or three hotels in Lewoleba – Lembata’s main town. Try the very basic but friendly Lile Ile just a short walk from the ferry terminal or the Lewoleba Indah Hotel.
Permits None required but take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase.
Water sources None available on the Desa Lama route – take sufficient supplies with you.
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Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm): maumere

Location

Origins and Meaning

‘Ile/Ili Api/Ape’ means mountain of fire. Lewotolo is the name of a nearby village.

Links and References

Wikipedia English
Wikipedia Indonesia

Trip Reports and Comments

11 entries for “Lewotolo”

  1. avatar

    PS: The ojek price of 50000 was from Lewoleba to Desa Lama. The same guy charged me only 25000 to take me back from Jontona to Lewoleba.

    Also, I made a short video on Ili Api: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBOJTtvKj5o

    Posted by Tihomir Rangelov | May 8, 2014, 19:43
  2. avatar

    I climbed Ili Api at the end of April 2014. I stayed at hotel Lewoleba (50000 rp was the cheapest single room). Lile Ile was closed at the time (it seemed long term).

    The driveable track from Jontona to Desa Lama is only driveable for the first couple of kilometers. The ojek I hired could only take me up half way. I paid him 50000 for that (although we had agreed for that price if he took me all the way to Desa Lama).

    I went solo, without a guide. The waypoint published here helped a lot. And the trail is quite obvious. About half way up, in the gardens, it gets a bit overgrown and confusing but staying on the correct ridge was the way to go.

    The views at the top are fantastic. Here are a couple of raw (unclean) GPX traces (one was taken on the way up and the other one on the way down).
    https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/teeshirt/traces/1702197
    https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/teeshirt/traces/1702205

    Posted by Tihomir Rangelov | May 8, 2014, 19:40
  3. avatar

    Saya orang Lembata dan tinggal di Lewoleba. sekarang kami sedang melakukan suvey untuk wisata Adventure/Traccking ke puncak ile Lewotolo pada event Festival Ile Lewotolo pada bulan September nanti bersama Tim Survey dari Jakarta. kami mendaki pada hari Sabtu tanggal 26 September 2014 dari kampung Lewotolo dan singgah di Kampung Lama Lewotolo. kalau anda mau bergabung pada Festival Ile Lewotolo maka akan juga menyaksikan upacara adat makan kacang di kampung Lama Ile Lewotolo. Hubungi kami: wutunantonio@yahoo.com/ Handphone:081232519060

    Posted by anton ali, SE | April 28, 2014, 10:04
  4. avatar

    Great report. We are going to Lembata on June 2014 and we would like to get onto Ile Ape as hight as possible but we ( my wife) are over 62 years old and we want to find easy way to get summit. I have read many reports about the best start place ( village). We are going to start before sunrise and come back to village before sunset. Could you write something more what do you know in this subject.
    thanks for information

    Posted by Andrzej Kuczera Poland | February 27, 2014, 21:38
  5. avatar

    As we were heading east-west, me and Nick had to charter an old minibus to take us from Wairiang to Lewoleba, across some of the roughest roads in the country. It cost us Rp600,000 (chartered transport is expensive on these more remote islands) and took 3:45. Lewoleba seemed like great civilization after the no-horse town of Wairiang, whereas in previous years travelling west-east I always had the opposite feeling on reaching Lembata’s main town.

    We checked in at the newly refurbished Hotel Lembata Indah (165,000 per room per night) and, with it being so late I immediately set about finding some transport/guides for us for the following morning. The guy working in the warung opposite the hotel agreed to help, so a couple of his mates we waiting for us outside the hotel at around 6.30am the following morning. We paid then Rp250,000 each for transport there and back plus them ‘guiding’ us up the mountain (although you could get it for less if you bargained) despite it sounding less than likely that they had ever climbed it before!

    It took 1:30 to get to the deserted Desa Lama from Lewoleba. We had to get off and walk at several stages on the track itself.

    Nick had been here back in November 2010 with village elders and began chatting to one of our ojek boys about the huge tusks. He replied that also on Adonara island it was possible to find traditional hill villages with special possessions such as elephant tusks. In fact, he went on to say, there are two well-known tusks which copulate at night and that is the reason lots of little ones can be seen wiggling on the road the next morning!

    The ojek boys had no idea where they were going, but luckily we bumped into a local wood-collector who was very knowledgeable about the area and agreed to show us to the end of the plantations (as there were several junctions that you would be able to take a wrong turning at). Do watch out for spiders as we met several large ones on the trail.

    The weather was perfect and when we finally reached the rim the stunning scenery was enough for us to sit down and enjoy it all for a couple of leisurely hours. I trotted over to the northern top for slightly even better photo opportunities and the ojek boys probably wondered why they had never been up to this magical place before!

    We were back in Lewoleba by late-afternoon and enjoyed a cracking meal and beer at the Hotel Rejeki. A very memorable day – on one of Indonesia’s finest volcanoes.

    Posted by Dan | August 2, 2013, 21:40
  6. avatar

    A SHORT WALK UP ILI API

    Nestling at the foot of brooding Ili Mandiri, Larantuka, at the eastern end of Flores, is the jumping off point for islands even further east – the Solor Archipelago and Alor. I was headed for Lewoleba on Lembata, which lay between Adonara and Pantar, to climb the fabled Ili Api or “Mountain of Fire”.

    I had spent a restful night at Rulie’s Hotel, an ancient, atmospheric lodging house redolent of the days when the Dutch held sway in these parts. Squat and square, with a steeply-pitched roof I could picture a couple of travelling officials sitting in cane chairs on the veranda enjoying a sundowner or three. The cane chairs were still there, a little worse for wear, but nevertheless comfortable. The previous evening they’d been the ideal vantage point to watch the sun slide beneath the horizon, the glowing sky a perfect backdrop for the assortment of water craft at anchor on the bay.

    With a cold Bintang in hand I’d whiled away the time watching stallholders set up a night food market on the padang across the road. Later I’d joined them and, surrounded by the delicious smells of chicken and fish being grilled over hot coals, and amid the hubbub of conversation and the hiss of the pressure lanterns, I’d eaten a plate of delicious beef satay and ketupat. The balmy night air, the full moon rising and the graciousness of the comely waitress who served me, were the perfect accompaniment to the evening. As I’d strolled back to my lodgings, thinking of Ili Api and the adventure to come, the thought crossed my mind: life does not get much better than this.

    I rose with the roosters. Showered and shaved, I took breakfast on the veranda. Lodgings paid, I grabbed my gear bade farewell and headed for the port where the ‘Sinar Mutiara’, the ‘Pearl Light’, waited, ready to spirit me eastwards. Broad of beam and shallow of draft the ‘Sinar Mutiara’ had plied these waters for years. A solid wooden vessel she ferried passengers and cargo between Larantuka and Lewoleba, stopping by at Waiwerang on Adonara. A vital link in inter-island communication she had served her community loyally carrying the commerce of inter-island trade and ferrying loved ones home: the men, after their long stints labouring in the oil palm plantations and forests of East Malaysia and the women who’d been working as domestics in Malaysia or far-off Saudi Arabia and other points in the Arab world.

    What the dock at Larantuka lacked in modern loading equipment was more than compensated for by the array of willing hands who man-handled cargo aboard – sacks of rice, tins of cooking oil, hands of bananas and passengers’ belongings.

    Passengers found comfort where they could. The benches below deck were fully occupied with women, children and the elderly. Men and youths arranged themselves atop the rice sacks, chatting and smoking amiably, excited to be going home again. I found myself a comfortable spot. Before long we weighed anchor and were soon sliding across a silent, unruffled sea our only company the sound of Sinar’s marine diesel humming away to stern.

    The bulk of Solor appeared to starboard. At first a smudge, it became more distinct with each passing minute. Jungle-clad hills tumbled down to kiss un-walked beaches. Nary a town or village inhabited this rugged side of the island. Ahead of us and slightly to port, Ili Boleng, Adonara’s silent sentinel, stood watch over the narrow strait just as she had when Alfred Russell Wallace, of The Malay Archipelago fame, passed this way in 1860. Outwardly, the scene had not changed much, the only sign of habitation being a communication tower that rose, red and white striped, from a prominent headland. Although things looked the same from afar, up close much had changed: the modern world has reached even this far-flung corner of Indonesia.

    After an hour we crept closer to Adonara’s shore and saw the first signs of life. A truck was picking its way slowly along a track and houses appeared adjacent to the beach. Further along the minarets of Adonara’s mosque, and the spires of a church, poked above the trees. Our captain piloted Sinar toward the jetty where an excited crowd waited, eager to be re-united with loved ones; several men leapt from the cargo to embrace their children. The crew had witnessed this joyous scene time and again for the Sinar Mutiara was the umbilical cord connecting these folk to their home island.

    We tied up for half an hour as passengers disembarked and cargo was unloaded. People and goods bound for Lewoleba were taken on board. The last item to be loaded was a half-grown steer destined for a wedding feast. It lay on the edge of the dock, feet trussed, wild-eyed and breathing heavily. Slings were somehow threaded beneath the beast and a group of men tugged and struggled to pull it aboard. With a final effort they managed and the poor animal fell to the vessel’s deck landing with a thud. It struggled and kicked briefly and then lay back exhausted, seemingly resigned to its fate.

    We cast off and motored away. Before long, Ili Api appeared in the distance. I watched fascinated as its outline began to take shape. It formed a magnificent backdrop to the vessels that passed by to port, their wash insufficient to cause even the slightest imbalance to our equilibrium. We passed secluded coves where golden sands were caressed by the gentle rippling of the sea. These sheltered waters had played host to the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the English and the occasional privateer in search of a spice or silver-laden prize. I imagined the galleons and caravelles, and could almost feel the ghosts of mariners past as we journeyed onwards through the Solor Strait.

    Four hours after departing Larantuka and I was striding out of Lewoleba’s harbour gates. Just a couple of kilometres down the road I found what I was looking for – Lile Ili Homestay. Owned and operated by Jim, a Dutch-Indonesian who’d taken root on Lembata after being raised in Amsterdam and travelling the world, I’d stayed there before and loved the place. Built entirely of massive local timbers, it was not flash, but it was homely and welcoming and commanded magnificent views of Ili Api, across the bay.

    I stowed my gear and went for a walk around town. This didn’t take long. The only bank was a tiny branch of the BNI – Bank Negara Indonesia. The town consisted of a few pitted streets lined with shops and a hotch-potch of dwellings, warehouses, warungs, a couple of hotels, some workshops and a lone pool hall full of idlers. I returned to Lile Ili and had a snooze.

    When I woke it was food o’clock so I wandered off in the direction of the port. On the way in I’d spotted a neon sign: “Restoran Moting Lomblen.” It was a large, canopy-covered, outdoor setting with a stage at one end. Plastic chairs and tables were arranged as if for a wedding reception, and that indeed, as I was to find out later, was the primary source of its business.

    On this particular night, I was the only customer, so, to my delight, I had the undivided attention of Alex the manager and his staff of six fantastic waitresses and cooks. These people treated me as if I was some long lost prodigal son who had just returned to the bosom of his family. I dined royally on succulent barbequed snapper and bream, accompanied by delicious pelecing kankung (spicy spinach) and nasi goreng washed down with an icy cold Bintang.

    The girls and Alex joined me while I ate. I was the first outsider to drop by for the year and we were already into May. They were keen to talk about my travels to date and my plans for Lembata. On hearing that I planned to climb Ili Api, Alex’s became animated. His brother, Petrus, lived in Lamagute village astride the beach adjacent to the base of the mountain. From here it would be a ‘short walk’ to the summit – 1423m above sea level. I could stay with Petrus and he would find a reliable guide for me. Alex could arrange it all should I be willing to place my trust in him. I didn’t think twice about his offer. I knew it to be genuine so I arranged to return the following evening to get the directions and the go-ahead to set off for Lamagute.

    Alex was as good as his word. I spent another wonderful evening dining and joking with him and the girls before returning late to Lile Ili armed with the information I needed for the journey to Lamagute. I fell into bed primed for a good night’s sleep.

    I woke, showered and made ready to depart. After a leisurely breakfast on the wide deck where I had a clear view of Ili Api I bade goodbye to Jim. The ojek rider I’d contracted for the ride fired up the Honda I’d hired and we set off to find the coast road to the north-east. It wasn’t long before we were clear of the town and threading our way past little fishing kampongs, the men busy repairing their nets, the women washing children at the well or roasting corn on tiny fires outside their houses.

    The road, winding and narrow with lots of sand build-up on the corners, skirted the sea. It was bordered on both sides by stands of coconut. We took our time, luxuriating in the freedom of the ride. I could not stop thinking about the prospect of a great adventure waiting for me at the end – Ili Api!

    We stopped for a coffee at a roadside stall and were soon surrounded by the entire village all wanted to know where I was from and where I was going. Smiles all round they gave me a wave and wished me well on my journey.

    When we reached Lamagute I paid off the ojek rider and wished him well. It seemed that everyone knew I was coming. I was taken immediately to Petrus’ house where I was shown to a small room and made to feel at home. With a coffee in hand we sat on the front veranda to enjoy the view of the sea just a stone’s throw away. The neighbours called in to meet me – I met a lot of people that day! Petrus told me that Linus, my guide, would drop by in the early evening so, in the meantime, I went for a swim and explored the nearby coast.

    After dinner, cooked by Petrus’ granddaughter Maria, we sat out on the veranda chatting. I took a lot of people’s photos which caused a huge amount of interest and a great deal of mirth. Linus arrived as promised and we discussed the arrangements for the climb. Linus was dark and wiry. He’d spent 12 years driving timber trucks in Borneo. He didn’t say much; he didn’t have to as he knew what he was about. He said he’d come for me about 3.00am. Then he was off. I too turned in for it was already late.

    Linus duly arrived armed with a machete and a plastic bag. He wore shorts and a pair of flip-flops. We set off through the village and were soon climbing steadily up a rocky track that wound between fields of shoulder-high corn. The full moon cast a silvery glow over our progress which was rapid. I soon had a good sweat up and was thankful I’d decided that shorts, tee-shirt and runners were all that were needed for the climb.

    After a while we left the cultivated zone and entered a eucalypt forest. There was a great deal of fallen timber which we picked our way over, under and around. Linus explained that a couple of years ago they’d been a fire which burnt out and weakened a lot of trees; many had subsequently fallen during the brief monsoon season. It was tough going but we only took brief rests.
    Climbing higher the timber began to thin out and we found ourselves up against a barrier – our way was blocked by thick alang-alang. Linus told me to take a break while he got to work with the parang. The razor-sharp implement, put to good use, soon had us moving onwards and upwards again but progress was slow. We took turns hacking away. Fortunately there was no dew otherwise we would have been drenched.

    We persisted and after a struggle we reached a zone of low spinifex. We could feel the ground beneath our feet changing. It was now coarse and gravelly. Small stones and loose rocks appeared; the danger of a turned ankle dogged my every step. We were two hours in to the trip.

    The longer we climbed the steeper the terrain became. Vegetation was very sparse. We had reached the lava flow – rough scoria, loose, slippery and sometimes sharp. One of Linus’ thongs has broken so he’d ditched them. He made his way just as before on soles of iron. I couldn’t have done it in a million years.

    Around 5.30 the sky was began to lighten. We could make out the crater rim up ahead. It didn’t seem far but experience told me these impressions were often deceptive. We trudged on, hearts keeping pace with the gradient, the sky changing from magenta to blue and then reddening in the east. We took a rest. The mountain fell away dramatically to meet the dark shadow of the sea far below. Then the light washed across the sky. Tiny specks of fishing boats and houses appeared; soon the village would wake again.

    Unfortunately, some heavy cloud compromised the sunrise but the sight that met us when we reached the crater rim was fair compensation. We stared down into an alien world of jagged black rock, lava and solidified white sulphur. A serrated crater rim encircled this 200m deep abyss where from deep within vents emitted streams of sulphurous vapours – Dante’s inferno minus the flames. Our eyes stung. Between fits of coughing we gulped down water, ate a few bananas and rested. Linus mentioned it had been eighteen months since anyone had made the climb. I felt privileged to have made it to a spot so seldom visited. Lewotolo’s last eruption was in 1951 however she always remained tetchy, exhibiting regular bouts of incandescence and fumarolic activity. Stinging eyes made me think that another eruption would not surprise.

    We took a few photos and lingered to enjoy the magnificent view. My mind turned to the next stage of the trip. After the descent I faced the delicious prospect of enjoying a few more ikan bakar dinners with Alex and the crew before the inevitable surrender to the siren call of the road. The long traverse of Flores and Sumbawa, back to home base in Kuta, Lombok, beckoned. I got to my feet, looked at Linus and said, ‘Marilah’. And with that we switched our attention to the job at hand and set off back down the mountain.

    Posted by merantau | January 21, 2013, 10:55
  7. avatar

    The route I took to Lewotolo was as follows: ojek (motorcycle) from Lewoleba to a village called “Lamagute”. It was right by the sea and from memory the trip there took about 45 minutes. I stayed with the brother of Alex Making. He is (was) the manager of “Restaurant Moting Lomblen” which is a big open air place on the left hand side of the road as you walk into Lewoleba from the port. It’s only 1 – 1.5 km from the port. Alex was a really good man. His brother was good too but I forget his name. In Lamagute I teamed up with Linus an experienced man who took me up and back. Linus doesn’t speak English. He had spent a few years working in the forests in Sabah. The people in Lamagute were very friendly and hospitable. I had the best time eating at Moting Lomlen. Each night there I was the only customer. The food was fantastic and the waitresses were just great girls. I would love to drop in there again one day and catch up with Alex and the crew.

    Posted by merantau | January 23, 2012, 16:57
  8. avatar

    Hello Rick. I climbed Ilie Api (Lewotolo ) in 2008. If you have any questions email me.

    Posted by merantau | January 6, 2012, 16:45
  9. avatar

    I’d like to see and discuss your 2008 photos. Please contact me.

    Rick Wunderman,
    Smithsonian Inst.
    Volcanologist

    Posted by rick wunderman | January 6, 2012, 02:59
  10. avatar

    I climbed Lewotolo in May ’08. I have some good photos which I will post once I find out how to. Everyone seemed to call it ‘Ile Api’. It was a great experience. I took aguide as you would never do it in the dark without one. We left at 3am. The trip up was about 3 hours. The way was very overgrown in parts as only one person went up in 2007 and I was the first in 2008. The crater is not too deep and you can get down it but I didn’t. The views are spectacular. It was not cold – I climbed in shorts and tee-shirt. The climb was strenuous as we did it quickly. I am 60 years old but I am fit. You will enjoy this climb

    Posted by merantau | February 26, 2010, 01:16

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