// Liman

Facts

Elevation: 2,563 m (8,409 ft) Prominence: 2,130 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerTinggi Sedang Province: Jawa Timur (East Java)
Google Earth: kml Other names: Ngliman, Wilis
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Photos

LimanNext »
The vast Liman range as seen from the train between Madiun and Nganjuk before dawn - Limas is the peak on the left (Daniel Quinn, December 2010)The vast Liman range as seen from the train between Madiun and Nganjuk before dawn – Limas is the peak on the left (Daniel Quinn, December 2010)
The vast Liman range as seen from the train between Madiun and Nganjuk before dawn – Limas is the peak on the left (Daniel Quinn, December 2010)
The vast Liman range as seen from the train between Madiun and Nganjuk at dawn (Daniel Quinn, December 2010)The vast Liman range as seen from the train between Madiun and Nganjuk at dawn (Daniel Quinn, December 2010)
The vast Liman range as seen from the train between Madiun and Nganjuk at dawn (Daniel Quinn, December 2010)
Police arrive for negotiations on Gunung Liman! (Dan Quinn, December 2012)Police arrive for negotiations on Gunung Liman! (Dan Quinn, December 2012)
Police arrive for negotiations on Gunung Liman! (Dan Quinn, December 2012)
The Pulosari starting point on Gunung Liman (Dan Quinn, December 2012)The Pulosari starting point on Gunung Liman (Dan Quinn, December 2012)
The Pulosari starting point on Gunung Liman (Dan Quinn, December 2012)

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Bagging It!

This peak is the highest point of a vast and complex mountain range most commonly-known as Wilis. There are three main peaks: Liman (the ridge to the west), Limas (east) and Wilis (south) but there are a large number of other peaks with considerable drops between them. Wilis is the most well-known name and Limas is the most often often climbed (from the Kediri side at Besuki.) However, Liman itself is rarely climbed and unfortunately access is a grey area. Technically, it would appear that the most of the mountain range is closed for ordinary access (unless you are conducting scientific research, for example) and this has been the case since 2006, presumably when a change in the forestry law, or the implementation of a new one, closed access to wild places across Java if they were not on a recognised climbing lane.

For ascents from Kediri or Sedudo waterfall near Nganjuk, you may be able to obtain special permission from KPH in Kediri, but even if you get lucky they are likely to send their staff members on the expedition with you – and charge a considerable price for it. It’s a bizarre and incomprehensible situation given the popularity of hiking in the province and the fact that more hikers means more people visiting the area and hence more revenue for local people. So, you can either get on with it yourself, ignoring the strict rules (which are, or course, ignored by local farmers anyway) or attempt bureaucratic negotiations which are tiresome and often unpleasant. Finding local guides can also be difficult because so few people know the mountain range.

From Sedudo waterall, Nganjuk:

At first glance, the most accessible starting point would appear to be Sedudo.  The waterfall is a popular place with local people and is indeed very impressive. It is about one hour by motor vehicle from the friendly and laidback town of Nganjuk via Sawahan. The entrance gates and ticket booth are at an elevation of 930m but the road itself leads all the way to the waterfall itself at 1,292m. From here, steps lead down to the waterfall and a trail leads across to the right along the side of the ridge to the right of the waterfall. This vague and overgrown path is very tiresome to follow in the heat and makes for incredibly slow progress but it does eventually lead up to the top of a ridge (1,388m) which has a reasonable path running along the top of it, used by local farmers. There are good views eastwards to Penanggungan and Arjuno-Welirang in the distance and a small hill in the north, lying north of Nganjuk, labelled Gunung Gede on Google Maps but seemingly known as Gunung Pandan to local people.

From the trail on the ridge, you would be forgiven for thinking that it would be an easy stroll southwards up onto the highest parts of the ridge. After a kilometre or so of steady climbing along a perceivable path, the trail almost entirely disintegrates, at an elevation of about 1,750m. This is perhaps because local farmers do not climb much higher than this and very few people climb this way.

The terrain is very troublesome – steep, sometimes bouldery long grass where you never know just how or where you next step is going to land. Overgrown is an understatement. It is assumed that the terrain is similar for much of the Liman ridge, sadly due to the fact that it is so rarely hiked at the present time and it would be a rather time-consuming expedition to reach the highest point of the range from this route.

From Pulosari, Kare, Madiun:

Better still is to start from the Madiun side at the tiny hamlet of Pulosari (1,250m) near the town of Kare. Local hikers should have no problem if they bring photocopies of their ID cards to the security post at Kempo (900m) but foreigners hardly ever climb this mountain range so eyebrows are likely to be raised and senior security officers and police asked if it is ok for you to proceed. Even with local hikers as guides and photocopies of your passport you should expect to have to wait a couple of hours for clearance.

Motorbikes or 4WD are essential to reach the trailheadf at Pulosari because the plantation track is in poor condition and often muddy during the rainy season. From Pulosari, the trail leads up along a overgrown ridge on which are a couple of cement markers (first is at 1,445m). The best advice that is simple to remember is to ‘stay to the right’ because there is a junction (1,450m) just an hour beyond Pulosari where the trail to Liman leaves the main trail (which continues, flat, into the forest). There is another cement marker at 1,525m. The trees in this area were badly damaged by forest fires in September/October 2012 and so the trail is almost impossible to see at this point.

A little higher up, you reach a field of tall grass (1,600m) through which runs a very clear footpath. 20 minutes beyond this is a small shelter at the entrance to the forest (1,630m). After about 30 minutes ascending in the forest, the trail leads out onto the grassy, overgrown ridge of the mountain (1,730m). Gloves are advisable because this grass can be razor-sharp. Unfortunately the terrain remains like this for much of the rest of the climb, but the frustrating nature of the trail is somewhat balanced by the pleasant views which improve with every metre gained. A decent place to rest is Watu Ombo (2,085) – a jumble of rocks one of which is large and flat – perfect for sitting on. After a total of around 5 hours you will have reached an excellent flat area of short grass perfect for camping (2,200m) just beyond a couple of rocks incluing Watu Garuda – ‘Garuda Rock’. In good weather you can see Lawu to the west and the city of Madiun to the north.

From the camping area it is still about 2 and a half hours to the northern Liman peak (2,552m on Bako maps) and another 1 and a half hours to the southern, higher Liman peak (2,555m on Bako maps) so a very early start is essential if you want to be back down in Madiun by the end of your second day. The distance is not so great but the terrain remains tough to negotiate for much of the journey and a machete may be helpful.

Just southeast of the camping area is a minor top, Puncak Batas (2,355m), named so because it has a boundary marker at the summit. The trail then drops down a little bit before meeting the vague trail up from Sedudo at a wooden ‘x’ sign (2,345m). The next point of interest is another boundary marker (2,475m) before a small shelter and grave (2,528m), complete with incense sticks and signs that someone stays here from time to time just north of the northern top. From this area you can enjoy views through the trees to the lesser summit of Limas to the east in the direction of Kediri. The northern top (2,560m on GPS, 2,552m on Bako maps) is just ten minutes further and features a small, oval stone structure built into the ground which may or may not be another ancient grave.

From here it is another 1.5 kilometres southwest as the ridge curves round (and an unbelievable 2 hours) of hard slogging through seriously overgrown terrain to reach the southern top (about 2,565m on my GPS and 2,555m on Bako maps, though some devices suggest less of a difference – if any – between this and the more northern top) which is according to both Bako and Google Earth the highest top of the entire range. Very, very few people ever continue beyond the northern top. Between the two highest peaks is a middle top which yet again features a small grave of unknown antiquity and another boundary marker (figure approaching 2,560m on my GPS). The mountain ridge then descends to a col where lots of wild pig (‘babi hutan’) droppings can be seen. Pick your way through the dense undergrowth and ascend up the steep, final section of the climb to the supposed true highpoint of this remote mountain area.

The highest point itself is at a pine tree into which someone has inscribed ‘GI 2010′. Be careful here because there are lots of holes between rotten tree stumps. To have made it this far – onto one of the most remote and least-visited high points of Java – you deserve a serious pat on the back. Enjoy the views before slogging all the way back to camp and back down to Pulosari (reached in 7 hours total by fast hikers) or spend another night back at the Watu Garuda camp area.

Once out of the forest on the way down towards Pulosari, make sure you do not simply follow the good path through the long grass. You need to take a slight left and head down the scrubby, partially-burnt ridge on which are the couple of cement posts. Making this mistake could leave you in a very remote area far from Pulosari so take extra special care at this point.

Because the higher of the two highest peaks is the more southwestern, an approach from Pundak Kulon may be an attractive option, although this is a more remote area and no signs of a trail leading up from that side were spotted during a December 2012 trip to the highest top.

Bagging information by Daniel Quinn (January 2013)

Practicalities

Getting there One or two express trains between Jakarta and Malang/Surabaya/Jombang call at Nganjuk and many call at Madiun. For Sedudo from Nganjuk there are angkots to Pasar Sawahan (Rp 7,000) from where you can get an ojek to Sedudo waterfall. For Pulosari you really need locals with motorbikes or a 4WD.
Accommodation There are several hotels in Nganjuk and Madiun.
Permits You may wish to speak to KPH (Kesatuan Pemangku Hutan) in Kediri but if you start from Pulosari near Kare you may find things easier to arrange with local security and police officials.
Water sources Available at Sedudo waterfall but none available higher up or on other access routes. Take more than you need for what is a very wild hike.
Recommended Hotel:
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm): solo

Location

Origins and Meaning

Elephant Mountain. Liman is the high Javanese (krama) word for “elephant”. Elephants used to be fairly plentiful in Java but they have now died out completely on the island. Nevertheless there are several place names that recall the presence of elephants, including Gunung Liman which (presumably) is so called because it has the big, solid, greyish appearance of an elephant. Gunung Wilis = Dark Green Mountain. In Javanese wilis means “dark green”, especially dark burnished green like the shiny dark metallic green on the wings of a beetle. (George Quinn, 2011)

Links and References

Wikipedia English
Wikipedia Indonesia

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Trip Reports and Comments

15 entries for “Liman”

  1. avatar

    Just got back from an Xmas attempt on this utter swine of a mountain! As if the forestry bureacracy is not enough of a hindrance, the terrain makes for incredibly slow going, certainly from the Sedudo side. A very pleasant friend of a friend helped arrange a quasi-legal trip up this route (involving throwing lots of tree seeds onto the grassy ridges) but, other than a few nice views, it was a totally joyless trip.
    I got the Bangunkarta night train from Jakarta to Jombang which stops at Nganjuk, to meet a really nice guy at the station who took us up to Sedudo.
    In the end, there were no less than 6 people with me, some ‘offically’, some local hikers tagging along, but as per usual in this country, it’s the white person who always pays the bill, even if you’re already paying! It took us ages to get started from the waterfall warungs (after I was expected to pay for a breakfast of noodles and kopi jahe for everyone, on top of the agreed fee – some people really do think money grows on trees where ‘bule’ come from). The weather was very good for December but once on the ridges spent a lot of time waiting whilst others threw tree seeds around – a considerable delay to progress and somewhat offensive and lacking in manners given that I had paid 1 million rupiah for this hike with the expressed intention of reaching the highest point of the range – an important piece of information which hadn’t been passed on to the Kediri chaps, who questioned the accuracy of both Bakosurtanal maps and GPS information from Google Earth! Some of the names on the Bako maps could well be inaccurate but it’s amusing how the peak called ‘Liman’ or whatever your target is called happens to be the nearest and less high one! It’s times like these that guides seem to be more of a hindrance than a help. I would have been better off – and happier – on my own!
    As I wrote above, once you’re on the path on the ridge to the right of the waterfall it is pretty pleasant but by 1,750m the terrain was some of the worst I have come across. After 6 hours (2 hours of waiting around, 4 hours of hiking) I looked at my GPS which told us we were just 1.3km from the starting point and still almost 4km from the highest peak (in a straight line). The clouds had also descended by this time. We were at just 1,900m and I decided we should just turn round and descend as the chances of getting to our destination was out of the question in the time we had remaining on this sort of terrain. It could be that the top ridge has a better quality of trail on it – I hope to try from the Madiun (Kare) side one day.
    Perhaps I was being lazy to turn back, but the decision of a hotel bed in Nganjuk or a boring, tiresome and unecessary evening halfway to the highest peak with some people – who were quite clearly not interested in what the point of the trip was – seemed obvious! I just couldn’t be bothered by this point. We headed back down to the warungs near the waterfall (under 2 hours) and, after the Kediri lads made one last attempt to utilise whatever was left in the bule’s wallet, headed back into Nganjuk for a rest.
    It a real shame that there is no more done to encourage access to places such as Liman – it is pretty obvious that if there was a well-used trail it would be a brlliant hike with phenomenal views of other peaks in East Java and would be of great benefit to all. You have to wonder just what purpose a forestry/National Park law serves if it means limiting access to the outdoors in this way. Liman is one to file alongside Ijen-Merapi and Baluran n East Java and Salak 2 and Halimun in West Java – all peaks officially closed to the general public for mystifying reasons.

    Posted by Dan | December 25, 2010, 02:55
  2. avatar

    Some good news – there is a route up to the Liman ridge from Kare near Madiun. The bad news is it is quite a mission – 2 days up, one day back down, according to a local hiker. He has not climbed since 1999 so the terrain may be even tougher now. I hope to try again, from this approach, in July or August.

    Posted by Dan | December 27, 2010, 11:02
  3. avatar

    Do you know the Rorokuning approach/route? Rorokuning is a waterfall some 10 km east of Sedudo. Some hikers say this route leads to G Liman (2563m).

    Posted by Handjono | January 6, 2011, 12:49
  4. avatar

    Hi Handjono
    Thanks for the information but I would expect a route 10km to the east to be a lot further from Liman – maybe they’re thinking of Limas???
    I’m going to try from Kare (via Madiun) in April or May or June.

    Posted by Dan | January 6, 2011, 17:08
  5. avatar

    @DAN, if you ask someone or group of people to go along with you on a trip, it’s *the* custom that you take care of the bill. So it has lesser to do with the fact that you’re a foreigner. Besides, it’s not like prices are very expensive anyway. Noodle is peasant food. How much did you pay for the whole group, $5, $10? C’mon let’s not be too tight about it.

    Posted by Jack | September 21, 2012, 08:11
    • avatar

      There’s nothing tight about paying well over a million rupiah to be ‘allowed’ to climb a mountain with a group of people some of whom clearly detest foreigners and whose only goal is extracting as much cash as they can without mugging you. If I hadn’t have needed to ask them to come along to make the ascent ‘quasi-legal’, believe me I wouldn’t have bothered with them at all.
      Thankfully this is the exception rather than the norm and there are another couple of potential routes up Liman which are worth checking out.

      Posted by Dan | September 21, 2012, 09:03
      • avatar

        As you said, the climb is quasi legal, and that’s what you paid the one million for, not for some kind of professional hiking escort service. But that’s not the point. I was just pointing out the custom on who are supposed to pay the bill.

        Not sure if this is a local custom or Javanese custom, but when you’re traveling in a group, it is considered selfish or at least awkward to pay just for oneself and leave. On the other hand, it is too costly for one of them to pay for everyone. That’s why the wealthier is supposed to know this and take care of it before anyone else. Yeah, paying time is always an awkward situation here.

        Sorry that you’ve had unpleasing experience here, but to say that people detest foreigners is very strong words and I quite resent that. As I said they only had instant noodle which is far away from proper food. The one that got away with one million is probably different people (most likely their boss).

        Posted by Jack | September 21, 2012, 12:09
  6. avatar

    Well, as far as I could tell, the ‘officials’ who came on this particular hike did have a disliking or a grudge towards foreigners and did view the ‘bule’ as nothing more than an ATM. Unpleasant in any country and in any situation of that sort for anyone. However, I would say it is still pretty rare in Indonesia and in most countries. I was unable to have much conversation with the ‘officials’ as they appeared dismissive and uninterested in communication except to dismiss the information on a perfectly-reliable Bakosurtanal map. There were there for one thing – uang. That is fair enough, no problem with that, but at least have a little respect for others on the hike regardless of the colour of their skin or the fatness of their wallets. The locals hikers were very pleasant but the trip itself was a poorly-organised shambles entirely because of the selfishness of the ‘officials’ and despite the best efforts of a couple of local hikers to make it a success.

    Funny situation when it’s considered selfish to only pay for yourself but acceptable to get someone else to pay for everything for you and your mates. However, if the payer offers to do so then fine, as I would have done had the ‘officials’ been a little more pleasant.

    Putting to one side the issue of who pays for what, there is a more important issue which is to do with basic, fundamental human decency that goes beyond any local custom and applies (or should apply) to all of humanity. Unfortunately, said ‘officials’ showed none of this whatsoever and proceeded to take advantage of the situation to the fullest extent possible, little care for anyone but themselves.

    I’m not quite sure why you are so concerned, Jack. After all, you weren’t even there (as far as I know) so why the need to defend people you’ve never met and in circumstances you were not involved in? Whenever a criticism is aired in Indonesia, people jump to defend whatever it is that is being criticised. Trouble is, criticisms are sometimes appropriate and it is through them that progress can be made.

    This hike was quite some time ago now and although it stays in my memory as one of the least enjoyable it doesn’t particularly bother me and even serves as a rather humorous anecdote (funny how that often happens over time to some of the trips that seemed really annoying at the time). I hope to head out that way again this year for an attempt from a different direction.

    Posted by Dan | September 21, 2012, 14:14
    • avatar

      Well the impression that I got from your original comment is that as if everyone here detests and ready to take advantage of foreigners, especially white people. I’m from Kediri, and frankly I was offended with the comment.

      But now that you made it clear that it was only the ‘officials’ that got you all upset, well, what can I say, sometimes you met bad people..

      Posted by Jack | September 21, 2012, 18:45
  7. avatar

    I have to admit I didn’t think this one would be successful. I’d had serious problems both with legal access and the terrain itself in the past and, having already climbed Ringgit and Argopuro, I thought maybe I should let this one go and come back another time. However, my feet were fine after one day of rest in Madiun and local hikers Madat Yosa and Chandra seemed very keen to help myself and Roman attempt to reach both of the highest tops from Pulosari. The rest day was spent devouring the local vegetarian-friendly dish of Nasi Pecel.

    The lads picked us up with their motorbikes just after 5am and we were off up to Pulosari. It took about 90 minutes to reach the security checkpoint in the plantations at Kempo where the officers were rather bemused to find foreigners wishing to climb the mountain. To cut a long story short we had to wait for a police van to arrive from Kare to ask us what our plan was and then wait again for an officer to drive up all the way from Madiun. This amounted to about 3 hours and I was close to giving up due to the lack of remaining daylight hours needed to get up to camp or beyond. We were also doubtful that they would let us proceed but amazingly the officer from Madiun was very pleasant and let us on our way almost immediately (I would have to collect my KITAS the following day from the police office in Kare). He probably wondered why he had be called out all the way up here just to give the go ahead for some hikers to go hiking. Bizarre.

    We left the motorbikes with the very pleasant villagers at Pulosari (another 25 minutes of so up the rough plantation tracks) and finally set off hiking at around 10.30am or so. Myself and Roman were well ahead of the pack who were perhaps confused as to how a beer-bellied Englishman and senior Swiss gent could ascend so fast through such difficult, unpleasant and tiresome undergrowth terrain!

    We took a rest at Watu Ombo, about 30 minutes before reaching the Watu Garuda area where we decided to camp rather than lug all our tent gear higher up the trail and risk camping separately from the others. The sunset was very pleasant with decent views of Gunung Lawu peeking through the clouds and the lights of Madiun in the distance. At around 2,200m the temperature was fairly pleasant too.

    The plan was to get up at 2.30am for a 3am departure in order to reach both summits and make it back down to Madiun the same evening. We finally set off at about 4am but two hikers decided to turn back on Puncak Batas and a further hiker left us at the southern peak. It was just the four of us who battled onwards along the densely-vegetated and overgrown ridges at a pace of about 1km per hour to make it to the marginally higher southern top for 8am. An exhausting but successful hike.

    After the obligatory summit photos myself and Roman set off back down the trail with a plan to meet everyone back at camp which we would leave around 12 noon in order to try to make it back to Madiun before dark. As it turned out, the local hikers were totally knackered and wanted to spend a bit more time (i.e one more night) on the mountain before descending. So myself and Roman descended alone.

    We got a bit lost once out of the forest section but with the invaluable help of my GPS we managed to get back on track at the vague section that could cause serious confusion to any hikers without enough waypoints.

    Our feet were soaked and sore by the time we made it down to Pulosari but local farmer lads gave us a ride down into Kare where I collected my KITAS. The police agreed to drive us back to the hotel in Madiun (Rp 200,000) rather than us having to sit on more motorbikes with our backpacks. More Nasi Pecel was devoured and our feet left to recover. The following day I boarded the Bangunkarta night train back to Jakarta and spent a rather subdued New Year’s Eve asking the staff in the dining car why it was now no longer possible to drink, smoke and do dangdut karaoke onboard the kereta api.

    Look forward to hearing of any other hikers who attempt this rather mysterious, special mountain.

    Posted by Dan | January 2, 2013, 15:12
  8. avatar

    Congratulation Dan. I was born and grew up in Nganjuk and have been admiring G Wilis range since long time ago. But never got the convincing information so far how to get to the 2563m peak. Also not from a fellow hiker from Nganjuk. Still longing to reach the peak from Sedudo someday.

    Posted by Handjono | January 3, 2013, 22:34
  9. avatar

    One more thing, what is so special about it? The difficulties, the view, the people, the forest, the waterfall, the leeches ……?

    Posted by Handjono | January 3, 2013, 22:35
  10. avatar

    I guess this G Wilis range peak is one of the least hiked peak in Java. Perhaps only second to G Suket (2900m), the peak east of G Raung. Although quite high it is rarely hiked.

    Posted by Handjono | January 5, 2013, 15:27
  11. avatar

    Just went down from Liman from Sedudo trail with a successfully climbed southern peak. Its was a rather tough hike due to some bureaucratic obstacles, I asked around warungs and security where is a start of the trail, but its seemed nobody knews it or more likely they intentionaly did not want to reveal it due to security reason. So i decided to search the trail by chance by ascending a left ridge from the waterfall. Its was very exhausting task which involved a rock scrambling and wading the bushes, but fortunately the vegetation was not so thick so finally I managed to get to the top of the ridge. Was no any path visible there, but I just simply walk between the pine trees until encountered a vertical unclimbable rocks. Then its decided to descend to the nearby flowing river and to ascend to the another paralel ridgeto the right, which looked more obviesly leading to the peak. Its slope was incredibly steep and rocky, but after all I arrived to the top of that ridge and the trail was just there, reasonably clear. I was too tired, anyway still proceeded further up. The terrain was almost completely grassy and the trail often hidden under the grass, but it was in good condition anyway, despite that is quite rare used from this side. During a climb there was no a single flat place for the tend, so I had to get as high as a main Liman ridge where there must be a junction to Pulosari route, but I did not noticed it. On the northern top there is any sign of the Liman peak, only a indonesian flag put in the tree and a hole, presumably used to accumulate a water in the rainy season.
    After northern and southern peak is a rather hard terrain through thick grasses and fallen trunks which took me about 1 and a half hour including the time to enjoy a views which was really stunning and more open than from the northern peak. From this side there was very few evidence of someone presence.
    The return way took me just about 3 and half hours down to Sedudo

    Posted by Mykhail Pavliuk | September 4, 2014, 14:34

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