Maras (Bui)

Facts

Elevation: 705 m (2,313 ft) Prominence: 705 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerSpesial Province: Bangka Belitung
Google Earth: kml Other names:  
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Bagging It!

Gunung Maras is the name given to the largest mountain range on the island of Bangka. Whilst not especially high by Indonesian standards, it consists of two fairly separate peaks with a not inconsiderable drop between them.  The range is one of the best places on the island to spot wildlife and the higher slopes offer some decent panoramas of the land below and coastline in the distance.

The northwestern of the two peaks is the most commonly-hiked, and there is even a sign for Gunung Maras at the village of Berbura which lies to the north of the range (about 1hr 30min from the main town of Pangkal Pinang by car or motorbike). This peak is generally known as Gunung Maras, although at 699m – or possibly less – it is actually the second-highest. The true summit is the southeastern one, which is rarely climbed and probably known as Bui.

The regular trail up the northwestern peak starts at Desa Berbura at an elevation of just 50m. It is important to start as early as possible and to take plenty of water with you. The earth here is sandy, and as the trail leads through rubber plantations you will find yourself walking on the sort of earth you might normally expect on a beach known as ‘pasir putih’ to Indonesians. You will see the mountain straight ahead with a number of minor tops.

After a short while you will have reached a small junction near a river. Straight on is a litter-strewn bathing area and right leads up the mountain itself. The trail passes through patchy woodland offering some decent views to the valley below and Teluk Kelabat beyond to the north and northwest. You may be able to pick out the small island possibly still known as Pulau Kajuanak.

After an hour you will be in an area which offers a great view of Gunung Maras above. Sadly, this great view was made possible by a forest fire in the last year. The trail from this point steepens and begins to feel more mountain-like as you gain the ridge. From an elevation of around 500m or so you may be able to spot pitcher plants – Nepenthes Reinwardtiana – growing near the path. There is also a rock with a very interesting pattern in it which appears to be an ancient carving. This object deserves further research by experts.

The first ‘summit’ you reach is a large wooded area where locals often camp at the weekends and enjoy the views. It should have taken you no more than 2 hours to reach this point. However, another 15-20 minutes will take you to a grassy peak with an Indonesian flag. This grassy peak is around 695m in elevation and in clear weather the views are very nice.

Alas, the highest point of the range, probably known as Bui, is 1.25km to the southeast and via a steep drop down to a col. Bui appears to be 705m, according to archival US Army Mapping Service (AMS) maps from the 1940s. The same figure of 705m on modern provincial maps of Bangka Belitung is given as the highest point, which conflicts with the more commonly found figure of 699m for Maras itself. The accessible grassy peak known as Maras to most local hikers probably is around 699m or perhaps a little under, but at over 700m Bui is the true peak. The 1940s maps suggest that there is a trig point at the summit of Bui, so this deserves further investigation too.

To get back down to the trailhead from the grassy peak is less than 2 hours. For those wishing to try to reach Bui from this side, it may take a few more hours so you might consider camping at the grassy peak, or trying to reach Bui and return the same day, or else trying a different route entirely.

Bagging information by Dan Quinn (May 2017)

Practicalities

Getting there Numerous flights from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang every day. It takes about 1hr 30min by car or motorbike from Pangkal Pinang to the mountain range.
Accommodation Several options including both city hotels and beach resorts.
Permits None required but take a copy of your passport photo page just incase.
Water sources The waterfall area at the foot of the mountain (100m above sea level only).
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):

Location

Links and References

Wikipedia Indonesia

One thought on “Maras (Bui)

  1. After adding the highpoints of Bangka and Belitung islands to the list of Spesials, I decided to have a look into whether or not it would be possible to bag both in one weekend from Jakarta. Flights are very affordable, and if you can get away on late Friday afternoon it is potentially doable.
    The usual issues of unreliable or vague information meant that this was a totally exploratory trip which could have gone either way. In the end, it turned out reasonably well, though I may have to head back to Bangka again at some point for a second hike.
    Arriving at Pangkal Pinang airport felt similar to arriving to Bintan’s Tanjung Pinang airport – not because of the similar name but because of the smart new airport buildings which felt very similar and totally unlike my first experiences several years ago. An airport taxi into town is Rp60,000 for a short 15min ride – I imagine you could get an ojek much cheaper if you were willing to walk half a kilometre first.
    Some hotels near the alun-alun were overpriced or full but the Jati Wisata was neither so I booked in there for the night and asked at reception if they knew anyone who had hiked up Gunung Maras and was up for it the following morning. I also left my number at the Eiger store and chatted to a few locals in the street and in the alun-alun. This being the night before the start of Ramadan, finding a guide or even someone who was not otherwise engaged the following morning was not an easy task.
    By 10.30pm I had heard nothing positive back from anyone and was exhausted so fell asleep. Not long after, I got a message from a shisha seller from the alun-alun saying he had found me a guide who would be ready at 5am. Fantastic!
    My guide plus his friend arrived bang on time and we hurtled off on motorbikes to the trailhead some 60km or so away. You don’t get much of a view of the mountain itself until you get quite close to it, as many of the main roads are surrounding by quite high vegetation and trees. The trail itself was great – apart from the amount of litter at the bathing pool / waterfall. I hadn’t eaten any breakfast and was feeling a little weaker than normal, but we made good progress and soon got onto what felt like a decent ridge, despite its modest height. In under 2 and a half hours we had reached the grassy peak where my GPS gave a highest reading of around 695m – pretty close to the 699m figure that I had seen published on various websites.
    However, the GPS was indicating that a different peak, about 1.25km away to the southeast was the probable highest one (based on Google Earth data) and that this commonly climbed mountain we were on was not infact the highest, despite the Indonesian flag and the pleasant views to the north. There appeared to possibly be a very infrequently used and overgrown trail descending to the col (over 200 metres down and then back up again) but we didn’t have time to investigate as I had to be back at the airport for a 14.25 flight to Belitung!
    My feeling is that the probable higher southeastern peak would be best approached from a different direction altogether, although if no such trail exists then one might need to descend and re-ascend via the col between the two.
    Upon return to Jakarta I did a bit more research and everything does indeed point to the southeastern peak as being about 10 metres or so higher. Probable name for this highest and less well-known top is Bui. Whether or not local hikers go there is something to be investigated in due course…..
    Maras would have been my 100th successfully bagged peak listed on Gunung Bagging (including both Ribus and Spesials) but it was not to be. But I would only have to wait until the next day to reach 100 on neighbouring Belitung and Gunung Tajam…….

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