- Elevation: 1,281 m (4,203 ft)
- Prominence: 1,259 m
- Ribu category: Kurang Tinggi
- Province: Lampung
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none
Gunung Rajabasa is the southernmost Ribu on the island of Sumatra and, as such, is easily accessible from Jakarta in a weekend. Because of its low height it is unfairly overlooked by many hiking clubs, but this is a positive thing because it means that the forest is still full of wildlife and there is little litter or noise or trail erosion here! Not yet anyway, so enjoy it while you can!
If you do not have your own transport, the best thing to do is take a DAMRI bus from Gambir railway station to Bandar Lampung. This includes the ferry crossing over the Sunda Strait. After the crossing, ask to be let off the bus near Kalianda near the southern tip of Sumatra. The mountain is mostly covered in vegetation, with cocoa and coffee dominating until forest proper from around 700m above sea level, but there are places where you can admire the view of Lampung’s southwest coast.
The mountain is very much an isolated one, and from the Trans-Sumatra highway it looks a great deal higher than it really is. However, since you have to start from under 200m above sea level, it is no less a hike than, say, Salak or Karang. It takes 6 or 7 hours up and down and the usual starting point is an unmarked spot on a minor road beyond Sumur Kumbang near Way Belerang (the natural hot water bathing pool) a couple of kilometres south of the town of Kalianda.
As is the case with many peaks of this size, there are many, many farm tracks on its lower slopes, so it is definitely advisable to find a local guide, or at least be prepared to ask for help from the many farmers who work on the slopes of the mountain. As long as you’re heading ‘up’, you’ll generally be ok, especially if you follow one of several small water pipes running up/down the hillside. Do be careful on the slippery cement paths on the lower slopes which might make life easier for farmers on motorbikes but are certainly not pleasant for hikers coming down.
There is one important left turning (at around 450m) near a small water collection tank on the cement path. Turn left off the cement and follow a less obvious path up the hillside. Before long you will cross a stream (the third and final stream crossing if you started at the usual trailhead) and find yourself at Pos 1 (550m). There is enough space for several tents here and good, clean water, but views are limited so it only makes sense to camp here if you started late in the day or the weather has turned bad. It should have taken you around 1 hour to reach Pos 1 from the trailhead.
Pos 2 (895m) is a further hour and is in proper forest (the forest begins at around 700m). Just prior to entering forest there are a few good views of the coastline south of Kalianda town, plus Sebuku and Sebesi islands. Watch out for small leeches once you have entered the forest as they are relatively common, especially during the rainy season. Pos 2 has a little bit of space for tents and it is probably the last spot before the summit for a good, flat place without excessive tree roots.
Pos 3 (1,000m) comes not long after and is a wider space but not flat and covered in tree roots. After another 30 minutes or so you will be at Pos 4 (1,140m), another less than ideal camping space. You are likely, however, to hear the call of many siamangs both near and distant and. There is also a great deal of birdlife onthis mountain. Pintu Rimba (1,205m) soon follows and it simply a natural arch formed by a tree trunk. Very photogenic.
As you near the summit you find that you are walking along the edge of a very old and dormant crater. Watch out down to the left as it is a steep drop. Apparently there was increased volcanic activity here during the latter part of the nineteenth century (perhaps something to do with nearby Krakatau?) but it is not known when Rajabasa last erupted. The crater is now a rarely-visited swampy area with a large boulder known as Batu Cukup that can apparently fit everyone from even the largest hiking group who visits. In 2018, the trail down to the crater was ‘closed’ or perhaps ‘no longer used and therefore overgrown’.
Pos 5 (1,258m) is a small spot with a medium-sized boulder. In very clear conditions early in the morning you can just about make out the industrial chimneys of Merak, the port at the western end of Java. From Pos 5 to the summit is only about 2 minutes! The summit itself (1,281.2m) is a small, pleasant, grassy area with a couple of signs and flags left by other hikers and, despite not being able to admire the view to the Krakatau islands due to the trees, a few other Lampung peaks further north and west are visible in good conditions and the southwest coastline of Lampung makes for a very fine view too.
The other, more forested peak to the east of the crater is just three metres below the true summit, according to Bakosurtanal, but the views are likely to be very limited indeed due to all the vegetation on top. If anyone does make it round them please take your GPS with you and get a reading.
It is best to return the same way and treat yourself to a soak in the natural hot water bathing pools at Way Belerang. Kalianda has some wonderful beaches to explore and transport back to Jakarta is rarely difficult to find from the main road.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn (updated April 2018)
- Getting there: DAMRI buses to Bandar Lampung depart morning and evening (7pm, 8pm and 10pm) from Jakarta’s Gambir railway station. These can only be booked in person within 10 days of departure or via WhatsApp and bank transfer the same week. Get off at Rumah Makan Siang Malam (where all the DAMRIs stop) or a little closer at the Kalianda junction (or ask for Rumah Makan Tiga Saudara IV). Hopefully you will have your guide waiting for you there if it is night time. You could also fly to Bandar Lampung and backtrack down to Kalianda but it may not save more than an hour or two.
- Accommodation: The best place to stay is in nearby Kalianda. There is also an upmarket resort several kilometres north of the town but the very affordable Wisma Belerang which is close to the start of the hike is also recommended for its views from the upper floor and proximity to the hot water bathing pools.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Rajabasa information pack can be downloaded here.
- Permits: None required but take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase.
- Water sources: Available at Pos 1 (550m) – but take sufficient supplies with you.
- Travel insurance: We recommend World Nomads insurance, which is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities including mountain hiking.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):
Origins and Meaning
‘Raja basah’ means ‘wet king’ in Indonesian! One Lampung resident explains that ‘raja’ also means ‘regal’ or ‘royal’. You might think that the ‘basa’ part could be due to the mountain receiving a considerable amount rain and cloud, however a more sensible explanation is that ‘basa’ is actually a contraction of ‘bahasa’ (language) and that the ‘Raja Bahasa’ (King of Language) was a historical local leader who successfully brought together different ethnic groups living in Lampung to work with each other together, united.