- Elevation: 1,741 m (5,712 ft)
- Prominence: 1,558 m
- Ribu category: Kurang Tinggi
- Province: Kalimantan Barat (West Kalimantan)
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none
Gunung Saran, or ‘Bukit Saran’ as it is known locally, is a very attractive mountain from below, with steep almost-vertical cliffs near the top. However, because of the very flat land that surrounds it which is largely used for oil palm plantations, Bukit Saran, and also the lesser peak to the north known as Bukit Kujau (1,308m high), can rarely be seen from the main roads near Nanga Pinoh and Sintang. There is at least one trail to the summit, but it is vague in places and you definitely need local help.
Although it looks close on a map, the usual starting point at Lebuk Lantang, Riam Batu, takes over 3 hours to reach by motorbike (or possibly 4WD if you knew the route) from the oil palm plantation junction called Simpang Pandan, close to Sintang’s new airport. The first part of the journey is along dusty (in the dry season) plantation tracks and this could be very slow going in the rainy season so best not attempted. There are few signs, but lots of junctions, so you need local help in even finding the trailhead itself.
Once through the plantation you will find yourself at the village of Ansok.From this point on, the villagers are very anti-sawit (oil palm plantations) and are trying to build tourism (such as the hike up Gunung Saran) as a more responsible means of earning money from the local area. The track from this point is very bumpy as it follows the Tempunak river towards Riam Batu, which is the gateway to Gunung Saran. However, you should get some pleasant glimpses of the mountain itself. Once past the Riam Batu entrance markers at the side of the track, it is still a considerable distance to Lebuk Lantang at the end of the track (Ulu Tempunak) and therefore at least another 30 minutes.
Lebuk Lantang (156m) has a large field or ‘alun-alun’ in the middle from where you can look up towards the summit cliffs.There is also a village shop selling very basic items, but you will need to have brought your main supplies from elsewhere. It is crucial to get an early start as this is a very hot hike, starting at such a low elevation. There are leeches, though in the dry season there are less of them around or behaving aggressively.
The trail leads along a cement pathway beside the river and past the two new large buildings used for accommodation for hikers and those visiting local waterfalls (Rp 50,000 per person per night, based on several sharing a room together plus additional food costs). Just a few minutes beyond this is the crucial junction into the forest on the left which is not signposted but all local guides will know it.
The trail soon reaches a clearing with good views of the peak before re-entering steep forest. The Sungai Batulicin (river) is soon crossed (240m) and you should hear the flapping wings of hornbills above. There are many huge overhanging boulders on this trail which offer excellent protection from rain, should there be any. There is also a beautiful waterfall (670m) just less than halfway up to the camp spot. There are plenty of water sources as far as the Camp spot but in the dry season they may just be sitting pools of water so you may want to boil it first.
The customary camping or sleeping area (as you don’t necessarily need a tent due to the protection of the rock) takes around 6 hours to reach from the trailhead. This spot is at an elevation of around 1,320m and there are a couple of pretty old chili plants growing there so it has clearly been used for many years. As is the custom for many mountains in Kalimantan, your Dayak guides will want to conduct a good luck ritual for the hike, basically consisting of the slaughter of chickens for a meal for everyone, plus daun siri and pinang, which you are supposed to pay for. They will also make an offering cup out of the base of a bamboo stem and fill it with chicken, rice and a cigarette or two. This will probably be hung up on a branch at camp, and they may also take one up to the summit.
From the camp spot to the summit is another 90 minutes. As usual, it is best to try to get to the summit as early as possible the next morning, but your guides may insist on preparing and eating the ritual meal if they haven’t done it the previous night. The very last 15 minutes of trail is in moss forest with one or two pitcher plants and finally some cool breezes. Then you will see the small wooden hut at the top next to numerous small communications towers.
Part of the vegetation at the summit has been cleared so if you are lucky with the weather then you should have a reasonable view. To the right it a minor trail up from the Nanga Pinoh side which doesn’t seem to be nearly as well-used as the main trail. Over to the left at the end of the clearing is a sign from a Pontianak university hiking club expedition here back in 2008 with a height given as 1,741m which sounds reasonably accurate. Your guides may wish to make further offerings here.
In clear weather, consider trekking beyond the expedition sign for 10 or 15 minutes to a viewpoint above the cliffs. There are many pitcher plants here and the views are said to be good.
Back down to camp takes an hour or so, and then it is a further 4-5 hours down to the trailhead.
This mountain could be done in 4 days from Jakarta if you could reach the trailhead on Day 1, hike on Days 2 and 3, and have reliable transport to get you out to the new Sintang airport (alllow 4 hours) early on the morning of Day 4.
Bagging information by Dan Quinn (August 2018)
- Getting there: Sintang is the closest airport – but still over 3 hours by motorbike from the trailhead.
- Accommodation: New accommodation available at Dusun Lebuk Lantang, which is at the end of the track beyond Riam Batu.
- Permits: You will almost certainly have to take a local guide from Lebuk Lantang and pay for local chicken.
- Water sources: Available at the waterfall (670m) and limited supplies as far as the camp spot (1,320m).
- 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.
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