Sibayak (Pintau)


Elevation: 2,212 m (7,257 ft) Prominence: 762 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerSpesial Province: Sumatera Utara (North Sumatra)
Google Earth: kml Other names:
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Eruptions: 1881


Bagging It!

In terms of effort to enjoyment ratio, Sibayak is easily one of the top volcanoes in Indonesia. Situated above the friendly hill town of Brastagi which is just 2 hours from Medan, the volcano’s crater lies just over an hour’s walk from the nearest road and can therefore be explored by anyone in reasonably good shape. It is one of the most visited mountains in Sumatra and can be climbed from three directions. The most popular route is from the road at Jaranguda just 3km from the town of Brastagi but some people even just allow an extra hour or so (three hours in total) and walk from Brastagi such is the volcano’s proximity to the town itself. The second route is from Semangat Gunung (also known as Raja Berneh) where there are hot springs (a two-hour hike). This is also a short hike but it’s better to descend this way to make the most of the hot springs after hiking. The third and least popular route starts at Tongkoh on the main Brastagi-Medan road near Air Terjun Panorama. This route is the longest as it involves a trek through jungle to reach the mountain. Allow 4 or 5 hours from the road to the crater. Whichever route you take, it can easily be accomplished in a single day but the earlier you start the better, not least because the views are at their best just after sunrise.

Unless you’ve climed this volcano before and fancy trying the longer Tongkoh route, we recommend arranging a guide to meet you at your hotel in Brastagi at 4am, charter an angkot to Jaranguda (approximately Rp100,000 which isn’t bad considering the driver has to get out of bed at 3.30am) and hike to the crater rim by 6am. After enjoying the spectacular post-dawn views, you can descend a different way to Semangat Gunung and enjoy the hot springs before chartering another angkot back to Brastagi (approximately Rp 70,000) in time for a late breakfast /early lunch. For a full exploration, allow about 7 hours altogether, which includes transport time and 20 minutes in the hot springs.

At your guesthouse in Brastagi, you will probably be told about how dangerous hiking Sibayak can be. The volcano hasn’t erupted for nearly 400 years, but over the years a number of hikers who went without a guide never made it down again. Whilst the crater area is very accessible, certain parts of the mountain are very, very remote and wild – moreso even than neighbouring Sinabung. The terrain is straightforward for the most part, but if you got lost in bad weather you could easily end up on the remote wrong side of the crater. Two professors from a New York university went up Sibayak in 1983 and never returned. Whether they got lost or were the victims of a very rare robbery or wild animal attack remains unknown. But, although there are likely to be lots of other hikers on the volcano, it really is worth paying for a guide rather than going alone.

Assuming you charter an angkot from Brastagi, you will be dropped off on the road that snakes up the side of the volcano near Jaranguda. Follow the road and take a left turn cutting up through vegetation and up over the lower sections of the outer rim. Once over the outer rim, the very well-trodden trail leads up through the crater which has the appearance of a rocky, volcanic valley. Ahead of you, the outer rim climbs on your right to reach a narrow impressive little rocky peak known as Puncak Antene (antenna peak). On your left, above a crater lake and vertical cliffs, is the highest point of the actual volcano (Puncak Tapal Kuda – horseshoe peak). There are many fumaroles down near the crater lake, and the sound they make as jets of hot gas and steam shoot out is tremendously eerie – especially before dawn breaks.

Most regular hikers climb back up onto the outer rim for sunrise. This is indeed a superb viewpoint, looking down towards Brastagi town and the geothermal plant near Semangat Gunung. You can be here in about 90 minutes from Jaranguda or 3 hours from Brastagi. Do take care here as the drop down the side of the volcano is sheer and there are often lots of gas clouds which blow over the outer rim from craters on the actual side of the volcano. As soon as it’s light you will be able to admire the strange beauty of Sibayak and in good weather conditions you should see Sinabung in the distance.

After enjoying sunrise on the outer rim, do continue along the outer rim to the steep, narrow little top which marks its highest point. This is Puncak Antene (2,057m) and – whilst cluttered with a few small but unnecessary cement constructions – offers stunning views over the whole volcano area. There used to be an antenna here but apparently a local madman dismantled it to sell it for scrap value! Puncak Antene is the second highest peak of the actual volcano area. The highest peak is Tapal Kuda (2,101m) which is above the sheer cliffs above the crater lake. However, the actual highest point of the whole Sibayak mountain area is called Gunung Pintau. It’s a very remote, forested peak (2,212m) hiding behind Tapal Kuda. From Puncak Antene you should be able to see its wild jungle-clad cliffs. The terrain is very difficult and dangerous and a trail needs to be cut through the jungle. It has been reached on a handful of occasions by student hiking teams on expeditions and there is a trig pillar at the top. Have a search on Google for images. But it’s a dangerous place to go – one hiker died on such an expedition a few years ago – and no regular guide from Brastagi would be able to take you there.

So, whilst most people can’t truly bag the highest point of Sibayak, we do recommend climbing up to Tapal Kuda above the crater lake. You will probably have this peak to yourself and it is here that you will be able to appreciate the wild areas on the other side of the mountain. To get to Tapal Kuda from Puncak Antene, drop back down to the crater lake area and follow the trail round to the left of the crater lake and up onto the the side of the cliffs. There are lots of holes in the rocks beneath your feet so do take extra care as you peef over the edge of cliffs back down to the crater lake. The highest point of this peak is a large rock which requires moderate rock climbing skills to reach the top of – if in doubt, don’t bother as the views are good enough from here.

After enjoying the views and solitude of the Tapal Kuda peak, it is best to head back towards the antenna peak and from the lowest point of the outer rim opposite the crater lake drop down the other side of the mountain on a trail to Semangat Gunung. It is a steep and short trail over narrow cement blocks (supposedly 2600 of them originally) which leads through forest and impressive bamboo (1,521m) then out at the Pertamina geothermal plant. From the end of the road it is just 5 minutes to the first of many hot spring baths (1,382m). The water is a wonderful temperature and it is only a couple of thousand rupiah to bathe. Well worth it!

Getting back to Brastagi from Semangat Gunung can be done very cheaply – but only if you’re prepared to wait up to 2 hours for the angkots to slowly fill up! It’s much bette to arrange ojeks to the main road or just charter an angkot for about Rp 70,000 which will take you back to your hotel for some well-earned food.

Bagging information by Daniel Quinn (September 2011)


Getting there If you arrive at Medan airport, walk the 100 metres or so out to the main road (to avoid the airport ripoff taxis) and grab an ojek to take you to Padang Bulan (Rp 25,000). From here buses run frequently to Brastagi (2 hours) and will only cost Rp 10,000.
Accommodation Plenty of places to stay in Brastagi. Wisma Sibayak is an excellent budget option with good food and friendly staff. It’s near the cabbage monument.
Permits None required but take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase.
Water sources The water on the volcano is far too sulfurous to drink! Remember to buy drinks and snacks in Brastagi the night before and take enough bottled water with you.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm): parapat


Origins and Meaning

The mountain of rich men (Geleng, guide in Brastagi, 2011)

Links and References

Wikipedia English
Wikipedia Indonesia

7 thoughts on “Sibayak (Pintau)

  1. I climbed the volcano on April 6th 2017 by the track behind Pertamina geothermal plant.

    I parked my motorbike at the Rumah Makan at the entrance of a small waterpark and asked for the track.
    The track starts in an impressive bamboo forest, it’s easy to get lost. But after you find an good track with old stone stairs. It’s very sloping and you have nice views of the valley. The hike is short but intense. It’s an easy and spectacular volcano, still active.

    Going down, I stopped at the RM and had a good meal and a free hot shower ! That’s a good deal !

  2. we did this gunung yesterday starting from berastagi and then walking down to Raja Berneh Village through the jungle and the bamboo forest.

    The conditions of the return trail are now very poor. Lack of maintenance has allowed vegetation to invade part of it so that you have to walk half bent for the presence of a vegetable roof. Some short parts of the trail have been eroded away and you must be very careful in finding out the right path.

    We are afraid that in a few years the path will be difficult or impossible to follow if there is not substantial intervention.

    take care
    mirco and ileana

  3. I hiked to this volcano in Sept 2, 2011. That was my first experience to hike this volcano. The smell of the sulphur gas often made me had to stop my steps for a while. The views were spectacular, either the way to the top or above the crater. Still above the crater, after I went down from Antenna Peak, I met three guys from Italy. I helped to take few pictures for them, and one of them took two pictures for me too with Antenna Peak as the background. I took many pictures there along the journey and above the crater with my camera, but only two pictures with me inside the picture. At least I’ve got two documentations that may say that I really have ever been there. Thanks to the guys from Italy, hope to see you again someday, somewhere.

  4. I’ve had my eye on another trip to North Sumatra for quite a while so I booked a last minute ticket and headed out of Jakarta for Idul Fitri. Brastagi was about as busy as usual when I arrived – a handful of tourists but plenty of rooms still available. I ended up at Wisma Sibayak, a lovely place near the cabbage monument at the turning for the road to Sinabung. Had a lunch at the excellent Raymond Cafe and headed up Gundaling Hill for a view of Sibayak and Sinabung. Geleng, the Brastagi institution himself, showed up and agreed to take me up Sibayak for dawn the following day. I told him I really wanted to try to get to the highest point of the mountain range – a forested peak that looks pretty remote on Google Earth.
    Next morning, Geleng turned up with an angkot at 3am and we set off up the road. The driver dropped us off halfway up the road which runs almost into the crater itself. By just 4.30 we were on the outer rim of the volcano, listening to the fabulous roar of the fumaroles down by the crater lake. But we were there far too early – first light is not until 6.30. We waited patiently with some Indonesian students who appeared to have spend the entire night slowly working their way up, step by step, presumably stopping every ten minutes for another Pop Mie. We were very lucky with the weather when first light did finally arrive – pretty spectacular scenes as banks of clouds swirled and drifted over what is an amazing volcanic landscape. The top of Sinabung peeped out over the clouds.
    With regard to the names of the peaks on Sibayak, there seems to be a bit of confusion. In the Wisma Sibayak info guidebook, the ‘top’ is called Batu Marlunglung. Try that in google – no results! The little pyramid peak on the outer rim generally seems to be known as Puncak Antene – the antenna peak – even though there is not actually an antenna there at the moment. The higher peak above the crater lake cliffs is known as Tapal Kuda (horseshoe) or Tapak Kuda (horse’s hoof). We headed up onto the Kuda peak just after first light. From the top you can see the true ‘summit’ of Sibayak which lies about 800 metres further to the northwest. Geleng had never been there nor had he heard of anyone who had been there. It’s remarkably remote and hostile terrain – no trails, deep crevices in the rock, dense vegetation. Perhaps a few of the hikers who never made is back to Brastagi are still over there somewhere. There was also a plane crash here in 1979 – presumably over on the jungle slopes rather than the actual crater area.
    The Kuda peak is definitely the best viewpoint – and not many hikers climb up this side from the main trail through the crater.
    We were down at the hot springs in Semangat Gunung in less than 2 hours – the water is a perfect temperature and you get a great view back up the side of the mountain from here. The only trouble is sorting out transport back round to Brastagi – about 13km. The angkots only leave when they’re full (maybe only every 2 hours!) so you’ve basically got to charter one. Rp70,000 isn’t too bad really.
    I would love to climb this volcano again – it’s just so easy and spectacular if you’re lucky with the weather. The easiest 5-star gunung in Indonesia.

  5. this is a very easy hike but well worth it.the town close by (brastagi) is the starting point and a very quaint place.its quite similar to bukittingi in west dont really need a guide but i took one anyway and im glad i did.if you get a good one he will take you off the beaten track and you will get up close to lots of fumeroles and will cook an egg in the hot springs at the top
    the best part is soaking in the hot springs at the bottom.if you are on the way from medan to danau toba then you must do this only takes a couple of hours up and even less coming back down.if you are looking for a tougher climb try can see it from sibayak and althoguhi havnt done it the locals tell me its not easy.ill take their word for it.

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