Singgalang

Facts

Elevation: 2,877 m (9,439 ft) Prominence: 1,723 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerTinggi Sedang Province: Sumatera Barat (West Sumatra)
Google Earth: kml Other names:  
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Eruptions: Tandikat 1889, 1914, 1924

Photos

Bagging It!

 

This dormant peak is close to the pleasant tourist town of Bukittinggi. Along with neighbouring Gunung Marapi, it dominates the landscape south of the town. Singgalang is a twin volcano with the lower yet volcanically active Gunung Tandikat. The mountain can be climbed from several places: Pakan Sinayan, Koto Tuo, Balingka and Pandai Sikat. Although approaches from the west offer views of nearby Lake Maninjau, the eastern approach from Pandai Sikat is by far the most popular and is just 15 minutes by public transport from Bukittinggi. Pandia Sikat itself is famous weaving and woodcarving village currently illustrated on the 5,000 Rupiah banknote. Unlike for neighbouring Mount Marapi, finding a guide in Bukittinggi is remarkably difficult – far fewer locals have climbed this mountain and barely any tourists trek to the top. In any case, the agents in Bukittinggi charge a bit more than is reasonable – the money then gets split between several people. The best thing to do is head to Pandai Sikat where there is new tourist information kiosk, or better still contact the excellent guide Dedi listed in our guides page.

From Kotobaru on the main road heading south of Bukittinggi, follow the sign to Pandai Sikat and continue along the narrowing road and stop in Pandai Sikat opposite the beautiful and private traditional Minangkabau house with a lilly pond in front. On the opposite side of the road from the house is the small tourist information kiosk where you ask for help finding a guide. The road towards the starting point goes past the house and up the hillside towards several television transmitter masts. Walk up the road for about 5 minutes to the ojek post and take an ojek up to the starting point to avoid around 500m unnecessary elevation gain. You may be asked to stop at an information and registration post about one third of the way up the road and sign a guest book and pay Rp 10,000 to climb the mountain. The road gets rough but a ojek can get as far as the final TV mast at 1,575m. It takes 4-5 hours to reach the summit and 3 hours to descend the same way.

The trail itself leads from the end of the masts road along the right side of a wooden hut, past another, newer building before leading into tall and thick grass vegetation. The trail is a little hard to follow in a couple of places through the grass, so you need to a guide or to use our GPS tracks. A bundle of 4 or 5 black electricity cables follows the trail all the way to military and police communications towers on the summit of the peak that were erected around 2003, so if in doubt follow the cables. This first section of the trek is by far the most unpleasant – especially for tall people – several times you have to crawl under the the tall grass that has fallen over the path obstructing your headroom. There are also some leeches in this section so take some gloves and wear long trousers!

Thankfully the trail soon opens out into more regular tropical forest, with the sound of streams to your left. Water is not a problem on the hike as there are three posts on the way up near water sources and a lake near the summit. The first area used for camping is at 1,770m but the water sources (Mata Air 1, 2 & 3) are at approximately 1,974m, 2,240m and 2,594m respectively. At 2,650m the trail opens out onto steep rock and if you are lucky with the weather you should be able to see Marapi on the other side of the Agam valley.

Near the top of the rock section at 2,697m is a plaque dedicated to two students from Padang who went hiking here in 1988 and never returned. Shortly after this monument, the path dips slightly – still following the black cables – through some pleasant mossy upper montane forest. The beautiful lake, Telaga Dewi (Lake of the Goddess) is just beyond the muddy trail through the forest and it is a beautiful, tranquil spot and unusually free of litter. Locals like to camp here on Saturday nights but at any other time of the week you will probably be alone. The lake itself is where the crater of the volcano once was, thousands of years ago.

At the other side of the lake you should be able to see another transmitter mast at the highest point of the mountain. To reach this, follow the black cables along the side of the lake and then through very muddy and sometimes slippery forest. After 30 minutes you will be at the edge of the transmitter compound which is the highest point of Singgalang. This shabby and litter strewn area could not be in starker contrast with the natural beauty of the lake. One can image that Singgalang was a more rewarding summit before the authorities decided to erect the transmitter. However, in clear weather, you should be able to see Gunung Marapi on the other side of the valley.

Bagging information by Daniel Quinn (2009) and Andy Dean (2011)

Practicalities

Getting there The nearest city is Bukittinggi, the nearest airport is Padang, which is about 2 hours from the mountain.
Accommodation There is no accommodation in Kotabaru – it is best to stay in one of the many hotels in Bukittinggi – try the Jalan A Yani area.
Permits Pay Rp20,000 at the trailhead (2017) – and take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase.
Water sources Available at 1,974m, 2,240m and 2,594m.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm): bukittinggi

Location

Links and References

Wikipedia English
Wikipedia Indonesia

8 thoughts on “Singgalang

  1. The following comment should be prefaced with a short note to say that there is little information about SInggalang or Tandikat below! It is a description of an all-too-common experience that many travellers to/in Indonesia face when simply trying to get from one place to another to hike, or dive or whatever… Its main cause is utter ineptitude and unprofessionalism…. and its main effect, even on the naturally enthusiastic… is to make them vow ‘never again’ or ask themselves ‘why I am I doing it when it is such an unpleasant experience?’

    After cancelling my trip to Bali last weekend due to the high likelihood of an Agung euption (still not yet occurred, thankfully for the locals), I was hoping for better luck this weekend – a trip to Danau Maninjau and one night camping on Gunung Tandikat – Singgalang’s lower neighbour.

    Sadly, I ended up cancelling this one too – mainly due to Lion Air, an airline I often promise myself never to use ever again but often do simply because of the timing of flights with other airlines being inconvenient for weekend trips after work. I was originally booked on the 17.55 from Jakarta due to arrive in Padang at 19.40 – therefore enough time to get to Maninjau ( a 3 hour journey) by around 11pm. A long day but as long as I cound arrive by midnight or thereabouts it woud be doable.

    Naturally, Lionair cancelled this flight and stuck me on another, leaving an hour later at 1855 (or supposedly leaving at that time). At least they had the manners to notify me about this 2 days in advance.

    Anyway, things got off to a bad start before even arriving at the airport – there is work going on on the Jakarta airport toll road at the moment meaning even worse delays than normal. Took 2 hours to travel about 25 kilometres – a good half an hour of this was travelling at slower than walking speed but on a toll road where you actually have to pay for the ‘pleasure;. Few other countries would have the arrogance to think this state of affairs is anything other than disgraceful. If it is faster to walk then you should have no right to demand any money from anyone who uses your ‘service’.

    At the same time, sat in the car, I was reading an article in the Jakarta Post about Indonesia’s Tourism Minister, Arief Yahya, visiting Thailand to try to understand why Thailand is so much more successful when it comes to tourism. http://www.thejakartapost.com/travel/2017/09/29/tourism-minister-wants-to-learn-from-thailand-tourism-.html

    If it isn’t perfectly obvious why Thailand is doing much better than Indonesia (even though it has far, far less places to offer) then Mr Yahya needs to book a domestic Lion Air flight departing Soekarno Hatta on a Friday night and see what happens. It ought to be completely obvious to anyone. As is customary, the occasional ‘little sultan’ barged his way through the traffic jam on the toll with his flashing light and toytown buzzers – some of these primitive government ministers and provincial bureaucrats seem to think they are better than the rest of humanity.

    Finally checked in and looked at the information screens – all Lion Air flights listed as ‘sesuai jadwal ‘ -on schedule, as is usually the case on the screens. Alas, the reality is usually very, very different – the screens seem to be there merely to create the facade of professionalism and competence.

    I searched for a beer – but none are to be found in Terminal 1 -something else Mr Yahya might want to look at….. trying to force all visitors to Indonesia to follow one particular religion’s restrictions on what most humans regard as pretty normal activity does not do a lot for the reputation of the country overseas. If you don’t like beer then don’t drink it – but let other, more worldly, people decide for themselves. Could be beneficial when it comes to soothing the frayed nerves of Lion Air passengers who have spent 2 hours getting to the airport before even finding out how delayed their flight actually is.

    The information desk staff had little information as usual – playing on their phones, but smiling and saying ‘belum datang’ (plane not yet arrived) when anyone asked for information or ‘belum update’ and giggling when I asked why the information screen said all flights were on schedule yet in reality very few were. As soon as I started complaining, Indonesians started complaining too. Normally, most Indonesians will accept anything, put up with any level of service, nomatter how low. And this is exactly why the service never improves… it doesn’t have to if most customers are willing to be treated so poorly. Tip for Indonesian customers… start complaining a bit more and you might see an improvement! Just saying ‘oh yes, that’s just how it is in Jakarta/Soekarno Hatta/Indonesia/etc’ is no good for you and no good for your children or children’s children. Have some self-respect.

    Sadly, if you want any information about a Lion AIr flight in Indonesia, there is not much point asking Lion Air staff in Indonesia. You are better off using an international website such as Radar Box, which will actually provide you with some information that may be accurate. Again, much like the information screens, the staff themselves seem to be there mostly to provide a facade of professionalism rather than to actually offer any useful information.

    The flight I was looking for was listed on the (mis?)information screen as ‘on schedule’ (just like all the others – as if Lion Air has a 100% punctuality rate) but according to Radar Box the aircraft was still in the air in the Banyuwangi area of far East Java at the scheduled time of departure (which was already an hour after my original booked flight). This meant chances of us taking off before 2030 (over 90 min extra delay) were minimal.

    Having been up since 5am, been to work, dealt with the hideous toll road traffic for two hours, and then now being confronted with the thought of not arriving in Padang until 2230 and Maninjau until 0130 at the earliest and I lost my temper and stormed down to ‘customer service’ where I was given the same smiley nonsense as is expected… all smiles and no useful information or genuine apology. I demanded my luggage be returned to me… a weekend in Jakarta would be better than continuing with this rubbish and getting very little sleep at all before the hike.

    Of course, the first taxi driver at the airport didn’t do what he should (presumably legally) do and use the meter, but rather asked for Rp300,000. These pests should be eradicated – they are often the first person a new visitor to Indonesia encounters…. what a great way to colour one’s perceptions of a nation before even leaving the airport!

    So I got in an Express which are usually pretty decent and in this case were – perhaps the ‘highlight’ of my trip to and from Soekarno Hatta on a Friday night. The traffic was still horrific, even from the airport into the city, and it took 2 hours to get home. What a great night out! Time to unpack my backpack and then go to bed.

    So, I had wasted over a million rupiah on the flights, and several hundred more on taxis and a hotel booking at Maninjau – for nothing. At home, I did wonder if I had been too hasty in deciding to abort the trip, but when I looked again at Radar Box (and similar websites) I couldn’t believe it. The flight had not left for Padang until 22:11. It had only just taken off and was still enroute and would not be landing until just before midnight! I had made the right choice. Sometimes a weekend away is just not worth the mountain of effort (the mountain hike is often the easiest part!)

    So, to sum up, flight was due to land in Padang at 1940 on original flight, but this flight was cancelled and I was put on the next one. I then cancelled this due to horrific experiences at Terminal 1 and no sign of aircraft until after 8pm. In the end, the flight landed at around midnight in Padang. My last Lionair flight on a Friday night was also 4 hours late (to Balikpapan). It almost seems like a Lion Air tradition. Well done, management of Lion Air! Real professionals! What a culture! Over 4 hours later than my original scheduled arrival time. What a wonderful service you provide to those who work hard and spend their earnings on your tickets. Worth every penny (look up the word ‘sarcasm’).

    So, advice for the Tourism Minister. Two options…. first of all you could try this radical idea….. look at what you’re doing at the moment with Indonesian tourism and just do the complete opposite (it may actually make for a better experience). Secondly look up the words ‘competent’, ‘informative’ and ‘punctual’ in a dictionary and see if you recognise the importance of what they mean and how they might make for a pleasant trip to/in this country. PS This may seem hard to believe, but an information screen means very little if the information on it is wrong.

    And advice for hikers and other travellers…. book with Lion AIr if you like the idea of a 4 hour delay and incorrect information at every turn. Otherwise, try Citilink, Sriwijaya, etc…. they may be late, but not usually this bad. If going to/from Jakarta, try to fly to/from Halim rather than Soekarno Hatta unless you are travelling between 1am and 5am, which are the only hours in a day when you might experience a level of traffic and speed that could be regarded as functioning normally.

    For my part, it is one of those experiences that makes me wonder whether I need to recalibrate my life… whether there is a more enjoyable task to get on with than the ‘gunung bagging’ task, which quite commonly ends up with experiences such as that described above, or whether I just need a rest this weekend before trying again. Trying to do these trips at weekends after work makes it really difficult to avoid problems given the level of unprofessionalism provided by many Indonesian airlines and the toll road operators for what should be a simple trip to and from the airport. Naturally I won’t get my money back, as ethics means little in business, but I have some time to think.

    And guess what? I’m booked on Lion Air again next weekend (due to no alternative options being available).

    UPDATE: Out of interest, I searched for how delayed my return flight from Padang would have been. The information was rather disturbing. Was due to fly 2020, land Jakarta 2210 Sunday night. The reality was an 0333 departure Monday morning, arriving in Jakarta at 0457. A seven hour delay. Do you need any more proof of why Lion Air are best avoided?

    • hello dan.. when you planning to climb singgalang? i want to climb singgalang and marapi. and its hard to find package for that.. i’m looking for dayhike for both mountains.. – Roy

      • I’ll be hiking Tandikat (not Singgalang but near it) in Feb or March. No plans to hike Marapi again soon. Guides for Marapi easy to find and lots of locals hking it anyway. For Singgalang, best ask in the local villages if you can speak basic Indonesian.

  2. I climbed Gunung Singgalang on April 10th 2017.

    I left Bukittinggi at 3am. It was very hard to find a transport. I walked on the main road for 15min and finally find an ojek. We stopped at the posko. I paid 20.000 and registered. I left some stuff at the posko. And I started to climb at 6am.
    The trail is slippery, especially after rainy days. The start through tall and thick grass is exhausting. Then you follow the trail in a nice forest. Unfortunately a lot of trash. I met some young indonesians. The last part, just before and after the lake are really muddy. I got the shoes all wet. The lake is really nice and worth it. The summit is a little bit disappointing. almost no view and very dirty.

    Be careful going down, it’s very slippery, but it can be fun to finish on the butt.
    I had the number of my ojek so he was waiting for me at the beginning of the track. No tarred road.

  3. Although the regular trail has lack of naturality due to established all the way electric poles to its summit, it is still have it own charm. I did a ascent from the nearest town of Boto Baru, proceeding to Pandai Sikek vilage from where one have to follow semi-asphalted road up for 4 km. where on the end of it there are several towers. After spending about 3 hours through tall grass and used the muddy very well trodden thus unpleasant trail, eventually I came to the rocky outcrops nearing the summit. From there I took my sunrise pictures,enjoing the good clear weather. Later I discovered the alpine lake Telaga Dewi just below the summit. From summit itself there is not much to do, this spot include a lot of litter left after building the militar towers there. But, on the other hand the good idea is to climb the bigger tower as the spot is mostly obscured by trees. I did it to the tower’s top and was rewarded with a additional panoramic view of Indian Ocean with small islands around Pariaman, to the left it was famous lake Maninjau(it was unusual to see it from this angle) and just behind me when I held on tower’s poles, one could see an active volcano Tandikek, that stands just nearly joined with it’s mother’s cone Singgalang. Unfortunetly, some better views are came with the cables and others towers construction.

  4. One of the hikers I climbed Sago with last weekend knows a lot about this mountain as he lives in Padang Panjang. From there, it is a 4 hour hike to Tandikat peak which is an active crater. You can cross from Tandikat to Singgalang peak but it takes a day to do so! Rizal showed me some photos of pitcher plants (Nepenthes) growing on the mountain – something I hadn’t seen on the regular Pandai Sikat route.

  5. It’s the beautiful lake and forest area near the summit that saves this hike from being one only for summit baggers. The start of the hike requires about 30 sweaty minutes walking up through tall and thick grass, which on 5 or 6 occasions requires you to get down and crawl along the muddy trail. With one or two leaches thrown in, is not an auspicious start to a hike. However, the forest does improve after this and the trail is quite litter free. Following the electricity cables does somewhat ruin the ambiance, but is nice to have a mountain to yourself.

    The lake area near the summit is really very nice and reminded us of Scotland, with stunted trees and a good quota of boggy ground. Some great camping areas.

    The summit is, quite frankly, a disgrace. First, there is the decision to build a tower on the summit. Second the fact the whoever built it just left all their trash and waste – and the maintenance crews are regularly adding to the trash problem. It also disappoints that other hikers are now also just dumping their trash all over the summit too. It’s best not to linger and go back to the lake to clear you mind, and prepare yourself mentally for the re-run of the tall grass and leaches at the bottom!

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