- Elevation: 2,732 m (8,963 ft)
- Prominence: 1,250 m
- Ribu category: Tinggi Sedang
- Province: Jambi
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none
This mountain has a large lake, Danau Gunung Tujuh, which is the highest of its size in Southeast Asia. It has seven peaks (hence the name) of which only three have been climbed, according to Wikipedia, and are presumably the remains of an ancient crater rim. The highest peak is known locally as Gunung Jujuhan (by Pak Subandi, for example) but is listed on certain local maps as Gunung Hulupura. When seen from neighbouring Gunung Kerinci, the huge, deep lake itself looks as if it is rather precariously held back from overflowing down the mountainside. The hike to the lake itself is popular with foreign tourists, domestic tourists and local high school students, and takes around three hours from the trailhead (which is itself less than 10km from the Kersik Tua homestays).
From the prominent and rather grand trailhead (1,400m) – which is 2 km from Pelompek – a farm track snakes its way up the hillside past a few derelict cement buildings and a couple of Kerinci-Sebalt National Park signs. When you reach a small bridge over a river on your left be sure to continue straight up the track rather than turning onto the bridge. The trail gets a little vague as it skirts the edge of a field before entering the forest proper. The forest here is home to all sorts of creatures including monkeys and gibbons (such as siamangs). After about 3 hours in total you will have reached the crater rim (2,112m) from which point you can glimpse the lake itself down below. The track drops down rather steeply to the left for 120 metres or so (the lake is at an elevation of 1,992m and up to 200 metres deep in the middle).
The trail brings you out at the corner of the lake next to a couple of large rocks suitable for sitting on and about 3 camping spaces. There are often one or two dugout canoes left at the side of the lake by fishermen (a small number of people actually live a very simple life in huts dotted around the side of the lake). The best camping spot is actually about five minutes walk around the lake in a clockwise direction, but take extra care as this requires you to get across tree trunks placed half in the lake just metres away from a vertical drop where the water from the lake drops down to form what must be a stunning waterfall when seen from below. You certainly wouldn’t want to get swept over the side! The camping spot is big enough for 4 or 5 tents and is next to a small mountain stream which is a much better source of fresh water than the lake.
In order to make an attempt on the highest peak itself (which is usually clearly visible about 4 kilometres away on the far side of the lake) you need to get a ride in a dugout canoe from the fishermen over to a place called Pasir Putih (‘white sand’). This takes about 90 minutes and you should pay no more than 75,000 each way. Each dugout canoe is small and can fit no more than 4 people (including the boatman himself) safely. Wear plenty of suncream as you can burn very easily when making the crossing.
Pasir Putih is not quite as good as it sounds, offering just pale, dirty rocks under the water. A guide is absolutely essential from this point as very few people other than occasional hunters go into the forest here so the trail is normally very overgrown. It is also very muddy, home to leeches and lots of mosquitoes. However you may be lucky to see some very rare wildlife as sun bears and tapirs live here, in addition to a large number of bird species. After an hour of trudging through swampy ground, the faint trail leads upwards out of the mosquito and leech zone before reaching a minor, unsignposted junction. To the left is the second highest peak in the range which is known as Gunung Terbakar (‘burnt mountain’). Take a right here and follow the trail up a steep narrow ridge onto Gunung Kecil (‘small mountain’). This area is a good place to look for pitcher plants and from the higher slopes you will glimpse the lake way down below.
Gunung Kecil is about 2,300 metres tall and has two peaks of a similar height. The first one you reach has a small sign nailed to a tree by a local hiking club. The trail on to the second peak is a little tough to negotiate – lots of clambering over logs and avoiding sheer drops. From the second peak you can see the steep, imposing face of the highest mountain of the Gunung Tujuh range but it still lies about 2 kilometres away and through dense, rarely penetrated forest. Even if you did have an extra day or two to attempt it, the steepness of the peak looks rather daunting. A much easier approach would be from the back side (rather than from the lake side) along a much less steep ridge which is visible from Gunung Kecil. However, chances of there being a route up that side are not so high given the remoteness of that side of the range.
Apparently the highest peak has only even been climbed once due to its steepness, by an English photographer named Jeremy Holden although it is unclear whether he climbed this peak or Terbakar (which looks a lot easier). After you have made your attempt on the highest peak (or just enjoyed a distant view) you can return across the lake before dark to enjoy what is a truly idyllic spot. Your guides may even catch you some of the many freshwater crabs that flourish close to the shore. The trek back up to the rim then down to the trailhead takes about 2 and a half hours.
Bagging information by Dan Quinn (May 2013)
- Getting there: There are regular flights to Padang’s International airport from Indonesia and neighbouring countries. It is then a long 6-8 hours drive to the starting point. There is public transport but it will take you a whole day. If travelling from the south it takes around 6 and a half hours from Bangko or 1 and a half hours from Sungai Penuh. Try Oki transport who hire cars (both shared and private) between Sungai Penuh and Bukittinggi. From Kersik Tua, head down to Pelompek (8km) where there is a sign for the turning to Gunung Tujuh.
- Accommodation: There are several homestays in Kersik Tua and nearby villages.
- Permits: Available from the homestays in Kersik Tua for Rp20,000 per person (2013) – take a photocopy of your passport photo page. If you need to arrange a boatman in advance try Sahril on 085380974190 (note these are very basic dugout canoes).
- Water sources: The lake itself is the obvious source of water and a stream flows into it at the recommended camping spot about 5 minutes clockwise round the edge of the lake.
- 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
‘Seven’ in Indonesian, referring to the seven peaks of the mountain.