- Elevation: 1,225 m (4,019 ft)
- Prominence: 1,225 m
- Ribu category: Kurang Tinggi
- Province: Nusa Tenggara Timur
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none
Gunung Wanggameti is the highest point on the island of Sumba and lies within the Laiwangi Wanggameti National Park which was designated in 1998. The island is very popular with birdwatchers, as there are 7 endemic species. Unlike much of Sumba, which has been deforested for a very long time, Wanggameti is thick forest – probably one of the largest remaining areas on the island. It is the most southerly Ribu, and therefore one of the closest to Australia (roughly 700km away).
The mountain is just one extra reason to visit what is one of Indonesia’s most unique and fascinating islands. Megalithic tombs, stone carvings, wonderful architecture, ancient belief systems (do some research on the ancestral ‘marapu’ religion), traditions such as the Pasola (an annual battle between rival horsemen) superb ‘ikat’ (possibly the finest cloth in Indonesia) and grassy, limestone landscapes quite unlike the rest of the country.
Until recently, hiking to the summit was only done by locals out hunting for the many wild pigs (‘babi hutan’) and smaller number of deer (‘rusa’) that live in the forest. However, the National Park authorities have recently put up a sign at the entrance to the forest and a second sign at the summit itself. Between the two is a freshly-cut, wide trail, leading up and down for seven kilometres from the forest entrance to the summit. There is no litter on the trail.
One important thing to bear in mind when considering hiking up this mountain is that the number of leeches in its forests is very, very high indeed during the rainy season. Much higher than peaks in Kalimantan and Sumatra. Unless you really don’t mind picking leeches off your legs every couple of minutes and then itching and bleeding for several days afterwards, it is advisable to visit during the dry season (May-October).
Allow 4 hours to reach the trailhead by car along bumpy roads from Waingapu. After having passed Tanarara (you’ll see the police station, the PLN electricity office and a cluster of stone carvings and megalithic tombs / monuments on either side of the road) you need to take a right at the next junction and further along another right beside a wooden building painted green. In the likely event that you need to ask for directions, ask for Desa Wanggameti, the village on the higher slopes of the mountain.
You will know you have reached Desa Wanggameti (1,020m) when you see a public telephone sign at a road junction. If you still need a local guide, take a left to the wooden house next to the stone monuments and ask there. Otherwise, take a right up past the National Park entrance booth (1,055m – almost always un-manned) and up a further 1.5km or so to the starting point which is clearly marked with a sign on the left side of the road (1,160m).
Despite the high elevation of the trailhead, there are lots of ups and lots of downs between the trailhead and the summit, so bear in mind that hiking back will be about as tiring as ‘up’ there initially. The trail drops to about 975 metres at its lowest point.
Allow 3 hours each way (so 6 in total) to cover the 14km round trip, including a little bit of break time. Notable landmarks (in 2014) include, in order, wooden poles possibly indicating a local hunters’ camp (1,110m), a section of zig-zagging steps down (1,140m), a very large tree (1,060m), a spot that feels like a col (980m) before the final push up to the summit past what feels like a minor summit (1,015m) and then a recent landslide area (1,050m).
There are lots of species of trees identified with little signs made by the National Park staff. The forest is dense but there are occasional places where you may catch a glimpse of lower lying land or even the coast in the distance in clear weather.
All in all, Wanggameti is not a world-class mountain hike by any means, but is a brilliant extra reason to visit Sumba alongside the megalithic tombs and carvings and the unusual (for Indonesia) landscape. It is also home to some of the friendliest people. In addition, the work of the Taman Nasional Laiwangi Wanggameti should be supported and people including Tri Wiyanto congratulated for doing an excellent job of publicising it.
Bagging information by Dan Quinn (February 2014)
- Getting there: The closest airport is in Waingapu – about 3-4 hours’ drive from the base of the mountain and with daily flights to/from Denpasar. Given the size of Sumba, many people prefer to either land or leave in West Sumba at Tambolaka so that they can tour the island’s many fascinating traditional villages and pristine beaches over the course of a few days. From Waingapu, the bumpy road leads inland to Tanarara (2 or 2 and a half hours from Waingapu) at which point you will probably have to ask for directions at the junctions for the remaining 1 or 1 and a half hour drive. For car hire in Tambolaka, try Pak Erman (0821 46986564) who works for Sinar Tambolaka Hotel (0812 3816183) and knows the way to Wanggameti, or alternatively try another car hire place 0852 39535387.
- Accommodation: Merlin Hotel is probably the best in Waingapu. You can reserve via sms to Jonny 0813 39339876. Nicer accommodation near beaches can be found in Western Sumba.
- Permits: Not officially required, but you may wish to speak to Laiwangi Wanggameti National Park staff in advance (try the informative Pak Tri Wiyanto via http://www.tawuiresort.org/ or 0812 87105300) or search for their little office somewhere well-hidden near Tanarara. Local guides can be found in Desa Wanggameti near the mountain.
- Water sources: None on the actual trail, especially during the dry season, so bring enough with you from Waingapu. The last place for very basic snacks and drinks is effectively Tanarara.
- 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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