Bagging It!

Gunung Ambang is an excellent volcanic crater complex and one of the easiest hikes in Sulawesi, requiring just under 2 hours to reach the crater from the trailhead. It is well-known for its bird life – you stand a very good chance of spotting eagles if you stay in the area for a couple of hours. Alas, it would appear that the highest point is in dense jungle with no trail to it, but if you know otherwise please let us know. The best starting point for Gunung Ambang is Desa Bongkudai Baru/Utara which is about 40 minutes by car from the small city of Kotamobagu.

Bongkudai Baru/Utara is at about 1,085 metres above sea level and on the shores of the picturesque Danau (lake) Mooat. The views over the lake at first light are exceedingly pleasant. The trail leads up a wide farm track between fields in which farm workers will probably be working even at 6am. Before long the trail narrows and enters forest. At this point there are several important and unsignposted turnings you need to make so a local guide is essential. The track is pretty muddy in places but after less than an hour you enter an area of elephant grass. Before long you will see the crater cliff walls and smell the faint whiff of sulphur in the air.

After a junction (left for a camping area and a stream of natural hot water which is reportedly safe to drink) you find yourself on white rocks at the start of the crater itself (1,447m). The view back down to Danau Mooat and a jungle-clad peak behind it is wonderful but the better views are actually to be found further over on a little rocky top on the far side of the crater area. A few fumaroles seem to be permanently active. Up to the right are steep crater cliff walls. Brave individuals can climb up what is a little difficult and potentially dangerous terrain to reach an Indonesian flag (1,673m above sea level).

Unfortunately the highest peak is over 450 metres away (with an elevation of 1,772m on the Bakosurtanal map which may be a slight underestimate) and does not appear to be visited due to the density of bush up there but there is certainly an excellent panorama of the entire crater area. Note that it may be possible to reach the true highpoint from a different approach, e.g. from the north. Back down near where the camping spot is you should be able to make out a weird mini-crater with a muddy cone but apparently this too cannot be accessed without the use of a machete.

It is best to leave yourself at least two hours to enjoy exploring the scenery and taking photographs of the fantastic landscape. A descent back to the trailhead takes little over one hour where hopefully you will have transport waiting to take you back into Kotamobagu.

Gunung Ambang is well-known in the local area, but due to its relatively obscure location is not as famous nationally as it ought to be. A recommended hike, even for beginners.

Bagging information by Daniel Quinn (last updated July 2017).

Trail Map

Peta Jalur Pendakian Gunung Ambang
For a high quality PDF version of this and other trail maps, please download from our Trail Maps page.

Local Accommodation


  • Getting there: Kotamobagu is 4 hours by car from Manado and 6 hours from Gorontalo. Daily buses run but they generally seem to leave in the early morning only. Nyiur Trans provide a minibus shuttle service to/from Manado leaving 3 times a day (in 2017) at 7am, 1pm and 8pm (both directions) and the cost is Rp130,000 per person. From Kotamobagu there are blue angkots running to and from Modoinding although not always at convenient times. Ojeks are not common and bentors will rarely take you to the trailhead.
  • Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Ambang information pack can be downloaded here.
  • Trip planning assistance: Would you like Gunung Bagging to personally help you in arranging your whole trip? Please contact us here.
  • Permits: Not required but please register in the village before starting your hike.
  • Water sources: Natural hot water available at the camping area near the crater.
  • 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):



Links and References

Wikipedia English

5 thoughts on “Ambang

  1. It appears that earlier this month some local hiking clubs built a cement summit pillar at the top. According to Google Earth in the right location! So access is probably easier. May have to head back at some point…..

  2. Hiked Ambang for a second time last week, and made it up to the top of the steep crater cliffs with the help of a couple of local village boys. Sadly there was rain and very low cloud meaning trying to find a way through the dense vegetation to the highest point was near impossible. I looked around at other potential routes up from path junctions on the lower sections of the trail but none seemed especially likely. Needs good weather and a full day of exploring I think – but probably possible with a bit of effort, good luck and sufficient time.

    Thanks to Nyiur Trans it is a lot easier now to plan a trip to/from Manado rather than having to haggle with chancers on the side of the road trying to fill up cars. However, do note that they rarely reply to text messages (you need to call persistently) and more importantly the information on their website is not trustworthy – I walked across Kotamobagu to the address listed on the website to find no such office existed. When I finally got a reply from the office in Manado on this issue it turned out the new location in Kotamobagu is on the opposite side of town biut they hadn’t bothered to update their website with correct information! When I raised the point that this might affect the success of the business, the friendly chap in Kotamobagu agreed, but in a way that suggested this was a profound new realisation rather than basic common sense!

  3. Did you climb from the west? Good quality satellite images and looks like you could get fairly close to the summit from the east, climbing up the grassy slopes from the farmland above the Danau Mooat?

    • From Danau Mooat. There may be another trail up though. So many gunungs to bag, so little time. Tried 6, only managed to bag 2. Good trips though.

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