Bagging It!

Gunung Ambeso is sometimes climbed be local students from the southern part of the Toraja region. There are minor roads quite high up the side of the mountain so it could probably be done as a dayhike.

The Bakosurtanal map lists this peak as ‘Buntu Ambeso’ with an elevation of 1,949m. The peak just over 1 kilometre to the west is Buntu Sangbuah (1,866m) and the peak around 2 kilometres to the south-west is Buntu Kuku (1,910m).

Local Accommodation


  • Getting there: Makele is the nearest town on the main road between Enrekang and Rantepao.
  • Permits: Unknown
  • Water sources: Unknown
  • 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):



One thought on “Ambeso

  1. After the trouble with guides for Gandangdewata I still hoped to follow the second part of the planned itinerary from West Sulawesi to Tanah Toraja to hike Gunung Ambeso / Ambesu and then Buntu Puang. I had found a nice young chap called Ridwan (0823 4809 8714), a member of ART – Anak Rimba Toraja, a local hiking club. He told me it takes about 4 hours to hike to the top and the trailhead is 90 minutes by motorbike from the nearest town of Makale. He was happy to help and I was looking forward to it.

    I had booked accommodation in Makale, but things didn’t go to plan. After my diversion to Samarinda, Derawan and Berau, I had planned to fly from Balikpapan to Mamuju (same 6am Wings Air flight as I had been due to fly on the previous week but had cancelled after the Gandangdewata guides decided to cancel!) Plan was one night at a shariah hotel, the closest accommodation to Balikpapan airport so I could walk there easily at 5am for the flight. This was the same hotel I had booked previous, non-refundable, but cheap. Anyway, I didn’t end up staying a second time (!) so the owner must think I’m a complete idiot.

    Why didn’t I stay? Well, I had been searching for info on the bus timetable from Mamuju to Toraja, so I could explore Mamuju and West Sulawesi (my final province to visit) before heading to Toraja. It was immensely difficult, as was finding any accommodation in Mamuju other than D’Maleo (the most expensive one) that actually responded to Facebook or WhatsApp messages or provided proper contact details. Pretty hopeless. None except D’Maleo on Traveloka.

    One of Ridwan’s friends, Andi in Mamuju, offered to help with transport information, and I asked him about Mamuju to Makale a good 2 weeks prior to the day of travel. He was keen for me to use a car and driver, presumably as he would make some profit from this, but I said I was alone and wanted bus or travel (shared car) only. Well, he didn’t help much but sounded vaguely confident there would be a bus. Finally the day before I was due to fly to Mamuju he sent me a message saying there is no transport to Toraja on 29th and I would have to go on 30th. Obviously no good as 30th was the day of the hike after which I had accommodation booked and paid for in Rantepao.

    Eventually he got in touch with a travel company about a seat in a shared car for 28th (150,000 per person – fine) as I had asked for 2 weeks ago. They were full for the next couple of days. I asked him why he hadn’t given me their number when I asked him originally over 2 weeks ago. No proper answer. So, his help turned out to be the opposite of help. The alternative was car and driver which would be a ridiculous 1.7jt. Cheaper to fly to Makassar and then to Palopo and back down a little.

    Whoever is responsible for tourism in West Sulawesi deserves some criticism too. There is no website and almost no information whatsoever, even for someone who speaks Indonesian and spends several hours asking around! If they want people to visit, they will need to do a hell of a lot more than this to make it easier. You can book bus tickets from Makassar to Toraja online quite easily. Going there from Mamuju is less popular, but if there was even a little initiative it could be a great route to use. At present, don’t bother – it’s easier to ignore West Sulawesi and simply use the normal Makassar to Toraja route.

    I decided 1.7jt was ridiculous to have to pay to get to Toraja from Mamuju and was so sick of all the problems with Sulawesi (including lack of info for the final mountain Buntu Puang) that I decided to fly back to Jakarta from Balikpapan and get some partial refunds on whatever tickets I could. Andi said ‘Okay Mr Daniel’, perhaps relieved that he would not have to pretend to assist me any longer. When you spend half your holidays just trying to get basic info like bus timetables and transport options and are expected to pay millions of rupiah as a solo traveller then the hassle far outweighs any enjoyment. A real shame that I didn’t get to hike Ambeso / Ambesu with Ridwan….

    Hopefully next time but via Makassar or Palopo. Again, best avoid Christian holidays around Toraja as people may be too busy to help – annoying as most tourists have to use public holidays for their trips and the Xmas one is one of the key breaks each year.

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