Bagging It!

Bawakaraeng is the most popular hike in South Sulawesi, because of both its proximity to Makassar and also its considerable height. The trail itself is in excellent condition although, since the enormous October 2004 landslide that took a large part of the mountainside down with it, the hike is a considerable 7-8 hours from the trailhead to the summit. Bawakaraeng’s slightly higher neighbour is Moncong Lompobatang but, considering that most hikers don’t have the time to traverse both in the regular timescale of 4 or 5 days, Bawakaraeng is definitely a worthwhile mountain in its own right.

The trailhead is at the pleasant village of Lembanna (1,514m), about 2 and a half hours drive from Makassar. On the way you will pass through the popular hill resort of Malino (after about 2 hours) where there are several decent hotels and stunning views down the valleys. Do try the strawberries – perhaps the nicest in Indonesia! About 8 km beyond Malino, you may have to ask for the correct right turn to Lembanna as it is not signposted.

There is a brand new route map sign in Lembanna at the start of the hike, showing the 10 Pos with water sources marked in blue. Also earlier in 2013, new cement markers were installed at all the Pos, although some of the elevation data is way,way off and a couple of the markers are a slightly different places to the original Pos locations. It matters not – route finding shouldn’t be an issue given how well-trodden the trail is. The likelihood is that you will meet plenty of other hikers, especially on weekends, and perhaps even Tata Rasyid, the guardian of the mountain who climbs on a regular basis for the frequent traditional religious celebrations that take place up the mountain.

Once beyond the tomato, onion and carrot fields of Lembanna, the first section of the hike follows a small stream up through pine woodland. Pos 1 (1,720m) is actually a junction – left to continue up Bawakaraeng or right to Lembah Ramma (Ramma Valley at 1,629m) – surrounded by what look to be wild tomato plants with small fruits. According to our guides these are not tomatoes, not are they edible. They may, in fact, be poisonous so avoid the temptation to try them. Pos 2 (1,810m) and 3 (1,835m) follow in quick succession and are both delightful grassy spots next to streams. You will probably see cow pats on the trail and hear the jangling of bells tied round cows’ necks even if you don’t meet any actual cows. Following this, you enter the forest proper (1,893m).

Pos 4 (1,980m) is marked with an old grave which is one of the locations of the ancestor worship that happens on the mountain. It is not just student hikers that climb Bawakaraeng – you will probably meet lots of local families (including small children) carrying up with them what look to be Indonesian picnic items such as a pot of rice and a bucket of eggs and so on. In actual fact, these people are pilgrims. There is great spiritual significance attached to this mountain by local Muslim people, many of whom have conducted special Bawakaraeng Pilgrimages for several centuries, with those descending being called ‘Haji Bawakaraeng’. It would be highly unlikely that many of these poor people could ever afford to visit the usual Mecca. This unique tradition has not always been looked kindly on by authorities and it is said that in the 1960s some were arrested or even executed for carrying out what appeared to be a practice at odds with mainstream Islamic teaching.

Pos 5 (2,170m) is where the views start to open out, back down to the wide Sungai Jeneberang (river), the reservoir further down this river, and to many lesser hills in the middle-distance. You should also be able to spot the west coast of Sulawesi. For those who have not started the hike early, this is a lovely spot to camp with lots of space and even a few wild raspberries. You will also see what you might mistake to be the top of Bawakaraeng rather close by. In fact, this is the first summit which must be climbed first before descending and re-ascending up to the true Bawakaraeng. This was not always the case – until the immense landslide that occurred in October 2004, the hike was considerably shorter. This landslide is said to be the largest of its kind in Indonesia. Looking at the photos on Google Earth you can begin to imagine the sort of devastation that resulted. An entire village was wiped out at the foot of the mountain. So, this huge areas must be avoided by traversing round the side a little. The first of two memorials to hikers who have died (apparently due to hypothermia) on the mountain is near this section.

Pos 6 (2,370m) is fairly unremarkable but Pos 7 (2,557m, the summit of the peak near the landslide area) is a lovely spot to sit for a while and enjoy the views from the boulders. The trail then descends to a col at about 2,366m before rising again up Bawakaraeng. Without this descent and re-ascent, the hike would be a little tiring. With it added the hike is considerably more exhausting especially as you keep thinking you are close only to find you still have a distance to go. A second memorial to a hiker is passed before reaching Pos 8 (2,440m) and the reliable stream that runs down the mountainside across bare rock. It is up steeply after this, on to Pos 9 (2,610m) and then more magnificent views in good weather, especially of the shapely little Bulu Boholangi to the north.

The Pos 10 marker (2,805m) is at the southern end of a large area suitable for camping between the gnarled, near-leafless trees. From here you should be able to make out an Indonesian flag waving in the breeze plus a summit pillar just beyond. It is just 5 minutes from the camping area (which is nicely protected from the heavier gusts of wind that are common up here) and the summit itself. The slightly higher Moncong Lompobatang ridge lurks beyond, past a couple of other peaks of a similar height and the Karisma Valley. The mini-top just beyond the top with the pillar is a lovely vantage point and while the true top is often covered in hikers, this second top is usually much quieter and suitable for serious contemplation. Somewhere down in the valley is a special rock called Batu Makaya which renders compasses useless and allegedly even interferes with GPS devices. Needless to say, this is another point of religious significance for the Haji Bawakaraeng.

It takes about 5-6 hours to return the same way.

Bagging report by Dan Quinn (September 2013)

Should you be continuing on to Moncong Lompobatang via the Kharisma Traverse, please read Gita’s full report below…

Kharisma Traverse Report (starting from Bawakaraeng – Lembanna)

It was Idul Fithri day 1 when we (Gilles and i) decided to do traverse Kharisma valley. We don’t have a lot of information about this mountain and trek but from GB we knew that this mountain is quite popular. As our last destination of this trip is Pantai Bira so it’d be normal if we start the trek from Lembanna (North side). The ojek took us to Pak Sapri’s house, a guide who use to guide the tourists. We were happy if he doesn’t mind to go with us as it was Idul Fithri day. But… unfortunately we didn’t bring enough money for the amount that he asked, so the solution is to bring us only until pos 5 and we pay half of the price.

We started 2.30pm from Lembanna. Walked through the gardens of villagers we were welcomed by the pine forest in Pos 0. The distance between poses not too far, around 20-30 minutes. We reached pos 5 in 2 hours, we decided to camp here. The area is open (beware of the storm and win) but it was good weather, the wind was quiet and calm, and we still had some views. Water could be taken around 50m by going down. The next morning, we started 7am and targeting to reach summit in the afternoon.  Pos 5 to 6 required 30 minutes. Pos 6 to 7 was quiet longer, maybe almost 1 hour. Pos 7 is located on top of the hill (fake summit) from here u can see the Lompobattang and the real summit of Bawakaraeng. Pos 7 to 8 was quite tough as u have to go down the hill, cross the river and climb up again to pos 8, takes u about 1h 30 minutes. Pos 8 to 9 was normal, 30-40 minutes. From Pos 9 you can see that the trek pass through the ridge on your left side. Start to be an open area with rocks… The hike to the BW summit (5h) is uneventful, some views on the spectacular 2004 landslide are available on the right side of the trek if weather permit.

The summit looks a bit like hills covered by savana, good for views! There is a white milestone at the summit (2830m), some muddy water in a dig up pool can be useful near the summit, as there is no more water until the very bottom of Kharisma valley, 10h later. Total from Lembanna to summit of Bawakaraeng is 8 hours. The trek is clear and precise. Every pos u have the yellow sign hanging on the tree, complete by its elevation. It is done by Edelweis (student group from Atmajaya University)
The descent south is far more difficult, the track is marked now by small blue plastic ropes, dont lose them, you have to walk on a narrow rocky crest.
From summit or pos 10 to kharisma valley, there is no official pos actually because there is no more sign. But i made the notes and waypoint of areas where you can camp. If you are planning to continue to kharisma valley, bring sufficient water from pos 10 as the trip to kharisma will take 6 hours (Kharisma valley, has lots of waters from rivers). The trek between summit and pos 13 was incredibly tiring and need extra careful. A rock (2h after summit BW) is famous in the region for its amazing magnetic properties, even GPS wont work there, there are some offerings by local people in a small cave below it. After an exhausting 3h hike, we arrived at Camp 13 (no water) on a well marked saddle.
Continuing the long descent in Kharisma valley, it will take also 3h to reach the 1st river stream. It was not the end of our pains, as the tracks is very bushy and crossing multiple streams before arriving in the nice Camp 15 (Kharisma), in the middle of the valley (2050m). It s also a pleasant place for having lunch. Dont forget to store water as at least 24h without water awaits you.
The path is now crossing a small stream (follow the blue markings). After 1.30 hours going up and down in the valley, the path is eventually climbing the Lompobatang (LB).
On the way, an amazing empty clearing in the jungle can be seen down in the distance. It’s called Pasar (market/place) by the locals. How this clearing appeared is a mistery as these valley is totally wild. 2h later a rather difficult rock cliff in a small gully has to be climbed. A rope might be necessary to haul up bags or inexperienced climbers.
Another 2h are needed to reach the crest of the LB range, a nice place for camping with savana and great views!

As there is no official sign, you can follow the rope/ribbon tied in the tree every 2-3 meters. We found that it was really helpful as you will walk in a bushy path/trail and sometimes u are not sure where the trail goes. The ropes unbelievably will lead you to kharisma valley, even to Lompobattang.

The trek on the LB crest to the abandoned transmission hut and antennas is spectacular with views on both side of the South Sulawesi coast, even Pantai Bira and Selayar can be seen by good weather. South of the transmitter, the track goes straight down to Camp 9, down a saddle, there is a small cave under a big rock which provides some shelter and has water.

Don’t climb back to the saddle, the track goes horizontally straight from there. It s a long way down (4/5h) to camp 2 (water). 2h more and you ll reach the small Parang Bintolo village and base camp of student hikers (largest wooden house just before the mosque). You can stay here and enjoy the hospitality of Mr (i couldn’t remember his name)

From Parang Bintolo village, try to get to Malakaji (hitch hike or ojek) from Malakaji, take pete-pete to Bantaeng then you will arrive in the main road that connects Jeneponto and Bulukumba

Bagging report by Gita Saraswati, August 2012

Trail Map

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

Local Accommodation


  • Getting there: The popular hill town of Malino is just two hours from Makassar by car. Public transport: From Makassar take pete-pete service to Malino in Terminal Sungguminasa (2 hours trip -20k/person). In Malino, pete-pete will finish at the market. Take ojek to Lembanna (20k/person)
  • Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Bawakaraeng 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 necessary. Contact Pak Sopri as RW in Lembanna if you need a guide.
  • Water sources: Pos 2, 3 and 8 are the best sources.

Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):



Origins and Meaning

Bawakaraeng means ‘Lord’s Mouth’. (Anthony Jukes, 2011)

Links and References

Wikipedia Indonesia

3 thoughts on “Bawakaraeng”

  1. In Mt. Bawakaraeng have a lot of place to go. We Can accros this Mountain from Mt. Bulubaria or Mt. Lompobattang.
    Or another Extremely Route we can Tripple Summits, 5 Summits or we call itu Triple 3. Thats for 3 Peaks, 3 Lake, 3 Valley.
    The beautiful view like Alpen with Green Version, you can get so much adrenaline burning on the tactical route.
    You can ask me for more information. IG : @gabyggianina

  2. Finally got round to climbing Bawakaraeng this weekend. The experience was one of highs and lows, and not just in mountain terms! Friday night started with the usual dash to the airport to try to beat the traffic only to find that my Lionair flight to Makassar was delayed, an amazing 3 and a half hours. No information, no food, no drink offered at all. Landed in Makassar at around 1am, met Kim, my co-hiker, and headed to Wisma Jampea – a cheap but satisfactory place to rest one’s head for a couple of hours.

    And a couple of hours is all it was as we were up by 5am to meet Mol Yanti and friends from Mapala YPUP who were to get us to the mountain and take us to the top. They turned out to be excellent.

    The weather was beautiful just after dawn, with Bawakaraeng and Lompobatang both visible from Makassar. The road leads up past a reservoir and wide river valley where locals fill up trucks with rocks. Up at Malino the temperature was perfect – a lovely spot… pine trees and vegetable fields and a few places to stay. We had breakfast at D’Strawberry Guesthouse Cafe – very nice rice – where they have accommodation available set back a bit from the main road.

    The hike itself was delightful – a very pleasant gradient, cool weather, well-defined and marked trail. The only thing was after just 2 hours of sleep it was a tough final slog up to the summit after dropping down from Pos 7. It clouded over and we had a few spots of very light rain but the sun was shining again by the time we got near the top, perfect for late afternoon photos from the summit and camp area.

    Tata Rasyid was up there, wearing his extra-large ring with a precious stone in it, having been overseeing a ritual of some sort. We were told that offerings are made on a regular basis, goats and chickens (either all white or all black). I also noticed lots of leaves being placed at certain points such as the base of the flagpole beneath the summit.

    I managed a few lovely pre-sunset shots but the clouds gathered and there was no sunset. Indeed, we had rain much of the night and gusty winds. The plan was to get up at 5am for sunrise but the rain and clouds never left us. By 8.30 we decided to descend and it wasn’t until Pos 5 that we got below the clouds.

    We were down in just over 5 hours and it was back to D’Strawberry for some more food and some amazing Strawberry juice.

    Unfortunately Lionair exceeded all expectations in a negative sense as my flight back to Jakarta was delayed by an incredible 6.5 hours, i.e the next morning. No food or drink and no refund, just a rugby scrum of well over 500 people trying to get information out of a couple of uninformed staff. Chaos.

    Great mountain though. Thanks to Mol Yanti and friends.

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