Besar (Halau Halau)



Bagging It!

Gunung Besar is the highest peak in the Meratus mountain range and the highest peak in South Kalimantan. Being relatively close to Banjarmasin, it is also one of Kalimantan’s most accessible Ribus. Even better, it is quite unlike most other jungle-clad peaks in Borneo because the summit actually offers fabulous views over the surrounding forests. It is climbed on a monthly basis so it is a well-trodden but clean and wild trail. You are unlikely to meet any other hikers.

There are two main routes to the peak – one from the north at Kiyu village (152m), Batu Kambar (via Barabai) and one from the southwest at Kampung Kadayang near Loksado. Both places take about 4 hours to reach from Banjarmasin by car (3 and a half from the airport).

The Kiyu route goes via Pos 1 Peniti Ranggang (721m) before dropping down via a bridge (664m) to Pos 2 Sungai Karuh (Karuh River, 448m) which is the traditional place to camp after 6-8 hours of hiking. It is then at least another 4 hours to the summit via a waterfall / air terjun (530m), Pos 3 Jumantir (896m) and the junction with the Loksado trail at 1,521m. By all accounts, the Kiyu/Barabai route is slightly longer and more arduous, so given that there are guides and accommodation in Loksado I would recommend the latter.

Loksado actually gets a sizeable write-up in the Lonely Planet guidebooks and it is clear that locals are used to a regular trickle of foreigners. It’s a friendly Dayak village with traditional wooden bridges over narrow rivers but be warned that food options are extremely limited here and there appears to be no alcohol for sale whatsoever! Also, although strong hikers can climb to the summit with just one night spent camping, very few guides will want to ‘rush’ what they consider to be a three-day trek.

Nevertheless if you contact Pak Amat in advance he will be able to find a local who can cover the distance quickly if you have limits on your time. To reach the peak takes about 6-8 hours and 5-7 coming down. It’s not technically challenging but the length of the hike and the fact that the starting point is at a mere 500m will probably exhaust some people. Most hikers camp at Panyaungan which is about an hour before the summit.

From Loksado, it’s a fun 30 minute ojek ride for 12 kilometres, and passing over several wooden bridges,  to Kadayang, the final village at the foot of the Meratus Mountains. The locals sit out on their wooden porches, preparing kayu manis (cinnamon). The trail begins here (approx 498m above sea level) and follows a river upstream. It is very humid and there isn’t much shade for the first 1.5 to 2 hours. After a kilometre you will reach a hut (494m) and after a further 500 metres or so along the trail you will cross over the river (after one hour total). This is the final reliable water source on the hike so stock up here if you need to.

After crossing the river (591m elevation) the trail ascends more steeply to a wooden lookout hut on stilts (775m elevation). This marks the beginning of the forest. There is a nice view to the right from here over to a shapely nearby peak known as Gunung Batudari. You can climb the rotten steps of the hut but take care as it is falling down. After this hut, there is a final hut which is almost completely rotten.

The next landmark is a large rock (897m) which marks the beginning of a rockier section of the trail. Watch out here for leeches and mosquitoes and take care as there are a few places where you could have a nasty fall here. At 1,327m the trail reaches what feels like a ridge. This is a long shoulder of the Meratus Mountains and it continues, rising and falling, up and down, for almost 4 kilometres before the proper ascent up to the peak itself.

The ridge is a long yet pleasant forest stroll and there are some limited views to nearby lesser peaks. All along the ridge are places flat enough to be suitable for camping (especially at 1,381m) and you will probably encounter several remnants of campsites made by Banjarmasin students. The trail in from Kiyu village is reach at 1,521m at which point the trail changes direction and heads more steeply up to the south-east (right). Pos 4 Lembah Cirit (1,590m) sometimes has a small amount of water available and then soon after comes Pos 5 Panyaungan (1,708m).

If you set off early enough, it is definitely best to camp at Panyaungan which is the finest flat area on the higher slopes of the long ridge and the last decent camping area before the peak. Wherever you do choose to camp, look out for sun bears – apparently there are one or two still lurking in the Meratus mountains though you don’t need to worry as they don’t pose a serious threat to groups of humans and will most likely try not to be spotted.

From Panyaungan it is less than an hour to the narrow summit which is perhaps one of the best viewpoints in Borneo. Looking northwards you see a series of smaller mountains of the Pegunungan Meratus including the sharp peak immediately to the north of the summit which is known locally as Puncak Kambangan. In particularly fine weather you should be able to see the coastline to the east. Southeast of the peak is another peak in the Meratus chain, hidden behind which is Gunung Kahung many tens of kilometres further south and not able to be seen from here. It’s a truly fabulous panorama of forested mountains and valleys in all directions.

The summit is crowned with a sign erected by Banjarmasin students in 2010. The peak is also known as ‘Halau-Halau’ and is regarded as haunted by many local Dayaks. Halau means ‘expel’ in Indonesian and apparently the peak has this name in reference to the expulsion of spirits of the dead. Ask your guide for a better explanation!

Return to Loksado or Kiyu the same way.

Bagging information by Daniel Quinn (October 2011)

Trail Map

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

Local Accommodation


  • Getting there: From Banjarmasin it takes 4 hours to Loksado (3 and a half direct from the airport). You can do this by public transport via Kandangan but it would probably take most of a day. Hiring a car/driver is about Rp500,000 per day.
  • Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Besar 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 take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase.
  • Water sources: Pos 2 Sungai Karuh (448m) on the Kiyu route. River at 591m on the Loksado route. Usually at Pos 4 Lembah Cirit (1,590m) on both trails but take plenty with you.

Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):



Origins and Meaning

‘Gunung Besar’ means ‘big mountain’ in Indonesian. ‘Halau Halau’ refers to the expulsion of spirits of the dead.

Links and References

Wikipedia Indonesia

3 thoughts on “Besar (Halau Halau)”

  1. John Hargreaves

    I climbed Gunung Besar on a Tuesday and Wednesday in the last week of September. There did not seem to be any other hikers beside our group on the mountain, and weather was dry throughout.

    Approach day
    Syamsudin Noor airport in Banjarmasin is vast, cavernous and bereft of public transport, or of anyone who has information about public transport in South Kalimantan. Eventually, I negotiated a Rp750,000 fare for a Kojatas taxi for the 4 hour journey to Loksado. I stayed in Alya Hijau homestay, which offers rooms with a wall fan and a mattress on the wooden floor, with shared bathroom and free drinking water, for Rp200,000. (The Loksado area also has a few ‘mountain lodge’ options now if you want more comfort.) My landlady was keen to help me find a trekking guide, but it turned out that her contact only knew about hikes through the local forest and villages. For Gunung Besar, you must find a guide in Kadayang, which is off the mobile phone grid. It might be a good plan to get up to Kadayang the night before your hike and spend the night with the villagers.

    Day 1
    After a 40 minute ojek ride from Loksado (Rp300,000 for two bikes), I reached Kadayang at about 08.00. Bring all your supplies, including aqua, as Kadayang does not have any shops, and at first looked worryingly deserted, except for a forlorn barking dog. Within a few minutes, however, a throng of people gathered, and by 08.30 I was set up with a guide and a porter and ready to depart. My companions Rusdi and Yatno, charged Rp300,000 each per day and turned out to be excellent guides, willing to vary their pace to suit me and to adapt to a two or three day hike according to our rate of progress.

    There are several river crossings with good bathing spots at around 600m altitude, with the last spot for taking on water at 670m, in the middle of an area of scorched earth and charred tree trunks. The farm huts at 780m and 900m are no longer dilapidated but have sturdy new planks and shady terraces to sit on. The short section between the huts and the forest is overgrown with long grass, and one must beware of tripping on hidden holes and tree trunks. Our guides took on more water at the grassy Marpadi campsite (1160m), which would probably be the stopping point for the first night of a three day hike. But with the clock only just past 12.00, we decided to press on to a higher campsite suitable for a two day hike. We found water again at the Lembah Cirit sumber air, a few minutes after the junction with the Kiyu trail (1540m). Eventually we reached Pos 4/ Penyaungan (1710m) after 8 hours of hiking and set up camp.

    Day 2
    The pre-dawn hike from Penyaungan to the summit took less than an hour. The summit was crowned by a metal flagpole and Indonesia flag, and is broad enough to function as a campsite itself. However, it is probably very windy and you would also be wary of wandering over the steep edges in the dark. Skies were clear and visibility good, even though much of South Kalimantan province was afflicted by smoke haze from the annual burnings during our visit. (Schools in the Banjarbaru area closed down a couple of days after my departure.)
    Our descent from Penyaungan back to Dayangan took 7 hours. Rusdi and Yatno deny that there are any bears on the mountain; indeed even birds were surprisingly scarce. But we did encounter a long black snake in the farmland area, which they called ular sambuy, and reported to be venomous.
    After a somewhat too speedy late afternoon ojek ride, we returned to Loksado and the Alya Hijau Homestay at 17.00.

    Departure day
    At 07.00, I rode the morning bemo (Rp50,000, 1 hour) from Loksado down to the main Kandangan-Banjarmasin road. There I was able to flag down a passing colt (Rp40,000, 4 hours) to Banjarmasin Apparently there is also a daily bus which leaves from Banjarmasin to Loksado every morning, and then departs from Loksado to Banjarmasin at 14.00.

    This was a strenuous but overall very rewarding hike with a good forest trail, adequate water, a pleasing summit and good guides in an area which is rural and pleasant but not too inaccessible.

  2. If you were insane you could do this in a regular weekend from Jakarta – but you would have to climb at night. I flew to Banjarmasin on the Friday night, stayed there for the night (Mira Hotel – cheap and clean/modern) arranged transport (via Pak Amat in Loksado) for first thing on Sat morning and started hiking by lunchtime. Back down on Sunday and had a long sleep in Loksado before heading back to Banjarmasin on Monday morning.
    Loksado was a very pleasant area but, having heard of the area before, I was surprised not to find any other foreigners or even a decent place to eat. The hotel, Wisma Loksado, sits on an island and the river flows either side of it. Unfortunately there was no a/c and not even a fan so it was a very hot night. To add insult to injury there was no alcohol in the warungs. A real shame – the place could really do well with foreigners but the local policy makers appear to be rather conservative Muslims. Not much respect for ‘unity in diversity’ in South Kalimantan.
    The night we spent on the mountain was a stormy one. The young Dayak lads built themselves a wooden shelter but they dived into the tent as soon as the thunder and lightning started! Unfortunately, so did the leeches – there are quite a few here, as on most if not all mountains in Kalimantan.
    I was worried the skies weren’t going to clear in time for morning but they did and we had a great view over the surrounding forests.
    The trail is in good condition too – not too much litter. There are little red bits of tarpaulin stapled to trees to mark the way.
    At the summit there are a few banknotes left as offerings to the Dayak spirits I suppose. There was an egg up there too! I have no idea what spirits might do with an egg and I didn’t check if it was boiled or not!
    The Dayak guides were great – really fast. Pak Amat wanted to come but he said 2 days would be too fast for him and he was amazed that we made it back to Loksado by 1pm on Sunday. The guides also managed to get quite a lot of extra drinking water from Bamboo stems.
    I suppose a lot of people think Kalimantan is a tough place to find a hike with good views that you can do in a short space of time. This is the obvious choice for a long weekend.

  3. Some great info on bagging this one from Udhin….if anyone is keen on joining me I may try this one in early August….

    1. Loksado
    – kalau mau ke Loksado via bandara Syamsudinoor (banjarmasin) langsung cari angkot L300 (antar kabupaten) tujuan Kandangan tarif berkisar antara Rp. 25.000 – Rp. 30.000 (3 jam perjalanan).
    – kalau udah nyampe Kandangan (minta berenti depan Bank BRI Kandangan) ada 2 alternatif pilihan transportasi menuju loksado yaitu : angkutan pedesaan (biasa ada di seputaran Muara Biluy) tanya saja sama tukang becak/minta antar ke Muara Biluy itu, tarif Rp. 10.000 – Rp. 15.000. bisa juga naik ojek tarif sekitar Rp. 50.000 – Rp. 60.000 (pilihan kalo-kalo udah ga ad angkutan pedesaan lagi). (40 menit – 1 jam).
    – kalo dah nyampe loksado bilang aja mau ke Balai Adat Malaris atau ke PIM (pondok Informasi Mangkuraksa), pondok yg dibangun masyarakat lokal sbg pusat informasi Adat & wisata, kalo bisa kesana saja jangan nginap di wisma Loksado.

    2. Gunung Besar
    – ambil angkutan (L 300) jurusan Barabai/Tanjung minta singgah di terminal kota Barabai, tarif Rp. 30.000 – 35.000 (dari bandara ), trus cari angkutan tujuan Birayang tarif Rp. 5.000 – Rp. 10.000.
    – dari Birayang cari angkutan pedesaan tujuan Batu Kambar tarifnya Rp. 25.000 – Rp. 30.000.
    – kalo dah nyampe Desa Batu Kambar cari aja rumah bapak Noorsewan, teman – teman pecinta alam biasa numpang nginap di rumah beliau, kalo mau pake jasa porter/guide bisa tanya -tanya sama beliau.
    – dari desa batu kambar tinggal jalan kaki ke arah Balai Adat Kiyo sekitar 30 menit – 1 jam dari desa batu kambar, disini bisa nyari guide/porter (disarankan makai jasa guide/porter), karna jalurnya terlalu banyak simpangan & jalan setapak bekas masyarakat berburu dan nyadap karet, tarif sekitar Rp. 50.000 – Rp. 100.000/hari.
    – dari Balai Adat Kiyo estimasi waktu perjalanan ke base camp sungai karuh sekitar 6 jam. dari base camp ini ke puncak bisa 3 – 4 jam.
    – dari base camp Sungai Karuh bisa turun ke Loksado dgn melewati beberapa balai adat masyarakat dayak. ( jalur ini yang menguasai cuma guide/porter lokal dari desa batu kambar/ balai Kiyo.

    * sangat disarankan memakai jasa porter/guide lokal.

    and a rough translation from Google….

    1. Loksado
    – If you want to Loksado via airport Syamsudinoor (banjarmasin) direct search for public transportation L300 (between districts) Kandangan goal tariff ranges between Rp. 25,000 – Rp. 30,000 (3 hours drive).
    – If you’ve nyampe Kandangan (ask the front berenti Kandangan Bank BRI) there are two alternative transportation options to loksado namely: rural transportation (normally found in around Muara Biluy) ask each pedicab / Estuary Biluy’m driven to it, the tariff of Rp. 10,000 – Rp. 15,000. can also ride a motorcycle taxi fare of about Rp. 50,000 – Rp. 60,000 (if option-if already ga ad rustic again). (40 minutes – 1 hour).
    – Kalo aja dah nyampe loksado say want to Balai Adat Malaris or PIM (cottage Mangkuraksa Information), local community-built shack as Adat & tourist information center, if there can be no staying in the guesthouse Loksado.

    2. Big Mountain
    – Take transit (L 300) majoring Barabai / Tanjung ask Barabai stop at the city terminal, the tariff of Rp. 30000-35000 (from airport), trus looking for transportation purposes Birayang rate Rp. 5,000 – Rp. 10,000.
    – From rustic looking Birayang Stone purposes Kambar rate of Rp. 25,000 – Rp. 30,000.
    – Kalo dah nyampe Stone Village Kambar looking Noorsewan father wrote home, friends – friends of nature lovers ordinary passengers staying at his house, if want to use services of a porter / guide may ask questions at him.
    – From the stone village kambar live walking towards Indigenous Kiyo Hall about 30 minutes – 1 hour from the village of stone kambar, nyari here can guide / porter (recommended wearing a service guide / porter), because the track is too much deviation & trails former hunting community and tap rubber, the rate of about Rp. 50,000 – Rp. 100.000/hari.
    – Balai Adat Kiyo estimation of travel time to the base camp karuh river about 6 hours. from base camp to the summit could be 3-4 hours.
    – From base camp down to the river could Karuh Loksado through several halls with indigenous Dayak communities. (This pathway that controls only guide / local porters from the village of stone kambar / hall Kiyo.

    * Strongly recommended the services of a porter / guide local.

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