- Elevation: 2,085 m (6,841 ft)
- Prominence: 2,085 m
- Ribu category: Tinggi Sedang
- Province: Maluku Utara (North Moluccas)
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none
Buku Sibela is the highest point of the island of Bacan and lies within Gunung Sibela Nature Reserve. It is also the highest peak in North Maluku province. Until quite recently, very few hikers had heard of it, but it is slowly growing in popularity and the superb views from the summit ridge make it well worth the effort getting to.
It takes most hikers at least 11-12 hours to reach the summit and 9-10 hours back down again so it is usually spread over three more manageable days, typically with the second night spent camping at the summit itself. Friends of your guide will usually take you by motorbike from the village basecamp (27m) in Gandasuli up a plantation track to an elevation of around 138 metres. From here, the trek properly begins through kebun, crossing a small stream four times, passing a wooden shelter with a couple of seats outside (258m) before a steep and overgrown section between the kebun and the Pintu Rimba (forest entrance, 328m). There are some reasonable views just before the start of the forest trail.
It is still a considerable distance to Pos 1 (529m) but there are many, many hornbills in this area so you have a very good chance of seeing them flying above you. Pos 1 is large enough for several tents and the forest here features some wonderful trees with huge buttress roots. The trail continues gently up to Pos 2 (808m) which you should have reached in around 4 hours. A source of water is down to the left. Beyond Pos 2 is an area of old kebun apparently from Dutch times. Ask your guide to show you what the colonialists planted here.
Pos 3 (1,118m) is next and there is a water source down to the right. Pos 4 (1,386m) is next, before the trail crosses two streams (at 1,458m and 1,472m). The trail here winds round to Pos 5 (1,515m), sometimes known as Camp Rusa due to the many deer in the area and with a very good stream for water. There’s even a small clearing just before the Pos with a citrus tree. If you have made it here on Day 1 then you have done pretty well.
The vegetation begins to change after Pos 5 and the first excellent viewpoint known as Panorama (1,613m) is soon reached. This is a great spot for some photos down to the ocean below. The trail then leads up to Pos 6 (1,745m) which is a lovely spot with even better views. Beyond Pos 6, the vegetation gets less dense, and the views improve. There are some pitcher plants in this area too. Ahead of you are the higher slopes of the mountain, and the steep cliff when it comes into view looks like it might present some serious challenges. Thankfully, it is not as difficult as it looks, as the trail drops down a little way to the left before a steep section with some ropes to hold onto before reaching Pos 7 (1,965m) which is a lovely small grassy spot with an old tree stump.
There is water down to the right just before Pos 7, but it may not be easy to find without guides and it is advisable to bring as much as you can up with you from Pos 5. It may not look too far from Pos 7 to the summit but there is a bit of up and down to be negotiated, plus some slippery logs to traverse, so it takes about 30 minutes.
The summit is well-marked and obvious; a grassy area with incredible views in all directions. It takes around 7-8 hours to reach the summit from Pos 2, but hopefully you managed to camp higher up on the previous night. The summit is a wonderful spot to camp and you should be able to see the town of Labuha below, including the little airport, the shapely Gunung Amasing, and right to Buku Rica, Bacan island’s other much more obscure Ribu. In the distance to the north it is sometimes possible to see Kie Besi on the island of Makian and Kiematubu on the island of Tidore, most usually in the early morning just after sunrise. To the south you may be able to see the remote island of Obi. The ocean glitters in many different directions. These views make Buku Sibela a truly worthy provincial highpoint, and there is no higher land until you reach either Sulawesi or Seram.
To descend by the same way is a long day’s trek of at least 9-10 hours. Hopefully you will have motorbikes waiting for you on the plantation track to take you back to the village basecamp.
Bagging information by Dan Quinn (September 2021)
- Getting there: Turboprop to Labuha airport from Ternate, or the nightly boat between Bastiong (Ternate) and Babang (Bacan) which takes 8 hours.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Buku Sibela 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.
- Accommodation: There are several hotels in Labuha but it is recommended you book in advance to avoid having to stay at one of the less decent ones.
- Permits: Register in Gandasuli with your local guide.
- Water sources: Available as far as Pos 7, although Pos 5 is the last truly reliable spot.
- 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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