Ibu

Facts

  • Elevation: 1,377 m (4,518 ft)
  • Prominence: 1,090 m
  • Ribu category: Kurang Tinggi
  • Province: Maluku Utara (North Moluccas)
  • Google Earth: kml
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  • Other names: Some local hikers call this Tobaru, but it seems to be incorrect naming
  • Eruptions: 1911, 1998-99, 2001, 2004-05, 2008-09, 2011-13, 2019-present

Photos

Bagging It!

The truncated summit of Gunung Ibu stratovolcano on the NW coast of Halmahera Island has large nested summit craters.  The inner crater, 1 km wide and 400 m deep, contained several small crater lakes through much of historical time.  The outer crater, 1.2 km wide, is breached on the north side, creating a steep-walled valley.  A large parasitic cone is located ENE of the summit.  A smaller one to the WSW has fed a lava flow down the western flank.  A group of maars (a broad flat volcanic crater formed by a single explosive eruption) is located below the northern and western flanks of the volcano.  Only a few eruptions have been recorded from Ibu in historical time, the first a small explosive eruption from the summit crater in 1911.  An eruption producing a lava dome that eventually covered much of the floor of the inner summit crater began in December 1998  (Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program).

We climbed Gunung Ibu in September 2011 when it was in eruptive stage 3 – Siaga (High Alert).  The floor of the crater had risen to about 100 ms from the rim of the inner crater.  Three lava domes, each about 100 m across, billowed  enormous plumes of smoke every 10-15 minutes with ash being deposited on the surrounding forest.  Fumaroles emitted gas continuously with ear-deafening screams.  An amazing display of “fireworks” would have been visible at night from the rim as well as from the Desa Goin, which is directly below the breach in the crater on the northern side. Indeed, some hikers choose to camp on the rim.

The outer crater rim has two high points, one on the west (which is apparently the summit) and a second on the eastern side. The old US Army map lists the western top as 1,325m and the eastern top as 1,300m but based on satellite data these old figures are considerable underestimates. Because the track emerges onto the crater rim on the western side, it is technically possible to reach the summit on the highest part of the steep-walled valley though this may require effort cutting through dense ferns, cane grass and dead, burnt trees from the 1998/1999 eruption that cover the upper slopes of the crater and the outer crater rim. Most hikers probably do not hike round to the highest point, so it is unclear if there is a trail or not and you would have to allow extra time to attempt this and make it clear to your guide prior to starting your hike.

The track starts from the Desa Duono (108 m ASL); however, it is possible to drive about two kilometres into the coconut plantations and start the trek at 200 m ASL. Plantation tracks then pass through nutmeg and cloves before entering the forest at about 600 m ASL. A broad track, formed from villagers skidding logs down the slope, continues for another 200 m or so (vertical).  Thereafter, the track is virtually non-existent known only to local guides.  The volcanology sensor station is passed on the right at about 900 m ASL. Beyond this point, the track is very rarely used and overgrown.  The remaining 300 m (vertical) or so becomes progressively steeper and the ferns/cane grass becoming increasingly dense, requiring continuous slashing to forge a way through to the crater rim, although in recent years it appears that the trail is more frequently used and therefore likely to be less overgrown.

The track emerges on the western side of rim at 1250 m ASL with spectacular views into the crater, but not of the surrounding country due to tall, dense vegetation.  Despite a total ascent of only 1050 m, the climb was very slow in the upper reaches and took over six hours in 2011 but is likely to take a maximum of 5 hours up in 2021.  The descent, by comparison, takes only about three hours.  A guide is essential; be prepared to pay a premium because of the large amount of slashing required unless local hikers have been up there recently.  The ascent time could be reduced considerably by requesting the guide to cut the track prior to the day of the climb (but, of course, at additional cost).  Our guide was Pak Coyo, whom the volcanology staff employ when servicing the equipment on the mountain.  His house is located on the right hand, back corner of the alun-alun (village square/football field) in Desa Duono. Alternatively ask for a guide in Desa Goin.

According to one local guide, before the ongoing activity which started in 1998, local hunters could do a circuit of the crater rim and even descend into the crater itself.

Note that some local hikers call this mountain Gunung Tobaru, but on the old US Army map, Gunung Tobaru is a 1,035 metre high peak several kilometres further north, and also known as Gunung Loloda. Gunung Ibu is named after the Ibu tribe who first inhabited the area near the volcano but are now found living around Desa Gamlamo and have long since converted to Islam. The Tobaru tribe, on the other hand, originate from the highlands around Gunung Tobaru, Lake Todoke and Lake Togotoaka and now live at the base of Gunung Ibu.

Bagging information by Nick Hughes (September 2011), minor updates by Dan Quinn (September 2021)

Local Accommodation



Booking.com

Practicalities

  • Getting there: There are plenty of flights to Ternate island from Jakarta (usually via Manado and/or Makassar).  From Ternate, take a speed boat from the Dufa-Dufa boat terminal just north of the airport, to Jailolo on mainland Halmahera (Rp60k per passenger in 2021, less than 1 hour).  Arrange a hire car from Jailolo to Desa Duono, Kecamatan Ibu.  Public transport is infrequent and unreliable though in 2021 there are plenty of drivers waiting for passengers to fill their vehicles up. It is advisable to stop en route at the Pos Pengamatan Gunung Api (Vulcanology Post), Desa Gamsungi, for latest information on the eruptive status of Gunung Ibu.  This Pos monitors Gunungs Gamkonora and Ibu.
  • Permits: None required but take a photocopy of your passport photo page just in case.  Check the eruptive status of Gunung Ibu at  http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/  The vulcanology officials are obliged to “close” the mountain to climbers when Stage 3 – Siaga (High Alert) – is reached.
  • Water sources: None known – take sufficient supplies with you.
  • 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):

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Location

Origins and Meaning

‘Ibu’ means mother. So, “Mother Mountain” might be a reasonable translation.

Links and References

Wikipedia English
Wikipedia Indonesia

2 thoughts on “Ibu

  1. As I was coming to the Ibu area after having done Dukono I considered the cross-country route via Tolabit, requiring only 3 hours instead of 5 and a half on the long main road back round via Sidangoli and Jailolo. There is a surfaced road beyond Tolabit but you then need to walk 3 kilometres (at least, could be more) presumably on dirt track (certainly no car can use this route at present though a motorbike in dry conditions might be ok) to Togereba Tua where you can get an ojek on to Desa Duono. But given all the hassles of finding ojeks and so on I thought I’d see what the price was for a car round to Ibu, as like usual on Halmahera you can be waiting forever for a car to fill up with other passengers.

    Terminal Baru in Tobelo is the place to find drivers typically from the Jailolo area, waiting to head home. At Rp800k it wasn’t cheap, but I was at the Penginapan Bionuri in Desa Ibu in about 5 and a half hours including a quick stop to eat at Rumah Makan Laduni. There is no data signal at the Penginapan, but it’s friendly and Rp130k a room.

    I sent a message to Alex, a former guide for westerners visiting Gunung Ibu, to see if he had a number for his relative, Edwin, in Desa Duono, for the following day. No reply, so I just got an ojek up there at first light the following day (Rp50k, just under 30 minutes), ready with GPS, water and snacks. I was given a coffee at what I think was the Pak RT house near the football field / alun-alun. After a few minutes, a boy shuffled over. Turned out this was Edwin, but he looked tired and not very interested in doing a hike. Not inspiring of confidence. He said a day-hike was impossible, to which I replied it definitely was possible given I had a friend who had done it and that it was still before 7am so plenty of time. He asked for Rp800k, quickly changed to Rp1juta for two of them. He also looked up at the volcano as if it was the first time he had ever seen it, and was confused by how long it might take.

    I said Rp500k should be enough for a dayhike and if he wanted to bring a friend it was up to him, but I wouldn’t be paying double for him to bring a friend. It is hiked frequently by local students now, so is likely to be far less overgrown than when Nick hiked it almost ten years ago to the day. My final offer of Rp600k was rejected and he shuffled off again. I waited to see if anyone else could be found, but nobody emerged after nearly an hour of sitting around waiting. Very disappointing. To be honest, I would have reluctantly agreed to a higher price if he had shown any enthusiasm, but he seemed totally lacking in energy and I wouldn’t have been surprised had we reached the edge of the rim if he had asked for yet more money to try to reach the highest point. When you are not only paying but also actually having to motivate a local guide in the first place it becomes incredibly tedious indeed.

    Remember that standard minimum wage in the province is around Rp2,7 juta a month, so Rp600k for a day is pretty good going for work that is basically unskilled and could be done by anyone who had hiked the trail recently. Quite why it is expected that you should pay more than a week’s wages for a day-hike is unclear. Imagine turning your nose up at 360 quid in the UK for a dayhike. Personally if I knew the way I’d be quite happy to do the trek for Rp600k, no matter what country I was in. A shame also that they don’t seem to comprehend that you may have spent a lot of time and effort in just getting to the village.

    So, one of his friends took me back to the penginapan in Desa Ibu (another 50k). I had already paid for a second night there, but decided to call the driver to get back to Jailolo and over to Ternate. 081241611533 is Bang Arya’s number if you need a driver in the Jailolo area. Desa Ibu to Jailolo is Rp300k for a car, and takes about 90 minutes. There was a speedboat filling up, Rp60k per ticket over to Dufa Dufa pier, or Rp1 juta if you want to charter!

    Over in Ternate I looked into Kie Besi but given I needed a PCR test for my flight back to Jakarta, and the limited boat schedule, I ended up just staying at a hotel and resting. It was a disappointing end to the trip, and means that the very friendly Buku Sibela will be going in my eBook of 100 hikes in Indonesia instead of Gunung Ibu.

    Perhaps I’ll return in a few months if there is any interest from others in doing a hike there and paying an over-the-top fee for it. In retrospect I could have tried searching for a willing guide another 1.5km further along at Desa Goin due north of the volcano. Perhaps that will be the plan next time. Do get in touch if you are interested in a Maluku Utara trip later in 2021….

  2. Hello Nick,
    Its really nice this information. I would like to climb this volcano. Can you tell me you need how many time of trekking from start point at village Duono to the top of Ibu?

    Thank you for your consideration,
    Abot

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