- Elevation: 1,431 m (4,695 ft)
- Prominence: 1,046 m
- Ribu category: Kurang Tinggi
- Province: Nusa Tenggara Timur
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none
Ili Wukoh lies to the west of the twin peaks of Lewotobi Laki-Laki (husband) and Perempuan (wife). As you descend the steep track from the dome of Lewotobi (Perempuan), Ili Wukoh is visible to your half-left in the distance. From here, it appears as a reasonably gently climb until reaching the base of its peak that then angles up sharply. However, this impression is somewhat misleading if you actually attempt the true summit of Ili Wukoh. The mountain top consists of two sharp, rocky peaks, Ili Ledo (1,273 m) and Ili Wukoh. These peaks are presumably the remains of an ancient volcano eroded away with time. There is no volcanic crater at the summit.
Ili Wukoh is a mystical mountain with much folklore from animistic times that still seems to influence the lives of the villagers. Like Lewotobi, its two peaks, Wukoh and Ledo, are considered as ‘husband and wife’. We learned something of the mysticism surrounding this mountain from Hewa villagers during our trek.
Folklore relates that there was the King of the Sea (nearby on coast to the north) and the King of the Mountain (Ili Wukoh). These Kings were in conflict with each other. A consequence of this conflict was that if one climbs Ili Wukoh no mention may be made of the sea below – the words, “fish”, “salt”, “coast nearby”. If these words are mentioned, one will become ‘lost on the mountain’. (But, my assistant and a villager discussed this folklore quite openly, using these words, without any reservations while on the mountain.)
Folklore also dictates that no less than three person may climb the mountain at a time (including guides) – “if less, people will become lost”. The Village Head gave our group of seven climbers, with two guides, permission to climb. We were required to provide name and nationality in advance. The Village Head has apparently rejected applications from individuals who have attempted to obtain permission in the past for this reason.
We were told of a cave below the summit that contains a “magical cloud/mist”. Folklore relates that if you approach this cave, you will be drawn in “as if by a magnet”. Inside, a snake, Maduwan, will consume you and your body will emerge in the sea below.
Most interestingly, the Hewa villagers climb to the true summit of Ili Wukoh each year before the rains, in about October, to pray for good rains and harvest. An offering of a binatang (animal) is made on the peak, normally a pig and/or chickens. About 30 people can be accommodated in the peak of Ili Wukoh at one time. The offerings are cooked and consumed there before all descend. On this occasion, the path to the summit is cleared by the young men of the village making for an easy ascent. Men, women and older boys and girls partake in this ceremony.
We arrived at village Hewa (165 m) at about 05:30 and met our guides, two elderly gentlemen (one carrying a bow and arrows for shooting pigs and monkeys; the other, a machete for cutting the path). They were excellent guides with complete knowledge of the mountain – even though they did become a bit confused on the upper slopes of Ledo trying to cut a track through the thick undergrowth. Despite being barefooted, we were not able to keep up with them. The total ascent from Hewa to the true summit (Wukoh) is about 1,266 m, and to the summit of Ledo about 1,008 m.
The first 2.5 km from Hewa is a gentle hike thought cultivated gardens of cocoa and subsistence crops (480 m); then 1.5 km up a dry, rocky riverbed (760 m alt). At the end of the riverbed, the track turns right onto a ridge. After about another 2.5 km up this ridge, the first peak, Ili Ledo (1,273 m), is reached. The ascent of Ili Ledo is steep without any visible path and through very dense rainforest and hardly any good views of the summit. The ridge becomes increasingly narrow towards this summit. No fun, especially when the guides had to cut their way through the undergrowth. Even they became a bit lost in the process! The climb from Hewa to the summit of Ili Ledo took about 4:30 hours.
We did not attempt the true summit of Ili Wukoh. Reaching the true summit of Wukoh from Ledo involves a traverse with a very steep decline from Lebo to a saddle and then an even higher climb up again to the true summit of Wukoh. The traverse of the saddle is about 100 m and, in places, only about 40 cm wide with vertical drop-offs on each side. It looks like a difficult and dangerous climb in unknown territory, even though the villagers obviously do it each year. Given our lack of time, we decided not to continue. Recommended time for the return trek from Hewa to the summit of Ili Ledo is about nine hours! More time is required to reach Ili Wukoh. Trees apparently block views from Wukoh; better views are from Ledo.
Meret l. Stigner, Flores: Adventure Trails, Swiss Contact, 2012, suggests that the climb is of ‘medium’ difficulty and that only four hours are required to reach the true summit. We find this an overly optimistic assessment. It states that the track is in ‘good condition’ – not so in our experience, perhaps after the October ceremony only! The track to the summit does not seem to be used ‘frequently’ by the locals, as this publication informs, except perhaps for the October ceremony.
The book also states that the forest is ‘adorned with untouched forest’ and ‘teeming with wildlife such as civets, monkeys and Flores warty pigs, Timor deer, snakes, and even more diverse wildlife’. Like most mountain forests in Indonesia, progressive felling of virgin forest for building materials and new agricultural land is occurring. The forest may be ‘teeming with wildlife’ but don’t expect to see any when trekking through the forest. One of our lead trekkers, a serious birder, informed that the mountain does indeed have good potential for bird watching.
Bagging information by Nick Hughes, Werner Waldner and David Robertson (August 2017)
- Getting there: As for Lewotobi; turn off the main road between Maumere and Larantuka at Boru; take an angkot (inter-village bus) that runs the route from Boru to Hewa (trailhead); the road passes the Badan Geologi office and continues on until taking a right turn off the main road to the village of Hewa.
- Accommodation: As for Lewotobi. If you are serious about a one-day climb of Ili Wukoh, you would need to stay in Hewa overnight for an early start the next day. Perhaps the Village Head will offer you camping space somewhere in the village!
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Ili Wukoh information pack can be downloaded here.
- Permits: As mentioned in the narrative above, folklore dictates that only three or more people (including guides) may climb the mountain together. Permission is required from the Village Head to climb the mountain. Name and nationality may be requested – take a photocopy of your passport/ID in case. Discuss with the staff at the Badan Geologi, Boru, whether they are able to assist with, or advise on, advance arrangements with the Village Head at Hewa. Otherwise, arrive at Hewa early the day before to discuss permissions, logistics (guides), accommodation, etc. directly with the Village Head.
- Water sources: None available – 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):