- Elevation: 1,703 m (5,587 ft)
- Prominence: 1,398 m
- Ribu category: Kurang Tinggi
- Province: Nusa Tenggara Timur
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none
- Eruptions: 1675, 1861, 1865, 1868-69, 1889, 1907, 1909-10, 1914, 1921, 1932-33, 1935, 1939-40, 1968-71, 1990-91, 1999, 2002-03
This spectacular volcano is a ‘husband and wife couple’ comprised of Lewotobi Perempuan (‘female’, 1703 metres) and Lewotobi Laki-laki (‘male’, 1584 metres). The peaks are often active – most eruptions have been from the Laki-laki vent, most recently in 2003, but seismic activity and minor volcanic emissions are common from both.
There are several possible starting points for the climb; the best-known is from the Vulcanology Centre at Desa Bawalatang (344m). Bawalatang is about a 20 minute from the main Trans-Flores road, between Maumere and Larantuka, at Boru. There is very little accommodation in the area so most hikers stay in Maumere or Larantuka, or else sleep on the floor at a local village house. Whatever you do, this hike is time-consuming, and so you need to set off as early as you can – by sunrise at least.
A guide is essential to negotiate the tracks through the plantations on the lower slopes and, thereafter, through the forest where the track is not well defined (due to the few people who climb these peaks). You will have no trouble finding a guide in Bawalatang – ask at the Vulcanology Centre. Despite how well-known these volcanos are, they are only climbed a handful of times each year, besides hunters seeking deer and pigs.
After passing through the cocoa plantations, you will enter forest where the Gosong kaki-merah, Red Footed Scrub Fowl, Megapodius reinwardt, make their nests. The locals have their own name for the Scrub Fowl but, mistakenly, use the word ‘kasawari’ (cassowary) to identify the bird when speaking Indonesian.
After some time, you will reach a forest ridge where the trail is a little more well-defined. Eventually, at about 1,053m, you will reach a rocky gully (where the guides like to take a rest). Just after this point, the track divides – Lewotobi Perempuan to the right across the gully and Lewotobi Laki-laki up the gully.
PEREMPUAN: Cross the rocky gully and enter grassy upland meadows of scattered eucalyptus trees. The path here is faint and you drop down in one or two places before climbing up again. After an hour or so, you will reach the col (1,228m) between Laki-laki and Perempuan marked by a large cement block.
To reach the Perempuan crater, simply work your way from the col and then take a right and begin the ascent up ancient lava flows and boulders. In this area you should spot one or two volcanic activity sensors that the folk back down at the office in Bawalatang use to monitor the volcano.
After 45 minutes or so of steep clambering up rocks, you will be rewarded with views over Laki-laki and Ili Wukoh, a mysterious forest peak with a triangular top that nobody seems to know much about. Eventually you will reach the bare rock of Perempuan’s outer rim. Follow this to the right for 20 minutes after which you will reach the inner rim of the impressive main crater itself inside of which is a lava dome, yellowish in places due to the sulphur.
The true summit of Perempuan lies some 500 metres beyond the rim to the south, but only the confident scrambler should attempt what might be rather dangerous. The rim is steep, crumbly and slippery so do take extra care. It should take you about one and a half hours up to the rim from the col (cement block). To descend the same way should be considerably faster.
LAKI LAKI: At the rocky gully, ‘where the guides like to take a rest’, proceed directly up the gully climbing up rocks within the gully. Towards the top of the gully, the rocks become increasingly loose and fragile and difficult to climb. Eventually, you will emerge onto a steep, friable slope of loose scree that takes you direct to the summit of Laki-laki – not fun but doable with courage and patience.
The view from the summit of Laki-laki into its crater (when dormant) is mind-boggling – a cavernous hole, about 15 metres wide, of unknown depth descending into the bowels of the earth. One can only imagine what emits from this enormous cavity when the mountain does erupt periodically. Indeed, our guides informed that your boots would melt if you climb Laki-laki all the way to the top! As of September 2014, and the mountain dormant, our boots were fine on the summit of Laki-laki!
A descent from Laki-laki via the rocky gully would be difficult and dangerous due to its loose rubble. Instead, we scrambled down the scree slope towards the col between Perempuan and Laki-laki. Eventually, we entered Eucalypt scrub and ‘bushwhacked’ our way down until meeting the track between the ‘rocky gully’ and the cement block on the col – and thereafter returned to the Vulcanology Centre through the forest and plantations.
To climb both Perempuan and Laki-laki in one day would be very demanding and certainly require a start or end in the dark, so most people choose to just one. Laki-laki may be shorter but the summit of Perempuan certainly offers the more spectacular views.
Bagging information by Dan Quinn (Perempuan, August 2013); updated Nick Hughes (Laki-laki, September 2014)
For a high quality PDF version of this and other trail maps, please download from our Trail Maps page.
- Getting there: Turn off the main road through Flores at Boru, which lies about halfway between Larantuka and Maumere. Larantuka has an airport (but check if flights are operating there). Maumere airport is the main hub in Flores and not much further away.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Lewotobi information pack can be downloaded here.
- Permits: None required but take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase.
- Water sources: None available – take sufficient supplies with you.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):
Origins and Meaning
Village of Tamarind. Named after a local village where tamarind grows – Lewo (village) and Tobi (tamarind).
7 thoughts on “Lewotobi”
We finally climbed lewotobi laki-laki in June 2019. It was quiet a.pleasure not having to use Valentin for this climb, but it is a bushwhacking one. Return takes around 12hoirs, so it can be done in one day from Hokeng leaving early.
Spectacular views from the top, and if you dare you can gape into the crater from an overhanging rock.
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We attempted to climb Lewotobi from the village bawalatang where is the badan vulkanologi (see other posts). We were directed to Valentin, which could only be convinced to guide us for 600000/person. Most likely my appearance (bule) made the price go substantially higher than if my wife (Indonesian) would have been there alone. Never had this kind of experience in Flores before. Beware if you are bule and want to climb Lewotobi and if you have another price (lower) in mind…
Luckily Indonesia is rich in volcanos and righteous people, so we decided to leave Valentin waiting till the next willing bule is coming.
Lewotobi: I climbed Lewotobi Laki-laki in September 2014 and Perempuran in July 2017. At the time in September 2014, we were unclear which of the peaks were Laki-laki or Perempuan. Our guides took us up Laki-2. Now that I have climbed both peaks, I can make a comparison.
Laki-laki is definitely the more challenging of the two; the guides agreed with this. Upon reaching the creek bed (see description), one scrambles up rocks within the creek. The scrambling becomes increasingly difficult as one progresses up the creek. Thereafter, to the summit, the climb is up steep, loose scoria, hard going but doable with care. Summit is accessible. View into the crate ‘tube’, into the bowels of the earth, is impressive. We descended to the saddle between Laki-2 and Perempuan – no track, much scrub bashing. Thereafter we returned as per for Perempuan.
Perempuan: after the gardens and forest, a delightful trek through open Eucalyptus savannah till reaching the saddle between Laki-2 and Perempuan. The climb up to the crater rim is steep but quite doable on mostly solid rocks. The trek around the crater rim to a viewing point and descent to the edge of crater, overlooking the growing volcanic dome, is simple enough and extremely rewarding. Climb to the true summit could be dangerous.
General: the guides, on both occasions, took us up what they call the New Track (jalan baru) and descended via the Old Track (jalan lama), both of which are through gardens and forest before reaching the Eucalyptus savannah zone. The New Track is interesting as it passes by a maleo nest. The Old Track, although a bit shorter, has very many fallen logs, remains of tree felling, making trekking much more difficult. I would prefer to ascend and descent via the New Track.
On both occasions, the return treks took some10-12 hours. It would not be possible to climb both peaks in one day. If you want to attempt both peaks, camp at the saddle and do them on two separate days.
Our Lead Guide, on both occasions, was Valentin. He lives in the village across the road from the Badan Geologi office. Just ask for him in the village.
Accommodation: for the July 2017 trip, we stayed at Hokeng about 10-15 minutes by car from the trailhead: Wisma Sesa Banu, Catholic Retreat – delightful, friendly, highly recommended (contact Tour Guide Dominggus for introduction; 0852 3749 5945, firstname.lastname@example.org.)
This in from Nick Hughes, who recently climbed to the top of Laki-laki…
“I now understand where the reference to ‘cassowary’ came from. The local people were simply misinformed that the Indonesian word for the scrub fowl/megapod was ‘cassowary’ rather than the correct Indonesian/scientific word, ‘maleo’. Note: please refer to the maleo in English as Scrub Fowl, not Jungle Fowl – the latter refers to the wild form of ayam (chickens).”
I was planning to climb Lewotobi (and camp) with a friend in early May 2014 and we abandoned the plans as local people said the activity at the volcano had intensified recently and it was not safe. I am not sure how official this information is
Ah…how disappointing. Just had an email from Rafael to say they aren’t cassowary nests. Perhaps simply large junglefowl of some sort. I must admit to having been surprised by the idea of such huge beasts living so close to the villagers….
“Hi Daniel..i just read you written about lewotobi volcano. You know i am so curious about cassowary like lokal guide guide told to us. That bird in lokal language they mention it ” WODONG “. When i asking the lokal people what is look like of wodong bird ? And they say it is look like free range chicken, so that was not cassowary. Cassowary just in Irian jaya and in Australia, and also very dangerous bird.”
This volcano had long been near the top of my ‘to climb’ list. Travelling in either direction across Flores between Maumere and Larantuka and you help but be impressed by it.
Back in Larantuka, I had been given a business card for East Flores Tourism, or LDO – Lamaholot Destination Organization – run by a local man named Wiss. I sent him a message to see if he knew a guide for climbing Lewotobi. He replied that yes he does – Rafael, who lives near the volcano and speaks excellent English. Brilliant, I think! Easy for once!
The following morning I take the very first bus (6am departure from infront of the hotels) from Larantuka to Desa Nobo to meet the Lewotobi guide, Rafael. A lovely bloke, he is there waiting for me. Next comes the surprise…. he says he is not a climber, he has never climbed Lewotobi before. Indeed, he has never climb any mountain before ever!
I shake my head in disbelief but keep quiet and get on the motorbike and set off towards the starting point (via Boru to Bawalatang). Rafael is very keen to practise his excellent English and we get on well. He is keen to try climbing the volcano so we set about finding a local village guide.
After being quoted Rp300,000, we manage to find someone else for Rp150,000 at Bawalatang and we set off marching up through the coffee plantations.
Rafael starts telling me a story about one of his relatives who heard a legend about buried gold in a cave on the side of Lewotobi. The relative goes looking for it when localised volcanic tremors force him back down the mountainside. Interesting stuff. I respond with the story of the gold-diggers on Manado Tua.
By the time we reached the edge of the forest at an elevation of around 1000m, Rafael was knackered. We left him with some water and continued alone, promising to be back by 3pm. Given that we had started at after 8am, we didn’t have a great deal of time to waste.
Alas, there was a lot of cloud about so views both of and from the peaks were limited. The perempuan crater itself was very impressive but getting round to the true summit seemed just a bit too beyond my abilities. I tried heading anticlockwise but kept falling over on quite steep sections of rim. If we had had more time or the weather had been better i would have tried going clockwise but as it was the guide wanted us to go back to Rafael. I agreed. To do the Lakilaki peak too would really require a much earlier start than our 8am.
When we reached him, he told us of a wild pig which had frightened him by leaping out and running right past him! No cassowaries spotted, however.
We took the regular, better-defined route back down to Bawalatang, and stopped off a small dwelling where we drank kelapa muda, ate rice with papaya leaves (very bitter) and were given presents of cassowary eggs (a local delicacy).
The meaning of Lewotobi is Tamarind Village – Rafael is from the village of Lewotobi where still today lots of tamarind grows. We got back down to Bawalatang at around 5pm and set off on the short journey to Hewa where we would be staying with one of Rafael’s relatives prior to my climbing of Ili Wukoh the next day.