- Elevation: 705 m (2,313 ft)
- Prominence: 705 m
- Ribu category:Spesial
- Province: Bangka Belitung
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: Bui sometimes spelt with a ‘k’ = Buik or ‘h’ = Buih
Gunung Maras is the name given to the largest mountain range on the island of Bangka. Whilst not especially high by Indonesian standards, it consists of two fairly separate peaks with a not inconsiderable drop between them known as Tambun Tulang. The range is one of the best places on the island to spot wildlife and the higher slopes offer some decent panoramas of the land below and coastline in the distance.
The northwestern of the two peaks is the most commonly-hiked, and there is even a sign for Gunung Maras at the village of Berbura which lies to the north of the range (about 1hr 30min from the main town of Pangkal Pinang by car or motorbike). This peak is generally known as Gunung Maras, although at 695m – or possibly less – it is actually the second-highest. The true summit is the southeastern one, which is rarely climbed and known as Bui (also spelt Buih and Buik).
The regular trail up the northwestern peak starts at Desa Berbura at an elevation of just 50m. It is important to start as early as possible and to take plenty of water with you. The earth here is sandy, and as the trail leads through rubber plantations you will find yourself walking on the sort of earth you might normally expect on a beach known as ‘pasir putih’ to Indonesians. You will see the mountain straight ahead with a number of minor tops.
After a short while you will have reached a small junction near a river. Straight on is a litter-strewn bathing area (AKA Berbura waterfall) and right leads up the mountain itself. The trail passes through patchy woodland offering some decent views to the valley below and Teluk Kelabat beyond to the north and northwest. You may be able to pick out the small island possibly still known as Pulau Kajuanak.
After an hour you will be in an area which offers a great view of Gunung Maras above. Sadly, this great view was made possible by a forest fire in 2015. The trail from this point steepens and begins to feel more mountain-like as you gain the ridge. From an elevation of around 500m or so you may be able to spot pitcher plants – Nepenthes Reinwardtiana – growing near the path. There are also at least two rocks with very interesting patterns or writing on them which at first appear to be ancient Sanskrit carvings. According to experts Made (@harimbawa) and Arlo Griffiths, however, these are fairly recent inscriptions probably using Roman alphabet but stylized in a Sanskrit fashion to list a team of hikers (IW, Damai, Yanuar, Yayan, Dwi).
The first ‘summit’ you reach is a large wooded area (600m) where local students often camp at the weekends and enjoy the views. It should have taken you no more than 2 or 3 hours to reach this point. However, another 15-20 minutes will take you to a higher grassy peak. This grassy peak is around 695m in elevation and in clear weather the views are very nice but perhaps not as good as near the wooded camping area.
Alas, the highest point of the range, known as Bui, is 1.3km to the southeast and via a steep drop down to a col known as Tambun Tulang, a place that people have become lost in before and in which navigating might be very difficult in cloudy conditions. Bui appears to be 705m, according to archival US Army Mapping Service (AMS) maps from the 1940s. The same figure of 705m on modern provincial maps of Bangka Belitung is given as the highest point, which conflicts with the more commonly found figure of 699m for Maras itself. The accessible grassy peak known as Maras to most local hikers probably is around 695m or perhaps a little under, but at over 700m Bui is the true peak. The 1940s maps suggest that there is a trig point at the summit of Bui, so this deserves further investigation too.
To get back down to the trailhead from the grassy peak is about 2 hours. For those wishing to try to reach Bui from this side, be warned that locals regard this peak as mystical and potentially dangerous and hikers have become lost in the col before. There is no clear trail down to Tambun Tulang except as far as a water source which often only offers a tiny amount of water. Without enough time and sufficient spare water it is not recommended to try Bui from this side. If you have plenty of water and a day to try to reach Bui and get back to camp (and also the permission from the villagers at Berbura) then you might be able to make it although the terrain is by no means easy.
A second route to the range starts in Dalil (only 45 minutes from Pangkal Pinang) and is entirely separate from the Berbura trail to Maras ridge. It is closer to Bui whereas Berbura is closer to Maras. The mountain is 9km from the main road at Dalil but motorbikes should be able to get you much closer. The Dalil side also has a waterfall and a minor rocky top known as Idat Peak or Puncak Idat. This ‘peak’ is only around 200m above sea level and does not have views as good as from the Maras ridge, but it may be a decent ‘basecamp’ for an attempt on Bui summit from this side, not requiring the big drop down via Tambun Tulang. However it still remains unclear if there is anything resembling even a faint trail to the top from this side and attempts to get in touch with locals who have been up here have not been very successful so far.
Bagging information by Dan Quinn (May 2017, updated July 2018)
- Getting there: Numerous flights from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang every day. It takes about 45 minutes to Dalil or 1hr 30min by car or motorbike to Berbura from Pangkal Pinang.
- Accommodation: Several options including both city hotels and beach resorts.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Maras information pack can be downloaded here.
- Permits: Register at Berbura or Dalil.
- Water sources: The waterfall areas at the foot of the mountain on both the Berbura and Dalil sides (100m above sea level only).
- 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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