- Elevation: 1,881 m (6,171 ft)
- Prominence: 958 m
- Ribu category: Spesial
- Province: Lampung
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none
Gunung Seminung is one of the most strikingly beautiful mountains in southern Sumatra and is well-known by those who visit Danau Ranau, the lake beneath the mountain and second largest body of water in Sumatra (after Danau Toba in the north). It might be thought of as the twin of Lake Toba’s Pusuk Buhit, as both are the guardian mountains lying beside their respective lakes.
The mountain is the remains of an ancient volcano which erupted, supposedly turning a wide river flowing at the foot of the volcano into the large lake we see today. There is still limited volcanic activity on Seminung and most people who come to Danau Ranau visit the hot springs at the base of the mountain.
A local guide who has climbed the mountain recently is almost essential because there are several tracks on the lower section of the hillside and few signs at junctions. Despite being famous in the local area it is not climbed as often as you might imagine and so expect occasional overgrown sections of trail on the higher slopes. As usual in Sumatra, it is best to hike with a minimum of two other people just in case you should be unlucky (or lucky!) enough to meet one of the very few remaining tigers in Lampung.
Before hiking, remember to visit the small town of Kota Batu and ask to be directed to the house of the person who you must ask permission to climb the mountain. Foreigners are sometimes asked to have their photograph informally taken prior to starting the hike. You then need a second, equally important, permission granted to hike from Pak Kuncen, the mountain’s guardian or caretaker, who lives with his wife at what in 2020 is known as Basecamp Kuncen (865m).
This spot is the official trailhead and there are several ways to get there. You can hire a small boat from either Kota Batu or Wisma Pusri to cross the lake to the hot springs (Air Panas, 530m) at the foot of the mountain or simply take an ojek from Kota Batu. Arranging a boat is very easy. From Wisma Pusri the crossing takes just under 30 leisurely minutes and is a wonderful way to see the Ranau area. It also gives you the option of having a soak in the hot springs after your hike before getting the boat back across the lake.
By motorbike (ojek), there is a new network of roads at the base of the mountain near Kota Batu that vary greatly in width, so using a car is out of the question. You can weave your way through the plantations to Air Panas this way, and even reach the basecamp itself where there is space for motorbike parking.
Some locals may suggest you follow a higher trail above the basecamp and leave your bike near some small wooden buildings (950m), but this is a bad idea because you will need to descend to the basecamp to register before the hike, and again after your hike, meaning extra effort and time required without any good reason.
After you have spoken with Pak Kuncen at the basecamp, and registered your hiking group, you can finally get started. The trail leads up through the plantation, comprised mostly of coffee, avocado, and a little pepper, past a simple wooden hut (927m) before a collection of 3 or 4 wooden buildings (950m) where there is a water pool and space for changing clothes afterwards. This is also where some locals leave their motorbikes if they have used a different plantation trail in from Kota Batu.
Beyond the cluster of simple wooden buildings is a crucial junction (960m) where you turn right off the plantation trail. This should have a sign for the ‘puncak’. From here, navigating is fairly easy, as the trail leads up to a wooden fence (1,045m) at the edge of the plantation where there are some views. Beyond this the trail enters forest (1,088m), then reaches a small clearing (1,115m) with good views of the lake below.
Despite having already entered forest, the official ‘Pintu Rimba’ is at 1,220m and is marked with a wooden sign that in 2020 is beginning to crumble. Shelter 2 (1,295m) soon follows but has little to recommend it unless you started very late and want to camp.
The trail now begins to get steeper at a spot known locally as Tanjakan 17 (1,370m) after which giant bamboo lines the way. This is a great spot to listen out for siamang, of which there are plenty in this forest. The steepest part of the trail is Tanjakan 45 (1,600m) and one point in particular requires the use of all four limbs and extra care.
Beyond here, the trail is delightful as the vegetation changes and you feel that you are nearing the top. Look out for pitcher plants from here all the way to the summit. The next landmark is a large toppled tree trunk which is used as a path (Jalur Kayu 1,825m). Immediately after this is the first of many small camp clearings (Pelataran, 1,832m) and you can see the summit ahead of you.
The view opens out at this point, and in clear weather you can see the lake below and Gunung Pesagi, Lampung’s highest mountain, to your left. In less than ten minutes you will be at the summit, an area with several more camp spots and even better views, including down to the little island named Pulau Marisa/Meriza and over to the shapely Gunung Pugung to the west of Danau Ranau. Gunung Pugung is a little higher than Gunung Seminung and remains highly mysterious, with no reports of any hiking groups having reached the top.
To the west of the highest point of Gunung Seminung is the densely-forested and wild crater which is seemingly dormant. There is no path around the crater’s edge, but the finest views are from the summit anyway, especially from a large rock which is on the very edge. There is also a little edelweiss near the top. The lower south-western peak on the other side of the crater 500 metres away from the true summit is 1,804m according to the Bakosurtanal map.
In total, fit hikers should have reached the summit in under 3 hours, and can be back down at the basecamp in less than 2 hours, although camping here and witnessing sunset and sunrise would likely yield the best photo opportunities. Views of the lake and nearby mountains are stunning.
Bagging information by Dan Quinn (October 2012, updated July 2020). The July 2020 expedition was kindly supported by Tjiasmanto Conservation Fund.
- Getting there: There are regular buses from Bandar Lampung (Rajabasa terminal) to Liwa (where you can change) and one bus per day direct to Ranau. There are even buses all the way from Jakarta – Ranau Indah and Tispa both leaving Bekasi at 12 noon, calling at Kalideres, Cikokol, Kalianda and many other spots before finally arriving in Ranau usually around 5am. There are also plenty of buses from Palembang via Batu Raja. If driving, if can take from between 6 to 8 hours to reach Danau Ranau from both Palembang and Bandar Lampung. Boats across the lake from Wisma Pusri to ‘Air Panas’ cost about Rp 135,000 return (back in 2012 – probably double that in 2020) but are more expensive if you plan to cross at night for a dawn ascent.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Seminung information pack can be downloaded here.
- Permits: You are requested to report to villagers in Kota Batu to let them know of your plans to climb the mountain and then register at the Kuncen Basecamp and pay a small fee. You may also have to pay a small fee at the ‘Air Panas’ pier.
- Water sources: None available. Be sure to take plenty 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.
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