- Elevation: 1,344 m (4,409 ft)
- Prominence: 1,344 m
- Ribu category: Kurang Tinggi
- Province: Nusa Tenggara Timur
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: Villagers in Mauta (Kakamauta) call one of the highest peaks Lagiga
- Eruptions: 1852, 1899, 1927, 1934, 1947, 1953, 1960, 1964-65, 1970, 1987, 2004, 2012
Gunung Sirung is one of the less visited volcanoes of Indonesia, but one of the most fascinating. The very same could be said of the entire island of Pantar itself, though in 2021 there is a small new airport operating regional flights. Perhaps the most mystical island in a very mystical nation, it is difficult to visit even for a day or two without having some very thought-provoking incidents! It used to have some of Indonesia’s worst roads but there is at least now a fresh asphalt route up from the main town of Baranusa to Kakamauta.
Gunung Sirung is the (second*) youngest and northernmost of a chain of volcanoes extending from the south-western tip of Pantar north-east to Beang Bay. The volcanic chain is about 14 kilometres long in total. Mount Sirung is the only active volcano of the range, with the latest minor eruptions occurring in 2012. The other volcanoes are overgrown with vegetation, including the highest point. The often-quoted figure of Sirung being 862 metres high is almost entirely meaningless as the commonly-visited parts of the crater rim are around 600-700 metres high, the crater floor around 400 metres elevation, and there is no specific peak or summit known as Sirung at all.
From south-west (south of Desa Delaki) to north-east (north of Beang Bay), the main peaks are as follows: Kukka Delaaki / Delaki (938m), Kukka Taupekki (1,344m) sometimes spelt Topaki and also possibly known as Gunung Sopak and also Gunung Dekali, an un-named minor peak 1,216 metres high on the Bakosurtanal map and less than one kilometre north-east of Kukka Taupekki, two lower peaks on the range with the north-western one labelled Kukka Boyali (1,080m) on the Bakosurtanal map and the south-eastern one known as Puncak Mauta (1,023m) despite being on the opposite side of the crater to the village of Mauta, and finally a jumble of minor tops forming the circular crater walls of Sirung volcano itself. Locals in Mauta call one of the higher peaks Lagiga, but it is not clear if it refers to the true highest peak or just one of the higher tops to the south-west of Sirung crater.
Route from Mauta to Sirung crater rim
Most trekkers visit Sirung crater from the village of Kakamauta (260m, commonly referred to simply as Mauta) and this can be easily accomplished in half a day as it takes less than two hours to the edge of the crater and around 90 minutes or less back down. Allow more time if you want to descend further onto the crater floor or begin from a different starting point (see below).
It is a very scenic walk but does not go anywhere near the highest part of the range. Note also that the locals say you must not enter the crater from June to September, because, if you did, Mount Sirung could erupt and destroy the cashew harvest. Similarly, you must not go down into the crater from December to April, because at that time of the year it would endanger the rice harvest. So usually you can do the trek in October, November and May only. In reality, this can change depending on recent events so a hike may still be possible, especially if you have checked with a local guide in advance.
Having arrived in Kakamauta, follow the main street through the village, passing the church and the mayor’s office on your left, and the football ground on your right, until you get to a T-junction where the asphalt road leads right. Turn left instead and leave the village on the dirt road leading south-west. A guide can be sought in approximately the fifth house on the left, which is the Rumah Kepala Desa (village head).
There are both advantages and disadvantages to simply turning up, as an advance guide booking by foreigners is likely to be more costly than just asking for someone the same morning, but either way a guide is very much recommended. This is for two reasons. Firstly, the trail is not clear and has no signs. Secondly, it is customary to take a local person from Mauta with you if you are hiking from Mauta. This means that even if you have an experienced local trekker from the main town of Baranusa with you as guide, you may well end up having to pay for a second guide to come too from Mauta. Mauta guides typically cost Rp100,000 for the morning’s hike, but you may have to pay a similar amount towards ‘the village’ and this Rp100,000 fee may be per person rather for your group.
After about 15 minutes, branch off to the left (south, 313m) onto a narrow path leading through high grass. There is no signpost and the beginning of the path is hidden in the grass 1 to 2 metres above the track.
Now follow the trail up to the crater of Mt. Sirung. The first section will take you through eucalypt savanna. Look out on the right for views to the island of Lembata’s easternmost peak called Ili Uyelewun in the distance. The trail soon drops down into what resembles and old, dry riverbed (363m) before leading up the other side and onto another ridge (389m) where there is a trail leading up from somewhere else. Those with GPS devices might like to make a waypoint here as remembering this vague turning on the way down is not easy!
Continue up the side of the volcano and via a second old, dry riverbed (412m). By this point, the vegetation diminishes owing to the rain of ash that fell on the upper slopes of the volcano during the eruptions of the past decades. Keep walking on the ridge over dark orange and deep red bands of earth. The views back over the north-western part of Pantar are quite spectacular.
The trail gets steeper and rockier and finally a cement shelter (613m) is reached on the outer rim. This would be of great use in the rain, although it is tiny. A pleasant cairn is just a few metres away. Whilst some of the higher peaks in the range which form the south-western wall and highest cliffs of the rim can be seen from here, the full extent of the crater and the lake within it cannot be seen from here. Most hikers will have reached this point in 90 minutes or less from Mauta.
To reach a better crater viewpoint, drop down, via some old half-burnt trees to the inner rim (579m) and a decent spot to sit and contemplate the view (582m). It is around 15 minutes from the cement shelter on the outer rim to the viewpoint on the inner rim and the trail is far from clear.
Inside the crater there is a large sulphurous crater lake and several active steam vents. The lake is called Danau Allibagis, although some locals may say it refers to a second smaller lake higher up somewhere. It is possible to descend onto the crater floor another 150-plus metres below, but you are not allowed to do so all the year round and it obviously requires further time.
Route from Beang Bay to Sirung crater rim
In previous years, some hikers have stayed at residents’ houses at beautiful Beang Bay on the south coast of Pantar. For those who charter small boats it is even possible to directly dock at Beang. Although Beang is further away from the crater than Kakamauta, it is worth considering, especially if there are issues with the cashew nut season preventing hikers from trekking to the crater from Mauta. The hike from Beang up to the crater rim is an easy 4 or 6 hours’ walk-up (the time depends on the route), mostly through beautiful eucalypt savanna. From Beang, there are two routes to the crater of Mount Sirung: one via Darang (Route 1, preferred), and one via Mauta (Route 2, less preferred as longer and easier simply to start in Mauta). It is alleged that there is also a route up from Alikalang which is between Beang and Mauta.
Route 1: Starting from Beang, take the trail heading south to the tiny village of Darang (175 metres above sea level, above Tanjung Darangemi on the Bakosurtanal map), where you will arrive after about 45 minutes. In Darang, the houses still have grass-thatched roofs. From Darang, a trail leads up the steep eastern slope of the volcano to the eastern side of the crater rim. Walking time is 3 hours. From where you arrive at the rim, you can head north-west, around the north-eastern side of the crater, to the canyon where the trail from Kakamauta comes up, though this is a considerable circuit.
Route 2: Starting from Beang, take the trail leading uphill to the village of Kakamauta. The trailhead is just behind the houses in the centre of Beang. The path will give you a stunning view of Beang Bay and take you through savanna woodland with lontar palms and eucalyptus trees. Shortly before you arrive at Kakamauta, you will pass small cashew plantations. From Beang to Kakamauta, it is a 2.5 to 3 hours’ hike. Where the path forks below an open, grassy slope about half way up, take the left branch.
Route to the summit of Kukka Taupekki (1,344m)
There is no regular trail to the summit of Kukka Taupekki and a lot of confusion about the best route to the top, the name, and even the height with some sources stating as high as 1,372m. It is labelled Kukka Taupekki in the usually reliable Bakosurtanal map, clearly similar-sounding to the alternative Topaki. Some Kakamauta villagers call one of the higher peaks Lagiga, but it is not clear if it is the highest. Other sources suggest Gunung Sopak as the name and finally some folk think the highest peak is called Gunung Delaki, although that seems to refer to the lower range even further south-west of the highest peak, on the very edge of the island.
Experienced local hikers will tell you there is no direct route from Sirung crater to the highest peak. You effectively have to drop down again and head up again via a different route. Very few hikers have been to the true summit, although it appears that Walter Denzel did in 2012 according to the Summit Post webpage where there is a photo of a wooden log cross at the top of a peak, plus a second photo looking towards the crater around two kilometres away to the north-east. But he calls it Delaki and says it requires trekking through pathless terrain. Even so, it may have been easier then, with less vegetation after a minor eruption. Effectively a trek to Sirung crater and a trek to the highest peak, whatever its official or unofficial name, should ideally be treated as two quite separate treks.
There are three main options for attempting to reach the highest point of Pantar.
From Desa Delaki / Koliabang: Desa Delaki is certainly the name of the village on the western coast, south of Puntaru which is where both the tourist beach of Pasir Tiga Warna (“the sands of three colours”) and the Gunung Sirung volcanology post are located. And it is clear that this is the closest chain of villages to the highest point of the range. It seems that Koliabang is the name of the place to enquire on the western coast for a direct ascent up to the highest peak of Pantar island. There is a hamlet up the mountainside called Jeri, Desa Tude, at an elevation of over 400 metres. If ojeks could be arranged as far as here then this is the preferred starting point for an attempt on the summit as there are no dangerous parts of crater rim to negotiate, or subsidiary peaks to traverse, drop down from and have to ascend again. But there is more vegetation on this side of the range.
From Mauta: It is confirmed that villagers from Mauta do go hunting up on the higher tops, but a start in Mauta requires an arduous traverse of various different peaks, some with reasonable drops in between them. In order to get to the summit or at least the higher tops after visiting the crater, descend all the way to the obscure junction (313m) between the two old dry riverbeds. From here, strike out with a local guide, heading for the higher tops as if on one of the Mauta villagers’ hunts, following the northern side of the range anti-clockwise. It will take you at least another 2 to 3 hours (one way) on pathless terrain.
From Darang above Beang Bay: A start in Beang requires an arduous traverse of various different peaks, some with reasonable drops in between them. This may mean camping a night is required. In order to get to the summit or at least the higher tops after visiting the crater, either follow the Mauta instructions above (anti-clockwise from crater along northern side) or attempt a clockwise traverse of the southern side of the crater rim (which may or may not even be possible).
Bagging information by Walter Denzel (July 2012), updated by Dan Quinn (May 2021)
* About 5 kilometres north-west of Mt. Sirung, near Desa Aramaba, you can observe how a new volcano is “born” – the Koralau: on a small, featureless hill, a gas eruption occurred for the first time in February 2011, burned the grass in the surroundings, and created a small crater of only about 10 metres in diameter.
- Getting there: From the west, take the ferry from Wairiang, Lembata, to Baranusa, Pantar. It is 40 minutes by ojek from Baranusa to Kakamauta. From the east, you may have to charter a boat from Alor Kecil to Bakalang (1 hour, Rp300,000) or Tamakh (2 hours, considerably more than Rp300,000). Bakalang to Mauta is around 2-2.5 hours by motorbike and Tamakh to Mauta is around 1 hour. Note there is a new road between Mauta and Baranusa, should you be staying or travelling that way. Do not follow current (2021) Google Maps directions or you will need 2 hours from Kakamauta to Baranusa visa Puntaru on awful roads that can barely be called tracks!
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Sirung information pack can be downloaded here.
- Permits: Not required, although you are strongly advised to take a local guide (from the same village) and you will need the cashew nut gods on your side! See notes above on which months are difficult to access the crater from Mauta. Guides typically Rp100,000 for the short trek to the crater rim, sometimes with a donation to the village added on. More for the true summit which requires a lot of additional time.
- Water sources: None available on the usual route from Mauta to the crater rim. Take enough of your own.
- 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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