- Elevation: 2,050 m (6,726 ft)
- Prominence: 1,320 m
- Ribu category: Tinggi Sedang
- Province: Jawa Tengah (Central Java)
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none.
Just an hour by car from the city of Semarang is Mount Ungaran. Many people visit the southern slopes of this mountain, not because of the mountain itself but because of the impressive ancient Gedong Songo temple monuments which are scattered across the hillside south of the peak. The name ‘gedong songo’ literally means nine buildings, and these Hindu relics date from approximately 900AD and were ‘discovered’ in the nineteenth century by Stamford Raffles and later restored.
This area is a popular weekend retreat for those living in Semarang and so there is an abundance of accommodation in the nearby town of Bandungan. The Gedong Songo monument complex is open daily from 6.15am until 17.15pm and there is a small charge for visitors. This spot can get very crowded indeed at weekends but is an essential place to visit when hiking Gunung Ungaran, although since 2015 it appears that the trail from the temples to the summit is overgrown due to lack of use and access may even be prohibited via the temple complex. Details on the route are lower down on this page, but let’s start with the two most popular trails to the peak which are now the recommended ones to use.
Via Mawar Basecamp at Umbul Sidomukti (south-east of the peak)
By far the most popular hiking route on the mountain, the Mawar trailhead starts at around 1,265m above sea level and has motorbike parking spaces, warungs, a hang-gliding spot and registration counter. The trail passes the hang-gliding (paralayang) area before reaching a shelter which is Pos 1 (1,370m). The path continues in forest, crossing a stream (1,415m) above which is a small waterfall before reaching another shelter, Pos 2 (1,440m).
Pos 2 is an important point on the trail because it is the junction between the old and new trails. If you are descending back to Mawar afterwards then it is best to go up one way and back down the other. A left turn here takes you up a newer trail which is a short-cut and leads directly to Pos 4. Continuing straight ahead, meanwhile, leads more gently via Pos 3 (the edge of the tea plantation) where you would then turn left and hike up to Pos 4. It is probably preferable to take the short-cut along the newer trail on your ascent and then go back via the tea plantation on your descent.
Pos 4 (1,640m) has yet another shelter. Assuming you took the short-cut from Pos 2 then obviously here you need to turn left up towards the summit rather than left down to Pos 3 on the edge of the tea plantation. From here the trail gets much steeper and passes through an area which presumably suffered from forest fires in 2019 (1,700m above sea level). Further up the steep mountainside are a couple of flatter spaces (1,890m and 1,925m) frequently used by local campers at weekends. Finally you will reach the summit which is crowned by a large concrete platform with 3 monuments on it, plus a couple of other monuments nearby.
To descend back to Mawar you can head back the same way via the short-cut between Pos 2 and 4, or if the weather is fine better still descend to the edge of the tea plantation (Pos 3, 1,525m) and optionally visit the nearby Goa Jepang (Japanese Cave). From Pos 3, take a right back down to Mawar. A left at Pos 3 (on descent from the summit) takes you on a completely different route north-west through the extensive tea plantations via Promasan and Medini and towards the north coast. This makes a great traverse of Gunung Ungaran in either direction but requires extra time and logistics (see below).
Via Promasan and Medini tea plantations (north-west of the peak).
This trail via the Medini tea plantations (kebun teh Medini) is beginning to get more popular but unless you have your own motorbike it is a little more difficult to access (via Limbangan) and takes a bit longer than the Mawar route. The Medini basecamp is at an elevation of almost exactly 1,000m, but motorbikes and cars with high clearance could theoretically be taken along the rocky plantation tracks as far as the village of Promasan (1,430m) which is an isolated community in the middle of the tea fields but frequently busy at weekends.
In reality, most hikers leave their bikes near the basecamp or slightly further up (1,070m) near a camping area. The views to the north coast including the city of Semarang are impressive early in the morning before the haze arrives. If on foot, do not follow the wide tea plantation track, but rather take a left which is a short-cut to the highest slopes of the mountain. The path is pretty well marked with signs, but you need a left (1,140m) before crossing a stream (1,155m). A little higher up, you pass a cement pillar on the left (1,308m) before taking another left (1,328m) and again (1,360m).
All of a sudden you will find yourself at the tea plantation village of Promasan (1,430m). This can get very busy at weekends with campers and if you want to visit Gua Jepang then take a left for about 5 minutes. Beyond the village, through an entrance gate with RAIDER written above it, and you will find yourself at a shelter (1,505m) before the very important junction at Pos 3 (1,525m). Straight on leads you gently down to Mawar. A right turn leads you steeply up to the summit.
Via Gedong Songo temple complex (south of the peak – rarely used and no longer recommended)
The temple complex lies at 1,200m which means you get a good head start on your hike here. There is also a hot sulphur spring a little way up the hillside and plenty of warungs selling drinks and snacks. It takes about 4 hours to reach the summit and just under 3 hours to descend. There are one or two places where you might be able to find a small amount of somewhat muddy water but it is better to take enough of your own supplies.
Follow the path past Gedong Songo 1 and – before you reach Gedong Songo 2 – take a right turn at the blue and orange tarpaulin-covered warungs near a sign for ‘adventure center’. (Whatever you do, do NOT head left towards the hot sulphur springs and steep rock face as this trail leads up towards Gendol, the western peak, which is totally covered in dense and spiky foliage.) The vague and slippery trail left leads up through farmland before climbing steeply and heading beneath a rocky outcrop on the left. The trail then leads into denser forest and between two of Ungaran’s three peaks. The trail twists and turns before leading round to the right (east) and then round the base of Ungaran’s grassy middle peak, Botak. Although the trail is overgrown, there are many signs nailed to trees with ‘G. Songo’ and ‘puncak’ written on them so it is difficult to get lost. After just over three hours of hiking along the twisting and turning paths, take a left turn (this time west) which leads up to Ungaran summit. (If you keep heading straight on you would reach the middle grassy peak, Botak, which is just a few metres lower than the true summit.)
From the left turn, it takes about 45 minutes to get to the summit and its many painted monuments. In good weather the panorama is fabulous with most of Central Java’s highest peaks visible. Beyond the summit, you will notice a path leading up from the east – this route is from the village of Promasan near Jimbaran and takes longer to ascend. There are plenty of places just below the summit suitable for camping.
Ungaran is a surprisingly complicated mountain area. There are three peaks separated by large, steep drops of dense jungle. The middle grassy top clearly visible from the true summit is called Botak (Indonesian for ‘bald’) and is only a few metres lower. A third top called Gendol lies even further west is only a few metres lower again. The middle grassy top, Botak, is reasonably easy to reach from the main Ungaran trail (instead of taking a left to the summit, keep going straight on). However, Gendol – which has ancient cairns at the top – requires hours and hours of hard work finding a way through the dense forest and trying not to get lost or stuck on a steep ledge and is therefore not recommended.
To descend from the summit, simply retrace your steps and follow the many signs for Gedong Songo. The slippery path is at times overgrown with foliage so be careful not to stray from the correct route. When you finally reach the warungs it is worth having a rest and then exploring the temple complex. The hot sulphur springs are just a ten-minute walk towards the rockface below the visible western peak Gendol.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn, last updated January 2020.
- Getting there: Basic public transport between Semarang and Bandungan is slow but readily available. Taxis will take you to Gedong Songo from Semarang but unless you book in advance it may be difficult finding one to take you back. However, ojeks are available.
- Accommodation: Plenty of places in Bandungan, but a much wider variety in Semarang.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Ungaran information pack can be downloaded here.
- Permits: None required but take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase – you will have to buy a ticket for entry to Gedong Songo, only a few thousand rupiah.
- Water sources: Very limited and unreliable – 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):
Origins and Meaning
Ungaran is the name of a place meaning something like “new town”, “new settlement” or “a place where a new start is made”. It is likely, I think, that the town of Ungaran gave its name to the big hill or mountain looming over it. (George Quinn, 2011)