- Elevation: 1,225 m (4,019 ft)
- Prominence: 1,225 m
- Ribu category: Kurang Tinggi
- Province: Nusa Tenggara Timur
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none
Gunung Wanggameti is the highest point on the island of Sumba and lies within the Laiwangi Wanggameti National Park which was designated in 1998. The island is very popular with birdwatchers, as there are 7 endemic species. Unlike much of Sumba, which has been deforested for a very long time, Wanggameti is thick forest – probably one of the largest remaining areas on the island. It is the most southerly Ribu, and therefore one of the closest to Australia (roughly 700km away).
The mountain is just one extra reason to visit what is one of Indonesia’s most unique and fascinating islands. Megalithic tombs, stone carvings, wonderful architecture, ancient belief systems (do some research on the ancestral ‘marapu’ religion), traditions such as the Pasola (an annual battle between rival horsemen) superb ‘ikat’ (possibly the finest cloth in Indonesia) and grassy, limestone landscapes quite unlike the rest of the country.
Until recently, hiking to the summit was only done by locals out hunting for the many wild pigs (‘babi hutan’) and smaller number of deer (‘rusa’) that live in the forest. However, the National Park authorities have recently put up a sign at the entrance to the forest and a second sign at the summit itself. Between the two is a freshly-cut, wide trail, leading up and down for seven kilometres from the forest entrance to the summit. There is no litter on the trail.
One important thing to bear in mind when considering hiking up this mountain is that the number of leeches in its forests is very, very high indeed during the rainy season. Much higher than peaks in Kalimantan and Sumatra. Unless you really don’t mind picking leeches off your legs every couple of minutes and then itching and bleeding for several days afterwards, it is advisable to visit during the dry season (May-October).
Allow 4 hours to reach the trailhead by car along bumpy roads from Waingapu. After having passed Tanarara (you’ll see the police station, the PLN electricity office and a cluster of stone carvings and megalithic tombs / monuments on either side of the road) you need to take a right at the next junction and further along another right beside a wooden building painted green. In the likely event that you need to ask for directions, ask for Desa Wanggameti, the village on the higher slopes of the mountain.
You will know you have reached Desa Wanggameti (1,023m) when you see a public telephone sign at a road junction. If you still need a local guide, take a left to the wooden house next to the stone monuments and ask there. Otherwise, take a right up past the National Park entrance booth (1,056m – almost always un-manned) and up a further 1.5km or so to the starting point which is clearly marked with a sign on the left side of the road (1,160m).
Despite the high elevation of the trailhead, there are lots of ups and lots of downs between the trailhead and the summit, so bear in mind that hiking back will be about as tiring as ‘up’ there initially. The trail drops to about 979 metres at its lowest point.
Allow 3 hours each way (so 6 in total) to cover the 14km round trip, including a little bit of break time. Notable landmarks (in 2014) include, in order, wooden poles possibly indicating a local hunters’ camp (1,113m), a section of zig-zagging steps down (1,139m), a very large tree (1,061m), a spot that feels like a col (979m) before the final push up to the summit past what feels like a minor summit (1,014m) and then a recent landslide area (1,050m).
There are lots of species of trees identified with little signs made by the National Park staff. The forest is dense but there are occasional places where you may catch a glimpse of lower lying land or even the coast in the distance in clear weather.
All in all, Wanggameti is not a world-class mountain hike by any means, but is a brilliant extra reason to visit Sumba alongside the megalithic tombs and carvings and the unusual (for Indonesia) landscape. It is also home to some of the friendliest people. In addition, the work of the Taman Nasional Laiwangi Wanggameti should be supported and people including Tri Wiyanto congratulated for doing an excellent job of publicising it.
Bagging information by Dan Quinn (February 2014)
For a high quality PDF version of this and other trail maps, please download from our Trail Maps page.
- Getting there: The closest airport is in Waingapu – about 3-4 hours’ drive from the base of the mountain and with daily flights to/from Denpasar. Given the size of Sumba, many people prefer to either land or leave in West Sumba at Tambolaka so that they can tour the island’s many fascinating traditional villages and pristine beaches over the course of a few days. From Waingapu, the bumpy road leads inland to Tanarara (2 or 2 and a half hours from Waingapu) at which point you will probably have to ask for directions at the junctions for the remaining 1 or 1 and a half hour drive. For car hire in Tambolaka, try Pak Erman (0821 46986564) who works for Sinar Tambolaka Hotel (0812 3816183) and knows the way to Wanggameti, or alternatively try another car hire place 0852 39535387.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Wanggameti information pack can be downloaded here.
- Trip planning assistance: Would you like Gunung Bagging to personally help you in arranging your whole trip? Please contact us here.
- Permits: Not officially required, but you may wish to speak to Laiwangi Wanggameti National Park staff in advance (try the informative Pak Tri Wiyanto via http://www.tawuiresort.org/ or 0812 87105300) or search for their little office somewhere well-hidden near Tanarara. Local guides can be found in Desa Wanggameti near the mountain.
- Water sources: None on the actual trail, especially during the dry season, so bring enough with you from Waingapu. The last place for very basic snacks and drinks is effectively Tanarara.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):
7 thoughts on “Wanggameti”
The landscapes of Sumba feature heavily in the excellent new Indonesian film ‘Marlina Si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak’. Quite probably the road out to Gunung Wanggameti itself.
Although Sumba has only one ribu, its people, deep-rooted traditions, unique landscape and unspoiled beaches should put it high up anyone’s list of places to visit in Indonesia. Don’t be deterred by the scarcity of information, roads and accommodation options!
For information, the best source is Matthias Jungk’s http://www.sumba-information.com/ , then the Lonely Planet guide.
The road “network” in Sumba is like a bicycle, with twin “hubs” at Waikabubak in the west and Waingapu in the east. “Spokes” radiate out from there to the coastal and interior villages, but the ends of the “spokes” are seldom joined to each other. You explore one route, then backtrack to Waikabubak or Waingapu and set out again on a different route.
Hotels are few and far between, but you can stay in homestays or villagers’ houses. Here’s a possible one week itinerary covering all places in East Sumba with commercial accommodation.
D1: Arrive in Waingapu. (If you fly into Tambolaka instead you’ll have a 5-hour drive from West to East.)
D2: Car or bus to Baing/ Kallala and stay at Mr. David’s surf camp.
D3: Return to Waingapu, stopping at Melolo/ Rende to visit the tradiitonal villages in the area.
D4: 4 a.m. start for a day trip to Wanggameti, starting the hike up to the summit at 7a.m. and returning to Waingapu in the afternoon.
D5: Car (or, for masochists only, truck) to Tarimbang, which has a superb beach in a bay. Stay at Peter’s (Pricey) Magic Paradise on the hill above the beach or at Marthen’s rustic homestay in the village.
D6: Head to Lewa, which is on the Waingapu-Waikabubak trunk road, and visit the impressive meteor crater. Sleep and eat at Mama Riwa’s neat and nutritious homestay.
D7: After a 4 a.m start for some early-morning birdwatching in the Manupeu Tanah Daru National Park (arrange a guide through Mama Riwa), head via Waingapu to Pondok Wisata Pantai Cemara, East Sumba’s closest approximation to a Bali-style quality beach resort. Visit the traditional villages of Wunga and Prainatang.
D8: Last minute shopping in Waingapu. Airport. Depart.
Compared to the east, West Sumba offers more places to visit and more accommodation, encouraging a stay of 2 weeks or more if possible.
We climbed Wanggameti at the beginning of November, after a flight to Waingapu from Jakarta with Sriwijaya/Nam Air; the alternative is Lion Air/Wings Air. The dry season had yet to end, leaving the land around Waingapu parched and brown.
There are no buses or trucks from Waingapu to Wanggameti. The best option is a to rent a 4-wheel drive pick-up, known in Sumba dialect as a “double cab”. Although the ride to Wanggameti is a breeze compared to, say, the journey to Fatu Timau in West Timor, it is very costly, over a million rupiah per day for 4WD.
For the first two hours out of Wingapu, there’s little vegetation besides gamal (gliricidia) trees and blackened grass, which farmers burn periodically to stimulate regrowth for cattle feed. Only south of Tanarara did the limestone bluffs become pale grass green and the canyons lush with nira trees.
If you plan to stay overnight in Wanggameti ,stock up with supplies first in Waingapu. Pak Pri’s Warung Nasi Pecel is the place for a tasty Javanese nasi bungkus. Buy some coffee, sugar, cigarettes and sirih/ pinang (betel nut) as gifts for villagers, plus enough rice, noodles and supplies to feed your host, your driver and yourself during your stay.
The village chief, Pak Marthinus, is a fascinating and eco-savvy man, but his house is 3km before the village. A better place to stay is the blue-roofed National Park Office right in Wanggameti; it offers a tiled floor, mats, gas cooker and other luxuries. There’s even a warung selling mineral water and noodles right beside the office. If you want to sleep there, get a permit from the main park office in Waingapu before setting out.
Allowing about 7 hours for the return car journey to Wanggameti village, and 6 to 7 hours for the hike, as described by Dan, this ascent is feasible as a day trip out of Waingapu, or in a weekend out of Jakarta! However, it’s great to take a night to savor the ambience in Wanggametti village, which is pleasantly cool at about 1000m altitude, and also to dally during the car journey photographing the various megaliths, stone tombs, Sumba ponies and limestone canyons along the route.
At the end of the dry season, the hike itself was a very pleasant undulating forest walk and completely leechless.
Brilliant. Sumba is certainly my most favored place in the whole of Indonesia. Remote and intriguing. You describe its delights exceptionally well. Thanks for this exceptional ‘ground breaking’ report. Nick
Well, the previous information I had got from local tour guides in Sumba was that nobody would dare climb the mountain. This turned out to be totally untrue – loads of locals go up there hunting wild pigs on a regular basis. I got in touch with the incredibly helpful Pak Tri Wiyanto via the National Park website. He deserves a medal for all the information he sent my way. According to Tri, the National Park recently (2013?) opened up a trail to the summit from near Desa Wanggameti and it even sounded possible to do it in one long day from Wainagpu (waking up at 4.30am, if you haven’t already been woken by the terribly loud mosque noise near Hotel Merlin!)
It is wonderful to hear about such initiatives – and emphasises how disappointing it is that more accessible peaks in Java such as Baluran and Halimun remain closed by their respective National Parks. In any case, congratulations must go to the staff of Taman National Laiwangi Wanggameti who are doing genuinely impressive work and have an excellent website too. They even respond to emails – which is pretty rare here!
We arrived in Tambolaka in West Sumba, with a first day of driving across the island planned. Just after landing there was a terrible rainstorm, the aircraft shook from side to side and we weren’t allowed to disembark! Eventually we got out and met our driver, who was from the Hotel Sinar Tambolaka. We went there for lunch and had a chat with an Australian man working on a solar panel installation project. The hotel manager seemed concerned that we weren’t staying at the hotel but wanted to hire the car/driver but all was well once we had agreed the usual Rp600,000 per day (including fuel, driver etc) for the first day crossing the island to Waingapu (allow 4-5 hours) and Rp900,000 for the second day into the mountains (because the road is rough and could be washed out in the rainy season).
First stop was Pasunga – to look at the traditional megalithic tombs and stone carvings unique to Sumba. The roofs of the houses are quite remarkable too – whether the rarer original natural materials (alang grass) or constructed using modern materials (corrugated tin). Difficult to say how old each monument is – a mixture of old and new, given that the tradition continues to this day.
Next on the itinerary was Dampak Meteor ‘the meteor impact’. Silly us, we had thought maybe ‘dampak’ was the name of a village near the crater but it turns out that it means ‘impact’ in Indonesian! There is almost no information on this crater (except a little on the brilliant sumba-information.com website) such as how long ago it happened, but according to the aforementioned site, the crater is 150m wide and 80m deep and close to the road near Langgaliru. We tried asking several local people, with Indonesian language and also gesticulating to suggest a meteor impact, but our questions were perhaps understandably met with blank or confused looks! Perhaps they thought we wanted to find our spaceship and head off home! So we gave up and continued to Waingapu. But what a wonderful tourist site such a thing could be if, for example, there was a signpost for it.
Our driver hit a chicken in the road, only mildly stunning it. He then got out and ran down into the undergrowth to find it, almost unharmed but unable to escape him. He was delighted – for him it was a perfect hit and would make a perfect meal in Waingapu.
The staff at Hotel Merlin (no sign – it’s opposite a fuel station, you may have to ask) were very friendly. Apparently you can see Flores in the distance in very clear conditions from the restaurant at the top of the building.
The mosque was insanely loud at 4.30am the next morning. That some people think this is reasonable behaviour is one of life’s great mysteries. Luckily we had to get up and leave at 5am anyway, in order to get up Wanggameti and back down the same day.
Despite a reasonably positive forecast, the weather was cloudy and after we turned at the signposted junction to Tanarara (along the road out east past Waingapu airport) and started to climb up the hillside the rain started. And the wind. And both stayed pretty much all day!
Sumba must be at its greenest in January/February, but it must be beautiful at anytime, these grassy limestone hills looking rather like parts of the Yorkshire Dales in northern England but with tiny little sections of rice paddy thrown in at particularly sheltered places.
After having reached Tanarara after 2.5 hours (57km in all from WGP to TNR on the milestones), we were asking around and looking for the national park office, where we might be able to convince a member of staff to get in the car with us and show us to the top of Wanggameti. Well, we couldn’t find the place, and everyone we asked locally gave us a different answer!
At Tanarara you are already at around 1000 metres above sea level, so when the sun isn’t shining and the rain is coming down it can feel a little chilly. Some pleasant natural landmarks beyond Tanarara include a lovely little grassy pyramid peak (on the left) and a cluster of rocks (also on the left) that looks like tors in, say, Dartmoor or the Peak District.
Finally we reached the public telephone sign and found some local chaps who promised to find us someone to take us up to the top. We had arrived at Desa Wanggameti. I had originally planned to go as far as Katikuwai where there appears to be at least one beautiful stone carving of a face, but Desa Wanggameti would do just nicely after what was a 4 hour drive along mostly rather bumpy tracks.
As we sat in a village house chatting and drinking local coffee, the wind and rain beat down on the roof. We couldn’t have chosen a worse day, weather-wise. The Kepala Desa (‘village head’) was a friendly old chap who told us of a story involving a Belgian man who climbed Wanggameti and came back covered in blood and half-dead ‘setengah mati’)! That’s because of the leeches – there are millions of them during the rainy season, he told us. A white shirt will become a red shirt. The leeches will get on your legs, back, face, everywhere. And he was worried about the weather – and the possibility of fallen trees blocking the trail.
Anyway, we managed to convince him we would be ok, and he found us two village boys to accompany us, for a higher price that would be normal due to the bad weather and leech risks. We paid 300,000 each so 600,000. This included motorbike transport to the trailhead which, amazingly, had a big sign next to it. You could walk up to the trailhead from the village in about 45 minutes if you preferred. Infact, the trail was generally so clear, with it being so new, that we could have managed without guides for navigation purposes (but it’s always good to have local help in case of emergency situations).
The leeches were on us almost immediately and the next 5 hours was a continual battle that the leeches won – with us giving up, except for the ones that got above the knees. You can see the pictures in the gallery above – basically entire towns of leeches snuggling into socks. Just horrible. Avoid this hike during the rainy season or suffer the same fate!
I noticed a fruit I had never seen before. According to the guides this is called something like ‘wortakamami’ in Indonesian but I can find no further information on it. It is not eaten by humans, only by animals living in the forest. There are clearly a large number of birds and wild pigs up here – in addition to the thousands of leeches that must have been waiting for perhaps a year for us to arrive!
There were no views in such bad weather so we spent just 5 minutes at the summit before returning exhausted. Coming back was worse because one expects an easier time of coming down the mountain. But this is not really ‘down’ at all – the entire trek is very much up and down.
My accomplice Castro spent the journey back to Waingapu pulling leeches out of his boots, putting them in empty peanut shells and hurling them out of the window. Even after doing this a hundred times, we must have carried several hundred back to the hotel with us. The blood on my legs from about 30 leech wounds had the Hotel Merlin staff rather worried. I think they thought I’d been in a motorcycle accident. It was fine, but even today, two days later, my ankles are itching like crazy.
The next day we flew back from Waingapu after a quick look at one of Sumba’s many glorious beaches. Definitely one of Indonesia’s most memorable islands, in my opinion.
You deserve a medal for that trek. Those leaches made me cringe badly
I have been trying to find out information about Wanggameti for ages now. Another reason to visit what sounds like a fascinating island. Latest information received is that there is no route and it is not considered normal to attempt a climb because of steep, dense forest and (more crucially) ‘local taboos’. Allegedly, no one has dared to climb it so far.