[simage=2077,200,n,left,] After climbing Kerinci, we had a great time in and around the mountain resort town of Bukittinggi. We had a bit of R&R and did some “normal” tourist stuff, before our legs recovered and we were tempted again to head off the beaten track to climb Gunungs Sago and Singgalang.
Based on a recommendation from a traveller in Kersik Tua, we stayed in the great Kartini Hotel. It’s kind of caught in a time warp, but is clean, has hot water and we took the great top floor room. The staff are friendly and serve up a decent simple breakfast. For the fives times daily call to prayer, the place literally vibrates from the speakers from the mosque opposite. Part of the fun in Bukittinggi.
With our tired legs, the first day we did the usual city sights – the Dutch Fort Koch, the footbridge over “downtown” Bukittinggi, which takes you to the depressing zoo and a small museum. We escaped the zoo and headed to the market, which seemed to be selling the usual stuff sold everywhere. The food and wet market were more interesting. We ended our walk with a drink in one of the two popular tourist cafes. Less than 24 hours in Bukittinggi and we had seen mist of the sights and been accosted by dozens of students learning English whose teachers had sent them out to question foreigners. Quite how having hordes of students hassling any foreign (white) tourist helps people enjoy Bukittinggi remains to be explained.
After the lazy first day, we rented a motorbike to drive the winding mountain road down to Maninjau Lake, a large and impressive lake that we assume is a huge old crater. The famous 44 hairpin bends were negotiated carefully and we enjoyed the drive around the lake and enjoyed drinks at a small homestay on the lakeside. We then drove back up the same road with a detour to the local viewpoint called puncak Lawang. From here you can see down into the lake and the three volcanoes of Singgalang, Marapi, and Sago. You can also see a lot of trash, unfortunately.
Our legs were still sore from the Kerinci hike, and we couldn’t face the most popular hike up Gunung Marapi, since the tours start at 11 pm and you hike through the night for sunrise. Instead we decided on Gunung Singgalang, which is the closest mountain to Bukittinggi. It’s hard to recommend it because of the start and end of the trail, but we wrote up a short trip report on the Gunung Bagging website.
Gunung Sago, on the other had, is a real hidden gem. We got the details for a guide through a friend of a friend and took the plunge to get a one way drop off from Bukittinggi to Payakumbuh, one hour to the east. Here we met up with Anto and two of his friends who took us to the trailhead on their motorbikes. We had a really good day – the mountain is not hard to climb, and the forest is in really excellent condition and there is no litter. Unfortunately, there was no view from the summit because of cloud, but at least there was no rain. Apparently, you do get great views north to the Harau valley from here. Again, we wrote up the details for this mountain on Gunung Bagging.
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