With more than 17,000 islands, thousands of ethnic groups, too many different cultures to count, Komodo dragons and colorful festivals, Indonesia could be the next exotic rock climbing destination on your bucket list.
The volcanic origins of the islands offer everything climbers dream of – limestone, granite, conglomerate, sandstone, basalt. There’s bouldering, deep water solo, sport climbing and big-wall. The downside? The poor quality of the bolts. If you did not think of rock climbing as an extreme sport before, you will now! But that’s something that can be fixed. Don’t worry, there are areas where you can climb safely on well-bolted routes. You just need to know how to find them. And that’s where the fun begins. For some reason, there’s little to zero information about rock climbing in Indonesia. For some, this makes things even more interesting.
Are those world-famous climbing spots getting too crowded? Rock climbing in Indonesia is still in its earliest stage, meaning there’s plenty of room to explore and develop new areas. So, are you ready to go off the grid?
Siung Beach, Yogyakarta
If sharp limestone by the sea is your thing, then look no further than Siung Beach, a hidden gem to the south of Tepus in Central Java, in the Gunung Kidul District. Less than 100 km (60 miles) from Yogyakarta, a two-hour drive will take you to this remote white sand beach washed by blue waters, with rugged boulders you’ll have a blast playing with. Siung means “fang” in Javanese. And it’s not hard to see where the beach got its name from.
Siung Beach was the venue of the 2005 Asian Climbing Gathering. It raised awareness for the area, yet it remains virtually unknown to international climbers. One of the reasons could be the quality of the bolts. It seems the salty ocean breeze does not befriend these bolts. But the quality of the crag is to-die-for, with pockets, tufas and stalactites on an inviting, slightly overhanging ancient black limestone. And there are quite a few well-bolted routes to try your hand at. Another reason might be that the area is underdeveloped and not used at its full potential. The nearby Purwodadi village is a remote settlement that makes its living by sea salt. There are only a couple of wooden houses offering accommodation. Climbers can also camp on the beach.
To the west and east of the beach, huge coral reefs have become a natural playground for rock climbers. You can find short boulder problems and use the fine sand beach as your natural crushpad. When to go? You can’t go wrong in July and August. However, the region has friendly weather all year long.
Harau Valley, Sumatra
Sumatra, one of Indonesia’s less visited islands, is home to a well-hidden rock climbing paradise. Partner up with gibbons and macaques in western Sumatra’s Harau Valley, a spectacular nature and wildlife reserve with 300-meter (1,000-feet) walls, waterfalls and jungles.
Considered one of the archipelago’s best climbing spots, and often referred to as Indonesia’s Yosemite, Harau Valley lies some 50 km (30 miles) from Bukittinggi, in the Lima Puluh Kota District. The contrast between the dark brown of the huge cliffs and the luscious green of the fields beneath paint a jaw-dropping landscape that adds to the thrill of the demanding face climbs that will put your technique to the test.
Harau Valley has a reputation for hard climbs on a volcanic conglomerate that will not disappoint. The Big Wall sector is up to 120 meters high! There are a few dozen routes ranging from 5b all the way to 8c (5.8 to 5.14b), with huge potential waiting to be tapped. Best time to go is summer, and you can stay at Echo Lodge, the official guesthouse of the area. You can also stay with local climbers. It is also possible to camp.
Mount Parang, Purwakarta
A huge pointy andesite rock raises 963 meters (3,159 feet) above sea level straight from the jungles of West Java, so big it is visible from the the Jakarta-Bandung road. An hour and a half ride from Jakarta, in Purwakarta Regency, Badega Gunung Parang is the Mecca of big-wall climbing in Indonesia. Its 600-meter (2,000-foot) vertical andesite walls are a challenge even for the most skilled climbers. But don’t worry if you are not in tip top shape. There are several Via Ferrata routes that take beginners to various elevations.
Gunung Parang means “Machete Mountain” in Indonesian. Multi-pitch routes can be found in three towers. The most famous route is Kopassus route in Tower 3, its pitches ranging between 5b and 6c (5.8 and 5.11). Best time to climb is between June and October, just so to avoid the rainy season. You can find hotels in nearby Purwakarta and Jatiluhur, or head to Bandung for hotel deals like Hotel Horison Bandung’s in the city center.
Bandung, the capital of Indonesia’s West Java Province, is a vibrant university town just perfect for getting acquainted with Indonesian cuisine and culture. Surrounded by mountains and tea plantations, it is also a great destination for nature and sports lovers.
About an hour’s drive from Bandung, an unexpectedly imposing rock climbing area awaits daredevils. In the West Bandung Regency, Citatah lies in the heart of a limestone hills range. With vertical to overhanging cliffs, the area has some challenging routes to offer. Citatah-125 is the most popular sector, and the most frequented by local climbers. It is also the first sector coming from the road. Other sectors offer some nice routes for beginners too.
Thanks to the friendly climate, you can pretty much climb here all year round. And it’s easy to find great Bandung hotel deals and take the time to visit this spirited city and explore the surrounding natural beauty while you’re at it.
Padang Padang, Bali
If you’re looking to combine surfing and nice days at the beach with some pretty intense bouldering, then Padang Padang Beach on Indonesia’s most popular island might be just the place for you.
Unfortunately, the bolts on the sport routes here are of a debatable quality. Therefore, bouldering and deep water soloing on the jagged cliffs rising out of the clear ocean might be a better idea. The short, high-quality limestone wall on the beach is excellent for bouldering at low tide, with overhangs, tufas, huge pockets and long traverses. No need to bring a crash pad, just use the soft sand for a safe landing.
Are you feeling up to the challenge? Ready to stand out of the crowd? Enter a hidden climbing paradise! And don’t forget to let us know which climbing spots in Indonesia you like most.