At 1,995m high, Mt Klabat is the highest mountain in Sulawesi. Located roughly 20km due east of Monado, it’s hulking presence dominates the city skyline and is visible from almost anywhere on the north Minahasa Peninsula and surrounding islands. Not surprisingly, the views from the summit are superb.
Summiting Mt Klabat is moderately challenging and requires a reasonable level of fitness as the trail makes steady elevation gains very quickly after setting off from an elevation of only 260m. That means a climb of 1,735m to the summit. On the positive side, the most popular route from Airmadidi town is well defined and in reasonably good condition although some scrambling and slippery sections are inevitable.
It takes around 4-5 hours to reach the summit and another 4 hours to descend. Allowing time to soak in the view and have a picnic on the summit, it’s a long day’s trek, explaining why some hikers opt to spend a night camping out on the summit. This gives you the double advantage of amazing sunset views over Manado and Bunaken Islands and sunrise views over Bitung and Lembeh Island the following morning.
If you don’t have the time or the inclination to overnight on the mountain, you’ll need to set off no later than 2:00am and trek through the night to make the summit in time for sunrise or no later than 5:00am to reach the summit before the afternoon clouds start rolling in around the peak.
The trail is quite easy to follow once you’re through the foothills and into the forest which is where you’ll spend most the climb. There are 6 Pos along the way as well as a few other suitable rest spots and water supplies near Pos 2 and 6, although unless you have some way of sterilizing the water it’s best to bring what you need for the entire trek. It’s not until after you pass Pos 6 (1,910m) and you reach the grassy summit that you get your first decent views but wow, what stunning views they are!
The starting point for the Mt Klabat trek is the small town of Airmadidi, a 22km (45min) drive from Manado. There are regular public buses to/from Manado but a taxi will only set you back around 120.000-150.000Rp and significantly less for an ojek. If you’re planning a single day trek, consider staying at one of the few homestays in Airmadidi. Hikers are required to register at the Airmadidi police station prior to setting out but there is no permit fee. Guides are essential but you really need one to lead you through the foothills onto the start of the forest trail. The police or homestays will be able to help you find one. Alternatively, book an all inclusive trekking tour from Manado at any of the tour desks in the city.