Photo: Mata Yangu Waterfall.

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Mata Yangu Waterfall

Our rating:

In the wet season, Mata Yangu produces an impressive wall of water and even in the dry, we’re told you can swim here. A part of the Manupeu Tanah Daru National Park, and geographically part of the same water course as the more accessible La Popu Waterfall, Maya Yangu Waterfall is well worth a look.

The road to the waterfall has very confusing signage. We found it best just to ask directions along the way. Officially the entry fee to Manupeu Tanah Daru National Park is 150,000 rupiah (5,000 rupiah for Indonesians), but there was no entry booth and no one was around to collect our fee, nor issue tickets. We were eventually directed to a house at the end of the road where a local guide lives. It is the last house on the left and you’re looking for a man named Laurence. “It’s half an hour and a bit muddy, price up to you, do you want to go now?” he asked us. The weather wasn’t promising, but it was only half an hour … not.

Here it is. Photo taken in or around Mata Yangu Waterfall, Waikabubak, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Here it is. Photo: Sally Arnold

The walk is indeed muddy and one and a half kilometres along a flat muddy path through long head-height grass, we reached a small wooden and corrugated iron hut — the dry season start of the walk. In wet conditions it took us half an hour just to that point. The path then enters the jungle proper — lush steamy rainforest (literally for us). The trail continues up and down, extremely steep and narrow in parts, unmarked and barely visible. Sharp rocky limestone adds to the obstacles. It’s hot but a very lovely trek.

One hour from the hut we reached the spectacular 75-metre waterfall, a singular, dramatic gush onto moss-covered rocks and pools below.

It’s not just about the waterfall. Photo taken in or around Mata Yangu Waterfall, Waikabubak, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

It’s not just about the waterfall. Photo: Sally Arnold

A steep path leads to what would be the dry season swimming hole, but at this point it was too wet and slippery, and too late in the day for us to attempt. From Mata Yangu it’s possible to continue following the river for another two kilometres to La Popu Waterfall. The return journey to our starting point took one and a half hours, following the same path.

All up, it’s a three-hour walk (more if you go swimming) which we would rate moderate to strenuous — there are steep climbs and ascents and it’s uneven, rocky and slippery underfoot with no obvious path. But it’s probably a lot easier to do in the dry season. We recommend wearing sturdy enclosed footwear and taking plenty of water — it’s hot and sweaty in there.

Beautiful scenery along the way. Photo taken in or around Mata Yangu Waterfall, Waikabubak, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Beautiful scenery along the way. Photo: Sally Arnold

For the walk to Mata Yangu and further to La Popu, a guide is highly recommended. The “up to you” price changed when we offered our guide 50,000 rupiah (suggested by our driver), and he asked for 70,000 rupiah, which we thought was a fair price. We loved it, but it’s a bit of an adventure.

To get to Mata Yangu Waterfall, head east of Waitabubak for 15 kilometres then turn left at the road marked Dameka, and continue for another 10 kilometres. At an intersection there is a national park sign — do the opposite of what you think it says. Actually, just ignore it and ask the locals for “Air Tejun Mata Yangu”.

Mata Yangu Waterfall
Around 25km from Waikabubak

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Location map for Mata Yangu Waterfall

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Waikabubak.
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