Just on the outskirts of the hill town of Bukittinggi in the Minangkabau highlands, lies this breathtaking canyon, which the locals call Ngarai Sianok, or the Sianok Canyon. Its panorama is particularly beautiful in the early morning light when the first rays of the sun pierce through the mist covering this deep valley that has majestic Mount Singgalang looming in its background.
Its beauty has been painted by many artists, most famous among whom was Ernest Dezentje, renowned painter in the “Mooi Indonesie” or Beautiful Indonesia style, favored by Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno.
Ngarai Sianok has two steep walls facing each other almost vertically, falling to a flat bottom where a river meanders among green ricefields. Its height is about 100 to 120 meters, and the canyon itself is 15 km long. This gorge separates the towns of Bukittinggi and Kota Gadang on its opposite side.
The beauty of Sianok can be seen from Panorama Park in Bukittinggi or you can also walk down into the gorge, where there are a settlement and paddy fields. Then crossing a bridge over the river, climb up to Kota Gadang, home of silversmiths who produce the finest filigree ornaments.
To enjoy the scenery from the park, visitors pay an entrance fee of Rp 3,000 per person. Along with admiring the beauty of Sianok, visitors can also visit a Japanese bunker, built during World War II, located at the base of the canyon.
Ngarai Sianok is arguably the most beautiful scenery among West Sumatra’s many scenic sites, to be enjoyed particularly at sunrise or sunset.
Bukittinggi and the Ngarai Sianok Canyon are some of the highlights of the annual Tour de Singkarak race, which takes on some of West Sumatra’s most spectacular scenic sites.
More images on Ngarai Sianok and Tour de Singkarak are available at our photo Essay: Tour de Singkarak 2011: Meet the locals.