The aftermath of a volcanic eruption can be seen through the valleys where life flourishes. It usually begins where forests end and the cooled black lava rock and sands begin. After reading articles on the 1883 Krakatau eruption, and also the Merapi, I decided to Trek 11 active volcanoes in Indonesia. So, I started looking for a suitable guide on the Internet who could offer me the right combination of volcano climbs and trekking tours throughout Indonesia. There are a lot of them, but after hours of researching and planning, I decided to trek on my own.
So on July 11th, 2018 I grabbed my carefully selected gear and started on my 18-day volcano trek from Krakatau to Bali. The real adventure began when I landed in Jakarta, just a 2hr and 10-minute flight from my home in Bali. First I marveled at the Anak Krakatau in the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java. From the west coast of Java, I continued on to the volcanoes Papandayan and Galunggung.
I then took the train from Tasikmalaya to Yogyakarta, where I made my first ascent of Merapi. At the Kelud I admired the newly created lava dome up close. The ascent of the 3,676-mile high Semeru was just as much a highlight as the impressive sunrise panorama over the Tengger Caldera on Mount Bromo.
A particularly intense and thoughtful experience for me was to see the miners collecting sulfur on the Ijen volcano in East Java. After visiting Lovina Beach in northern Bali I spent a few quiet days in Kintamani before visiting Agung and Batur.
This 18-day study and trekking itinerary begins in Java from West to East and ends in Bali. Along the way, you will visit and climb some of Indonesia’s most talked-about active volcanoes: Starting with Anak Krakatoa, Papandayan and Galunggung in West Java, Merapi in Central Java, Kelud, Semeru, Bromo, the Tengger caldera, and Ijen in East Java, and finally Agung and Batur in Bali.
This itinerary combines mostly easy to moderate hikes with a few advanced treks throughout Java and Bali. On the way, you will experience Indonesia’s majestic landscapes, colorful culture, and happy people.
I recommend traveling with a group of friends or family for safety and sanity, although you can travel solo if you prefer. This itinerary is designed for you to take your time and be as flexible as you want. You can skip volcanoes, stay as long as you like, or do it in reverse order.
Day 1: Arrive in Jakarta (early morning)
Arrive in Jakarta, transfer to hotel in Carita Beach, and have a bite to eat before taking a boat to Anak Krakatoa Island in West Java also known as the Child of Kratakau. This active volcano is the offspring of the famous Krakatau volcano, whose monumental eruption in 1883 triggered a period of global cooling.
Recently in April 2020, Anak Krakatoa spewed a column of ash 1,640 feet (500 meters) into the sky. It is the longest eruption since the underwater collapse of the island in 2018 which caused a deadly tsunami. You might want to stay here for a couple of days and relax before your next adventure.
When you are well-rested, find a driver that will transport you to Bandung.
It’s Important to check the temperament of Anak Krakatoa before you start heading there. If closed, stay in a hotel close to Gambir Station for the night. If open, You can reach Anak Krakatoa by boat from Carita beach. The boat ride can cost between $25 to $40 per person depending on how well you can communicate.
Day 2: Make your way to Bandung – Museum of Geology – Tangkuban Perahu volcano
In the morning, meet your driver at your hotel lobby and tell him you will be going to Bandung city, a volcanic city, the center for Volcanology, and monitoring volcanoes. After visiting the Museum of Geology Indonesia, in the afternoon then make your way to Tangkuban Perahu volcano. Click here for directions from Carita Beach to Gambir Station (note: times are subject to change–check for new schedule)
How to get there: Train–1:10 PM Jakarta 1:10 PM Gambir Station Kereta Api Argo Parahyangan Bandung 3 hr 23 min (3 stops) 4:33 PM Bandung Station. Walk About 6 min 4:54 PM Bus Terminal Stasiun Hall Statsiun Hall – Dago Dago 27 min (8 stops) 5:21 PM Moxy Bandung,. Walk About 14 min, 1.1 km 5:35 PM Jl. Diponegoro No.57
Address: Cihaur Geulis, Kec. Cibeunying Kaler, Kota Bandung, Jawa Barat 40122
Cost: IDR 113,500.00
Tickets and information PT. KAI
Day 3: Transfer to Garut – Climb Papandayan volcano
Transfer to Garut city, then proceed to Papandayan volcano to start your ascent. After descending Papandayan, explore hot springs & volcanic craters (Papandayan).
How to get there: Hire driver– 3.5 hrs total Click here for google map
Day 4: Kamojang – Galunggung volcano
Visit Kamojang geothermal field and Galunggung volcano and its surroundings
Kamojang, aka Kawah Kamojang or (the Kamojang crater), is a geothermal field and tourist spot in West Java, Indonesia. The crater is located in sub-district (Kecamatan) Ibun in the Bandung Regency, approximately 45 km to the southeast of Bandung through the towns of Majalaya and Ibun.
Day 5: Scenic train ride to Yogyakarta – Prambanan Temple
Catch an early train (first-class) directly to my favorite city, Yogyakarta, Central Java’s capital. The ride is very scenic and takes about 7-8 hrs.
Car: click here for directions to Tasikmalaya Train station
TIP: Once you know your exact date and time of arrival, book your first-class train ticket to Yogyakarta in advance – prior to arrival in Indonesia. This is the only way to guarantee a 1st class ticket and stretch out in comfort.
Train: 1:20 PM
Tasikmalaya Train Station
Jl. Stasion No.25, Tawangsari, Tawang, Tasikmalaya, West Java 46112
1:20 PM Tasikmalaya Train Station Pasundan Gubeng 5 hr 43 min (10 stops) 7:03 PM
Day 6: Borobodur Temple – Merapi volcano and its surroundings
Visit the Borobodur Temple – Further excursions/observation of Merapi volcano depending on its recent activity.
Entry into Borobudur costs: note: prices are more for sunrise but worth it
- US $22/ Rp 325k for tourist
- US $10/ Rp 190k for non-Indonesian Student ( show proof with ISIC or student ID)
- US $2/ Rp 30k for Indonesian adults, or show proof of KITAP or KITAS
I would suggest going straight to Borobodur and staying in a hotel there which gives you the chance to wake up and catch the sunrise at the stupas of Borobudur with Mount Merapi in the background. This allows you to take some pictures before the large crowds gather. It is also closer to Mt. Merapi and not too far from downtown Yogya, a must explore destination.
Day 7: Free day in Yogya
Explore downtown Yogya (Sultan’s Palace, water castle, museums, markets, etc.) There is a lot to do here including visiting the Hindu temples of Prambanan and a Ramayana ballet performance in the evening.
Day 8: Climb Mt. Merapi volcano for sunrise – Transfer to Kediri (near Kelud)
Climb Merapi starting at around midnight to reach the top at sunrise. After descending and lunch back at the base, transfer to Kediri city near Kelud volcano in East Java (near Kelud).
This is where your camping skills are put to a test. I have a whole section on what to bring for these types of descents. Wear a light pair of cargo pants, good shoes, and a torch/headlight for your midnight hike. My advice is, follow the heard of random visitors and set up your tent close to the locals.
There is no water access or toilets, so bring lots of water, baby wipes, and a poop trowel. Hiking Merapi volcano can get challenging. Some parts are steep, muddy, unstable, volcanic ash, and even trash. This is where your headlight is put to the test as well as your focus.
What your Midnight hike from Selo looks like
- 12 am arrival at Selo–You can start walking from the Selo village or drive on for another 30 minutes until you reach the New Selo basecamp
- 1 am arrival at New Selo (last parking before the trail)
- 3 am you should reach the area near the last basecamp
- 4 am start to hike again
- 5 am you should reach the summit (just before sunrise)
- 6 am start your descent
- 8 am you should have made it New Selo by now.
Follow the locals option
A popular option amongst local backpackers is to set out in the late afternoon or evening, camp in a tent on the mountain overnight, and then tackle the final push to the summit before sunrise.
Tip: If you have to urinate on the mountain, you should ask the mountain for forgiveness.
Day 9: Kelud volcano
Relaxed after visiting Kelud volcano (conditions allowing), visit the observatory post and see the aftermath of the 2014 eruption which ejected debris and ash column 12 miles into the air.
How to get there: Car: Click here for a google map of Selo to Kelud
Click for Bus from Selo to Blitar
Patria Plaza Hotel in Blitar to Kelud Volcano
Day 10: Transfer to Malang – Tengger massiv – Semeru
Transfer to Malang, then scenic drive into the Tengger caldera via an impressive route to a village at the base of Semeru.
How to get there: Click here from Mt. Kelud to Malang –Or you can stay overnight at one of the hotels at Prigen, Tretes, to make sure that you are on the crater rim before sunrise.
Day 11: First trek to Semeru
Reaching the summit will take you 2-4 days depending on where you choose to camp. Start the climb from Ranu Pani Village at 6890 ft. to Semeru through a long but moderate trek until reaching either Ranu Kumbolo Lake or Kalimati camp. Locals usually spend the first night at Ranu Kumbolo Lake and the second night at Arcopodo.
Your trek begins in a narrow forest trail and then passing 4 green shelters which are spaced about 1 hour apart. There are even concrete markers you can follow to help you reach Ranu Kumbolo mountain lake within 4 hrs. This is where you have the first option of setting up camp around the shoreline.
Another option would be to rest and then hike another 3 hours to Kalimati camp. This part of the trek crosses the grassy Oro-Oro Ombo savannah and provides great views of the surrounding peaks and the Semeru peak. Kalimati is a popular overnight camping area that has a single hut and the last water resupply point of the trek.
Arcopodo base camp at 9554 ft is another 1.24 miles up past a pine forest. Once you reach Arcopodo go ahead and set up your tent again. Be ready to wake up early to catch the sunrise at Semeru.
It takes 3 hours to reach the summit from Arcopodo. The hike is steep but once you pass the tree line, the views will make up for it. This area is called Gunung Pananjakan, and it’s one of the best spots to view Mount Bromo.
How to get there: Car: Get to the village of Ranu Pani by hiring a vehicle from Malang to Tumpang village (about 45min). Once you get to Tumpang village, you’ll need to either hitchhike or rent a jeep to get to Ranu Pani which will take another 1.5 hrs.
You’ll need to bring your own camping gear and food for the trek and plenty of warm clothing as the nights are beyond chilly. You’ll also need to obtain a permit and pay an entrance fee at the registration office on arrival.
TIP: Ten years ago, it was difficult to find accommodations. Just near the registration office are a few accommodations with warungs and a recently built hot shower that will be waiting for you after you finish climbing this highest volcano of Java.
Day 12: Second trek to Semeru’s summit
Your day will either start from Ranu Kumbolo Lake or Kalimati camp where you will begin your second descent to Arcopodo Base Camp at 9,554 feet. Just 3 hrs from Semuru’s summit and majestic views of Mt. Bromo. There are different options above.
Day 13: Hike back to Ranu Pani and 4X4 transfer to Bromo
Hike back to Ranu Pani, 4×4 drive to the Tengger caldera
How to get there by Jeep Click here for google map Ranu Pani to Bromo
This is one of the few tours I recommend after your hike to Semeru Summit; “Bromo Jeep Rental” Ranupani – Kaldera: 550.000 IDR.– Inclusions: Jeep, Driver, and Fuel Exclusions Ticket Bromo, Meal, etc. Start Cemoro Lawang (Probolinggo) or Wonokitri (Pasuruan) – Sunrise viewpoint – Caldera Bromo: 525.000 IDR Feel free to contact me and I will book it for you once you know your dates.
Day 14: Bromo volcano & Tengger caldera
Relaxed day to explore Bromo volcano and the Tengger caldera. Visit the local volcano observatory and introduction to the monitoring techniques of the volcano.
Day 15: Sunrise over the Tengger Caldera – Transfer to Ijen
(Ijen Sulphuric Crater Lake and the Blue Fire. )
Jeep (or hike) to the sunrise viewpoint – Transfer to Ijen Plateau, coffee plantations, soak in nearby natural hot volcanic springs.
Probolinggo (the base of Mount Bromo) to Mount Ijen. Again there are two possible ways.
How to get there: Hire a driver or take a taxi, click here for google map
Mount Bromo to Mount Ijen via Sempol
The most popular and the one that is taken by most tour companies. They go through Bondowoso and then grab a taxi or public bus to Sempol. From there on you can arrange transport up to the base of Mount Ijen.
Mount Bromo to Mount Ijen via Karangasem
Mount Ijen to Karangasem Resort Homestay click here for map
Karangasem to Bali is only half an hour’s drive from the public ferry. The train ride from Probolingo to Karangasem will take around 5 hours, so you’ll want to leave directly after sunrise.
Day 16: Kawah Ijen volcano – transfer to Bali
Climb and visit of Ijen’s crater, descend to the sulphur mining area and the turquoise acid crater lake. In the afternoon transfer to Bali.
Karangasem Resort Homestay to To Ketapand Ferry Port
If you’re planning to be in Bali for a decent amount of time, there are hundreds of beaches, temples, and activities to explore on the island between Ketapand Ferry and either of Bali’s Volcanoes. That will be my next itinerary, but If your strictly here for volcanoes , continue on with your adventure on Bali’s Mt. Agung and Mt. Batur.
Day 17: Gunung Agung
This is not a light and easy hike where you can expect to rock out the boardshorts and flip flops like you would at a Canggu beach party. Gunung Agung’s mixed terrain and quickly changing elements such as wind and rain can add even more difficulty to your climb. With its steep multi-terrain such as part sand and part wet rock, you can expect to fall back two steps for every one step forward. This climb will take all your mental strength and focus from start to finish.
There are temples everywhere on this mountain, 80 to be exact. To enter the temples, men are required to wear pants or a sarong, while women should also cover their shoulders, chest, arms, and legs.
The ascent takes the average person you 6 to 7 hours and the descent can take up to 8 hours
It is advised to find a guide prior to arrival. Contact me if you need help finding an excellent guide.
How to get there: Take tour click here for Gunung Agung google map
Day 18 : Gunung Batur
The hike is about two hours (for most, quicker if you need fewer breaks), and remember you are summiting a volcano which is 1,717 meters, or 5,633 feet, above sea level.
You should find a guide before arrival. Contact me and I will coordinate this hike for you as well as maybe hike with you. No charge.
How to get there: Take tour click here for Ganung Batur google map
What to bring on your trek
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Sleeping Bag Liner
- 7* Underwear (Icebreaker)
- 1* Hiking pants (Light Quick Dry)
- 5-7 t-shirts (Quick Dry/Synthetic)
- 1 Light Long Sleeve Shirt (Synthetic)
- 1 hoodie
- Rain poncho or Gortex jacket with hood
- Cap or Sunhat
- Beanie or toque (You’ll thank me later)
- 2* Swimming trunks (for hot springs,etc.)
- Leather gloves for grip and warmth
- 7 Walking socks
- 3 Liner socks
- Good hiking shoes
- Flip Flops (for when you’re not hiking and for showers)
- Mobile Phone for pictures and communications (includes map, trip description, and GPS)
- Camera and gear
- Battery pack/ Power bank
- Personal Locator Beacon
- Garmin InReach Mini
- Petzl Headlight
- Watch/route tracker
- GPS map Garmin
- Solar Panel (for charging phone)
- Laptop for bloggers
- Lightweight camera
- Camera lens (55-210mm)
- Filters (the variable filter is good)
- Power bank,
- SD cards
- 1 Packable Towel
- Toilet articles for personal use (travel size)
- Plaster for blisters
- 1 Wet toilet paper towels
- Toilet paper
- Hygiene hand gel
- Biodegradable soap (Can be used for body, hair, and dishes)
- Sun screen
- Insect Repellant
- Poop Trowel (small garden shovel)
- MSR Titan Titanium Cooking Pot
- MSR Pocket Rocket ( you can purchase fuel canisters at Ace Hardware for Rp 50k)
- spark starter and lighter
- 3l Camelbak pack/daypack
- Camelbak 3liter pouch
- Pocket knife/ Multi-Tool
- Cash is king/ Bring enough Rupia for everything or visit atm before trekking each mountain.
- Trash bags
- Notebook and Pen
- Key or combo lock
- Gas mask for volcanoes with sulfur and other gas
- 18-day supply of your favorite energy bars from home 2 x 18 = 36 bars
- Bananas- (buy local)
- Trail mix- (buy local)
- Jar of peanut butter (cheaper and better from home)
- Pre-made meals in a Ziplock you can boil- (buy local)
- Water 3L Bladder and an insulated water bottle (fill up before each ascent)
- You can also support locals buy buying bananas and eggs they boil on volcanic rock.
First Aid Kit
- Antibacterial Wipes
- Non-stick Gauze
- Emergency Blanket
- Tick Removing Tweezers
- Salt for leeches
- Strike Pad and Waterproof Matches
- Fabric Medical Tape
- Bug Sting Relief
- Duct Tape
- Fishing Hook and Line
- Safety Pin
- Triangular Bandage
Before hiking, guides and locals will pray in one of the mountain temples, asking for safety and guidance.
Who I would not recommend this trip to?
If you have any existing breathing conditions (asthma, panic easily when breathing anything other than oxygen, etc.) and/or have extremely sensitive eyes, then I would strongly recommend you don’t try this trip, especially alone.
Pyroclastic flows and lahars made their way down the slopes of Mt. Agungs during the 1963-1964 erruption. They traveled all the way to the ocean and killed everyone in it’s path.
During Mt. Agungs 1963-64 eruption around 1700 people were killed by pyroclastic flows. These superheated clouds consist of volcanic gas, volcanic ash, and rock debris. Pyroclastic flows are the most deadly of all volcanic hazards, and can reach temperatures as high as 1,830°F (1000°C), and can flow down the slope of a volcano at speeds of over 400 mph (700 k/hr). They incinerate everything in their path and can flow several miles.
After Mt. Agungs eruption of 1963-64, mudflows or better known as cold lahars killed around 200 people. The mix of rainwater and volcanic debris were first created by Agungs earthquakes which began a series of landslides. It then finds its way down a stream valley reaching speeds of up to 60 mph (100 km/h). The lahars then pick up momentum as it makes its way down. Reaching distances of up to 120 miles away, and destroying anything in its path.
They’re awesome to watch, but keep in mind, there’s no way to know how far or how big these bombs will be. Watch the direction and range of flying bombs. If things get out of control, find a large boulder or mound for shelter and cover your head with your backpack and a helmet. Running is advised, but only when bombs are pea-sized and you can outrun their range.
Most earthquakes are caused by the interaction of the plates not the movement of magma.
Once the plumbing system of the volcano is open and magma is flowing through it, constant earthquake waves, called harmonic tremor, are recorded (but not felt).
Tsunamis destructive waves are not always caused by earthquakes.
They also occur due to violent submarine explosions, caldera collapses, tectonic movement from volcanic activity, flank failure into a water source or pyroclastic flow discharge into the sea.
Global Cooling and Warming
The gases and dust particles spewed into the atmosphere during volcanic eruptions can shade incoming solar radiation. The cooling effect can last for months to years causing famine. Gases like sulfur dioxide can cause global cooling, while volcanic carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, has the potential to promote global warming.
Post‐eruption famine and epidemics, pyroclastic density currents, mudflows, and volcanogenic tsunamis account for the majority of recorded deaths arising from volcanism.
Pack protective attire
Deciding what equipment and clothing to bring on your trek should be based on what type of material your volcano is likely to expel, and your location during the eruption. Anything that will protect you from the elements.
A visit to the tourist spots at Indonesian Volcanoes requires more than a pair of sturdy shoes and canteen of water.
If you are hiking on rough, brittle volcanic terrain, such as on Mt. Agung, wear light long pants, hiking boots and a pair of leather gloves.
A helmet and protective goggles are advisable when visiting an active volcano that spits out Strombolian explosions, such as Raung, on East Java.
Prepare for plumes
Many geologist and tour guides will advise you to carry a gas mask while climbing volcanoes with fumaroles — openings that release toxic gases and steam — such as Mount Sinabung which erupted in North Sumatra on August 10, 2020.
It’s important to know, nonerupting volcanoes can also produce plumes of gas or fumaroles. This can happen when lava enters the sea or comes in contact with water which then produces steam clouds that contain hydrochloric acid.
Breathing these fumes can cause respiratory problems, as well as eye and skin irritation. Be aware of the winds direction as it can change quickly. If you find yourself in perilous volcanic atmosphere without a gas mask and gasping for air, It’s suggested you tie a wet cloth over your nose and mouth.
Obey the signs
Always use common sense and stay within Indonesias invisible barriers and obey restricted area signs that may not always be there. The last thing you’ll want to do is wander past a barrier and fall into a deep firey pit of inferno.
If you aren’t sure you have firm lava to stand on, tread very carefully and be aware of the weight you bear on each leg. Try to walk near the edges of flow channels rather than over the middle. During night or day hikes, try to listen for crunchy noises underfoot and look for signs of broken crusts whether with your headlamp or daylight.
Indigenous Warning signs
Some residents have a deep spiritual relationship with their volcanoes nearest to their homes and farms. So deep, that they believe supernatural entities – or creatures that live at the summit of the volcano will give them warnings before a major eruption.
Signs such as, smoke plumes, small earthquakes, the descent of monkeys from mountains, and lightning storms caused by the emission of ash into the atmosphere. Keep in mind, warning signs are only given to those who follow the rules and keep their creatures happy by burying buffalo heads at the base of the mountain or some other form of ritual.
Consider other dangers
There are times when the place itself is more dangerous than the volcano, due to unsafe access, political unrest, and COVID-19. To help evaluate whether your destination is safe, check out the State Department’s travel advisory system.
A good rule of thumb
The more remote the area, the more emergency equipment you should carry, especially where communities rely on their own early warning systems. Usually based on tradition and natural signs, rather than trust in scientific monitoring.
For this reason, bring the same essentials you would on any challenging mountain or rock climbing excursion. Find out if there are cell, radio . . . or satellite communications services and always carry plenty of water. And remember, it’s okay to hire a guide…..this is their home.