Danny Yee >> Travelogues >> Bali + Java volcanoes

Volcano Climbing in East + Central Java

Java doesn't have wilderness areas to compete with the Indonesian Outer Islands — with a population of 100+ million on an island only 700km long and about 100km across that's a bit hard — but it has lots of volcanoes. Most of them can be climbed without technical equipment, and some have well maintained tracks to the summit. I started with a warm up on Tangkuban Prahu (near Bandung). Postcard. I then climbed six volcanoes in East Java.

From Kaliurang this is a full 1900m climb over about 5 km (it's much easier climbing from the North, from Selo), and a real leg-killer. The last 600m of climbing is rock-scrambling up lava flows. Christian Awuy (at the Vogel Homestay) gives talks every night at 7pm on the climb, and hands out good quality sketch maps, so you don't need maps. Don't try this solo, but 5-15 people climb every night (starting at 1am) so that's not a problem. I did the climb with a young British couple, and it took us 13 hours walking altogether. Merapi is VERY active, so it may not be safe to climb right to the summit. Good views.

Some two months after I climbed Merapi, it exploded!

The easiest of the climbs I did. It's about 1500m up from the pass, and there are apparently two tracks up, one 8km long and the other 12km. The 8km track is really well maintained, and lots of people do the climb, so it would be quite safe to do this one solo, and you certainly don't need a guide (as I found out too late!). It took me just 3 hours going up and two coming down, I did the climb without stopping and raced past people (the guide just kept up). Nothing really scenic at the top (piles of garbage left by climbers).

This is the lowest of the big seven peaks from Merapi eastwards, but I found it tough going. I was carrying all my gear (I planned to go over the range to Kediri, starting from Sawahan - over 25km) and the climb was hot and exposed. My guide ended up piking, so I had to turn back. This was more like walking in Australia than anything else I did in Indonesia. There's a nice waterfall (Sedudo) near Sawahan. No real views.

Arjuna and Welirang
Scenically probably the nicest of the peaks, with rainforest on the west slopes and open forest on the east and a chain of four peaks (with the big ones at the ends) to provide interesting views. I did this with full equipment and camped out at the sulphur gatherers' shelter at Welirangan (where there are huge piles of yellow sulphur everywhere). I climbed from Sumberbrantas (only about 1500m ascent) and descended to Lawang (a 2500m descent that was rather painfull on the legs). You can also climb from Tretes or from the Southwest. Welirang has an active smokehole. Great views. (Read the postcard I wrote afterwards.)

This is the highest peak in Java and the second highest peak in Indonesia outside Irian (almost 3700m). I based myself at Rano Pani, and took two days to climb Semeru (with a guide). The walk goes past a lovely lake at Rano Kumbolo, and would have been really nice except that bushfires had devasted the forest. Great views of the top in all directions. Read my postcards before and after the climb.

I didn't have time to climb Argopuro, but apparently it can be climbed from the North, the West or from Jember.

Due to bushfires I couldn't climb Raung, but Ijien is probably more scenic anyway, with a beautiful crater lake. The plateau is heavily cultivated but has quite a few lakes and mountains I didn't have time to see. It can be reached directly by bus and truck from the west (from Bondowoso), but you have to walk down/up 8km or so to th east (Banyuwangi). There are several National Park (PHPA) guesthouses on the plateau. Postcard 1. Postcard 2.

If you want more information (on getting hold of maps, where to find water, etc.) mail me and I'll give you what advice I can.

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