Volcano "hunting" along the Ring of Fire
Ever heard of the 'Ring of Fire'?
Stretching from Indonesia in south to the Kurils and Kamchatka in north, the Ring of Fire belt is where the Indian Ocean and western Pacific crustal plates collide with the massive Eurasian plate to form a massive chain of volcanic mountains.
Indonesia lies on a significant part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire". Being a land of fire, destruction and rebirth, Indonesia has massive volcanic activity.
Therefore it is arguable also the best place in world for volcano trekking. It has 129 active volcanoes - more than any other country - and most are accessible and safe for trekking, when not erupting.
All over seems to be steaming gunung api, fire mountains, dominating the landscape from Sumatra in West to Papua in East.
Location: Java, Bali, Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi in Indonesia during several volcano-climbing tours across, during all seasons
We have been “hunting” volcanoes across the Indonesia archipelago for several years and on numerous trips.
On Java Island, for example, Gunung Merapi at 2.930m height is the most active volcano in Indonesia. When not erupting it can be carefully climbed in about 8-10 hours with spectacular views to nearby volcanic summits and fertile highlands.
On neighboring Bali, the Gunung Agung volcano standing at 3.142m can be climbed during 10-12 hours. The view from the summit reveals views over Bali, East-Java, Lombok and Gunung Rinjani on Lombok as well as more islands in the Nusa Tenggara archipelago.
On Lombok Island, Gunung Rinjani offers phenomenal trekking. The base camp offers a surreal view towards the 3.726m summit. Inside the enormous crater is situated a lake, and in the center of that lake is another miniature volcano: A volcano inside the volcano. Rinjani is perhaps the most beautiful trek in Indonesia and all of SE Asia.
On Sulawesi Island, Gunung Lokon and Gunung Mahawu are active volcanoes located in the Minahasa highlands. The former has an almost perfect cone and offers beautiful views towards Bunaken Island, Manado Tua Island and the tip of Sulawesi. In Central Sulawesi, in the heart of Tana Toraja, an extremely exotic and culturally rich region, we trekked from village to village in the highlands on old volcanoes.
For another climb in South East Asia, check our ascent of Mount Kinabalu on the island of Borneo.
Selected pics from these treks:
... in the volcanic highland of Central Java in Indonesia
One of our favourite treks is in Central Java, home to some of the greatest Buddhist relics of SE Asia: Borobudur. Near he upper terraces of this temple complex sits Gunung Merapi (2911m), one of Indonesias most active and destructive volcanoes
Meaning Fire Mountain, Merapi's towering peak can be seen from many parts of Central Java on a clear day. Merapi has erupted numerous times. Our climb starts in from the small village of Selo.
Typically, a 1.30 am start is nesseacy to reach the summit for dawn. It can only be attempted if Merai is quiet, but even then extreme caution is advised.
It is a tough, demanding walk mostly through loose volcanic scree. But we loved the entire walk and the beauty of the volcano.
View over the Sungai Boyong valley and Central Java.
The morning skies roll in on Merapi
... with view to fertile lands and nearby volcanic summits
Another great climb is Gunung Agung (3142m) on Bali. We've been to Bali several times and spend 2+ months here, yet we have never met any other travelers attempting the climb up Agung. Perhaps because it is difficult to arrange, the route is bad, and the climb is 12+ hours. The view here is from Lembongang Island during dusk where we stayed while doing dives off Nusa Penida.
Besakih village is up 1000m on the SW slope of Agung, and useful for planning the climb. There is also a complex of 23 temples often obscured by mist.
The first 3-4 hours is through pine forest on stony and muddy ground with a head torch during night time.
We've reached the higher edge of the crater rim on Agung, where a 360 degree view is revealed. In the bacdrop, 3726m high Rinjani can be seen - another great trek in Indonesia that we've done.
Niels, Anders, Hans & Jakob on summit
In the distance we could see Gunung Catur (2096m), Gunung Pohon (2063m), and Gunung Batukau (2276m) and behind that the volnacoes on East Java, including Merapi (2800m)
A third great climb in the Indonesian atchipelago is Guning Rinjani (3726m). Rinjani is, outside Irian jaya /West Papua, the highest mountain in Indonesia.
Sunrise from the beach on Gili Trawangan, one of the fine coral atolls with white sand beaches, off the coast of Lombok, the day before we travel to Lombok and start the climb.
Good place to stop for one day to arrange guide, porters, food, etc.
The trailhead starts here.
Leg 1 from Sembalun Lawang to Pelawang II. The forest giv way to grassy slopes, and as you approach the volcano it comes drier, rockier and steeper. Leg 1 is a long and hot climb.
A fine view over the Sembalun Valley sandwiched between Rinjani and another range of mountains, Sambalun Bumbung.
Putting up the tent and enjoying the view as the afternoon clouds roll in. The campsite is right on the crater rim.
Our two porters and guide in Rinjani
Niels, Jakob and Anders relaxing with a cup of coffee