Gunung Rinjani – one of the most challenging volcanoes in Indonesia.
Photo by Neils Photography
Over 120 of the world’s active volcanoes can be found dotted around Indonesia, often with settlements clinging precariously close to the smoldering rims.
With frequent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, Indonesia has the daunting honor of being the world’s most geologically tumultuous country. Indonesia’s position between the Eurasian and Indo-Australian tectonic plates has resulted in scores of volcanoes – both active and dormant – that dominate the horizon.
Visitors to Indonesia have many opportunities to climb active volcanoes. While often challenging, the views from the summit and the thrill of knowing what is going on beneath the surface will have you falling in love with every menacing, foul-smelling caldera.
Photo by Greg Rodgers
Perhaps easiest of Indonesia’s volcanoes to enjoy, the multicolored Kelimutu lakes are a popular stop in Flores. Kelimutu’s three crater lakes continuously bubble and boil; the other-worldly colors change periodically as the chemical composition of the noxious water changes.
Local lore holds that spirits of the dead ascend Kelimutu and come to rest in one of the three lakes, depending on their deeds performed on earth.
Kelimutu is located just nine miles from the small, pleasant village of Moni roughly between the towns of Ende and Maumere in Flores. Most visitors grab shared transportation to the volcano around 4 a.m., enjoy sunrise on the summit, then walk or hitch a ride back to Moni.
Photo by Greg Rodgers
Popular with backpackers for its accessibility from Ubud, Gunung Batur rises 5,633 feet above the green Kintamani region of North Bali. Make no mistake, Mount Batur is very active despite the tourist crowds; the summit was closed in November 2010 due to a new eruption.
Gunung Batur can be climbed without one of the ubiquitous guides loitering around Kintamani. Most trekkers choose to begin their hikes in the village of Toya Bungkah. An average hike takes around two grueling hours to reach the summit. Alternatively, those looking for more of a challenge can tackle Gunung Batur from Pura Jati by scrambling across jagged lava fields. Unpredictable weather adds to the danger.
Photo by leafbug
Rising prominently above East Bali, Gunung Agung is the tallest peak on the island. Gunung Agung is home to Pura Besakih – the most sacred Hindu temple on Bali – which was miraculously spared during a devastating eruption in 1963 when over 1,500 people lost their lives.
Unlike the touristy Mount Batur, climbing Gunung Agung is not for the faint of heart. Although pushy guides in the base village of Besakih insist otherwise, the mountain can be tackled without a tour. Two different routes, both steep and hazardous, crisscross up the volcano to the summit.
The route from Pura Besakih goes to the highest point on the rim while the route beginning from Pura Pasar Agung on the southern slope is more strenuous.
Photo by Habi
Towering 12,224 feet above Lombok, Gunung Rinjani is a challenge for even experienced trekkers. Most tourists stop at Rinjani’s crater rim for the best views of glowing lava oozing from the cone centered in the crater lake.
Trekking Gunung Rinjani requires stamina, camping equipment, and a guide. Continuing the last 3,000 feet to the summit is possible only if weather and the temperament of the volcano permit; your guide makes the final call.
Treks priced at around $175 for guide, food, and equipment are not cheap, but the rewards are unforgettable. The village of Senaru on the north side of the volcano serves as base where equipment and tours can be arranged
Although not the highest peak, Gunung Bromo is certainly the most famous in East Java. The summit, situated at 7,641 feet, both attracts and freezes thousands of tourists a year. Gunung Bromo’s status was raised to “alert” in November 2010, although the last eruption took place in 2004. Despite the cold temperatures and threat of new activity, tourists still flock up the slopes before dawn to witness a spectacular sunrise from the summit.
Tourists have several options for enjoying Gunung Bromo, including jeep tours or making their own way from the village of Cemoro Lawang. Mount Senaru and Mount Batok, Bromo’s neighboring peaks, can also be climbed for amazing views of the eerie “Sea of Sand”.
While not the grandest of Indonesia’s volcanoes, Gunung Sibayak in Sumatra has been luring people to the summit for centuries for the amazing views. At 6,870 feet, climbing Gunung Sibayak takes between two to three hours, depending on the route chosen. Optional guides can be hired for around $15.
Most people begin up Gunung Sibayak just northwest of the town of Berastagi. Alternatively, some backpackers choose to hire a guide and trek from Air Terjun Panorama – three miles north of Berastagi; the challenging trek takes around five hours.
Although Gunung Sibayak has not erupted in over a century, steam vents on the slopes indicate that the volcano is very much still alive.?