Indonesian volcanos: our tips of the ascension 

26 November 2021

Indonesian volcano in eruption

To embark on a trek in search of a new summit is always an incredible adventure. Thanks to the diversity of Indonesia, every volcano ascension is a new experience. The volcanos of Bali and Java are unique for their drops, altitude, paths and rest areas… But more so, because they are volcanos, they are unique depending on whether they are active or not. Their eruptions reshape the climbing ground and offer breathtaking smoking craters.

The Indotravelteam proposes you here to discover 11 volcanoes of Indonesia on which we ventured. You will find our advice and our opinions on their characteristics for their ascensions. 

Pieces of advice:

The escort of a professional guide during the ascension of a volcano is a necessity. There are many reasons for his presence:

He knows perfectly the volcanos in their most simple configuration and knows what materials and equipment are needed. 

He is the vital specialist during difficult and unpredictable conditions: rain and clouds shedding the visibility, the wind changing direction bringing toxic smoke, falling rocks and landslides…

He will anticipate thanks to his knowledge and vigilance, the potential difficulties and choose the best ascent and descent paths as well as resting places. 

He will bring real solutions in case of a more serious problem (exhaustion or fatigue, lack of vital resources, accidents, and injuries…).

Volcano trekking guidr

No guide knows all the volcanos in Indonesia. It is important to choose a guide that is specific to the volcano you chose to climb. And please, do not listen to the specialists that will tell you that no guide is needed because, « for them, everything went just fine ». Unfortunately, some people follow their « advice » and find themselves in difficult, and even dangerous situations. If a volcano trip cannot be done in complete autonomy, there is a good reason for it. 

1. Hiking Abang - Bali 

Trek in Abang volcano Bali

  • Altitude: 2 152 meters 

  • Active volcano: No  

  • Access: No official entry fee. To access the path that leads to the top of the volcano, the villagers will ask for a financial contribution that can vary. Supposed optional, it will determine « the condition of your vehicles » on your way back!  

  • Guide: recommended *  

Mount Gunung Abang is the current culminating point of the original Batur volcano (that was, depending on the different modelings, more than 5000 m of altitude, which means 1,5 times higher than the actual Gunung Agung!). The ascension is done entirely under an altitude forest and doesn’t present any major difficulties. To reach the top, you will need around 1h30 of climbing. As for many volcanoes in Bali, you will find a temple at the top overlooking the lake Batur, with an extraordinary view of the active Batur volcano. Some monkeys, a bit shy, will occasionally ask you for your fruits and water.

Hiking Mount Abang in Bali

2. Hiking Bromo - Java

Hiking Bromo volcano Java

  • Altitude: 2 329 meters  

  • Active volcano:  Yes, last eruption in 2018.  

  • Access: Obligatory entry fee at the National Park. Accessible in car through Probolinggo until the village of Cemara Lawang. From Malang, necessity of a 4x4 vehicle to cross the « Sea of Sand ».  

  • Guide: recommended *** (especially to be able to enjoy the best spots of the site)

The National Park Tengger-Bromo-Semeru regroups various craters. This National Park is famous in the whole world for its viewpoints situated on the caldera of Tengger, where it is possible to have an amazing overview of all the volcanoes of the Park. Only the volcanoes of Bromo and Semeru remain active. The Bromo volcano, with its 800 m crater must not be mistaken with the Batok volcano (2 440 m of altitude, so higher than the Bromo), situated just next to it. The ascension, from the bottom of the Bromo is simple for 20 minutes and after you will find around 250 stairs going up to the edge of the smoking crater: UNFORGETTABLE! 

Hiking Mount Bromo in Java

3. Hiking Catur - Bali 

Hiking Catur volcano bali

  • Altitude: 2 096 meters  

  • Active volcano: No  

  • Access: No official entry fee. There are two possible locations to begin the ascension.  

  • Guide: recommended * 

The trail to access the top of Gunung Catur (also called Gunung Pucak Mangu Catur) is simple and well marked. However, there are some technical paths requiring vigilance. You will probably end up on your buttocks while crossing some slippery parts. The Balinese temple at the top is simple and often « in the clouds » (do not forget to bring your rain attire). It overlooks the lake Beratan close to Bedugul, offering a unique panorama of the entire intense volcanic region!

Hiking Mount Catur in Bali

4. Hiking Batur - Bali 

Hiking batur volcano bali

  • Altitude: 1 717 meters  

  • Active volcano: Yes, last eruption of the current cone in 2000.

  • Access: Obligatory entry fee and taxes required by « local guides ».

  • Guide: Obligatory (4 people per guide maximum). It is preferable to consider these obligations as a way to participate in the eradication of local poverty.

The current Batur volcano comes from an initial volcano much more imposing before the total collapse of its magmatic chamber (30 000 years ago). Now, he appears with a large caldera (+/- 8 km) and a lake within it. About 15 villages are nested in the caldera. The difficulty of the ascension is moderate and lasts only for about 2 to 3 hours to enjoy the sunrise at the top. Avoid the weekend because it is an extremely popular ascension. At the top, sulfur emanations will allow you to feel the « ambient hell » of the depths of this emblematic volcano in Bali. 

Hiking Mount Batur in Bali

5. Hiking Merapi - Java, Yogyakarta

Hiking Merapi volcano Java

  • Altitude: 2 910 meters  

  • Active volcano: Yes, perpetually in eruption since the 15th century. 

  • Access: Obligatory entry fee at the National Park. 

  • Guide: Obligatory. The final ascension will be confirmed (or not), the morning of the ascent, by the rangers in charge of the security of the National Park.

The Merapi volcano (« The fire Mountain » in Indonesian) is situated at almost 30 km of the city of Yogyakarta. It is the most active volcano in Indonesia. Often making the front page in newspapers (for its devastating eruptions, its lawars and the material damages nearby), it is also known for its dangerousness too often witnessed by the local populations. From Yogyakarta, you will need around 2 hours in car to reach the departure site of the ascension. Except for the plateau that is relatively flat but swept by cold winds at more than 2 500 m of altitude, the slope is constantly important, and the ground is often difficult. Therefore, it is an ascension for relatively experienced climbers with a strong mind. The multiple fumaroles and the high sulfur proportion in the air but also the very powerful glacial winds, make numerous climbers abandon their wish to reach the summit. The « survivors » of these conditions will be rewarded by a stunning sunrise view, on the many nearby volcanos and especially the Merbabu (3 145 m of altitude).

6. Hiking Batukaru - Bali 

Hiking batukaru volcano

  • Altitude: 2 276 meters  

  • Active volcano: No, most of the crater has collapsed.

  • Access: No entry fee. But, depending on the departure point chosen, villagers (or maybe even priests) will ask you for a contribution, that can sometimes be consequent.

  • Guide: recommended * 

The moderate intensity ascension of the Batukaru volcano, 2nd highest peak of Bali is done at dawn, from several possible departure places (mainly temples). This ascension of around 4 hours (and of 2h30 for the descent) meander entirely under a dense forest. It often requires climbing on visible tree roots. It is also possible to do important detours to circumvent the numerous trees that fall in the middle of the pathway. At the top, as on all Balinese summits, various temples will allow a well-deserved rest with a splendid view on the Agung, the Rinjani (Lombok), the volcanoes of East Java and the entire northern coast of Bali. For the climbers’ adepts of camping, it is possible to plant your tent at the top. You will need to plan and anticipate provisions in water because no source is available during the trek.  

Caution: For those that do not like leeches, it is advised to climb the Batukaru during the dry season only. Or else, the « joy » of mutually taking off each other leeches at the end of the trek will surely complete this amazing ascension. 

7. Hiking Kawah Ijen - Java

Hiking Kawah Ijen in Java

  • Altitude: 2 350 meters  

  • Active volcano: Yes, last methane gas eruption in 2018. 

  • Access: Obligatory entry fee at the National Park. 

  • Guide: Recommended *. A professional guide is advised, he will provide the necessary equipment (protection masks for the descent in the crater).

The ascension of 4 km from the base camp of Paltuding (1 865 m) is done on a large but steep road, also taken by the sulfur miners that extract the sulfur from the depths of the crater. At the top, the view of the biggest acid lake in the world with turquoise color is splendid and unforgettable. This summit of Kawah Ijen is often swept by cold winds: it is necessary to be correctly equipped to not suffer from the intense cold! The descent within the crater is done by night to see the spectacular blue flames. It is important to always leave the priority to the workers that take back the sulfur on their backs. The sulphuric gas emanations can be extremely bothersome: it is necessary to have an adequate protection mask to protect yourself. Do not think that a « scarf » even humid will suffice in case of important emanations. Only the « nonprofessionals » can recommend that and that’s how you will notice them… Surely this will be one of the most memorable ascensions of your life!

→ Hiking Kawah Ijen in Java

8. Hiking Gunung Agung - Bali 

Hiking Gunung Agung volcano

  • Altitude: 3 031 meters  

  • Active volcano: Yes, the last eruption period from 2017 to 2020

  • Access: No entry fee. 

  • Guide: recommended * **

The Gunung Agung is the emblematic volcano of Bali. It is a sacred place for Balinese people, where their gods remain. The ascensions can be realized from 2 departure points, arriving at the top at sunrise. In both cases, it is a trek that requires determination and endurance. A lot of people abandon before reaching the summit due to fatigue and of course, due to cold. Ever since the long eruption period of 2017 to 2020, some pathways disappeared and some passages are a lot more technique than before. The view at the top, when the sky is clear, is unique. We can sight the whole island of Bali but also the West part of Lombok with the Rinjani in the background. 

Caution: The meteorological conditions at the summit can change very quickly. Clouds can often cover the flanks suddenly and complicate a lot of the descent that then becomes perilous. This is why it is preferred to do this ascension with a professional guide. 

→ Hiking Mount Agung in Bali

9. Hiking Raung - Java

Hiking raung Java

  • Altitude: 3 332 meters  

  • Active volcano: Yes, last eruption in 2021. 

  • Access: No entry fee. 

  • Guide: Recommended *** 

The Gunung Raung holds its name from the sound of its eruptions that resembles a big cat’s roar « RRRaaaUnng » that you can hear tenths of kilometers away from the crater. Its ash eruptions are impressive and sometimes extremely powerful leading to the shutdown of the airports in Bali and Surabaya, even if these are hundreds of kilometers away. The ascension of this very high volcano is difficult and reserved to the most endurant and experts. Possible to realize in 2 days (but it is preferable to foresee it in 3 days and 2 nights), it requires a strong determination, and, at the top, an important sense of balance doubled by particular ease. The ridges of the crater are extremely steep and staggering! The end of the ascension at the top requires ropes and is surely the most perilous portion of climbing in Java. The simple glance to the inside of the crater (at hundreds of meters underneath) is capable to « frighten » the most courageous of climbers. The sensation is grandiose and unique: we can feel, at the top, the ferocity of the « wild big cat » that hides in the depths of the land of Java. 

10. Hiking Rinjani - Lombok

Hiking rinjani volcano lombok

  • Altitude: 3 726 meters  

  • Active volcano: Yes, last eruption in 2016. A violent earthquake in 2019 blocked numerous climbers during 1 to 2 nights on the slopes and lead to the death of two of them. 

  • Access: Obligatory entry fee at the National Park.

  • Guide: Guide and carriers required.

The Rinjani is the highest volcano in the East of Indonesia. Only the Kerinci in Sumatra is higher with its 3 800 m. Before, this volcano was called the Samalas. Its giant explosion during the eruption of 1257 brought a glacial period of several years that lead to famines and desolations. Currently, in additionally to the Rinjani itself, the Segara Anak Rinjani at 2 658 m overlooks a beautiful altitude lake. The ascension is possible departing from several different villages. It is highly preferable to plan a trip of 3 days to enjoy it properly. The ascension is moderate but long and the short nights (mainly because of the cold) will not conserve your organisms… The sanction will be felt during the last part of the ascension: the volcanic sand will reduce the last strength of your legs… The real challenge is here: the rare people that will reach the real summit will surely be rewarded for their efforts with a stunning view of Lombok, but also of Bali and the Agung as well as of the rest of the region. A MUST that you must earn! 

11. Hiking Semeru - Java

Hiking Semuru volcano

  • Altitude: 3 676 meters  

  • Active volcano: Yes, in eruption since 1967 with rock and ash explosions every 20 minutes.

  • Access: Obligatory entry fee at the National Park. Medical attestation from a doctor is required for ascensions over 3 0000 m.

  • Guide: Guide and carriers required.

Here is the highest volcano in Java. You must respect it because even if the ascension is technically not that difficult, it requires a perfect physical condition and a real knowledge of your capacities in high mountains and especially of its consequences. Most accidents are due to hypothermia and dehydration. The Semeru often takes away the negligent or unconscious that doesn’t respect it sufficiently. Please choose carefully your guide and the carriers to be certain that you are handled properly in case of a problem. The most experienced will feel the ground continuously moving at the summit and will admire the frequent eruptions… It is useless to get too close to the smoking crater, you would risk falling victim to the rocks expelled. Following the indications of your guide will be your leitmotiv. The view will offer you a panorama of the parc of volcanoes of Tengger (Bromo and Batok) and the Arjuna volcano. With the permanent reminder of the ground, with its vibrations, that everything is in perpetual movement … you will feel the Spirit of the Volcanos!

Please ask Indotravelteam for more information about the Semeru.


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