Sumatra Volcanoes: Top 10 trails to follow

03 October 2020

Sumatra (Sumatera in Indonesian), located in the North / West of Indonesia, is a perfect destination for unconditional nature lovers. Crossed by the Barisan mountain range, the island of Sumatra is frequently subjected to impressive volcanic eruptions, making the landscapes very spectacular. If you include Sumatra in your Indonesia travel itinerary, here are, in my opinion, the top 10 volcanic sites in Sumatra, must-see places!

The ranking is entirely subjective and depends on the aspirations of each individual. What is certain is that these ten sites will surely enchant you and leave in your memories, fabulous impressions.

№10 - Mount Talang (Gunung Talang)

Stratovolcano. Status: active. Elevation: +/- 2597m. Located: 20km from Padang city.
Last eruption: 2007.
Easy climb and access:
- from Batu Bajanjang/ Bukit Sileh to the north-east.
- from the tea plantation site at Air Batumbuk to the south.
Two places possible for camping with fresh water; Don't let any food inside your tent: some wild pigs and monkeys will love it too much!
Accommodation: 2 hotels nearby Solok, and more housing in Padang. Hotel Pangeran Beach and Brigitte House are the best.

Mount Talang is one of the most accessible volcanoes in Sumatra. It is only a 3 hours drive from Padang. The mountain, characterized by two lakes (Dibawah and Diatas), is full of birds and monkeys. The views from the highest slopes are unbelievable. The landscape is now strewn with trees burnt since the violent eruptions of April 2005. This impressive landscape will make your view sublime!

You can explore many exotic and rare species on the territory. Bring a jacket or sweater, as the temperature is quite cold, especially in the early morning. A qualified driver will be the best option to reach this area because the roads can be steep.

№9 - Mount Tujuh Gunung Tujuh

Status: non-active. Elevation: +/- 2732m. Located: 7 hours drive from Padang city. 
Access: 7 different pics around the lake. You will need a guide for hiking the pics. Permit fee: +/- 2 us$
You can rent a canoe on the lake to reach some hikes: +/- 5 us$ for three pax (don't forget your sun protection!)
Attantion: the area is full of mosquitos and leeches!
Three places for camping with fresh water.
Accommodation: Kersik Tuo Homestay.

Mount Tujuh is a massive, extinct volcano. An eruption dating back to ancient times blew the mountain's top, forming a gigantic 4.5 km long lake, Danau Gunung Tujuh. Being entirely within Kerinci Seblat National Park, the surrounding peaks are home to a wide variety of wildlife (monkeys, gibbons, sun bears, tapirs.).

Within the caldera, at an altitude of 2000 meters, the highest lake in Southeast Asia is visible when the weather permits. At this altitude, in the primary forests, as the clouds cling to the peaks, you are in a prehistoric world. The mysterious creature "Orang Pendek" (local Yeti) lives, according to legend, in these virgin territories of human presence. So many mysteries remain to be discovered on Mount Tujuh!

The site offers many activities such as hiking, camping, canoeing, swimming, bird, and wildlife watching.

№8 - Mount Kunyit (Gunung Kunyit)

Stratovolcano. Status: active. Elevation: 2115m. Located: +/- 8 hours drive from Padang to Sungai Penuh.
Entrance ticket: +/- 2 us$
Accommodation: Sungai Penuh and KersikTua.

This active volcano takes its name from "Kunyit" (turmeric), with the same "yellow color" as the abundant yellow sulfur found on the mountain.

As you pass through lush forests, clinging to thick clouds, you will discover fumaroles emanating from underground volcanic activity, which will make the hike to the summit as exciting as possible.

Many legends and historical tales emanate from this mythical crater otherwise called "Taman Dewa" or "Garden of the Gods": A fascinating and surprising ascent of fairyland

On the way back, you will have the opportunity to discover a large hot spring, a small waterfall, and a wetland full of exotic plants. Don't forget to enjoy the beauty of this imperial nature through photos.

№7 - Mount Dempo (Gunung Dempo)

Stratovolcano. Status: active. Elevation: 3173m. Located: +/- 5 hours drive from Palembang or Bengkulu. 
Access: Pagar Alam.
Freshwater along the hike. Tough climb to the summit. Even for experimented trekkers 12 hours trek go and come back.
Accommodation: Resort Pintu Rimba or Hotel Marisa. Camping area at 3000m elevation.

Mount Dempo is the highest volcano in South Sumatra. For this adventurous experience, you would walk through an active volcano at an altitude of 3173 meters to enjoy a spectacular view. There are seven craters around the summit. There is even a 400-meter vast lake.

To make your adventure even better, go for some camping at the caldera near the summit of Mount Dempo. You will sleep under the stars with a pleasant feeling of freedom and solitude. The first rays of sunshine in the early morning will gently pull you out of your sleep.

It is a calm and peaceful place for incomparable moments of relaxation. There are beautiful waterfalls if you wish to swim. The view from the Hollywood sign "Pagar Alam" remains one of the most popular attractions. Although a guide is not required, you must obtain a permit at the starting point of your getaway before you set out.

№6 - Mount Sibayak (Pintau Sibayak)

Status: active. Elevation: 2212m.  Last eruption: 1881.
Located: +/- 2 hours drive from Medan. 
Access: Berastagi.
Easy climb. Guide recommended. Entrance fee: +/- 1 us$.
Accommodation: Wisma Sibayak.

At 2212 meters above sea level, Sibayak is one of the most accessible volcanoes in Sumatra. At the summit, you will observe a “beautiful smoke” with ammonia. Its crater has a high sulfur content. Sulfur vapor continuously ejects heat. The hole is also surrounded by hot volcanic rocks that give it a more exotic charm.

The Sibayak volcano is a day trip destination. Don't forget to bring your hiking boots, as the trails can get slippery. The walk to the summit takes a few hours, but it's worth it since the view is excellent! When you come down from the mountain, on your way to Berastagi, beautiful hot springs offer you a relaxing break.

№5 - Mount Kerinci (Gunung Kerinci)

Stratovolcano. Status: active. Elevation: 3805m. Last eruption: 2009. Located: +/- 7 hours drive from Padang. 
Access: Kersik Tua.
Moderated climb to the summit is almost always muddy (+/- 12 hours). Summit cloudy at midday. No freshwater reliable during the trek. Permit fee: +/- 10 us$. 
Accommodation: Pak Subandi Homestay (Bukit Tinggi).

Mount Kerinci is the highest volcanic peak in Indonesia (except Papua). The breathtaking view of the landscapes from the top is extraordinary and allows you to extend your perspective to the Indian Ocean. Lake Bento completes the fairyland, located within the crater, and presenting an incredible green and brilliant color. But the real charm of this mountain remains its flourishing fauna. Mount Kerinci is the natural habitat of the tiger and Sumatran rhinoceros and several birds, wildlife, and plant life (Amorphophallus titanum (the tallest flower in the world)

Due to the recent volcanic activities on Mount Kerinci, the exclusion zone is limited to 1 km wide. But this track is enough to appreciate the beauty of this destination.

№4 - Mount Talamau (other names: Talakmau or Ophir)

Status: non-active. Elevation: 2919m.
Located: +/- 7 hours drive from Padang to Bukit Tinggi and then +/- 5 hours drive to Pinegar.
Very long climb: you will need 3 or 4 days to go and come back Guide recommended.
Permit fee: +/- 1 us$.
Accommodation: Pak Subandi Homestay (Bukit Tinggi).

The long trek will offer you a few places to camp and provide you with memorable adventures. The company of leeches will be constant, and, except the first day, you will have abundant freshwater. The Guide will check your bag at the departure and at the end of the trek to ensure you will not litter during these few days and keep the track clean. The trail will be a little steep as there are many rocks that you need to climb over and narrow streams to wade through. It's more than made up for by the excellent views back down to the villages below. There are also quite a few rare pitcher plants in this area. In clear weather, the views are magnificent, and you will admire 12 lakes (different colors and shapes) just below the summit and the Gunung Merapi near Bukittinggi in the distance.

№3 - Mount Kaba

Status: active. Elevation: 1952m.
Located: +/- 3 hours drive from Bengkulu to Curup and then +/- 1-hour drive to Lubuk Linggau.
Permit fee: +/- 2 us$.
Accommodation: Vila Hijau.

Mount Kaba is one of the most popular Sumatra’s tourist destinations for trekking enthusiasts. Known locally as Bukit Kaba (or Kawah Kaba), this active volcano is adorned with magnificent vegetation.

Stroll through a dense tropical forest for a unique discovery. Once at the summit (+/- 2 hours easy trek), you can enjoy a spectacular view of the crater's interior and the surrounding volcanic landscape that will make you feel like you are on another planet!

A not technically demanding circuit of the crater rim is possible and advised. A trail leads all the way around and takes just over two hours. This trek recommended for all will offer you a few places where you can take some fantastic photographs.

You will be able to choose a few more options, more competitive, and longer if you want to experiment with your trek's abilities and climb.

№2 - Bukit Jempol

Status: non-active. Elevation:  +/- 670m.
Located: +/- 6 hours drive from Palembang to Lahat and then +/- 1 hour drive to the starting point of the trek .
Entrance ticket: No fee .
Accommodation: A few nice options at Lahat.

It's an exceptional destination for the lovers of nature and rock climbing. From the road, at the base of the hill, you could be up and down in less than 3 hours. Take a look at the fabulous traditional bridge crossing the wide Lematang River; it will be some charming and beautiful photographs. This is a lovely viewpoint over neighboring hills and summit cliffs, and a particular view of the meandering Lematang River

Reaching the highest point is almost impossible without ropes. The rumor is that some rock-climbing enthusiasts have reached the top without lines, but nothing sure. Either way, it would take several days to make a careful ascent and descent over very challenging terrain. It is not known what the exact height of the hill is, but an old US Army map suggests 670 meters.

№1 - Mount Sinabung

Conical volcano. Status: dangerously active. Elevation: 2450m. Sporadic and intense eruptions since 2010.
Located:  +/- 6 hours drive from Medan to Padang Bulan. Then +/- 2 hours to Berastagi. From Berastagi, +/- 1-hour drive to Danau Lau Kawar (Lake Lau Kawar) 1460m elevation (North of Sinabung). 
Entrance ticket: No fee. 
Accommodation: Lot of choices at Berastagi (start from 5us$ to 20us$ per night).

At the top of our list of the best Volcano routes in Sumatra is Mount Sinabung. It is located in Karo, in the North Sumatra province.

The majestic mountain peak is at an altitude of 2450 meters. There are four volcanic craters in the area, each with its surprises. The ascent of Sinabung will present three distinct parts:

The first third of the hike will be through a dense and humid jungle, full of insects and mosquitoes. During the night, clouds of butterflies will come on your face, attracted by your headlamp: close your mouth well, or you will have the taste of these butterflies in your mouth for long hours.

Second part: The trail crosses a stream at 2,129m. As you get higher, the bugs go away, and the track gets steeper. The path is quite muddy, and you can expect leeches. Try not to step on the frogs.

For the third third of this ascent, a rocky ravine will meander for an hour: At this point, you will have the absolute pleasure of a real climber in the effort. The funniest part!

These different parts will create a more exciting adventure.

At Berastagi, the flower and fruit market is a colorful paradise not missed and sampling fresh local produce. Magnifical reward!


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