Merapi Volcano

Photo © milihnama

Travel Guide Asia Indonesia Java Central Java Yogyakarta Merapi Volcano

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Introduction

Merapi spewing smoke

Merapi spewing smoke

© All Rights Reserved theo1006

Merapi Volcano is the most active volcano of Java. Eruptions take place on average every 4 years. As Merapi lies only 30 kilometres north of Yogyakarta in a densely populated region, the eruptions often cause loss of human life. The death toll of the last eruption in 2010 is recorded as 347, while over 400,000 people were evacuated. Between eruptions, however, Merapi is an economic asset. The volcano attracts both domestic and foreign tourists, while its sand is a valued building material. After an eruption cold lava – ash, sand and rocks washed down by rain water – flows east- or southwards and at times has disrupted traffic between Yogya and Magelang (Borobudur). That’s why for hiking to the summit and crater the best approach is from the north or the west. The region of roughly 4 kilometres around Merapi’s summit constitutes Taman Nasional Gunung Merapi (Merapi Mountain National Park).

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Hiking Season

Choose the dry season for hiking on Merapi, the months May through September.

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Cost

When entering Merapi National Park one has to pay a fee of IDR 11,000 (2017).

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Sights and Activities

Kaliurang

Kaliurang on the southern slope of Merapi has been a resort village for Yogya citizens since colonial times. Here one can view Merapi from a distance of 3 kilometres and in passing pay a visit to the Merapi Museum.

Rock quarry at Kaliadem

Rock quarry at Kaliadem

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Kaliadem

Since the eruption of 2006 Kaliadem is the place to go for a ‘Lava Tour’ by 4WD. The original Kaliadem village was destroyed in 2006. Some ruined houses can be seen as well a the ‘bunker’, a shelter that failed to save the life of two men who had taken refuge in it: they succumbed to the heat. To better appreciate the forces of nature, get out of the car and hike some distance uphill along the ‘cold lava’ river bed.

Ketep Pass

A scenic, winding road leads over the pass between Merapi and Merbabu mountains. A road trip from Yogyakarta via Klaten to Boyolali, via Ketep Pass to Magelang and back to Yogyakarta takes the greater part of a day. Halfway between Boyolali and Magelang lies the village Selo, from where most hikers to Merapi’s summit set out. On the route one has a view of Merapi from several directions, best of all from the lookout of the Volcano Museum at Ketep Pass.

Deles Indah

Deles Indah is the name of the forested region on the southeast side of Merapi, where Java macaques still roam free. Surakarta’s tenth ruler Paku Buwono X had his private retreat here. It is also the starting point for an alternative route to Merapi’s summit. If one has no intention to hike to the summit, Deles Indah is still the place to get acquainted with Merapi National Park.

Trekking to the summit

Volcano trekking is a favourite sport among young Indonesians. Java’s mountains do not need any special gear, just the condition and stamina for walking uphill for several hours. As a foreign tourist one is certain to find domestic companions on the way. Domestic hikers seem to prefer ascending Merapi by day and camp the night over at Pasar Brubah, a more or less level field at 250 metres below the summit. But if one sets out at night so as to reach Pasar Brubah at sunrise, one does not need to carry a tent and sleeping bag (the temperature at Pasah Brubah drops to 4 °C at night!). There are two trails to Merapi’s summit, one starting at Selo, the other at Deles Indah. At the base camps ‘New Selo’ and Sapuangin (Deles Indah) villagers are on short notice willing to serve as guides. For the Sapuangin trail a guide is essential, for the Selo trail perhaps less so because there will always be other hikers on the trail. But as a foreigner one better allows the villagers to earn some cash.

Turnoff to New Selo

Turnoff to New Selo

© All Rights Reserved theo1006

Selo
The easiest and most used route to Merapi’s summit starts at a parking named New Selo. This lies at 1,730 metres above sea level. After the last eruption Merapi’s height was measured as 2,930 metres, so one has to climb 1,200 metres. The length of the track is only 3.5 kilometres, therefore the steepness is 30 % on average! Trained mountain baggers can reach the summit in 3 to 4 hours, even if the last 200 m or so one must clamber over loose rock of Merapi’s cone. When one is no regular hiker or carries camping gear, the time for the ascent may well be 6 hours.

Deles Indah
The Merapi trail from Deles Indah has only been reopened in May 2017, having been closed since the 2010 eruption. It is more demanding but also more interesting than the Selo trail. The distance from Sapuangin base camp to Pasar Brubah below the cone is 5.4 kilometres, about double the length of the Selo trail. One starts at about 1,300 m above sea level, so one has to ascend 1,600 metres instead of the 1,200 metres from Selo. Therefore the ascent may take up to double the time of the Selo trail. There are several small camp sites along the trail.

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Getting There

New Selo and Sapuangin Base Camp can be reached by car. To reach New Selo with public transport from Yogyakarta, take a bus to Muntilan, then a minibus to Selo village. From the main road it is then a 1.5-kilometre hike or ojek ride to New Selo. For Sapuangin Base Camp one can take a bus to Klaten and get off at the Sugar Factory. A minibus may go part of the 22 kilometres from the main road to the base camp, for the rest one has to negotiate an ojek ride.

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Sleep

  • Gondang Winangoen Homestay - The last Dutch adminstrator of the Gondang Winangoen Sugar Factory, who lived in this colonial house, had to leave it in 1957 when all Dutch owned enterprises were nationalized. Now you can stay here in one of the four rooms and pretend you are a colonial factory manager. At only 7 kilometres from Prambanan the homestay is an alternative for accommodation in Prambanan. For those who want to try the Deles Indah ascent to the Merapi crater, the homestay is the closest decent accommodation to Deles Indah. The 22-kilometre-long road to Deles Indah begins just east of the factory. The rooms are all different, the most expensive one at times may be used by the management of the factory. That room , the 'suite room' can accommodate four in the two double beds, has AC and hot water in the bathroom.

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Merapi Volcano Travel Helpers

This is version 18. Last edited at 16:00 on May 1, 18 by theo1006. 7 articles link to this page.

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