Mount Merapi & Yogyakarta - Day 184

Trip Start Jan 31, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Sunday, August 24, 2008

A mini-van picked me up at 10pm last night to take me to the foot of Mount Merapi. I was joined by two Canadian girls and a guy from Lancashire. It was the first real northern boy I've spoken to in a long time, it's nice to hear a broad northern English accent for a change. It was quite amusing because I could tell the Canadian girls couldn't understand a lot of what he was saying. Occasionally they had a completely blank look on their faces as he spoke we his northern tongue.

It took one and half hours to reach the village of Kaliurang at 1800 metres near the foot of Merapi. We had some black tea and waited for an hour or so before leaving the village to start the climb at 1am.

Once again another night climb under torch light. To be honest I'd prefer to climb in the early morning, make the ascent in daylight and enjoy the views on the way up. I know seeing sunrise on the top of a big peak is a beautiful sight, but having no sleep and feeling knackered takes some of the enjoyment away for me.

Only 1100 metres of ascent over 9km to the summit, which compared to Rinjani (Lombok) is an easy hike. I can really feel my fitness improving after all the trekking I've done in Malaysia and Indonesia, although I'm still pretty far from where I want to be. Not a finely tuned mountain goat just yet. I didn't feel physically tired at any point tonight, just the lack of sleep was a bit of killer. Just like Rinjani, the path to the summit was extremely dry, dusty and steep. I could see plumes of fine dust in the light of my head-torch being kicked up by the guide in front of me. At 2500 metres the guide told us to stop. Thick fog decended and he said it's to dangerous to continue. The trail up to the summit is steep and slippery with some big drops, we would have to wait until it cleared to continue. After an hour or so the fog lifted only slightly, but regardless we set off again to a plateau at 2650 metres. Started to get pretty cold now, and the wind was really blowing on the exposed plateau.

We weaved up the final stretch to the summit on the bare volcanic rock, which was steaming sulphurous gases in places from open vents. Around 10 minutes from the summit an orange band appeared on the horizon as the sun began to rise over central Java. Raced up to the top to watch the full magnificence of sunrise. Luckily the fog which hampered the early part of the climb started to lift, only the occasional bank of cloud passed across the summit speedily, so we had a reasonable view.

From the summit the views were magnificent of the surrounding volcanoes and the lush fertile lands of central Java. The crater on top was a bubbling caldron of hot gases and the yellow sulphur deposits could be clearly seen on the rock where the gases belched from beneath the earth. After an hour or so on the summit we made the decent the same way we went up. I took my time on the way down and enjoyed the beautiful views of the volcanic landscape. I could see paddy fields on the lower slopes which looked like an elaborate patch-work quilt covering the sides of the volcano. Finally reached the village two and half hours after leaving the summit. Had some breakfast and returned to Yogyakarta in the mini-van.

When I arrived back in Yogyakarta, went straight to the train station and booked a ticket to Bandung for tomorrow morning. Bandung is Indonesia's third largest city and is surrounded by more volcanoes. Then had a feast at McDonalds. I know it's bad but I fancied something dirty after burning all those calories. After eating, returned back to the guesthouse for a well deserved long sleep. I didn't wake up until the early evening but had no problems falling a sleep again before midnight after zero sleep the previous night.
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Marga on

You really took some amazing pictures there! I can see that you do enjoy the traveling.

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