With a name that means ‘mountain of fire,’ it is a no brainer that Mt Merapi is Indonesia’s most active volcano. It has erupted several times, telling us Merapi has quite a few legends to speak about its spirit and past eruptions. At one point it was so serious that it was well observed and followed by many volcanologists.
Its difficult peaks and trails, incredible views have made it a destination for adventure seeking people to explore the outdoors and sample some high-altitude adventure.
There are many activities one can do around Mt Merapi. Here are my favourites. I haven’t done all of them for lack of time but would like to one day.
Hike Mt Merapi peak- If you have ever dreamt of climbing an active volcano, Merapi trekking is an experience you shouldn’t miss. A midnight trek from Selo village, walking through dense shrubs for a six hour hike to the summit, then watching the spectacular sunrise is an experience you won’t regret ever. With beautiful view of the volcano Merbabu on one side, and a green valley and hilly mountains on another, it is a sight to behold.
While a guide isn’t required, but is highly recommended. Trail markings could be difficult to see in the dark. You’ll find several shelters on your way, to take a short break or to have something to eat. The most popular time to start climbing is 1 a.m.
Tip: Avoid going there during monsoons (between October and early April) as the path becomes very slippery.
Explore the village Selo – If there is sufficient time left after you descend from the peak, you may opt to explore a bit of the base village before going back to Yogyakarta. Selo is the last village on your way to Merapi, situated between the slopes of two volcanos, Mt. Merapi and Mt. Merbabu.
Go off-roading – After the lava eruption in 2010, off-roading has now become a very popular adventure activity in Merapi. You can hire an ATV or 4X4 Jeep or 150cc bikes with wide rugged tires. The thrill of even watching this spikes up your adrenalin, think of those who do this! These vehicles are quite affordable to rent. Also, available are the boots, helmets and gloves for your precaution. Try it out.
Depending on the package you choose, you’ll be taken to that unfortunate village covered in ash where many lives were lost in 2010.
Take a Volcano or Lava tour – Merapi Lava tour is a tourist attraction to see the glowing lava at its best. Mostly people visit using a jeep (four persons) to see lava flows after eruption 2010. Your Jeep safari of thrilling and exciting trip down the rocks and thru the remains of the eruption of Merapi could be a memorable one. This tour usually takes 2-3 hours.
Tip: Avoid rainy season; with rains and slippery ground, it’s not for weak hearted.
Try Sandboarding – Sandboarding is probably like snowboarding. Only difference is that you are dealing with loose black sands and instead of fluffy white snow. It challenges your physical fitness and alertness. One round and I am sure you would want to do it again! So much fun!
Explore Gunung Merapi National Park – This national park has two entrances. The entry fee to the more developed entrance costs more, for, it offers a more dramatic view as the cliffs loom over a ribbon road. A short walk of 15-20 minutes takes you to Promojiwo viewpoint offering vistas of Merapi and takes you past the forest destroyed in the 2010 eruption. You will also see the caves where Japanese soldiers hid during WWII.
You are allowed to explore only a few kilometres of trails of the park. Do not venture beyond this marked area as there could be a sudden eruption. Do you know that the lava can flow down the mountain at 300km/hour? 😀
Getting there – You can hire a taxi from Yogyakarta till the base village Selo. There are also many tour companies which conduct these tours. They will pick you up & drop back at your hotel. Normally, the package includes morning breakfast, snacks, entry fees and other costs.
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