CONQUERING FIRE MOUNTAIN
Everyday in a typical sunny morning in Yogyakarta, one can spot the magnificent Mount Merapi overlooking this tiny city. Its name derives from two Javanese words: 'Meru' means mountain and 'Api' means fire. It is one of the spiritual polars of Yogyakarta as guardian of the north, the volcano itself is said to be the place where spirits of Javanese ancestors live. Apart from all that, Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia and closest mountains in the area making it perfect for hiking for those who are looking for challenging terrain.
Our journey begins from Yogyakarta followed by two-hour drive to Selo village, our starting point. From this small homestay where we were offered tea & coffee, we were briefed about the terrain and what to expect during our hike. It was going to be approximately three to four hour hike with the most challenging part near the crater where the terrain is mostly sand. Merapi is at 2930 mdpl.
Reaching the first post was easy, it was steep but did not take a lot of effort going up. Between the first and second post was where everything fell apart. We were faced with 300 metres of rocky slope that felt like it was closer to 1 kilometre. Thirty minutes after, we were catching our breaths and my right thigh muscle almost gave up. We kept on going. From the second post to third, it was more of a mixed terrain where there were slopes and flat pathways, more forgiving for beginner like me. I started to see the towns of Salatiga and Surakarta from above with the figure of Mount Merbabu towering over them, it was magical. Third post was on a flat sandy area near camping ground famously known as Pasar Bubrah or the Spirit's Market, a meeting place for spirits - Tinder was not well received. Legend has it that past midnight on Kliwon Friday (Javanese Calendar), one might hear loud noises in this area as if it was a bustling market. On Pasar Bubrah, you could actually see clearly Merapi's peak, Mt. Merbabu, and other mountains such as Mt. Sindoro, Mt. Sumbing on the west, Mt. Lawu on the east.
Pasar Bubrah acts as safe point if you do not wish to continue to the crater, you would understand if you were there. In front of me was this massive Merapi Crater with sandy slope that runs for 300-400 metres, by this point both of my legs were giving up, but I insisted on going. Half way through the sandy slope, they gave up, and I asked my crew to go ahead handing them my camera so that they could take some pictures up there. There, in the middle of the Spirit's Market and Merapi's Peak I watched the sun rose above the horizon, it was beautiful nonetheless and I was glad that I made it this far.
Even though it was challenging, I would recommend it to anyone who is an avid hiker. The experience and terrain were pretty awesome if you are planning to do Mt. Rinjani in Lombok, this certainly tests your endurance. I would like to thank the warm people of Selo who were our guides to Mount Merapi. Next hike: Mt. Merbabu!
MERAPI VOLCANO TREKKING
IDR 450,000 / person
Incl. Transportation, Guide, Park Donation, breakfast & amazing experience