Krakatoa: Indonesia's Famous and Active Volcano
Climbing Krakatoa Indonesia - Mountain Stats
- #1 Most Interesting Volcano in Indonesia
- Anak Krakatau
Climbing Krakatoa Indonesia - Natural Form and History
Natural Krakatoa Indonesia - Natural history
Anak Krakatau (also known as Krakatoa) is both a volcano and an island. Located in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Sumatra and Java in Indonesia, a major caldera’s collapse around 535 CE originally formed a large caldera roughly 7 kilometers in diameter ringed by three islands. Remnants of the original volcano then coalesced to form Krakatau Island, which violently collapsed as a result of the 1883 eruption responsible for what became known worldwide as “the year without summer.” The cone that arose after the 1883 eruption is now frequently known as Anak Krakatau, meaning “Child of Krakatau.” Volcanic activity from Anak Krakatau has been frequent since 1927 when it rose from the sea June 29th, forming a new island that continues to grow – intermittent ash plumes and lava eruptions have occurred as recently as 2017-2019. The history of the island, the variability of the peak, and the number of trek variations that come with that history of change have helped make Anak Krakatau a curiosity to explorers, adventurers, and mountaineers. Since 1994, it has been part of the Ujung Kulon National Park, which also includes the islands Sertung, Rakata, and Panjang; all three islands are parts of the old Krakatau that erupted in 1883). Adventurers and tourists have long been drawn to the beauty of this area, and Krakatau’s rich volcanic history makes summiting it (when allowed) quite the rewarding trek.
Natural Krakatoa Indonesia - Climbing history
Because Krakatau has erupted and reformed so many different times, it is difficult to determine what constitutes a first climb of the summit. It’s clear that individuals have been summitting Krakatau since long ago, but consider the number of times it has erupted and reformed. Prior to 535 CE, Krakatau was estimated at more than 2,000 meters/6,562 feet, but it’s climbing history then is unknown, of course. The reformed volcano, which built until another major eruption in 1883, was estimated at a height of 835 meters/2739 feet. We suspect that this volcano was climbed, but it there is no written record of this. The new peak, Anak Krakatau, was first noticed bubbling in the sea by fishermen in 1927 and later emerged again through the water surface. It is similarly unclear who first climbed the new island, and because of how active the peak is, travelers generally are only allowed to climb a few hundred meters. Instead, or in addition to climbing as high on Anak Krakatau as allowed, some climbers and hikers choose to summit one of the other three islands remaining from the Krakatau caldera (Sertung, Panjang and Rakata). The highest of these is on Rakata, at a summit elevation of 833 meters/2733 feet. In fact, depending on volcanic activity, you may or may not be allowed to even land your boat on Anak Krakatau. This is yet another reason to work with one of the local guiding services, as they will better able to inform you what restrictions may be in place currently. At times, visitors are allowed to climb partway up Anak Krakatau; at other, more active times, trekkers are not allowed on the island at all.
Natural Krakatoa Indonesia - Current status
Krakatau is a popular tourist destination best visited during the dry season (from May to October), while avoiding local weekends and holidays. As noted previously, local guiding services will better be able to inform whether or not you are allowed to land on the island, or if visiting the nearby islands is as close as you are allowed. Even when climbing is allowed, it is still not generally allowed above a certain elevation.
Climbing Krakatoa Indonesia - Climbing Experience & Itinerary
Climbing Krakatoa Indonesia - Climbing Experience
Krakatau is an island and thus only accessible by boat. Visitors can travel by booking trips via a national trekking agency or local agencies departing from Jakarta, Carita, Labuan, Anyer, or Sumatra. Many travel agencies and tour guides offer one-day trips, which include transportation across the Sunda Strait to the volcano area, and sometimes including the smaller islands that encircle the volcano.
However, Anak Krakatau itself is a very, very active volcano, so climbing the actual volcanic dome is considered dangerous, and off limits (at the time of writing in July 2019).
That said, conditions change and the authorities – guided by some very good volcanologists – may let climbers back on sometime soon. Before visiting, be sure to check Global Volcanism Program’s website for current/monthly status reports. In the end, local guiding services are more likely to know whether or not visits to the island itself are allowed, and will not take you if it isn’t.
Climbing Krakatoa Indonesia - Trail options
There are no trail options to climb Krakatau at the time of writing (July 2019).
Prior to the late 2018 flank collapse, guides frequently simply found a place at which to land their boat, after which they would lead the hike to what was considered the “first level,” which at the time was a little less than halfway up. As climbing isn’t currently allowed, it’s impossible to determine what activity might be allowed when climbing and hiking is again allowed on the island. It is reasonable, however, to assume that licensed guides will still be required whenever hiking and climbing are allowed again next.
Climbing Krakatoa Indonesia - Support facilities
Guides and porters
Food & water
Climbing Krakatoa Indonesia - Safety & Accessibility
Indonesia’s equatorial climate offers warm days throughout the year with not much difference between the warmer and colder seasons. The real differentiator is the rain, which falls heaviest in the monsoon season – between November and March. Daytime temperatures hover in the range of 27-30°C for most of the year.
The dry season between June and August is the best season to visit.
Slips and falls: Though not a very tall mountain, climbing Krakatau will require disembarking on a rocky beach, and then climbing steep rock surfaces. There is always the danger of slipping and falling or sustaining minor injuries, so take care!
The Sunda strait is relatively safe, and has many visitors passing through. Just be sure to book a tour or ferry with someone reputable, with adequate safety equipment onboard.
Currents can be hazardous in the Sunda straits. If you go swimming, assess currents before you plunge in, and be sure to pay close attention to how currents might be changing while you’re swimming.
Permits, Fees, and Regulations
The three remaining islets of Krakatau comprise Ujung Kulon National Park and as such, are protected destinations requiring licensed guides to visit.
Getting there and away
The nearest international airport is the Jakarta Airport (CGK). This is a 3 hour drive from the West coast of Java, where you should be able to find a boat to Krakatau from Anyer Beach or Carita Beach (if it isn’t off limits).
Anyer can be reached from Jakarta by the public bus from the Kalideres bus station.
Another option for traveling from Jakarta is that you can hop on a silver minivan (Angkutan) from Carita to Cilegon (around 1.5-2 hours). The driver will drop you off at a junction where you can take a VIP bus (around 3 hours) back to Jakarta. The VIP bus is air-conditioned and direct to Jakarta.
From Anyer: The range of the tour fee will be around Rp 750,000 – 3,000,0000 depend on how many people join in the tour group and also the length of the tour.
From Carita: The minivan should cost around Rp 20,000 and the VIP bus fare is approximately Rp 17,000.
Climbing Krakatoa Indonesia - Special Tips
Tips for amateur climbers
If conditions allow, consider camping on Sertung Island. If Krakatau is active, a small beach on the east side of the island provides a perfect vantage for an unforgettable natural fireworks show.
Tips for advanced climbers
For now, unless you’re a volcanologist, you won’t be doing any advanced climbing on Krakatau.
Tips for women
Krakatau is a relatively safe area for women to travel to. However, it is best to travel in groups and use a professional and reputable guide or tour service. Avoid unwanted attention or cultural faux pas by taking your dressing cues from locals (who tend to cover shoulders and legs, even when swimming).
Tips for responsible / safety-conscious climbers
When it comes to making decisions about whether to try to get close to, or even climb, Krakatau, it is best to listen to the authorities, and your guides.
Tips for trail runners
Krakatau is definitely not a place for runners.
Tips for nature lovers
The rich waters and strong currents around Krakatau play host to a lot of interesting underwater life. Snorkelling and diving is great here, so jump in!