Mount Kerinci is one of the tallest of Indonesia’s many volcanos, and one of the most breathtaking.
Being 8-hours drive from the nearest major airport on Sumatra, Kerinci is one of the most secluded jungle treks and mountain climbs in Southeast Asia. It would normally take two days and a night to summit Kerinci, and you might not see another soul.
Find out how to climb Kerinci here
- #14 in Indonesia
- #27 in South East Asia
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Natural Form and History
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - History
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Geological history
Mount Kerinci forms part of the Barisan Mountains, a chain of volcanoes that are spread out from the Northwest to the South East of Sumatra. The formation of the Barisan ranges is associated with the land mass movement that resulted in the formation of the Himalayas 70 million years ago. As the land mass of India rammed into the land mass of Asia, a resultant thrust also caused the Barisan range to buckle upward in Sumatra. Over the past 25 million years, continued mountain building and volcanic activity in the region have resulted in the ranges as they are seen today.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Modern climbing history
The plateau around Mt Kerinci saw its first settlements around 10000 years ago by the Kecik Wok Gedang Wok tribes. The first known ascent to the peak was in December 1877 by Arend Ludolf van Hasselt and Daniël David Veth.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Current popularity as a climbing destination
The tallest volcano in Indonesia is increasingly gaining popularity not only for its spectacular views from the top, but also the comparatively shorter and simpler trail as compared to the taller mountain ranges which can take several days to trek in inhospitable conditions - although that does not make it an "easy" summit to negotiate. It is also far less crowded than other popular trekking destinations, in part due to its location that takes an 8-10 hour drive from the nearest airport.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Overview of the Trail
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Overall Assessment
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Summary of trail accessibility
The trek to the summit of Mt Kerinci is not considered technical, and usually can be accomplished in two days and one night. Some might prefer to add an extra night on the way down to take in the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding rain forests. While the trek can leave you winded by the end of it and a couple of days of soreness in the legs, it is not a technical climb requiring special equipment. A reasonably fit person can expect to complete the trek in the normal two days with just a bit of preparation for the elevation and the strenuous upward climb.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Trail options
The hiking trail here is pretty clear and easy to follow provided you stick with the main route as advised by the guide. There seem to be several small trails leading off the route and though one might be tempted to explore a bit of the enchanting greenery around, it is advisable to stay on the main trail since the area is surrounded by thick forest vegetation and it is easy to get lost if you wander off the main trail.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Most popular trail
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Standard itinerary
The trek up Mt Kerinci takes two days with a night halt at the base camp. The first day starts on a leisurely note as you need to reach the base camp only by night. The second day usually starts very early in the morning so you can get to the summit by day break.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Day 1
09:00: Leave Kersik Tuo village for the Kerinci Seblat National Park Entrance (1,500m) where the trail begins. This stretch is a paved motorable road and you can opt to either be driven in a car or a pick-up (as small trucks are referred to in those parts) or ride a motor bike. By road it is a distance of about 20 minutes. But there are also those who prefer to walk this distance, taking in the tea plantations and rice fields along the way.
09:30: Begin the climb from the entrance to the base camp that is at 3100m. The total hike on day 1 can take between 5 to 8 hours. The first part of the trail is broad and the slope is gentle so it is a relatively easy climb and you can take in the wild orchids and look out for Yellow Handed-Mited Langurs on the way.
12:30: Lunch at Shelter 1. Packed lunches are generally provided by the guides at this point. From here, proceed to Shelter 2. The rest stops not only offer places to relax, but also great photo vistas.
17:30: Reach base camp at Shelter 3. The guides and porters will first set up tents for the night. Depending on the weather, some guides may prefer to pitch camp earlier, at Shelter 2 as it is at a slightly lower altitude and surrounded by more tree cover, and hence offers more protection from winds. Most guides would however insist on going up to Shelter 3 for the night as it is closer to the summit and would therfore require less walking in the dark the next morning.
19:30: Dinner is generally cooked by the guides at the campsite on open fires. Your guides may offer you instant noodles and soup, but you can discuss your requirements beforehand if you are keen to try some local dishes along the trail.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Day 2
03:30: Your guide will wake you up and serve hot tea or coffee and light snacks to prep you for the final leg of the climb. Shelter 3 to the summit of Mt Kerinci takes about 1.5 hours of climbing and is the roughest part of the hike. But the sight of the sunrise through the clouds is worth the effort.
05:30: Aim to reach the summit by this time to take in the breathtaking view from the top of the highest volcano in Indonesia. You will find yourself with the sparkling blue Indian Ocean to one side and the smoldering crater on the other. You will also have extensive views of the villages below and the Gunung Tujuh Lake (South-East Asia’s highest volcanic lakes) in the distance.
07:00: Climb back down from the summit to Shelter 3 to pack up camp and belongings, ge a quick meal and begin the trek back down the mountain. Expect to reach the startin point of the trail by late evening.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Climbing Difficulty
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Terrain
The climbing terrain is composed of 5 distinct sections. From the start of the climb at Kersik Tuo village to the peak of Mt Kerinci, there is much variation in the terrain – from tea plantations to thick rain forest and subalpine vegetation to cracks carved into the rocks by molten lava.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Kersik Tuo village – Kerinci Seblat National Park Entrance
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Kerinci Seblat National Park Entrance – Shelter 1
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Shelter 1 – Shelter 2
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Shelter 2 – Shelter 3
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Shelter 3 – Summit
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Weather
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Overview of climate
Sumatra gets a good amount of rain throughout the year and attempting to climb Mt Kerinci during heavy rains may be risky. However even when it is not rainy season, some amount of rain continues to fall in the rain forest. Also, expect colder climes as you ascend higher with night temperatures dipping as low as 5C at the base camp.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Best time to climb
The best season to visit is the dry spell between May and September with June and July being an especially good time. Normally, climbers embark on the trek around 9am so as to reach the base camp by sun fall. The final stretch is best attempted before dawn on the second day, as the most spectacular views are to be had as dawn is breaking upon the mountains. Though it is not impossible to complete this trek in a day, doing so will rob you of the opportunity to enjoy the mountain peaks at their best. Dawn breaking over the mountains is nothing less than spectacular. Also, from mid-morning, the mountain tops tend to be cloudy and you would miss the fantastic views from the top.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Common weather challenges
Rain: The Kerinci Seblat National Park receives an average of 250 mm of rain every month of the year including the dry seasons. So some amount of rainfall is to be expected any time during the climb and this can make the hike an arduous one especially in the steeper and rockier stretches.
Cold: Though Sumatra is a tropical region, Mt Kerinci with its 3,000+ meters can be quite cold. It could be 30-40C when you start your trek in the morning but the temperatures could fall below 10C by the time you get to the base camp. Coupled with the icy mountain winds, this can be quite difficult to tackle so it is advised to carry sufficient warm clothing.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Safety tips
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Climbing safety
Volcanic activity: Though Mt Kerinci last erupted in 2013, it continues to spew sulphurous smoke. The overwhelming smell makes it difficult to spend much time at the summit and some climbers have also experienced breathing difficulties. It is best to trust your guide’s advice on whether it is safe to go all the way up to the summit and some have even had to abandon the trek after reaching the base camp on days when there is more smoke and ashes than usual.
Slippery slopes: As some amount of rain is to be expected at any time of the year in the rain forests, there may be treacherous stretches which are muddy and slippery. Extreme caution is to be exercised in those stretches and the guide’s supervision is crucial. Once on the summit, do not go too close to the edge of the crater, since in modern climbing history there have been 2 casualties of climbers who have slipped and fallen insite the crater.
Going off-trail: There have been instances where climbers have left the main trail and been lost in the forests. Again, it is extremely important to stick to the trail as suggested by the guides.
Fatigue and injuries: Though this climb is not a technical one, it would still put a fair amount of strain on your stamina. There are possibilities of altitude sickness or exhaustion that may cause you to have to abandon the trek before reaching the summit. Also, carry emergency medicine for minor cuts and scrapes that are bound to happen on the shaggy rock surfaces.
Animal attacks: Though the trails will lead you through thick forests, animal attacks on climbers are quite unheard of. The most likely species that will attack you are small bugs or mosquitoes, hence it is advisable to carry sufficient bug repellants on the climb.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Personal safety
There are climbers who have completed the Mt Kerinci hike without encountering any other person on the way. Though there have been hardly any reports of danger posed to climbers from locals, be aware at all times that this is a remote and secluded area.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Safety for women travelers
The locals here are respectful of women and as with most of Indonesia, people are polite, conservative and respectful. For women travelers, Sumatra is a largely friendly region to travel alone but on this particular climb, the remoteness of the location and the fact that there may not be many others up in the mountains must be factored in while planning your trip.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Recommended equipment
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Footwear
- Waterproof hiking boots. Be sure to use a well-worn pair that you are comfortable with rather than a new pair that may cause unexpected blisters or pain.
- Hiking socks
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Clothing
- Lightweight waterproof clothing. At least two pairs recommended – one that you are wearing and one packed into the backpack for the next day or in case one gets wet. Long pants and long-sleeved tops or shirts are recommended.
- Waterproof windbreaker
- Scarf: for protection against cold and wind
- Gloves: for protection against cold, rain, and to facilitate holding on branches and rocks for support
- Warm cap: for protection against cold
- Warm inner clothing, for the overnight stay at the base camp tent
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Bags
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Weather protection
- Rain coat / poncho
- Waterproof cover for backpack
- Waterproof cover for camera
- Sunscreen lotion
- Sun glasses
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Climbing support
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Navigation tools
Headlamps □ Flashlight (optional)
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Medical equipment
- Basic first-aid kid, for cuts and bruises
- Medicines for altitude sickness, headache
- Insect repellent
- Knee/ankle supports
- Muscle-ache relief creams / sprays
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Food
- Drinking water
- High-calorie dry food items – chocolates, energy bars, etc.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Hygene sanitation
- Hand sanitizer
- Toilet paper
- Wet and dry tissues
- Toothpaste + toothbrush
- Personal toiletries
- Disposable plastic bags for waste collection
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Connectivity
- Mobile phone(s)
- Portable battery charger
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Documents
Passport (and other IDs): for registration and emergencies
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Support facilities
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Resting stops and facilities
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Rest stops
From the Kerinci Seblang National Park entrance to the summit, there are a number of points where one can rest and gear up for the climb ahead. The shelter or jungle post at Bangku Panjang is the first at 1909m. It is close to a water body. The Batu Lumut Post comes up at an altitude of 2000 m and is also close to a river. Shelter 1 at 2225 m has a small hut to relax in and from a clearing near to the camp site, one can look down and see the tea plantations of Kersik Tuo village. Shelter 2 is a camping site at 3056 m and is set in a lush clump of vegetation. Shelter 3 is where most climbers will camp overnight.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Base camp
Shelter 3, set at 3319 m is the base camp for the final ascent to the summit. A flat camp site that can accommodate up to 8-10 tents at time. It is quite cold and windy here due to the altitude. It is a clear terrain from where one can catch glimpses of the tea plantations in the valley below and also the lake on top of Gunung Tujuh in clear climatic conditions.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Guides and porters
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Do you need a guide?
It is absolutely essential to have a guide on this trek as the location is very remote and cut off and the trail itself can be treacherous with reports of people getting lost in the wilderness.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - How to find a guide?
There are several trained and licensed local guides in the nearby villages. Ideally, one should have initiated contact with them before embarking on the trip so that they can take care of arrangements and permits before you reach. Look for guide recommendations in reliable travel forums.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Tips while working with guides
- Read reviews from previous climbers before confirming a guide. Make it known to the guide if appropriate how you heard about them and offer to write a review if you like the experience. This might give them the extra incentive to be attentive to your needs.
- To reduce costs, look to join groups and share their guide. Some tour operators may also provide discounts on guides during certain months for climbers.
- Check if the guide can speak good English before you start, so they can engage with you along the journey.
- Ask for the guide’s ID proof before beginning the trek.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Porters
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Do you need a porter?
It is ideal to have a porter as part of your group since there will be heavy camping equipment to take along as well as supplies for food and water.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - How to find a porter?
Porters will generally arranged be arranged directly by your guides.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Tips while working with porters
- All non-essential material that you don’t need to carry on your person is best left to the porters for ease of climbing for the traveler.
- Communicate with your guide beforehand to ensure that there are sufficient number of porters who will accompany your group to the top, depending on the amount of baggage to be carried.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Food & water
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - At the start of the hike
Breakfast is generally served at the Kersig Tuo village before starting on the hike.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - During the hike, along the trail
Lunch will be provided by the guide along the route at one of the rest stops. No drinking water is available at rest stops, so before setting out, check with the guide the number of bottles you will be carrying for the trip. Climbers may also wish to carry some high-calorie dry food items such as chocolates and energy bars along for extra nutrition.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - During the hike, at base camp
Dinner will be prepared over open fire at the base camp. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options are generally available, although for any dietary restrictions climbers are advised to check beforehand. Also talk to your guide beforehand if you have any preferences (e.g. for local food) afer the long and ardous climb on day 1.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Network connectivity
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Phone and data (3G) connectivity
Phone and 3G signals are sporadically available all the way to the summit, including at the base camp at Shelter 3.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Accessibility
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Getting there
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Nearest airportPadang International Airport with daily flights from Kuala Lampur, Jakarta and Medan is the most common alighting point for travelers to Mt Kerinci.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - From the airport to the starting point
From the airport to Kersik Tua, which is the nearest village to the mountains is an 8 hour drive. It is generally advised to arrange transportation beforehand for through your homestay or tour operator, but if you have not, you may need to seek out fellow travelers to a share minivan from the airport.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Climbing permits
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Is a permit needed?Yes, a permit is needed to enter the Kerinci Seblat National Park through which the trail to the summit passes.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - How to get a permit?
Most guides or tour operators will help to get a permit at the time of entering the Natinoal Park on the first day of your climb. A passport copy may need to be produced for securing the permit.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - Special Tips
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - For amateur climbers
Take 3 days: Instead of the standard 2 days that are recommended for this trip, climbers may wish to take an extra day to take in the flora and fauna and really savour the experience of hiking through the lovely rain forests. Photography experts must be aware of haze that may obstruct views even in summer.
Climbing Mount Kerinci Indonesia - For advanced climbers
- Climb in 1 day: For advanced climbers, there is an option to ascend the summit and down in a single day. The one-day climb is more weather dependent though, and must only be attempted by the advanced climbers with significant experince and high finess levels.
- Continue the trek to Gunung Tujuh Lake: If your legs can take he exercice, you could follow your successful summit climb with a trek up the Seven Mountains Lake – the highest caldera in Southeast Asia – on the next day. A 6 km uphill trek takes you to this lake rimmed by seven mountains. The hike starts from the village of Pelompek, 8 kms from Kersik Tua village.You can ask your guide about this option.