Mount Merapi: Climb one of Indonesia’s Most Active Volcanoes
Climbing Mount Merapi Indonesia - Mountain Stats
- 2 major eruptions in the last decade
Climbing Mount Merapi Indonesia - Natural Form and History
Natural Mount Merapi Indonesia - Natural history
The Fire Maker sits in southern Java where the Indo-Australian Plate slides under the Sunda Plate. Merapi is the most active of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia and as per stratigraphic analysis it started experiencing eruptions about 400,000 years ago. Today, the mountain is one of 16 decade volcanoes, identified by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI) for special study given the regularity of eruptions and proximity to populated areas.
Natural Mount Merapi Indonesia - Climbing history
Despite how active this volcano may be, Merapi has been a climbing destination for a long time. There have been 2 major eruptions in the past decade, with the long series of explosions in 2010 killing 350 people. This 34-day long eruption broke Merapi’s previous record of 120 hours in 1872.
Natural Mount Merapi Indonesia - Current status
As its popularity has grown for being a dangerous volcano in the last few decades, Merapi’s popularity among climbers has also picked up. Tens of thousands of people attempt the climb every year now, although the Mount Merapi National Park Agency sometimes proactively steps in to limit the number of climbers, as they did on New Year’s Eve in December 2016 (with a limit of 2,500 hikers) and again in May 2018, when a new explosion led to a 3km evacuation zone around the mountain and a halt in all hiking activities.
Climbing Mount Merapi Indonesia - Climbing Experience & Itinerary
Climbing Mount Merapi Indonesia - Climbing Experience
The Merapi climb is about 4km long and stretches from New Selo to the summit with an elevation of 700m at a 45 degree angle – making this a steep and challenging exercise. The trail has a number of different sections and switches from roads to rocks and roots to sand. While a seasoned hiker may need just around 4 hours to scale the height, an inexperienced climber would require at least an hour more to do the same.
Climbing Mount Merapi Indonesia - Trail options
There’s a trail from Selo on the northern slope and an alternative one on the south from Kinahrejo. However, authorities consider the latter extremely dangerous and recommends avoiding it altogether.
Climbing Mount Merapi Indonesia - Support facilities
Guides and porters
Food & water
Climbing Mount Merapi Indonesia - Safety & Accessibility
The weather in this part of Indonesia switches between the dry season from May to October, and the rainy season from November to April. This renders May-October the best time of the year to climb. Despite how pleasant the weather may be when starting your trek, climbers must be prepared for remarkable drops in temperature at night, even going below 10°C. Usually, trekkers prefer to begin the hike at around midnight in order to be able to reach the summit before sunrise. Some also attempt daytime hikes, but they are more dangerous given the sulphuric gas emissions that pick up in the day.
Slips and falls: Parts of this 4km trek are very steep, with a high risk of slips and falls, especially if it rains. So it is advisable not to rush the climb. Reaching the crater peak is the most difficult part, and one should stay away from trying to look into the bottom of the crater. A young man from Yogyakarta died in 2015 at the summit, while trying to take a dangerous selfie.
Volcanic eruptions: Always check the news before you start planning your trek. Mount Merapi is an active volcano and the Merapi Volcanic Observatory constantly monitors the volcanic activity of Mount Merapi in order to issue evacuation orders to the population of the area.
As Mount Merapi is one of the most popular hikes in Indonesia, there is no fear of being left isolated or stranded. Even so, the hike is best done in a group if you have the option to find fellow travelers to accompany.
Permits, Fees, and Regulations
There is a registration ticket required at around 1.5km up the trail from New Selo, although it might be closed if there are danger signs of the volcano erupting. Be prepared to be presented with a 10x higher entry fee if you’re a foreign climber.
Search & Rescue: (0274)-587999
Getting there and away
Yogyakarta airport is the nearest, and sits around 30 kilometers from the volcano. One can hire a taxi from Yogyakarta to Selo. It should take about 2 hours to reach Selo and another 30 minutes to reach the base camp in the New Selo parking lot. Taxi drivers might be willing to wait for you to complete the hike and bring you back once you’re done – talk to them beforehand if you’d like to keep that as an option.
Foreigners may have to pay anything from around 150,000IDR. per person to even 225,000IDR. as entrance fees, unlike Indonesians who pay around 1/10 of this.
Climbing Mount Merapi Indonesia - Special Tips
Tips for amateur climbers
Considering how steep this trek is, hiking poles are recommended for those with bad knees. If completing the ascent and descent within a day is not for you, try setting out in the late afternoon/evening and camping in a tent overnight at Pasar Bubrah. Proceed to complete the final push to the summit early next morning.
Tips for advanced climbers
The mountain is, at most, a scramble. Otherwise, there isn’t much opportunity to show off advanced mountaineering skills.
Tips for women
There are no special risks on this trail for women.
Tips for trail runners
Merapi will probably be too steep and loose on the upper slopes to seriously consider running. Nevertheless, let us know your best time and we will post it here.