Rising in the center of Java Island, this unpredictable mountain of fire counts among the most popular trekking destinations in the country. Every year, an increasing number of bold adventurers challenge its slopes. If you’re looking for a thrilling experience, consider hiking the most active volcano of Indonesia!
Merapi was born in the late Pleistocene period (about 2.6 million years ago until about 11,700 years ago). Like today’sMerapi, the old Merapi was a " grey volcano”, a type of volcano characterized by explosive eruptions producing grey clouds of ash. Since its formation, Merapi has had numerous deadly eruptions causing fatalities and devastating a lot of cultivated lands. Quite recently, in 2010, a major eruption claimed 353 lives and displaced almost 400,000 people.
Ancient Merapi’s activity stopped about 2,000 years ago with the collapse of its main structure. A new cone emerged that is the volcano we know today with its complex terrain and steep slopes.
The name Merapi derives from “Meru”, the Hindu’s sacred mountain and “api”, meaning fire in sanskrit. The mountain is sacred to many Javanese who regularly burn incense and bring offerings of food and flowers to appease the powerful volcano’s spirits.
Up to this day, a large part of the population living on its slopes believe mythological forces control the volcano’s behaviour. A number of rites such as burying a severed buffalo head near the summit are still practiced to keep the spirits happy.
Prior to undertaking a hike up the 2,900m peak, explore the area affected by the 2010 eruption. You can walk a few hours and reach a view point at 1200m revealing a splendid panorama over the majestic volcano.
The climb to Merapi’s summit is challenging and you need to be fit. The volcano’s activity is closely monitored by seismograph and BMKG has strict rules as for which zones are open or closed to hikers. The trek takes four hours up and three hours down. Your local guide tells you about different legends linked to the mountain and informs you on the fauna and flora you come across on your path. Ideally, the excursion starts between midnight and 1am in order to reach the peak a little bit before sunrise. As the morning fog clears up, it yields to a breathtaking sight.
How to get there
Merapi’s peak is 26km north of the city of Yogyakarta. Expeditions to the summit depart from Yogyakarta and the ascension by foot starts in the village of Selo on the north side of the volcano.
You need to be well prepared. Do not leave any of these items behind: solar cream or protection, a hat, a rain coat, good hiking shoes, a flashlight, mosquito repellent, warm clothes because it is very cold and humid on top, plus extra clothes to get changed.