Known as the Mountain of Fire, Mount Merapi can be found on the border between Central Java – specifically the city of Boyolali – and Yogyakarta. Its highest peak is Pucuk Tusuk Gigi (Toothpick Peak) and it stands 2,968 metres above sea level. Its natural beauty makes the mountain a firm favourite among nature lovers across the globe. However, it is more renowned for its devastating eruptions. During the tail-end of October and early November in 2010, Mount Merapi erupted, discharging ash plumes, lavas, and pyroclastic flows. Villages were destroyed, while at least a hundred lives were claimed. Frightening.
Never in my entire life have I ever imagined I would take a crack at Mount Merapi, but during the start of 2015, I told myself that I need to climb each and every mountain in the country, and that includes Mount Merapi. Thank goodness I managed to gather up all the courage that I could muster to push myself to the limit and just went for it, because it was worth it.
For this trip, a few friends of mine – @ediyyys, @kamargelap15and @Trimogungsukron – tagged along as we tried to reach the peak of this magnificent mountain.
There are three different routes to access Mount Merapi:
From Selo – the nearest village on the northern slope – it would take approximately three to four hours to hike to the summit, depending on your stamina levels.
A more difficult route compared to Selo, where the tracks are covered with tall grasses that can lead you off course. Having a professional guide with you is a must.
There is an alternative route via Kinahrejo from the south of the mountain, but it is currently closed off due to the dangerous nature of the passage.
After scouring through the Internet to find as much information as possible regarding the routes that lead to the mountain, we opted for Babadan. It was a tad more challenging and a longer trek, but the scenery on offer was far more spectacular than what we would have viewed if we had went via Selo Route. A four-hour journey led us from the checkpoint to Pasar Bubrah, where we set up camp. We pitched our tents close to a big rock to shield us from the strong winds.My alarm went off. A dozy glance at the time, and it was 5.30am. I opened up my eyes, and my breath was taken away by what I saw: the beautiful sun rising above the clouds. If you’re ever here, gaze upwards towards the night sky and witness as it slowly fades away to welcome the sunrise, illuminating the earth from above. Also providing a breathtaking background are the majestic mountains of Merbabu and Andong. The view here is simply mind-blowing, as you can see from the picture above. The sunrise in particular left me feeling very warm and fuzzy inside.
Highlights: I went and did something crazy while I was here. I ascended Puncak Tusuk Gigi without any safety equipment; no safety rope, no helmet, no nothing. One slip, and I could have left this mortal coil for good. You have to be there to realise how terrifying it was. The climb was very steep and dizzyingly high. Fear and hesitation filled my mind at first, but I’m glad I did it. Once I had done it, I grinned as wide as the ocean. It was such a liberating experience, albeit one that was very dangerous. The adrenaline rush that I felt was overwhelmingly good. YOLO, I guess.
Overall: I’m still awe-struck at discovering how much I love mountain climbing, and the sweeping enjoyment that I feel when I reach the summit of a mountain. One thing that I came across after scaling up a few mountains is that it has taught me to appreciate the journey, the process, the people, the friendship that I strike up, and the sharing. I just can’t wait to go on another mountainous adventure, and I am very grateful for being given the opportunity to do so.
How to get there:
1. By Plane - book a ticket to Jogjakarta
2. By Train - book a ticket Jogjakarta
3. Rent a motorbike IDR 60.000,- /day or car IDR 250.000,- -300.000,- /day
4. Jogjakarta to New Selo (2 hours) / Jogjakarta to Babadan (2.5 hours)