Trekking in Indonesia
The best way to explore
and appreciate the rich geographical and cultural diversity of
Indonesia is to set out on foot: to hike, to trek or to climb
into the fascinating environments and beautiful countryside of
this diverse, exotic land.
If you intend to really immerse yourself in unique Indonesian
trekking experiences, you have four main options: hiking up
live volcanoes; climbing mountains; exploring remote cultures;
or tracking through jungles.
Note that the hikes and
treks described here are just a few examples of what's
available - there are countless others, less well-known but
just as remarkable in their way.
If you want to add that extra edge of excitement to your trekking
activities, climbing up a live volcano is the way to do it - and,
with around 120 volcanoes still active in Indonesia, there's no
shortage of choice. Nothing quite matches the feeling of standing
on a mountain that's grumbling, puffing, steaming and spewing ash.
Volcanoes, like human beings, are complex and unpredictable and
when you enter their majestic presence, it's easy to understand
why they have such cultural significance and are revered as gods.
The dramatic history of Krakatoa's destructive eruptions,
explosions, subsidence into the ocean and re-emergence as "Anak
Krakatoa" makes it a popular "must-see" volcano. It takes about
4-5 hours by boat to cross the Sunda Strait to this self-contained
island-volcano, and only 30 minutes to reach the crater summit.
This hike takes you through thick vegetation and up barren slopes
until you're looking down into the depression occupied by the
active cone. From the crater rim where the heat penetrates your
shoes, you can look around and see the remains of islands, which
were devastated by an explosion rated one of the most powerful in
Perhaps one of Indonesia's most famous destinations is Mount Bromo,
an active 2392m high volcano situated southeast of Surabaya in
East Java. More people climb Mount Bromo than any other fire
mountain in Indonesia. Bromo itself is in fact a crater within
another gigantic crater, 10km across and rimmed with sheer 350m
high walls. Bromo and two companion cones rise like islands out of
the barren sandy expanse of the caldera, which is a center of
worship for the local Tenggerese villagers. The surrounding
Tengger Highlands are a scenic wonderland of puffing volcanic
cones, deep canyons, ice-cold lakes, waterfalls, caves and alpine
A trip to Bromo involves a 3 hour drive from the city of Surabaya
through the villages of East Java up the mountain to one of
several hotels on top of the mountain ridge.
Kawah Ijen is one of Indonesia's most scenic active volcanoes. It
sits inside the 2400m high summit of Gunung Ijen, which rises
above a highland plateau at the far-eastern tip of Java. The whole
plateau is a fairy-tale landscape of cool grassy fields and
soaring peaks. When you climb to the edge of the Kawah Ijen crater
you look down on spectacular views of a turquoise-blue lake
streaked by wisps of sulfur vapor.
For the more cautious hikers and climbers, there are plenty of
reassuringly dormant mountain volcanoes to explore. These peaks
not only provide challenging climbs, and rich, varied hiking
environments, but also offer unforgettable panoramic views across
Gunung Agung, known to the Balinese as the "Navel of the World",
totally dominates the island of Bali with both its 3014m physical
stature and its spiritual significance. This exhilarating two-day
return climb is not for the faint-hearted and is best attempted
with a guide. It takes you through thick vegetation and volcanic
debris before bringing you to an icy summit ridge, from where you
enjoy some awesome views.
Gunung Rinjani, which at 3726m towers over the island of Lombok,
is the fourth-highest mountain in Indonesia. This peak is renowned
and revered for its mystical powers and great beauty. The
strenuous three-day round-trip to the top involves negotiating
some difficult terrain, but it's well worth the effort. The views
of Lombok and across to Bali are breathtaking, and the stunning
green caldera lake and hot springs just below the summit make for
one of the most idyllic camping grounds you'll find anywhere in
East Nusa Tenggara
A climb up the extinct volcano of Keli Mutu on the island of
Flores offers one of the most other worldly sights in all of
Indonesia. There are three lakes on top which are continually
changing color from black to green, and maroon to turquoise as
they leach minerals from the surrounding earth. The 3-4 hour climb
up the 1613m mountain is not difficult, and many people attempt it
in the dark to enjoy the spectacular views and colors at dawn. As
the sun rises, piercing mist and clouds, a breath-taking panorama
is revealed, with the three crater lakes at your feet.
The Mamasa-Bittuang trek in Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi, offers a
striking landscape of mountains, jungle and beautiful farmlands,
and a window into the mystical culture of the Toraja people. Their
unique and most complex architecture, most notably the
buffalo-shaped houses, sophisticated craftsmanship, and intricate
tribal rites and ceremonies draw visitors from all over the world.
In Central Java, the huge, volcanically active Dieng Plateau -
which is itself the marshy caldera of an ancient collapsed volcano
offers spectacular landscapes and an encounter with some of the
country's oldest architectural relics. Many days can be spent
hiking around the area exploring mineral lakes, steaming craters
and picturesque mountain villages, but the highlight is
undoubtedly the ruins of several seventh century Hindu temples,
thought to be the remains of a once flourishing religious center.
TREKKING THE MIGHTY JUNGLES
f you've ever wanted to experience the deep, strange world of
the rainforest, Indonesia is one of the best countries to do
it. The jungles here are the oldest in the world; vast tracts
are still untouched; the biodiversity is mind-boggling; and in
isolated Irian Jaya local people have changed little since the
The week long trek to Lake Habbema in the highlands of remote
Irian Jaya takes you through villages, streams, gardens and
steep rainforest slopes to mossy sub-montane and montane
forests. The lake sits 3000m above sea level in a broad alpine
marsh - a spongy expanse of mosses, tea-brown streams and
strange vegetation. Behind it looms the spectacular sight of
Irian Jaya's second-highest mountain, Gunung Trikora.
The Muller Mountain trail in Kalimantan follows the traditional
route used by the native Iban people to cross the island. It cuts
right through the heart of the jungle. The trail is very hilly and
crosses many rivers, but exhaustion and wet feet are more than
compensated for by the beauty of the virgin jungle and the
sighting of many strange jungle animals and birds.
The Bukit Barisan Salatan National Park in Sumatra is a remote and
beautiful peninsula, which offers hikers a chance to see some of
Indonesia's incredible wildlife, including Sumatran elephants,
barking deer and apes. The trek cuts through dense tropical jungle
and mangrove and finally opens out on to a pristine beach famous
for its breeding turtles.
Other adventure and
recreation activities in Indonesia: