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Hiking Mount Semeru, the highest volcano in Java

Hiking Mount Semeru – a slice of heaven in the heart of Indonesia’s ring of fire

Hiking Mount Semeru - the highest volcano in Java

Blessed with gorgeous panoramic landscape, East Java is home of spectacular volcanic peaks, with some of the best view points in Indonesia. There are four volcanic peaks higher than 3,000 m in the region. This volcanic activity has created a largely fertile area and flourishing agriculture in the area.

Mount Semeru is the most popular volcano in East Java and even in Indonesia. Soaring at 3,676 meter above sea level, Mount Semeru is the highest summit in Java. The mountain offers a good trail, a gorgeous savanna walk and a stunning campsite alongside the turquoise water and green hills of Ranu Kumbolo lake. Mount Semeru is a perfect destination for adventurous hiker as it offers challenging terrain and stunning views from the summit.    

The journey to Mount Semeru actually started in Tumpang – Malang, when you take two hour scenic drive from hilly terrain with vegetables, apple farm and tropical jungle along the road to Ranupane, the entrance of Mount Semeru National Park. Due to challenging hilly terrain with a lot of benches, some narrow roads and few extreme ascents, it is strongly recommended for taking the 4×4 jeep with local experienced driver than taking a regular van.

Ranupane “the little Lukla”

Ranupane village is the “only”  entry point to Mount Semeru. The village located right at the foot of Mount Semeru with the elevation of 2,100 meter above sea level. Once a tiny farming community, Ranupane village is now large trekker village with several accommodation options (most are fairly modest). There are shops selling everything from climbing logistics to outdoor gears, small restaurants, and climbing equipment rental shops. It just like a “little Lukla” in the Himalayan region of Nepal.

As the most popular volcano in Java, more than 140,000 trekkers climb Mount Semeru every year. It creates economic opportunities for people in Ranupane and other communities in the surrounding areas for working in trekking industry, from porters, mountain guides, homestay owners to jeep drivers etc. During busy trekking season, hikers could easily find a potato farmer as member of the supporting team for trekkers to climb the mount Semeru.

Normally on the first day, if you arrived at Ranupane at noon, you will stay overnight in a local homestay. After check in at local homestay, you can explore the farmers’ village of Ranupane, vegetable plantation and do a quick tour at the two lakes near the village.  People in Ranupane are very friendly and nice. Walking around the vegetable plantation is also one recommended option for photographers who love human-interest photo theme. We can easily find little kids with chubby red cheeks –which are typical in high altitude areas – covered with their jacket or sarong helping their parent at their farm.

After nice overnight rest in Ranupane, trekkers will leave Ranupane in the morning. At first, the trail will take you over agriculture land,  then climb steadily through tropical rainforest, where you’ll be rewarded with the first glimpse of the top of Mount Semeru.

Ranu Kumbolo lake is the first nice place to stop for resting and having lunch break after Ranupane. The splendid volcanic lake of Ranu Kumbolo is located at the heart of Bromo Semeru Tengger National Park, which is surrounded by stunning green hills and savanna. This beautiful lake, is a rendezvous point for those who are looking for peace and tranquility, which makes Ranu Kumbolo as the main camping point for trekkers heading to the peak of Mount Semeru. During daybreak at Ranu Kumbolo, trekkers will be greeted by mystical and mesmerizing sunrise, and beautiful lake view with layers of mist blanketing the lake. Serene and magical

From Ranu Kumbolo the journey continues to the breathtaking view of Oro-oro Ombo meadows which is surrounded by hilly pine forest. The-100 hectares savanna is one of the best scenic locations at Mount Semeru national park. During rainy season, the savanna looks green and fresh, meanwhile it looks a bit yellowish in dry season.

The next interesting stop point is a place called Jambangan.  This is one of the best spot to see the eruption of Mount Semeru, with an ideal distance to capture the erupting volcano. At this place you will find some big tress where its trunks are covered by the white sheet. Those trees are considered as holy trees by local people, especially for those practicing Hinduism. Semeru also known as Mahameru (Great Mountain), it is looked on by the Indonesian Hindus as the most sacred mountain of all and the father of Gunung Agung in Bali. Every year, many Hindus come and visit Mount Semeru as part of their religious journey.  

Summit attack: Heaven and hell

Everyone climbing Mout Semeru normally will start its summit bid from Kalimati campsite which located at the elevation of 2,700 meters above sea level. The summit bid starts right after midnight, carefully stepping on the steep terrain that awaits us, fully covered by our jacket and balaclava to keep out the high temperature until the light from the sun begins to appear in the sky.

From Kalimati, it is a short, steep climb to the start of the volcanic sands, and then a tough four-hour climb through loose scree to the peak, with constant battle of taking one step up and two steps down. The last three kilometers trail is very demanding that could break you down physically and mentally if you did not prepare yourself with appropriate physical training. For those who exercise regularly, your hard work will be totally paid off.

Then congratulation, you are on the top of Mount Semeru. From the highest point in Java, you will have a fantastic crater view with impressive live eruptions several times every hour.  Mount Semeru offers one of Indonesia’s most epic natural spectacles, with its magnificent sunrise views and the panorama over Bromo, Tengger, Semeru National Park. On a clear day, there are breathtaking views of Java’s north and south coasts, as well as some others neighboring mountains on the horizon. Just be ready with your camera.

MOUNT SEMERU TRIP SUMMARY:

  • A trip exploring the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, Ranu Kumbolo lake and experience the impressive live eruption from the top of Java.
  • Start/End: Surabaya
  • Duration: 3 days (including traveling day from Surabaya)
  • Elevation 3,676m located in East Java, Indonesia.
  • Trekking distance 42 km (round trip)
  • Elevation gain from the entry point of Mt Semeru : 1,576m
  • Accommodation: Homestay, camping.
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate to Challenging

 

NOTE BEFORE HIKING MT SEMERU:

  • The national park put a strict 600 people threshold per day to preserve the environment of Mount Semeru. Visitors are encouraged to confirm the booking way in advance to secure the spot. Depends on the season, the quota fill up fairly quickly starting from 3 months until 3 days in advance of the hiking day. Holidays and weekends are definitely the most booked days
  • Furthermore, every hiker must present a health certificate/ fit to climb letter from a clinic or doctor during registration to prove they have an adequate level of fitness. In practice, this will be a simple medical checkup at local clinic that has to be conducted one day before hiking day.
  • The National Park recommends the climb only until Kalimati campsite, thus the National Park insurance only cover until safe hiking zone in Kalimati. Climbers still allow to climb the peak of Mt Semeru but at their own risk.

When the best season to climb Mount Semeru:

The best time to climb Mount Raung  is from April to October. Every year hiking trails on Mount Semeru will be closed starting Jan. 1 until the beginning of April. The move aims to restore the ecosystem along the trails, which comprises a vast number of flora and fauna species, also to anticipate high intensity rainfall in that period, which make hiking in the mountain is considered unsafe.

How to get to Mount Semeru entry point in Ranupane ?

From Jakarta:

Take a direct flight from Jakarta to Abdu Rachman Saleh Airport Malang

Flight duration: 1 hour and 10 minutes.  From airport take a taxi or rent private car to reach Tumpang, approximately 1 hours’ drive, then continue with 2 hours jeep to Ranupane

From Singapore:

Take a flight from Changi Airport Singapore to Juanda International Airport Surabaya. Flight duration: 2 hours and 15 minutes.  From Juanda Airport rent a private car to reach Tumpang in Malang, then continue with 2 hours jeep ride to Ranupane

Climb Indonesia offers Mount Semeru volcano adventure, which can be tailored based on your need. You can check details about our Semeru adventure package at Mount Semeru – touching the roof of Java or if you had time to explore splendid summits of East Java, you can visit our East Java Volcano Adventure page.

 

 

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