Merapi Volcano in Indonesia

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Merapi Volcano is the most active and dangerous volcano in Indonesia, and the most popular natural attraction visited from Yogyakarta. Its height is 2914 meters. It is constantly smoking and actively erupts about every 4-7 years. It is believed that more than 1000 years ago, as a result of its eruption, the rich ancient kingdom of Mataram, which then occupied central and eastern Java, ceased to exist. It was during the heyday of Mataram that the temples Borobudur, Prambanan and many others appeared, but due to a powerful eruption in 1006, the capital and the temples were abandoned for many centuries.

Later, the volcano manifested its deadly essence many more times, and continues to do so now. The danger manifests itself not only in the eruptions themselves, but also in seismic activity (earthquakes) because of it, the danger of ash columns for airplanes. It is believed that even today the volcano threatens the existence of the city of Yogyakarta, neighboring villages, Borobudur and Prambanan monuments.

The people of the surrounding villages and towns continue to die, and tourists also die during the ascents. The last mass death of people was in 2010 (353 people died), and the last activity (at the time of writing) was observed on March 3, 2020.

Eruption in March 2020

View of the volcano

For tourists, this is a very popular natural attraction, which is most often visited from Yogyakarta, and with success it can be done from other cities of central and east Java (Surakarta, Surabaya, Semarang), from Jakarta and even from the island of Bali. But you need to understand that there are two very different ways to visit it:

  • A trip to the observation deck

    The first option is just a day or night trip to meet the dawn in a jeep around the neighborhood to the observation deck, from where the volcano mountain can be seen in the distance, and if you're lucky, you can even see lava flows through binoculars, which, of course, depends on the activity of the volcano. This is generally a good excursion, but still the types of volcanoes Bromo or Ijen are much more impressive, so if you go here after visiting them, you will be a little disappointed.

  • Climb to the top

    This is a full-fledged trekking with an ascent to the crater of the volcano. This is a two- or three-day route with an overnight stay at the base camp in the village, and possibly an overnight stay on the summit near the crater and a dawn meeting. Trained travelers can theoretically make such a journey on their own, but it is better to do it as part of an excursion group or individually with a guide. In this case, all the necessary equipment, food, water, etc. are provided. Besides, it should be understood that this is a very active volcano with a difficult ascent, and an independent visit can be life-threatening. Moreover, due to its periodically recurring activity, access to it is often closed, you can monitor the status on the site -

🕐 Working hours: around the clock, it is best to go on day trips by jeep at night for a subsequent dawn meeting. The best season to climb to the crater is the dry season from June to September.

💵 Entrance fee / tickets price: jeep tours to the observation decks (the so-called Lava tour) cost from 350 00 rupees (22.6 USD, see currency and money of Indonesia, exchange rate), the night is a little more expensive. Trekking tours from 300,000 rupees (19.37 rub). There are also combined options for Merapi and Borobudur, which is more profitable than separately.

🚶 How to get there: Merapi is located in central Java, 25 kilometers in a straight line from Yogyakarta (Merapi on the map). See also, how to get to Yogyakarta.

You can visit the observation room with an excursion or even on your own by rented transport, but you will need either a jeep or a motorcycle (preferably manual or semi-automatic, not automatic), and a good ability to manage it. You need to go to the place Kaliadem, where there is an observation deck (entrance 5000 rupees), and along the way the Merapi Volcano Museum. But traveling in an organized group is much safer and easier.

You can find and book tours to Merapi on these trusted sites for searching and booking excursions with reviews:

Найти экскурсии онлайн (с отзывами)

If you want to climb the volcano, then group and individual tours from Yogyakarta are also offered for this purpose at the moment of inactivity of the volcano. At the time of preparation of the material (February 2020), the volcano is closed to the public after the eruption in November 2019. Keep track of the status here -

Experienced tourists can climb Merapi on their own. The ascent starts from the NEW SELO base station on the northern slope, which can be reached by local transport through the village of Selo and then by motorcycle taxi, or independently by rented transport. There is a checkpoint where the entrance to the national park is paid (180,000 / 230,000 on weekdays/weekends, or approximately 11.62/14.85 USD), and then walk along the route. Here you can also hire a guide for 90,000 rupees.

Do not forget that the volcano is active and dangerous, and tourists periodically die on it. Special services monitor its condition, and at the slightest danger it closes, but activity predictions are not accurate yet, so there is always a chance to suffer. Unfortunately, there are practically no chances to escape during the activity, even if you are not at the top, but on the slopes along the route. Therefore, if in doubt, it is better to choose the neighboring mountain Gunung Merbabu for climbing. It also offers excellent views of Merapi, and you can meet the dawn.

This is not an easy walking route, you need to prepare for it and have the necessary bivouac equipment, food, water. It will take more than 1100 meters to climb from the NEW SELO station, the route length is slightly more than 3 kilometers, i.e. the slope is quite steep. It will take 6-8 hours to climb, and at least as much in the opposite direction. To meet the dawn, you need to leave at about 11 pm, but you will have to go in the dark, which is very dangerous without a guide or a group. Therefore, it is better to go up during the day and spend the night upstairs in a tent (carry with you), there is a camp there. There are many local independent groups of tourists walking along the route, so you can join them. Local tourists are very friendly and welcome foreigners with pleasure.

Panorama of the Merapi volcano

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