Mount Raung, East of Java, is one of the most active volcanoes on the island. The last eruption was in June 2015.
On a day with clear atmosphere, it can also be seen from Singaraja, northern Bali.
I didn’t know anything about this mountain. I found it by searching on Google Earth for something else close to Kawa Ijen – one of the most touristic attraction in East Java. The huge caldera of 2 km wide and 500 m deep attracted our attention immediately. From the satellite it looks pretty impressive .
We started looking for information on the internet. A very useful site for those who want to climb the mountains of Indonesia and Malaysia is www.gunungbagging.com. Easy to read information, short and in English.
There are two routes to climb Raung:
Not having the equipment, we decided to follow the simpler route. We were going to reach 3180m altitude, while the peak is at 3344m. Good enough for us!
The biggest problem in Indonesia is the water. In general you can not find it up there, only few mountains have springs or lakes. The rest of them, being volcanic, are dry.
In order not to carry too much water, we decided to spend only one night on the mountain. The campsites were few. For reaching the peak the next day, we had to stop at the highest place, 2807m. Colder but feasible for the sunrise.
We left Bali after lunch. The road was going to be long, tiring and dusty – 230km by motorbike, 2 islands and a ferry. 7-8 hours best case, one hour on the ferry for resting and food. The plan was to sleep in a coffee plantation after descending from Kawa Ijen in order to be warmer. That’s what we did. At Kawa Ijen it was very cold, we felt our lungs burning from the cold air mixed with the heavy smell of sulfur. We rushed down. When we felt that the air was breathable and the temperature was milder, we started looking for a place to sleep. We went into a plantation and found the perfect place – a kind of shelter for the workers, just 4 poles and a roof. We arranged our sleeping mat and fell asleep right away.
The next day we woke up before the sunrise. We got close to Sumberwringin, but all the shops were closed. We had to wait until we could eat and stock up for the trekking.
Finally, the only supermarket in the village opened its doors. After 1 hour, also the street food from the corner. We ate rice and vegetables, they were really tasty so we decided to take some away. We figured the food would be good to eat until lunch time.
We left some things that we realized we didn’t needed at the street food shop. We were to return after 2 days at most. The lady agreed, after I showed her that there is nothing of value and she has no reason to worry even if they disappear.
Arriving in the village, we tried to find the checkpoint and pay the fee for climbing up the mountain. No one, everything was closed. We continue.
We followed the GPS track taken from the site mentioned above and entered deeper into the forest. The road turns into a path. Our motorbike is still OK but I don’t think for long.
We reached a path with a lot of vegetation and we realized that we have taken another way.
We walk, find the good path but it was too complicated to go back with the motorbike. We don’t feel like going back so we decided to hide the bike in the bushes and look very closely to be able to find it when we’re back.
We left on foot. The road is not too difficult but really hot. We drink a mouthful of water, it must be enough for another day and a half at least.
The locals were doing intense farming in these places. The volcanic soil is the most fertile in the world due to the minerals. Although dangerous, people live close to volcanoes. The soil does not require any fertilizer, having everything naturally.
We pass the plantations and go out into the real jungle. Quite dry, I expected a high humidity as usual.
In the distance we see the edge of the caldera where we had to reach the next day
On the way we passed small fires still grumbling. I think the locals burned the vegetation to further develop agriculture. Unfortunately, some got out of control and were not even supervised.
After few hours and some long-tailed black monkeys – impossible to photograph, we arrive at the campsite. On the way we had left the water for the next day, it didn’t make sense to carry it to the top and back.
For sleeping, we wanted to be as light as possible so we took a large hammock tenda with which we improvised a tent.
Waking up at 2AM was not as hard as I thought. We slept enough hours to get it going. 4 hours to go until the peak. A headlamp didn’t work anymore, so we used the phone all the way up.
We reach the top right on time for sunrise. Very cold due to the wind, we came out of the forest and we were super exposed.
But the view worth the effort.
I hide behind the rocks and admire the smoking volcano
I find some fresh offerings from the few Hindus left living in Java. I did not resist and took some riped bananas. The material part of the offerings can be consumed by humans, the spiritual part remains to the gods.
After few hours to admire the view, we leave partly frozen to the village. A long descent awaits us.
We reach the motorbike at 5PM, tired after more than 15 hours from the wake up. We ate something and, although the vegetation was dense and we had no idea what was hiding through it, we fell asleep in the song of birds.
The next day at 6AM we woke up from the light and the distant noise of the voices. The locals wake up in the morning to avoid the heat. At lunch no one is working.
Our place was right in the middle of a rubber tree plantation. People were burning the vegetation and we could hear the fire getting closer and closer. We gathered our luggage and left, thinking of the street food place where we had eaten before starting the trekking, hungry and thirsty.
Another image of the caldera, it is indeed impressive
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