NGADAS, a serene village above the clouds at Mt. Bromo, East Java
These lovely dwellings perched at 2,150 meters above sea level, are the highest village on the island of Java. Flanked by deep gorges on the slopes of Mt. Bromo in East Java, you will find mist hovering, painting the sky as though the village floats among the clouds. Being in the highlands, the average temperature is around 0 - 25 degrees Centigrade, with cool to pretty cold refreshing air. Ngadas Village in the regency of Malang in East Java has recently been inaugurated as a Traditional Cultural Village next to the title it already holds as Official Tourism Village since 2007.
The Tengger villagers are the indigenous inhabitants of this most surreal landscape situated only 6.5 km from the iconic Mount Bromo. Here, the people will welcome you to stay in their homes to be part of your precious travel experience. Mujianto, the village chief said that many tourists spend the night here before heading on to Mt. Bromo. “We have around 50 local homestays, equipped with water heaters to provide better service to our guests,” he explained.
Until today, villagers of Ngadas still practice the ancient rituals and ceremonies that are believed to bring them order, good fortune and prosperity.Despite differences in religion among them, where some embrace Buddhism while others Islam or Hinduism, they, nonetheless, share a peaceful and harmonious communality. In some homes you may even encounter a family where members embrace three different religious faiths, but still live happily together. The kitchen or pawon is the heart and hearth of each home in Ngadas. They sincerely welcome guests to warm themselves by the fire while getting acquainted with the family.
The Bromo-Tengger-Semeru area having been recognized as one of the top 10 new Priority Destination in Indonesia, this has made it important for the people of Ngadas village to enhance their local services to cater to more visitors. The government has supported this progress in many ways such as paving better roads to provide easier walks from Ngadas to Mt. Bromo. The village lies within the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park along with the nearby Gubugklakah Village. Most people here work at farming in plantations and horticultural gardens. There are also many tourist spots to explore around the area, such as the Coban Trisula, Coban Pelangi and Ranu Pani.
“I am very confident that East Java will excel in taking a leading role as Indonesia’s new priority tourist destination. Since it is indeed in the blood of the people here to act fast. They are full spirited and boldly meet any positive challenge,” said Arief Yahya, Indonesian Minister of Tourism.
From the city center of Malang, the village lies around 30 kilometres away. The undulating terrains along some paths may require good off road vehicles as well as an experienced driver. Be sure to rent your car from a trustworthy operator and recheck the price before closing the agreement. You will find the splendor of the green natural tapestry unwinding as you further explore the village. Get to know the village atmosphere and aura exuding from the working farmers, the cheerful children and the women wearing sarongs and batik as their daily attire.
Stay and feel at home here and grasp the beautiful images of Ngadas village, as you will cherish this memory forever.
Climb Majestic Mt. Merapi Volcano at the Center of Java
Mt Merapi, located near Yogyakarta, is one of the most active volcanoes on earth. It is one of some 500 volcanoes in Indonesia, from which at least 129 are active in the volcanic arc spread along the Asia-Pacific islands called the Ring of Fire.
Living in the shadows of an active volcano is like sitting on a time bomb, especially when it is called the Fire Mountain or Mount Merapi, the volcano that dominates the center of the island of Java.
Despite its frequent eruptions, Mt. Merapi is very central to the lives of the Javanese people and kings. For through its eruptions Merapi spews lava, ash, and minerals to the surrounding areas. These provide nutrients to the soil, making this one of the most fertile areas in the world, and consequently the most densely populated.
This majestic, perfectly cone-shaped volcano, with its peak at 2,911 meters above sea level, has also determined the lives of kings and realms. In the early 11th Century, the once-mighty ancient empire of Mataram mysteriously disappeared, and power suddenly shifted to East Java. Scientists surmise that a violent eruption of Merapi in 1006 AD was the ruin of the empire.
This massive eruption also buried the nearby Borobudur temple in ash. Most recently at the end of October-beginning November, Merapi erupted catastrophically killing 353 people mostly by its Pyroclastic flows, the worst ever after the one in 1870.
Since then the mountain has been quieter, but the people here have befriended the mountain and accept its rumblings and coughs as part of normal natural phenomena.
The Merapi volcano also plays a central part in the accepted cosmos of the Javanese sultans. The Keraton of Yogyakarta faces the mountain in one direct line. Merapi is also guarded by spiritual "guards" who give offerings to the mountain.
Local people respect the awesome power of this volcano. Annually, on the anniversary of the Sultan's coronation, offerings (Labuhan) are brought from the Keraton of Yogya to Mt. Merapi, together with similar offerings carried to the Indian Ocean to the south, to appease the spirits of the mountain and the sea, in order to bring welfare to the inhabitants of Java.
Today Merapi is continuously monitored by a number of earthquake posts, that warn inhabitants of imminent eruptions. Nonetheless, despite frequently giving out smoke, the mountain still attracts hikers and climbers and lately adventurers who love to retrace the hot lava flow of the last eruption, although now the lava has cooled down considerably.
Whether you are a professional or avid vulcanologist, or love the adventure of climbing or riding in off-road jeeps up dangerous slopes of Merapi, here are a number must-do activities:
1 | Learn about volcanoes at Museum Merapi
Your introduction to volcanoes is at the Museum Merapi. This Museum at Kaliurang, on the slopes of the volcano, is located some 25 km. North of Yogyakarta, and is dedicated to scientific studies of volcanoes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. It was unveiled for the public on October 1, 2009.
Occupying a land area of 3.4 hectares, the 4,470 square meters building consists of two floors. The first floor contains rooms with themes, such as Volcano World, The Merapi Volcano Trail, Man and the Mountain of Fire, Earthquake and Tsunami, Disaster Movement of Soil, Diorama and Extra-terrestrial Volcanos.
Meanwhile, the second floor is used for the screening of images and films on Mount Merapi. It also highlights the National Personalities who have visited the victims during the last devastating eruption. At the west hall, is information about tremendous volcanic eruptions around the world. One of these was the Krakatau Eruption in 1883 that killed thousands, caused by Pyroclastic clouds and its ensuing tsunami, while its eruption darkened the skies for 3 days across Asia, US and Europe.
Address: Jl. Kaliurang km.22 Banteng, Boyong, Harjobinangun, Pakem Sleman, Yogyakarta
Image by markomorciano
2 | Get awestruck by mighty Mt. Merapi at the Kaliurang Observation Tower
There are many spots established as viewing points overlooking the mighty Merapi. But your best vantage point is at Kaliurang's Observation Tower, located only 7 kilometers away from the crater, ensuring a relatively safe distance. There is an extensive garden surrounding the 2-story tower, where you can linger in the cool air while sipping a warm Wedang Ronde – a warming ginger drink -to revitalize your energy.
Address: Desa Hargo Binangun, Pakem, Sleman, Special Region of Yogyakarta
3 | Take an Adventurous Lava Tour at Kaliadem
If you are very adventurous and are dying to know how a volcano erupts and see for yourself its dire aftermath, take the Lava Tour up Mt. Merapi and follow in the lava's deadly path.
You will find many Jeep communities at Kaliadem who can offer you an off-road adventure of the devastated area covered by ash and lava in the last eruption. The tour will always be led by professional drivers who double as guides. The rushing feeling of adrenaline will keep in as your Jeep zig-zags over the trail.
The tour usually includes visits to important landmarks such as the Mini Museum "Sisa Hartaku" (translated meaning: My Remaining Treasure Museum) that serves to inform about the impact made on the people living in the area during Merapi's the latest eruption in 2010. There is also an underground bunker that was the last refuge for 2 volunteers, but who sadly died by the extreme heat of the lava. There's also the Alien Stone, a unique rock that resembles a human face.
Be sure to pack a sweater against the cool mountain air. You can also take the tour by riding your own off-road motorcycle if you're skilled enough to ride over challenging rough terrain.
Address: Desa Kepuharjo Kecamatan Cangkringan, Kabupaten Sleman, Provinsi Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta
Tangkuban Perahu, The "Overturned Boat" with Astonishing View
Tangkuban perahu is an active volcano, situated 30 km north of the city of Bandung in the direction of Lembang. It is the only crater in Indonesia that you can drive up to its very rim. Mount Tangkuban Perahu has a distinctive shape, and looks like an “overturned boat”. Here you will be greeted by sulfur fumes which the crater continues to emit although the volcano is not active.
Tangkuban Perahu has definitely a significant role especially in the development of the surrounding Parahyangan (land of God) Highlands. Its eruption contributed immensely to the formation and fertility of the hills north of Bandung when through its flow of lava carrying large boulders into the valleys, these formed huge cliffs over which waterfalls leapt to form the lake that today covers the Bandung plain.
Located at the highland just at the outskirt of Bandung, Tangkuban Perahu Crater is surely a perfect place to enjoy cool air and relaxing sceneries after a series of shopping activities. For a rejuvenating sensation, visitors can continue their journey to the nearby Ciater's Revitalizing Hot Springs.
Tangkuban Perahu is a 90 minutes drive from Bandung on weekdays. The easiest way to get there is by joining a tour or rent a car. However, if you’re up to take an adventurous journey, you may take a Subang Colt via Lembang from Bandung’s minibus terminal in front of the train station to the park entrance of Tangkuban Perahu.
There are minibuses, which lead you to the top. Alternatively, you can walk from the gate at the main road. It’s 4,5 km hike along the road or you can take the more interesting side trail that goes via Kawah Domas. It’s a very steep one-hour walk through the jungle and better tackled from the top down. It starts just behind the information center and is easy to follow.
Mount Bromo, A Spectacular Indonesia Mountain
Located some 4 hours drive from Surabaya, the capital of East Java, Mount Bromo is a part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park that covers a massive area of 800 square km. While it may be small when measured against other volcanoes in Indonesia, the magnificent Mt Bromo will not disappoint with its spectacular views and dramatic landscapes. At 2,392 meters tall, Mt Bromo is not among the tallest of Indonesia’s mountains but its stunning beauty lies in its incredible setting.
From a vantage point on Mount Penanjakan (2,770 meters above sea level), 2.5 hours from Malang. visitors from around the world come to see the sunrise over Mt Bromo. From this spot the vista is magnificent. All you will hear is the click of cameras as visitors snap their camera’s hoping to capture the incredible scene of Mt Bromo in the foreground with Mt Semeru smoking in the distance and the sun shining brightly, quickly rising in the sky.
The eerie landscape has spurned countless legends and myths. Mt Bromo has particular significance for the Tengger people who believe that this was the site where a brave prince sacrificed his life for his family. The people here appease the Gods once a year during the annual Kasada festival where offerings of vegetables, chickens and money are thrown into the crater of the volcano.
To reach Mount Bromo, you can fly to Juanda international airport in Surabaya. There are direct flights to Surabaya from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hongkong, Jakarta and Bali. From there, continue your journey to Mt Bromo by booking with a travel agent, or driving the Surabaya-Pasuruan-Wonokitri-Mt Bromo route. The journey will take 2-3 hours. It is best for you to leave Surabaya at 23:00 PM - 24:00 AM in order to arrive in time for sunrise. Or you can stay overnight at one of the hotels at Prigen, Tretes, to make sure that you are on the crater rim before sunrise. Ponies can take you across the sand sea to the bottom of the steep stairs that leads to the crater.
The Mighty Mount Rinjani
The mighty Rinjani mountain of Gunung Rinjani is a massive volcano which towers over the island of Lombok. A climb to the top is one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have in Indonesia. At 3,726 meters tall, Gunung Rinjani is the second highest mountain in Indonesia. The climb to the top may not be easy but it’s worth it, and is widely regarded as one of the best views in the country.
Within the mountain is a crescent shaped lake, the breathtaking Segara Anak which is a spiritual place. The Balinese come here each year and perform a ceremony to the mountain spirit. The Wetu Telu people also regard the lake as holy and come here to pray on full moon nights. This lake of sulfur is located 600 meters below the crater rim. Rising from the waters of this lake is a new volcano, Mt Baru, which is a result of a series of eruptions during the 1990’s.
Mt Rinjani lies within the Gunung Rinjani National Park. The park covers 41,330 hectares and sits inside a major bio-geographical transition zone (Wallacea). This is where the tropical flora and fauna of South East Asia meets that of Australasia. This National Park was established in 1997 and is one of over 40 throughout Indonesia.
Three-day Rinjani route from Senaru to the crater rim, down to the Crater Lake then on to Sembalun Lawang, is considered one of the best treks in South East Asia. More adventurous trekkers may want to head all the way to the summit of the volcano. This is best reached from Sembalun Lawang and takes four days, finishing up in Senaru.
The most popular way to climb Rinjani is through a four or five day hiking expedition, starting at Senaru and finishing at Sembalun Lawang. Trekkers begin from Senaru hiking to the stunning crater rim, down to the incredible crater lake and then onto Sembalun Lawang. More information about trekking up Mt Rinjani is available at the Rinjani trekking club website.
Senaru and Sembalun Lawang Villages are the two starting points to climb Gunung Rinjani. Senaru Village is a three hour drive north of Mataram, while Sembalun Lawang Village is approximately a four hours drive to the east of Mataram. You can get to Senaru by taking public transport to Bayan and then walking.
Lake Kelimutu, A Perfect Place for Exploring the Extraordinary
Mt Kelimutu National Park is the smallest among six national parks in the stretch between Bali and the Nusa Tenggara islands. Its size obviously does not matter much when it offers one of the most spectacular wonders that nature has to offer. There are three lakes on the mountain sharing the same name, Kelimutu, meaning ‘the boiling lake’. Each has its own colors and a local name. But all are believed to be the resting place of departed souls.
Kelimutu lakes are unpredictable as to when and what color they will change into. Sometimes, the colors are blue, green, and black, and some other times they turn to white, red, and blue. The last time a traveler saw them, one was dark brown, just like a pond of chocolate. Previously, the east lake was red and the middle lake was blue.
Lake Kelimutu is part of the Kelimutu National Park, presenting a highly aesthetic value and surreal experience. The national park’s highest point is 5,679 feet at Mt Kelibara (1,731 meters), and 5,544 feet high (1,690 meters) at Mt Kelimutu. It is a national park that protects 19 endemic and endangered animals, among which, the Floresian punai (Treron floris), Wallacea owl (Otus silvicola), Floresian kancilan (Pachycephala nudigula), Floresian eagle (Spizeatus floris), and Timorese tesia (Tesia everetti).
Kelimutu area is surrounded with forest containing floras that are scarcely found in Flores area. Other than pines, there are also casuarinas, red wood and edelweiss. Pine forest grows well in this side of Kelimutu Mountain. The other side of the mountain is dried land with highly unstable sand and soil. Local community believes that Kelimutu Mountain is sacred and donates fertility to the nature nearby.
Visitors can only walk around Lake Kelimutu but not all areas can be explored because some are dangerous and therefore restricted. From Moni to Kelimutu, if you like to go trekking, there is a path which is shorter than the car access route.
Distance from Moni to the top is about 12 km. The distance to the parking lot by motor vehicle is 11 km, and then visitors will climb on foot through the pathway for 30 minutes.
Koanara village, in the Wolowaru sub-district is closest to Mt Kelimutu, and is about 66 km from the town of Ende, or 83 km from Maumere. Moni is the closest small town, lying at the foot of Mt Kelimutu. It is the gate to Lake Kelimutu. The distance between Moni and Kelimutu is 15 km.
You can take an ojek, a motorbike taxi, car or public transportation to take you to a parking lot before Kelimutu’s peak. Buses to Ende from Maumere will pass Moni. They call it BIS KAYU or oto kol, the wooden pick-up truck. From there, you must walk 30 minutes along the mountain side. There are daily flights from Denpasar and Kupang to Maumere. Please refer to information on how to get there when in Labuan Bajo.
White Crater, The Magical Splendor and Hypnotizing Ambience of a Crater
Kawah Putih is located near the charming little market town of Ciwidey, approximately 50 Kilometers south of Bandung. The Crater Lake is one of two craters of Mount Patuha, with the dry Kawah Patuha or the Patuha Crater located 600 meters to its northwest, being the other. Stepping into Kawah Putih is like entering a different realm.
As the name suggests, the Crater Lake and its surroundings are dominated by a pale white color which radiates a rather hypnotizing ambience. The vast dormant volcanic crater is filled with surreal turquoise-colored water. The tree-clad cliffs surrounding the crater reach around 2,500 meters above sea level and make for a stunning backdrop, especially when the clouds start to roll in. The altitude here brings with it chilly temperatures, which in a way, will add to the magical splendor of Kawah Putih.
In World War II the plant was taken over by the Japanese military and was operated under the name Kawah Putih Kenzanka Yokoya Ciwidey. Today the plant no longer exists , however, entry points to its tunnels, remnants of these mining activities can still be seen at several points around the current site. First opened for visitors in 1987, nowadays Kawah Putih is a favorite destination for tourists and day trippers who are simply stunned by its mesmerizing ambience. On weekends and on holidays, quite large numbers of visitors frequently visit the area just to immerse themselves in the mystical beauty of nature.
Kawah Putih is located approximately 44 KM south from the center of Bandung City. Depending on the traffic in and around Bandung, the trip will take a little over 2 hours. The main road is the busy road south from Bandung through the town of Soreang, capital of the Bandung Regency, continuing down to the town of Ciwidey.
The turn from the main road to Kawah Putih is hard to miss: there is a large signboard to the left of the main road and a prominent entry gate. If you wish to use public transportation you must first find your way to the Leuwipanjang Bus Station and then take the bus in the direction of Ciwidey. From Ciwidey, you can take the angkot mini bus to the entrance of Kawah Putih.
Once at the Kawah Putih entrance, it is a long trek uphill to the crater but you won’t see many attempting to walk this. The usual arrangement is for visitors to leave their vehicles in the main carpark at the entrygate to the site and catch one of the regular mini shuttle buses (leaving every five minutes or so) for the 5 KM up to the crater.