South East Asia has so many crown jewels, yet this morning galavant was the highlight of our trip. Mt Merapi will live long in the memory for its breathtaking views, sun-kissed clouds & unfit French folk! Taking a trip down memory lane here is going to be one of the most rewarding, gratifying & heartwarming write-ups we’ve done in a while.
Mt Merapi literally translates to Mountain of Fire due to its high volcanic activity, seeing major eruptions every 10-15 years. It erupted as recently as May 2018, with no casualties reported. The mountain holds a special place with the Javanese, the people of the local island, as the royals make annual offerings to placate the spirits of ancient Javanese Mythology. There’s some facts for you to tell the grandkids, now onto the tour!
10:00PM – 12:00AM : Pick-up at your hotel in Yogyakarta or another meeting point around the City. Then, transfer directly to New Selo.
12:00 – 01:00 : Relax, have your welcome drink and meal
01:00 – 01:00 : Preparation and start midnight trekking.
01:00 – 05:30 : Enjoy sunrise view point on the top of Mt.Merapi.
05:30 – 07:00 : Finish sunrise.
07:00 – 10:00 : Arrive in New Selo basecamp for morning coffee/tea and breakfast
10:00 – 13:00 : Arrive in hotel Yogyakarta
Booking the tour
As with most tours in South East Asia, it can be booked directly at your hotel/hostel. We were staying at Ndalem Mantrigawen , a 3* hostel in Yogyakarta, which fitted our needs perfectly. The team there were extremely receptive to what we wanted to do & advised us on the best tour.
- Bring plenty of water & food. There’s no water stops on the way. It’s a volcano, after all…
- The volcano is checked regularly for safety reasons. If you’ve got the OK to be on the tour, you’re 100% safe.
- It’s approximately a 7 hour hike. 4 hours up, 3 hours down. This includes time for getting snap happy at the top (which you will be!).
We got the morning sunrise tour & the price evades me currently but you can bet it’s shockingly cheap compared to what we’d pay for a similar tour in the West! When we booked the tour, the 11PM pick up seemed odd & the 1AM start to the hike seemed torturous! Quite the opposite on the contrary, as the views at 4:30AM well made up for it!
Our driver took us to the nearby town of Selo, next to neighbouring Mt Merbabu where we’d start ascending. The perks of an early start? The complimentary Javanese coffee we sipped as our debrief. It gave us chance to meet our fellow mountaineers, sharing stories & very drowsy laughs!
1AM struck & it was go time. As we’re quite fit, the hike isn’t overly strenuous, albeit continuous. Our French compadré, Damien, started in confident mood before slowly lagging to the rear. We had a great laugh about his earlier confidence at the end of the hike!
Roughing it up through the bushland, chilli fields & rocky terrain is thrilling & slightly troubling when your head-torch breaks. In a group full of headlights though, it wasn’t much of an issue! The 4 hour hike was 100% worth it & even without a decent camera at the time, we managed to capture some amazing shots, that will do this more justice than the words!
The tour finishes with breakfast back in Selo before a very sleep journey back to your hotel in Yogyakarta.
This tour has still been our favourite experience in the 4.5 years we’ve been travelling together. The views of the sun-kissed clouds will last a lifetime & resonate simpler, fulfilling times. Yogyakarta is full of culture & this tour alone makes it worth the visit, especially when inter-Asia travel tends to be so cheap. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this tour to anyone.