How to Summit Merapi Volcano Sumatra, Indonesia


In this article I will outline how to summit Merapi Volcano in Sumatra, Indonesia. It includes logistical requirements and facts as well as links to a full written narrative, photos and videos. This is a self-guided cultural experience on a shoestring. Follow the links to dig deeper into the article.

Difficulty Level:

This is an Easy ActivityNote that this is a day hike to the summit. In our last volcano summit hike we did it by night for a sunrise on top.

Per Ulrich Rudolph (see contact info below)

Sumatra Merapi Volcano:

Another active volcano in Indonesia. Merapi means red fire in Indonesian so many of the volcanoes are called Merapi it turns out.

The following route information has been provided by the owner of the Rajawali Hotel in Bukittinggi (town near the volcano). He can be reached at or +62.752.31905

To climb up the (active) Merapi-Volcano:

The best day of the week to climb up the Merapi is on saturday night as there are lots of students and other people as well and you walk not alone.

You climb up in the dark for 5 to 7 hrs and you will see the sunrise sunday morning from the summit of the volcano. Ask for the time of the sunrise and be on top 1 hour before the sunrise. So you are right on time there for the sunrise at the summit.

merapi_ash merapi_sunrise

Link to Narrative of this hike

Other Indonesia Outdoor Activities page



Start at 19.00 hrs with the last red minibus No. 14 (it is the last one at night) from around the corner. Take this bus until the end at Jambu Air crossing (Simpang Jambu Air) (5 Km, 1500,- Rupiah). Cross the street and take the next bus to Kotobaru (6 Km, 3000,- Rupiah). Tell the bus driver to stop in Kotobaru at the road to the Merapi (“Jalan ke Gunung Merapi”) or ask at Kotobaru for the road. This is the timetable if you take the last minibus to Kotobaru. Wait in one of the warungs at the market and start the trekking at around 22.00 hrs.

merapi_top merapi_rim

If you want to start later at night (latest 21.30 hrs) there is no bus anymore and you have to take a taxi from Bukittinggi to Kotobaru. The taxi should bring you up to the second telephone tower from where all the trekking starts and the driver charges you with 50.000,- Rupiah. It is convenient and cheap if four people share the taxi.

When coming from Bukittinggi by minibus, the road you are looking for is on your left. Follow the road (100 m) to the first telephone tower (you can see the red lights of the tower from the main road) and take the first turning to the right. Follow the tarmac road until the second telephone tower. Just before the second tower, at the warung, turn left onto a hard surfaced road, that turns later to a rocky path and and a dirt track. Be carefully at the bamboo bridge and follow the track to the top.


What to eat and to drink: Buy roti (bread), buah (fruit) and buy Nasigoreng- Bungkus (Bungkus=Takeaway) to take it up with you. You will need also 2 big bottles of drinking water per person.


Eat and drink sufficient before you climb up.


Don’t forget warm clothes, a raincoat is also very useful.


Do you have a torch, spare batteries and a spare bulb (lamp) ready?


Wear walking shoes or other good footwear.

Have a rest at the afternoon before you climb up the Merapi and sleep for a while in advance. You can’t sleep, until you are back in Bukittinggi.

You will be back at Bukittinggi around 14.00 hrs sunday afternoon.


Don’t forget: Prices changing without notice and whatever you do, you will do it on your own risk!

Good luck and take care of you!

Ulrich Rudolph, Rajawali-Hotel, Bukittinggi, Westsumatra, Indonesia (Dec. 18, 2008)

My Notes:

I opted to do a day trek rather than the night trek since I had done a night trek in Java and found that it limited my ability to film the ascent. Furthermore, I had already filmed many sunrises from summits and preferred to have daylight than darkness. As such Ulrich suggested that we hire his wife’s sister as our guide since sometimes park rangers ask day hikers about their guides.merapi_ash I personally didn’t see an rangers or signs that the area was even a park, plus the guide in our case was not in top physical condition so we had to wait for her to catch her breath quite often. Yet for the cost of the guide (250,000 IR or $20) it did make it easier for us to get to and from the trail head. With her assistance we paid 12,000 IR for a little read van/bus to the edge of town, then 7,000 IR for another shared van/bus to the village at the first cell tower. Then we hopped in the back of a private pickup heading up the tiny road to the trailhead at the second cell tower for another 10,000 IR ($2.50).

cost range

Total Cost Range of this Activity is: $


2 Nights in Bukittinggi (before & after ride)
Guide for a day
Misc local bus/van/pickup truck rides $2.50 each way
Misc munchies and drinks
Total $40

2008 prices

GPS Waypoints: 





Elevation Description Times
1 S 00 23.471 E 100 24.159 1,174 1st cell tower off main road 7 am
2 S 00 23.627 E 100 24.771 1,323 2nd cell tower & trailhead (30 min if walked)
3 S 00 23.606 E 100 25.292 1,472 end cultivated land, start of jungle 7:40 am
4 S 00 23.715 E 110 25.452 1,482 Building foundation, 100 m after bamboo bridge, start rise 7:55 am
5 S 07 23.418 E 110 26.861 2,450 clearing, end of forest, edge of treeline, rocks & skree 10:40 am
6 S 07 23.390 E 110 27.068 2,684 flat top, marker to left on small rise 11:30 am
7 S 07 23.453 E 110 27.108 2,693 sand & shallow lake area & stone ring walls
8 S 07 23.481 E 110 27.197 2,712 Edge of crater (west side). 11:45 am
5 hrs up & 3:45 down to 1st tower/main road long way


Click to watch Video



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Link to Narrative of this hike

Other Indonesia Outdoor Activities page

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