A soulfully satisfying and equally rewarding hike on the island of Lombok, Indonesia turns easily into a 3 days 2 nights trek, should you opt to hike down to the crater lake and take a dip in the neighboring all natural hot springs. For simplicity, I will go straight to the details.
Day 1: Start hiking from Senaru, ~600 meters (1975 ft) all the way to the camp area at rim, 2599 meters (8527 ft) leading to an elevation gain of around 6550 ft in approximately 7.5 kms (4.6 miles) and 7 hours. The climb is paved soil for the most part and rocky for the last 1500 ft.
Day 2: Hike down from the camp site to the crater lake at 1982 meters (6500 ft) in little over an hour and hike up to Sembalun side camp site at 2615 meters (8580 ft) in 2.5 hours resulting in a cumulative elevation change of 4100 ft. The hike down is rocky and steep as you lose 2027 ft in little over 2 kms (1.2 miles). The climb up on the contrary is steady for the first 2 kms through the savanna but gains elevation quickly for the remaining 1600 ft in a very rocky kilometer or so. This patch of trail is paved with cemented steps leading all the way to the top of the rim on Sembalun side.
Day 3: Climb up from 2615 meters (8580 ft) to 3726 meters (12224 ft) in 2.5+ kms and 3.5 hours. That’s a climb of around 3645 ft through loose ash, gravel, and rocks. Once up to 2900 meters (9515 ft), you get a steady break for half a kilometer before the grade goes steep to 40 degrees on what can basically be compared to hiking on sand. Picture at least 1.5 kilometers on this unstable terrain. Heading back to the camp site may take an hour and add another 4 hours to hike down from camp site to base in Sembalun, 1150 meters (3772 ft).
In short, Total Elevation Gain to the Summit (Up, up & up) – 10195 ft (Senaru)
Total Elevation Change to the Summit (Incl Crater Lake) – 12222 ft (Senaru)
Total Elevation Drop from the Summit – 8452 ft (Sembalun)
Rewards galore when on top… first the daybreak (above), then the sunrise (below).
There is another volcanic crater, although lakeless (not in picture) on the side opposite to the crater lake. Reminds of Gunung Agung.
Mt Agung on the island of Bali in Indonesia is one challenging hike with an unrelenting grade at around 35 degrees. The hike starts from the Pan Ubang temple which is part of the wider Besakih compound. Note that the actual Besakih temple is another 100-200 ft below the trail head. There are varying accounts of the elevation gain, but the Pan Ubang base was measured at an altitude of 1142 meters while the summit is popularly measured at 3142 meters, resulting in a total elevation gain of around 6600 ft. The total trail length to the crater can be estimated at around 5 miles. Average time to hike up is around 360-420 mins while average time to hike down is around 240 mins. It took me around 6.5 hrs to climb and around 3.5 to run down the mountain.
The Agung crater is another 0.3 mile from the first summit at a cumulative elevation change (loss/gain) of around 50-60 ft. Don’t make the mistake of turning back after the first summit ascent.
Cloudfall into the crater as can be seen above.
Cloudcap at the crater rim and Mt Rinjani visible at a distance.
Mt Agung from the Pan Ubang compound.
The hike stays my most treacherous hike to date, more so due to the combination of humidity at the base of the mountain (first 120 mins through the humidity of a tropical rainforest are excruciatingly painful), the loose pumice that covers some stretch (possibly fourth) of the trail, no sources of fresh water all along the way, and a steady relentless grade; than the terrain itself. Prepare with enough water, coffee (if hiking through the night) and some salt or electrolytes. After sweating bullets through the first couple of hrs, I was day dreaming fresh fruits with sprinkled salt.
Popularly known locally as “Blue Fire”, Kawa Ijen on the island on Java in Indonesia is an hr drive from Banyuwangi (East Java). The hike is roughly 2 miles in length to the highly acidic lake at the center of the crater. The cumulative elevation change (first gain to the rim ~1300 ft and descent to the lake ~700 ft) is around 2000 ft, varying accounts can be found online.
Average time to the crater lake is around 120 mins at the laziest best and similar on the way back. Longer times are partly due to its popularity and the number of fellow hikers you witness in the dark. This may be the most populated hike I have been on to date. At any time expect around 200-400 people on this short hike flashing torches through the night. And I wonder how?
The blue flame is a very pretty sight. Go figure the how!
The trail of lights on the way back as seen above.
Additional pictures of Mt Raung that is part of the wider volcanic belt.