Mount Semeru (3,676m): All You Need To Know About Hiking The Great Mountain ‘Mahameru’

Mount Semeru (3,676m): All You Need To Know About Hiking The Great Mountain ‘Mahameru’

Introduction

Mount Semeru (3,676m) is the highest mountain in Java and also an active volcano that erupts a plume cloud every few moments. It is also called “Mahameru”, which means the Great Mountain or where the gods reside. It is easy to see why because of its imposing stature and constant eruption.

Having said that, it is safe (relatively ha!) to hike it despite it being active, as long as the national park allows it. It is said to be similar in difficulty to Rinjani, although some dispute and say that it is tougher.

Most itineraries are a 3D2N trek. It is very similar to Rinjani having 3D2N and 4D3N, even though the Summit hike is on the first night. For Mount Semeru, the summit is also on the first night so I would suggest to do a 2D1N trek.

It can be a very challenging 2D1N trek due to the distance and the challenging summit push. The route takes you past the picturesque Ranu Kumbolo Lake while hiking across the grasslands of Oro-Oro Ombo and camping at the base of Mount Semeru.

The next morning, you will trek to the summit and see the amazing views from the highest peak of Java. When I say amazing, it is really amazing. In fact I think the view at the summit is more amazing than at Rinjani! This is because of the sheer number of peaks that can be seen from Mount Semeru. You can also see the full crater of Mount Bromo from the summit. On top of that, you get to see and hear them mini eruptions from Semeru, making it an unforgettable experience!

Technical Details

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Nice Handwriting!

Peak: 3,767m
Total elevation: ~1,567m
Walking distance: 36km (~18km 1 way)
Total trek time: ~17 hours
Day Temperature: ~25ºc – 30ºc
Lowest Temperature: ~5ºc – 10ºc 
Trek Duration: 2D1N (minimum)
Camping trip
Summit push: 1000m+ overnight ascent
Active volcano (will hear and see eruption every 20-30 minutes)

Trail Route

TrailAltitudeDistanceTime
Ranupane Village – Landengan Dowo2,100m3km1h
Landengan Dowo – Watu Rejeng2,350m3km1h
Watu Rejeng – Ranu Kumbolo Lake 2,400m4km1.5h
Ranu Kumbolo – Cemero Kandang 2,500m2.5km1h
Cemero Kandang -Jambangan2,600m3km45 min
Jambangan —Kalimati Base Camp2,700m2km30 min
Kalimati – Arcopodo3,000m1.2km1h
Arcopodo – Mahameru Peak3,676m1.5km3-4h

Itinerary

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As mentioned above, most itineraries provided by travel agents are 3D2N.

However, I prefer to do it in 2D1N and skip camping at the lake because it is simply 3 hours out to civilization. Honestly, the lake isn’t that fantastic and it is cold. However, if you are with a group of friends, have time and love camping, it would be more comfortable and enjoyable to do the 3D2N itinerary.

All treks start from Ranupane Village. The trek is also the same way up and down. That is the difference between this and Mount Rinjani because in Rinjani it is a traverse route.

To get there, most Singaporeans start from Surabaya Airport. However, most agents would prefer picking you up from Malang (because it is closer).

You can start from Cemero Lawang also (Bromo), as it is only less than an hour away but I would suggest to leave Bromo after the trek rather than before.

Below, I will show you the examples and the difference in itineraries.

3D2N Hiking Itinerary

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This is an example of a 3D2N hiking itinerary.

Day 0:
Surabaya – Ranupane Homestay (5h drive). Lunch and medical check up on the way. Sleep at Ranupane Village.

Day 1:
Ranupane Village (2,100m) -> Ranu Kumbolo Lake (2,400m), stop for lunch.
Ranu Kumbolo Lake – Kalimati Base Camp (2,700m). Dinner and sleep

Day 2:
Kalimati Basecamp -> Summit -> Kalimati Base Camp – Ranu Kumbolo Lake.
Stop for lunch and free and easy.

Day 3:
Ranu Kumbolo(Lake) -> Ranupane Village
End of trek! Make your way back to Surabaya/Malang/Bromo

Pros

1) Relax and take a nap after a tiring summit push at base camp
2) Can take it slow on the 2nd day because there isn’t much to do
3) Relax at the Ranu Kumbolo Lake

Cons

1) Camping food isn’t that nice to eat
2) It is hot and unsheltered at Ranu Kumbolo Lake
3) It can get really cold at night at the Lake
4) There is nothing much to do for one whole afternoon and night
5) It is only 3 hours more out to Ranupane, civilisation and comfort lies out there

2D1N Hiking Itinerary (Recommended)

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Yay to 1 night of camping!

As it is only 3 hours away from Ranupane Village, I rather not camp at Ranu Kumbolo Lake. At Ranu Kumbolo Lake, it is sloping and unsheltered so it can be very hot in the day, and cold at night. So I would recommend to walk another 3 hours to Ranupane to either stay in the village or move on to Bromo/’Malang/Surabaya.

So this is what I usually do.

Day 0:
Surabaya – Ranupane Homestay (5h drive). Lunch and medical check up on the way. Sleep at Ranupane Village.

Day 1:
Ranupane Village – Ranu Kumbolo (Lake) – Kalimati Basecamp (15km trek, ~6h)

Day 2:
Kalimati Basecamp (1am) – Semeru Summit (5am)- Kalimati Basecamp (8am) – Ranu Kumbolo(Lake) – Surabaya (ETA 8pm). Dinner in Malang along the way.

Pros

1) Have a proper dinner, toilet, bed and less travelling on the next day
2) Cheaper
3) Maximize your time and less leave is needed for your trip
4) Minus an extra night of camping in the cold

Cons

1) Can be very tiring after the summit push
2) No chance to relax at base camp or the lake and it might feel slightly rushed
3) You might reach Surabaya around 9-10pm

Conclusion: As you can see, although it is very tiring on day 2, we actually reached back and got to sleep on a nice bed with a proper hot and long shower in Surabaya as well as have good food options!

How to DIY

Is it possible to DIY it? Yes. If you are 1-2 person, it is easier to DIY it. If you are a group, it makes more sense to just get someone to arrange it because doing it yourself is a similar cost. The only difference is whether you bring your own tents and food which can help to reduce the cost.

Below is the list of expenses to take note of:

Transport

There are mainly 3 places you can start from and a few options for transport.

From Surabaya

From the Juanda Airport, you have several options. This is the cheapest DIY option.

Take a DAMRI (25,000 IDR per pax) –> Surabaya Bungurasih Bus Terminal –> Local Bus to Malang (25,000 IDR per pax) –> Angkot to Tumpang (6,000 IDR per pax) –> Ojek to Ranupane (depends on negotiation, ~75,000 per pax)

It can take from 6 to 8 hours on average via public transport.

From Surabaya, most of the routes would have to go through Malang anyway.

Private Vehicle (1-way): ~600,000 IDR for 1 vehicle (4 pax)

Shuttle/Taxi: https://www.juanda-airport.com/en/public-transport/index
If coming from the Airport, you can ask the taxi to send you to Ranupane Village.

More often than not, you would most likely be dropped at Malang. You could also take the shuttle service which is a shared taxi basically. It would cost around 100,000 IDR per pax.

Bus to Malang: 15,000–25,000 rupiah
From Surabaya, the main bus station to Malang is Bungurasih Bus Terminal. It is the same one you take to Probolinggo for Mount Bromo.

Train to Malang: For train travel, please do read up a good description about it from Seat61!

Basically, to book the tickets you would need to use some Indonesian websites or ask a local to do it for you. Trains are pretty decent in Indonesia and I heard that they are quite popular now, such that you would have to book around 1 week in advance.

You can check them on www.tiket.com or https://kai.id/. It will cost around 35,000–60,000 IDR one way!

From Malang

One would either need to take 2 X minibus ride (Angkot/Bemo) or a jeep ride to Ranupane.

You have to take to Tumpang and from Tumpang get to Ranupane/Ranu Pani Village.

Angkot: It cost about 3,000IDR for 1 journey. Take to Tumpang, and ask to get to Ranupani.

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Road to Malang

Ojek: You can also switch to taking a pillion on a motorbike (ojek) to Ranupani (around 150,000 IDR).

Jeep : I am not really sure how much the Jeep costs, but I would guess it would be quite expensive, around 600-800,000 IDR per vehicle (1 way).

So expect around 55- 100,000 IDR per pax for 1 way. You can find the Jeeps in Tumpang easily. Why is it cheaper than an Ojek? This is because the Jeep usually hold 8-15 people and it depends on how full it is.

*Tip, if you are DIYing the trek, you can stock up food and supplies at Tumpang instead of Ranupane


**Tip: Easiest solution is to use online Ojek applications (Grab or Gojek), available both ways for less than 30’000Rp.

Bromo/Ceremo Lawang

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This is the least used route, because most people who do Bromo will not hike Semeru, or those who hike Semeru end off with Bromo.

Nobody really does it at the start, but if it so happens one does Bromo and wish to DIY from there, you can read up on how to do it from my Bromo post.

I took the route from Cemero Lawang – Malang, which actually goes through Ranu Pane Village so the idea is there.

Health Certificate (Must)

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Health Check up

For registration purposes for Semeru, it is a must to obtain a health certificate to prove that you are healthy for the climb. This can be done easily in Malang or on the way to Ranupane.

Don’t waste your money in Singapore getting it from a doctor. It is a quick process, practically arbitrary. All you do is fill in your details (height/weight) and get tested on your blood pressure/heart rate and you are done.

Just ask around or find any “Puskesmas” (local healthcare community center). Cost is around 30,000 IDR.

In fact, I think it can be done in Ranupane village itself also as I saw one medical office.

Permits/Entrance Fees

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Semeru Entrance Fees

This is the link for information: http://bookingsemeru.bromotenggersemeru.org/. Do note that every year the prices change usually. Somehow one is unable to book online. Well, inefficiency creates jobs.

Local:
17,500 IDR per day on weekdays
22,500 IDR per day on weekends

Foreigner:
207,500 IDR per day on weekdays
307,500 IDR on weekends and holidays

*There is a quota of 600 hikers per day on Semeru

Equipment Rental

Tents and other gear can be rented in Ranupane Village.

Sleeping Bag: ~20,000 IDR a day
Tent: ~60,000 IDR a day
Mattress: ~10,000 IDR a day, usually with tent
Food: ~100,000 IDR

Guide

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Our guide!

Guide per day: 500,000 IDR per day
Porter per day: 300,000 IDR per day

Accommodation

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The famous accommodation in Pak Tasrip Homestay in Ranupane, but there are a few other options around in Ranupane.

Head further to the registration point, there is a hiking shop and beside the hiking shops are other homestay options also. Some people even camp and simply use the toilet facilities instead of paying money for a homestay.

Cost of an accommodation is around 150,000 IDR – 250,000 IDR per night

Meals

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Ranupani Food

Meals in Ranupane Village are pretty cheap as I expected higher due to its location. I love eating Rawon (beef soup) and the rawon is still only 1.5 SGD.

In fact, the picture above isn’t the place we ate. There is a bigger shop beside and the nasi goreng and mie goreng is pretty awesome, ask for extra egg and the sambal chili!

You can eat a few rounds and it’ll still be below 3 SGD!

Total Expenses Needed

If you were to DIY it 2D1N without a guide, you would need

Transport: 120,000 IDR (1 way) X 2 = 240,000
Entrance Fees: 307,500 X 2 = 615,000
Health Certificate: 30,000
Equipment and food: 280,000 IDR

Total: 1,165,000 IDR = ~116 SGD

With a guide, you would need to add another 1.000.000 IDR (100 SGD) for 2 days. If you have more people to share the cost of a guide and supplies it becomes cheaper.

Should you DIY?

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As for the route, there are well-marked signs along the way so it is actually quite obvious to trek.

The newer signs were put recently and they can be seen from Ranu Kumbolo Lake onwards.

I hoped they had managed to install the newer and more accurate signages from POS 1- Ranu Kumbolo lake! So it is actually quite okay to find the route yourself.

However, I wouldn’t suggest you to DIY because cost-wise it is not that worth it.

You spend too much time on the road for very little savings.

It only makes sense to DIY if you are 1 or 2 person and you don’t happen to be able to find people to do it with because for 1-2 pax it can be quite costly for a private group.

So the purpose of a DIY is to find other groups of people to share the transport/guide/equipment with. This is the benefit. A travel agency usually handles it.

Travel Agency Price

This is one of the few times I would suggest for you to use a travel agency especially if you are coming from Surabaya.

If you are coming from Bromo/Cemero Lawang, then DIY is a better way to go as there is no need to pre-arrange things.

If you look at the trek, the difficult part of it is the logistics to Ranupani Village and back to Surabaya.

Usually a travel agent can arrange for you around 3 million+ IDR. It depends on how big the group is. If the group is bigger it can get down to 2 million+ IDR.

I can arrange also at a reasonable rate. If you wish for me to arrange your trip, do contact me at [email protected] or whatsapp +65 87792642

Detailed Itinerary

For those who wish to have a detailed itinerary, here is how I do it usually.

For the flight timings from Singapore, I prefer to take Scoot, this is because it departs early in the morning which gives you more time to travel to Ranupane and reach there at a comfortable timing.

It is possible to fly Scoot and take Jetstar back because the Scoot return flight is quite early in the morning (but gives you more time to rest in Singapore!)

Day 0:
8:15am: Scoot Flight SG – Surabaya
9:35am: Touchdown Surabaya
10am4pm: Transport from Surabaya – Ranupane Village, 2,100m (~5h drive). Stop for lunch and medical check-up along the way
4pm: Reach Ranupane/Ranu Pani Village. Rest/dinner/prepare for tomorrow

Day 1:
7am: Breakfast
8am: Start of trek (2,100m)
9am: POS2 (2,350m)
10am: POS3 (2,450m)
11am: Ranu Kumbolo Lake (2,400m) for lunch
12.30pm: Set off to Base Camp
1.30pm: Cemero Kandang (2,500m)
2.30pm: Jambangan (2,600m)
3.00pm: Kalimati Base Camp (2,700m). Set up camp, dinner and rest for summit!

Day 2:
12 am: Light food and get ready
12:30 am: Summit push
5:00 am: Semeru Summit
6:00am: Descend to Base Camp
8:00am: Breakfast at Kalimati Base Camp
9:00am: Kalimati Base Camp – Ranu Kumbolo Lake
11:30am: Ranu Kumbolo Lake, stop for lunch if needed.
12:00pm: Ranu Kumbolo Lake – Ranupane Village
3:00pm: Ranupane Village. Wash up.
4:00pm: Depart for Surabaya via Malang
6:00pm: Dinner at Malang
8:30pm: Surabaya Accommodation

Day 3:
7.30am: Breakfast
8.15am: Shuttle to Airport (5 mins)
10:15am: Flight back to Singapore
1.30pm Touchdown Singapore

Day 1 (Surabaya – Ranupane Village)

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The first day is fairly simple. It is a road journey from Surabaya Airport to Ranupane, which can be from 5-7 hours long.

The most ideal time to get the simcards is when you arrive from the airport because it is more troublesome to get along the way.

Along the way, we stopped by for lunch and health check-up. The health check-up was extremely quick because it was just checking your height, weight and pulse. The most important thing was to retain the white slip of paper which we would need to submit for registration.

Once we drove past Malang and towards Ranupane, I remembered my previous trip via Ojek when I came from Bromo. The view never ceases to amaze me as we move through the villages and reach the split road.

This is the point where the road splits to Bromo and Ranupane. It is also the place for a pitstop to stretch our legs and take nice pictures.

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From the road, it is just another 15 minutes to Ranupane Village. In fact, we arrive at the start point because our accommodation was there and not in the village itself.

There is a Ranupane Lake (Ranu Regulo) to visit, not to be confused with the Ranu Kumbolo Lake. It is a short 10 minutes walk from the village.

It isn’t a particularly impressive lake and the area can be littered with rubbish, but it is something to do around the area before sleeping.

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The dining area back in Ranupane Village (Start point) had a pretty nice atmosphere. We ate there while waiting for the briefing at night.

It was one where everyone there had either finished hiking, or are planning to hike. It felt like being at a tavern, and the kitchen was also just beside such that one could easily walk in and ask for extra orders or make changes.

The briefing was done in this small building and it was a pretty insignificant briefing.

The only thing of note was that there was a cut-off point to the summit because of poisonous gases, so I believe the latest time to be at the summit was 12pm. So it meant that it would be impossible to do an afternoon hike to the summit of Mount Semeru for sunset.

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Day 2 (Ranupane – Kalimati Base Camp)

GPS: http://www.movescount.com/moves/move232988149#table-year=2019

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After breakfast, which was actually some pretty salty soto soup and rice, we were ready to set off.

Registration takes awhile to get done (no idea why), so we ended up waiting. Apparently we had to wait for the office to be opened at 8am before we could go. The only things required were the medical slips and for the porters/guide to prepare their food and equipment for the trek.

The trek can be split into 2 portions. The trek to the Ranu Kumbolo Lake and the trek from the Lake to the Base Camp.

Ranupane Village -> Ranu Kumbolo Lake

Ranupani —-3km—> Landengan Dowo —3km—> Watu Rejeng —1.5 km—> Ranu Kumbolo

  • Distance: 10.5km
  • Ascent: ~580m
  • Descent: ~240m
  • Average trek time: 3h

There are 3 POS (rest points), the third being the lake. It takes an average of 1 hour per rest point and the trek is a gradual incline. The starting time is usually around 8.30am.

Ranupane Village – POS 1 (Landengan Dowo)

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From the village, it takes around 10-15 minutes before you reach the starting gate on a pavement. It is an easy walk through the farm until you see the starting gate. There is a shop and a map just before the starting gate.

The trail then turns upslope into the forest. The trail is a forest trail, but it is gradual and not muddy at all. The soil is compact and the trail isn’t really cutting through the forest, but by the side of it.

There are shrubs and trees along the path so you wouldn’t get much of a view at all, but you could observe some beautiful white flowers along the way.

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It gets slightly steeper upslope and it reaches POS 1. POS 1 is simply made up of a small shelter and a small wooden bench area (more like wooden sticks cobbled together). There isn’t much space for sitting especially if you have a big group.

In each POS, there are usually people selling snacks and fruits, like watermelon. Watermelon is the fan favorite, but I would suggest to save it for the later POS when you are more tired.

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POS 1 – POS 2 (Landengan Dowo to Watu Rejeng)

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POS 1 to POS 2 is steeper but it gets slightly nicer because the trees start to thin out as you climb higher and you cut closer to the edge of the hills.

At times you could get a glimpse of the clouds and Semeru in the distance.

You should reach POS 2 by around 10.30am.

The issue is the sun is pretty hot by then and if there are people in the shelter, there isn’t enough space to hide from the sun. So a quick break here is good before moving on towards the Lake.

POS 2 (Watu Rejeng) – Ranu Kumbolo Lake

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POS 2 to POS 3 is more of the same of walking through the forest trail. There is an interesting bridge, other than that nobody really stops at POS 3 because it is too close to Ranu Kumbolo Lake. Just persevere awhile more when you see POS 3 because you will be rewarded for it.
A majestic view of the lake awaits as you slowly ascend steeper up the hill, before descending to it. It might be because my mind was hungry for a view as all I have been seeing were trees and shrubs for the past 2.5 hours. The moment the path opened up to show the lake, I slowed down to absorb the view and enjoy myself.

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It was another 20-30 mins to Ranu Kumbolo Lake. There are quite nice grass and flower fields to take pictures in. I enjoyed this portion to the lake a lot. Perhaps it was due to the finally being in an open space, or because I was at a certain altitude finally.

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Spot the animal

Ranu Kumbolo Lake

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When I was there in May, the lake was pretty empty. There were at most 3 -4 groups, but it was a lot more crowded when I came back in July. May is usually the starting month.

It was not a particularly nice area to rest at Ranu Kumbolo lake because there was no shelter and it should be almost noon when one reaches there.

The sun is scorching hot and there is no way except to sit in the sun and have your lunch. Additionally, there were no natural seats around and the area slopes downwards.

There is a yellow shelter but there is where the porters and guides will be cooking the meals for the various groups. If you are DIY, there are some makeshift shops to buy food from.

There are clean toilets and cold water should you wish to shower. You got to pay though, if you don’t wish to use it, find the more dilapidated looking toilets, those are free!

Swimming is unfortunately prohibited in the lake as the water is used for drinking and cooking.

In the mountains, the weather can change quickly. The lake is situated in a valley where the fog and clouds kind of converge. Within a snap of a finger, it can get cold and foggy. Another reason not to camp at the lake.

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Ranu Kumbolo Lake – Kalimati Base Camp

Ranu Kumbolo —2.5km—> Cemero Kandang —3km—> Jambangan —2km—> Kalimati Base Camp

  • Distance: 7.5 km
  • Average trek time: 2.5h
  • Ascent: 350m
  • Descent: 100m

Ranu Kumbolo – Cemero Kandang

From here, it is one of the steeper parts of the hike (with the exception of the summit). You go straight up the hill from the lake. It is around 30-40 degrees incline for around 20 minutes.

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Once up the hill, there are 2 paths but both leads the same way. You can either descend steeply, or take a longer but more gradual trail which cuts the side of the hill.

After which, it is a flat traverse across dry grass to the forest.

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It is pretty flat until you reach the next check point. The trail through the savannah grass is quite picturesque and relaxing to walk through.

I guess I always like a vast expanse of space. There are also these purple flowers along the way, which I initially thought were Lavenders, makes it a pretty decent photospot.

There are also some yellow flowers combined with purple flowers that dominate the landscape, making it feel like some European garden.

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However, upon googling the type of flower, I realised it is actually a foreign plant species called “Verbena Brasiliensis Vell” which is native to South America.

This is by the Forest Ecosystem Controller officer Toni Artaka from the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS) Management.

In fact, it has actually invaded almost 20 hectares of the area and it is an ecological threat to the National Park and affect the natural species in the park. So even though the place might be “Instagrammable”, we might actually neglect taking into considerations learning about the environmental impact.

Cemoro Kandang (POS 4) – Jambangan (POS 5)

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It takes an average of 30-45 minutes to the next rest point Cemoro Kandang (POS 4). The logs look pretty nice to rest as shelter from the sun.

From this point onwards, it feels like entering a European forest. It is actually the most enjoyable part of the trek for me, as trees are tall with beautiful green foilage all around.

The trees are pine trees I think and it is spacious, unlike being in a tropical jungle. I love listening to the sound of the forest and seeing the light filter through the trees.

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Jambangan (POS 5) – Kalimati Base Camp

It is another hour of a gradual uphill through the forest before a steeper part towards Jambangan (POS 5).

This is the spot to savour the juicy watermelon with a view of Mount Semeru before heading to Kalimati Base Camp.

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I realised that you only get a view of Mount Semeru during certain points in the trek, and this is one of the better photo points!

It was good to just sit and admire Mount Semeru and its pretty ugly shape if you ask me. It looked like a bald head.

Once in awhile, you might get a chance to hear the eruption or see the smoke bellowing out of the crater.

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Kalimati Base Camp

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“Mahameru”

The trek from POS 5 Jambangan to Ranu Kumbolo Base Camp is pretty easy.

It is flat before descending to the base camp and takes around 20-30 minutes.

Kalimati Base Camp

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The base camp is recognisable by the yellow shelter. In fact, this yellow shelter is available at the camp sites, which is Ranu Kumbolo Lake as well as at Kalimati Base Camp. The area is quite big, but we chose the unsheltered areas as the ground isn’t filled with roots which make it easier to sleep.

It can get really cold at night, almost 0 degrees. In fact, in the afternoon it was already chilly if you are not in the sun. We reached around 3pm and just spent the next few hours chilling out while waiting for dinner. It isn’t a particularly scenic area and the local groups are usually playing music and hanging out also.

I didn’t sleep particularly well at night because it was freezing and I don’t sleep well in the cold. The sleeping bags provided are often not good enough for the cold, but luckily it was a sunrise hike so I didn’t have to endure through the night.

*Tip: A good set of thermal wear would help your sleep!*

Day 3 (Kalimati Base Camp – Summit – Surabaya)

GPS: Summit – Kalimati Base Camp
Kalimati Base Camp – Ranupane Village

Kalimati Base Camp – Summit

  • Incline: 40 Degrees incline
  • Ascent: ~1067m
  • Distance: 3.2 km
  • Average trek time: 4.5h

Most people wish to see sunrise, but in actual fact there are different stages of sunrise. If you ask the guide, he would most likely suggest 2am, because sunrise is at 6.30am for them them when the sun has risen and it isn’t so cold.

However, most people wish to see daybreak or the break of dawn, which is the slow rising of the sun over the horizon and the changing from darkness to light.

To do that, you have to bear with the cold and darkness, because it takes at least an hour for that to happen, which means you would wish to reach around 5am-5.15am for Indonesia.

So if the crack of dawn is for you, a good time to start is around 1.00am. If you are slower, it might be better to start around 12.30am. This gives you the most chance of seeing the golden sun-rays pierce the darkness, but the guide won’t be that happy (tip him more and tell him that you would spend more time at the summit)

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The start of the trek is through the forest for about an hour. This time, it is not as gradual as the previous day. At some steeper points, you would need to use the branches for support. Slowly but slowly, the ground terrain will shift from a forest trail to instances of volcanic ash.

Once out of the forest, it is the famous summit trail of volcanic ash which people has said that it is extremely tough, comparable or more difficult than Rinjani.

Having done Semeru after climbing other mountains, it wasn’t that difficult for me because I knew how to pace myself.

My personal opinion is that Rinjani summit push is less steep but it felt a lot longer because it was one of my first few hikes. Rinjani’s summit push also felt harder because the trail to the base camp was way more tiring than Semeru’s.

Technically, the ash slope is steeper and longer than Rinjani’s. The path is also much narrower than Rinjani Summit Push and it can be more dangerous, especially if the people in front have little hiking etiquette and dislodge loose rocks when struggling up.

Some people wear helmets (I hate wearing helmets so I don’t). I have heard some horror stories of people getting injured (leg break etc) due to falling rocks, but these incidents are far and few between.

I think it occurs when there are quite a lot of people going up, which means it is a better idea to start early because the local groups usually start later. It happens primarily because people are not used to walking on volcanic ash. It is like hiking on sand, 2 steps up and 1 step down.

However, if you control your steps and have good leg power, you won’t actually slip down most of the time. The problem comes when people struggle on the ash and desperately try to climb up like a flailing whale, which causes a lot of the ash and rocks to be dislodged.

This ash slope takes around 3 hours. Just go slow and steady, step by step and everything will be alright, because the reward at the end is amazing.

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Mahameru Summit

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Mount Semeru is the highest mountain in Java, also known as the rooftop of Java. The summit plateau is flat and there is a vast area to gather and walk around while being surrounded by clouds and the other Java mountains.

The panorama of all of East Java’s major peaks rising above the sea of clouds basked in the golden glow of a new day is an experience to remember. There is nothing to say except to be awestruck by the beauty of nature.

Which mountains can you see? You can see Argopuro, Raung, Bromo, as well as Arjuna Welirang and some others which I missed out!

Also, if you happen to be faster, be prepared to deal with the cold! However, it is extremely satisfying and surreal to watch the break of dawn.

There is something indescribable about the magic of it, to stand at the summit and watch the sky slowly embrace an orange glow while listening to your breath and the wind.

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It is even better in real life

There are many amazing pictures one can take at the summit because the summit area is wide and flat, leaving a lot of space for people to wander around.

The whole ancient crater of Mount Bromo can be seen in the distance too.

The temperature is around 5 degrees but the wind chill can destroy you while waiting for sunrise, so a good beanie and windbreaker is a must! Gloves would help too. If not just hug each other ha!

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Mount Semeru is also known for its active volcanic eruption. The crater area is huge and one can walk around the crater (but not advisable) to a certain extent. The cool thing at the summit is that you will most likely be able to witness a small eruption every 20 minutes or so.

There will be a sharp pop sound, like the sound of a kettle lid followed by a massive burp of gas as you watch it drift around. This gas is actually poisonous and in the afternoon the wind will blow it towards you, therefore a cut-off point for the Semeru summit.

There have been cases of hikers going missing or dying from the poisonous gas due to people disobeying the regulations put in place. So please do not hike to the Semeru summit past 12pm!

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Who farted??

Once the sun has risen at around 6.30am, it wouldn’t be that cold anymore. It will still be extremely windy though, but it. was time to say byebye to Semeru.

Ash Slope

The best part of Semeru summit is actually going down. It might seem scary to go down the ash slope, but just dig your feet into the ground and slide down. This way, you won’t feel like you’ll fall because you’ll accumulate a lot of volcanic ash.

The annoying thing would be it getting into your shoe (like sand), but just bear with it. Well, take it as a souvenir from Semeru! If you can a hang of it, you can go down within an hour!

There is one portion towards the end of the downslope that is extremely narrow and more dangerous. There is a sign which shows the grim reaper, what a reminder!

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The way up is the same way down, so it takes another hour through the forest to Kalimati Base Camp. At this point, I could enjoy the forest trail which I didn’t get to enjoy in the darkness! As you can see, I love tall trees!

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Kalimati Base Camp – Ranupani Village

The way back is exactly the same as the way up. Upon reaching Kalimati Base Camp, it is good to have a longer break and breakfast. One should reach Kalimati Base Camp at around 9am. I like to leave Kalimati Base Camp by 10am as I am not camping over at Ranu Kumbolo Lake, but headed all the way out.

Instead of having lunch at Ranu Kumbolo Lake, usually we just have snacks along the way and head straight out. The lake area is usually too hot to rest, so I like to stop at the sheltered forest overlooking the lake.

There is a nice spot to rest, enjoy the breeze and have a “lunch stop” rather than sit in the sun near the lake. This way, we also save time as it is another 3 hours of a gradual hike back.

At this point, we were done with Semeru. The next 3 hours was a tiring and unlikable slog because it was another 7.5km back on the same route through the forest!

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I have heard that from this spot, there is an alternative route back to Ranupane village from the lake via Gunung Ajekajek. It is steeper, kind of like a short-cut as it was the old route. It isn’t open, but on the way down you can ask the guide to use the route.

So to save time, or if you feel more adventurous, you might want to try it. If you prefer something easier, just stick to the “new” or current route which you had taken.

We usually reach Ranupane Village by 3-4pm, and leave before 5pm. Once I reach Ranupane Village, we wash up and take the vehicle back to Surabaya to stay. As it is a 4-5 hour journey back, you can expect to reach Surabaya around 8-9pm, just in time for dinner in Surabaya or along the way.

I usually stay at My Studio Hotel Juanda Airport because it is extremely cheap and just 5 minutes from the airport. It suits the schedule because you can sleep in longer without worrying about being late for the Scoot Flight at Moreover, it is usually not crowded, is quite a new place and they have free airport transfer.

Don’t be confused by the one in the city! It happened to me before so if you search for it make sure to key in the phrase “Juanda Airport”.

The only bad thing is that it isn’t near any eateries so make sure you eat before heading there. Having said that, “Grab” is quite cheap so its not that much of an issue as there is Macs etc nearby.

Conclusion

Everyone made it! Just that some were not in the picture

Mount Semeru is an interesting experience. I had done it twice now, once in May and once in July. It is interesting because it is quite easy terrain wise until the summit push and can be quite boring, especially the first 3 hours to the Ranu Kumbolo Lake. So the start and the end is boring.

It only gets interesting towards the lake and difficult during the summit push. I especially like the pine forest trail and the view at the summit!

Moreover, it is a trip which can be done in 4 days or combined with Mount Bromo!

Semeru might not be as scenic as Rinjani (shouldn’t compare mountains actually), but it still forms a significant challenge and is beautiful in its own right. Even on my 2nd time, I am always spellbound by the summit view! I believe everyone should try it once!



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