A Muslimah Adventurer Story — Tour of Mount Merapi, Yogyakarta
Last summer my family and I tried to follow the tour package for Mount Merapi. Without making reservations in advance, we enrolled in one of the jeep tours in Kaliurang, North Yogyakarta and arrived in the location around 9 am. We got our tickets and lined up to wait for the jeep that would transport us to the slope of Mount Merapi. That was the first time that I tried to ride in a jeep made between the years of 1948 to 1972. The jeep could carry only 4-5 passengers and took us through the cobbled streets of Cangkringan village up to the slopes of the mountain in the Yogyakarta region of Indonesia.
According to the history, eruptions of Mount Merapi began being recorded at the beginning of the Dutch colonial era of the 17th century. Previous eruptions were not recorded clearly and based on data recorded since the 1600s, Merapi had erupted more than 80 times, or upon an average, once in every 4 years. The rest (inactive) period ranged from 1-18 years, meaning that the longest rest period ever recorded was 18 years old.
In October 2010, Merapi erupted again and the eruption in 2010 was larger than the eruption of the volcano more than 100 years ago or in 1872. The number of people who died because of it is estimated to have been 277 people. In November 2013 Merapi emitted bursts of steam water, called a phreatic eruption, and it occurred again in May of 2014. To the point – Merapi is still quite active. The eruptions destroyed acres of farmland and has made the villagers change their professions from farmers to tour guides/drivers of volcano tours. The region was transformed from agricultural land into a tourist area.
We took the short route during out visit last summer and that lasted for about 1.5 hours of journey time. If we had choosen a longer route we would have driven for between 2.5 to 3 hours. During our 1.5 hours we passed through:
- Opak River
One of the rivers that disgorged the slopes of southern Merapi and was passed through by cold lava after the Merapi eruption, which resulted in the dissolution of the connecting road between Umbulharjo and Kepuharjo Village. For visitors who choose a longer route, the jeep will travel through the middle of the Opak River which can only be crossed with a jeep or by bike trail.
- Alien Stone
One of the big stones that has the shape of a human face and is situated alongside the Gendol River with an entrance at Jambu Village. This stone, according to local belief, has magical powers.
- Gendol River
The Gendol River is one of the rivers which has headwater on the southern slope of Merapi and during the Merapi eruption, the hot lava passed by the Gendol River as far as 14 kilometers which resulted in the destruction and closing of the villages of Jambu and Kaliadem; this also caused in the deaths of 200’s victims in the Cangkringan area and until now some of them have not been found.
- Kaliadem Village
This village was covered by Merapi volcanic material like large rocks and sand. The village is under Kepuharjo Village and before the eruption of 2006, Kaliadem was a tourist camp spot. In 2006, however, North Kaliadem, became famous for being affected by the eruption that resulted in the death of two volunteers who were buried in Bunker Kaliadem. The eruption also destroyed all facilities that were built in the area campground. After being buried for three years under four meters of thick material, the underground bunker was discovered.
The 2010 eruption buried Kaliadem and it was completely hidden. We could only see sand and big rocks. Kaliadem is the highest area that can be traversed by the jeeps and visitors can see much of the phenomena that remains since the eruption of Merapi in 2010 such as: Former Batu Gajah, Gate Monitoring, areas that still smoke and smell of sulfur, the view of Yogyakarta and surrounding areas on the slopes of Merapi, the view of Mount Merapi which is located just 5 kilometers from its peak, as well as Merapi’s landscape which spans 14 kilometers.
We also visited a house that was destroyed by lava and hot clouds and which is dedicated as a small museum by its owner. Remnants of furniture covered Merapi ash and a clock which stopped at the precise hour when Mount Merapi erupted.
The experience of visiting the site of the Merapi eruption was very memorable for us. It’s so easy for Allah (SWT) to destroy so many villagers and to change the land from a green pasture to one filled with rocks and landslides!
If you are visiting Indonesia, do not forget to spend time to Yogyakarta. However, you should not visit the Mount Merapi area during the rainy season as its landslides are a hazard that may still occur.
Many tourist packages are offered for visiting Mount Merapi – from short routes that start at approximately $27 US per jeep to the long route packages of approximately $40US. Several tour agents offer combinations with other tourist activities like bicycle tours, outbound tours, village tours, outings, family gatherings, amazing races, and paintball.
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