Mount Semeru in East Java


Mount Semeru


The view of Mount Semeru is best enjoyed from the vista point at Gunung Penanjakan. To get here, you can hire a jeep from the village of Tosari for about $55 per car. The journey takes about 1 hour of climbing along narrow bends and sharp switchbacks. The journey usually commences between 03.00 to 03.30 hrs, just in time to catch the sunrise view at Penanjakan at around 05.00 hrs.

For those interested in climbing Mount Semeru, the hike starts at the village of Ranupane. If you depart from Malang, you can take the local bus to Tumpang, from which you can hire a 4WD (jeep) to Ranupane across the Sea of Sands. If you are from Pasuruan or Probolinggo, you can hire a regular taxi van that passes Sukapura, Ngadisari and arrives at Cemoro Lawang, from which a rented 4WD will bring you to Jemplang on Semeru's southern rim, and eventually to Ranupane.


The accolade of being the highest mountain on Java Island definitely goes to Mount Semeru. At 3,676m, this stratovolcano is also known as "Gunung Mahameru" (the Great Mountain) due to its supreme attributes. In fact, Mahameru actually refers to the Hindu god of Siwa in local dialects. Siwa the Destroyer (Dewa Pemusnah) is the most powerful one, hence, it comes as no surprise that Mount Semeru is named after this forceful deity.

The most unique attribute of Mount Semeru is that it spews out a smoky cloud of steam, black ashes and stones every 20-30 minutes. If you are viewing the mountain from Penanjakan's vista point, you can almost be guaranteed of seeing the mini eruption, unless if you are really unlucky should the mountain decides to catch a breath, so-to-speak.

The first glimpse of its eruption from the vista point was greeted by oohs and aahs from the tourists who trudged the bitterly cold morning to view this great mountain. Soon enough, clicking sounds of digital cameras filled the air. Nobody wanted to miss the show.

Mount Semeru steep sides rise abruptly from the southern coastal plain on Java Island, although one could not see it from Penanjakan. Climbing the mountain isn't for everyone but it can be done. In fact, my driver told me about a group of French climbers who frequent the majestic peak during the dry season of April to October.

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