climbing mount semeru

Climbing Mount Semeru: It’s Never Been Easy

Mount Semeru is a volcano located in East Java, Indonesia with the elevation of 3,676m. It’s the highest volcano in Java Island and the third highest in Indonesia after Mount Kerinci and Mount Rinjani. Climbing Mount Semeru is like a dream for every hikers in Indonesia.

Known for its challenging trek, especially before the summit, however, once you reach the summit, all the hard work would be pay off. This is my second attempt in climbing Mount Semeru. I didn’t get to the summit at my first climb and here I was determined to try it again.

Getting to Mount Semeru

The closest city before going to the basecamp is Malang. You can either fly or take the train from other cities in Indonesia. Next, you need to take taxi (Rp 150,000) to Pasar Tumpang, followed by jeep (Rp 600,000) to the basecamp, Ranu Pani.

Entrance Fee

Mount Semeru is part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. Therefore, you need to pay entrance fee to Climb Mount Semeru. The price for local is Rp 29,000 (weekedays) and Rp 34,000 (weekends), for foreigner is Rp 220,000 (weekdays) and Rp 329,000 (weekends)

Mount Semeru Climbing Routes

  • Ranu Pani – Landengan Dowo : 3 km / 1.5h
  • Landengan Dowo – Watu Rejeng : 3 km / 1.5h
  • Watu Rejeng – Ranu Kumbolo : 4.5  km / 2h
  • Ranu Kumbolo – Oro Oro Ombo : 1 km / 30min
  • Oro-Oro Ombo – Cemoro Kandang : 1.5 km / 30min
  • Cemoro Kandang – Jambangan : 3 km / 30min
  • Jambangan – Kalimati : 2 km / 30min
  • Kalimati – Arcopodo : 1.2 km / 2.5h
  • Arcopodo – Summit : 1.5km / 4h

Ideally it takes 3 days to climb Mount Semeru. To camp, you can choose either Ranu Kumbolo or Kalimati. As you can see the last two points there, the distance is not so far. But it takes so long because the trek is just to steep and slippery from the stone. Make sure to prepare well.

My experience climbing Mount Semeru

I was looking for my lecturer to as for permission that I wouldn’t be able to join his class. There was important final presentation at that day. Everything’s mixed up. My feeling of scared leaving this presentation, on the other hand I couldn’t wait to climb land of God, Mount Semeru.

Finally I encouraged myself to tell my lecturer. His answer was just simple, ” You wouldn’t get higher than C if you skipped next week presentation. I have ensured myself, my heart, I chose Mount Semeru, coming back to accomplish my unfinished mission, to stand on the highest land in Java.

Rough beginning

I was late ! Started from my  dormitory at 11.30 then directly headed to bus station. I waited for the bus but what the hell it didn’t show up. Finally 12 p.m. it started going from the station, but you know, bus in Indonesia, they still trying to find passengers.

1 p.m.still at Cibitung. My train took off at 2.05 p.m. I got panic ! I saw a taxi before the bus entering the highway. I asked the driver to drive in high speed. But again, Jakarta was fakin traffic, 1.50 p.m. arrived at Cawang and took ojek.

My friend kept calling me and I just said “Can you ask the train officer to wait and don’t leave until I come?” stupid me and horray, I reached Senen Station and the train had left 10 minutes ago.

Oh mann, I tried to find another ticket but it’s all sold out. I started to think why I chose long weekend. Luckily, I met some guys who were late and also left by the train, same fate as me. We went to Rawamangun Bus Station, and got Pahala Kencana Bus at 5.30 p.m..huff..still need efforts to go for Semeru.

Taking a bus was comfortable but wasting both time and money. Salute to one of my friend who’s willing to spend his money using a plane! I gave a big applause to him. I teased him, “Man, you can go to Mount Rinjani with this amount of money you spent, haha.”

I arrived in Malang at 4 p.m. I waited my friends who arrived earlier to fetch me. Quick flashback, I actually registered me and my friends to a mass-climbing event by Avtech, with Rp 200,000, everything’s included.

Jeep from Tumpang-Ranu Pane (return), breakfast, T-shirt, rain cover, certificate. From the beginning, I targeted only the cheap facilities we got. The rest, I don’t really care. In fact, the committee couldn’t manage everything until complaints and conflicts arise, check it out after this!

Ranu Kumbolo Mount Semeru
Fishing at Ranu Kumbolo

We’re joining an event

I was a bit upset when the committee opened the re-registration at Tumpang earlier than the date decided and posted before. It should be opened on 15 Dec 7 a.m. but they already opened the registration on 14 Dec on evening. Their reason was many participants had come so they let some participants went first so on the next day it’s less crowded.

It was unfair where the rules are the participants were grouped in several groups, some groups would go first, and the rest would have limitation in time to climb. Finally, we re-registered but we didn’t follow them. We were supposed to wait for other groups to depart but we got into the truck to depart faster.

Until Ranu Pane, we climbed by ourselves. Can you imagine the total participants of this mass climbing was 1697 people??? It’s totally INSANE !!!! There should be limitation. It impacted to other hikers who were not avtech participants.

TNBTS made an announcement which prohibited the climbers to climb Semeru because of overload capacity. Protest from many parties couldn’t be avoided. But then the announcement was pulled back. I believe there are a lot of sneers towards Avtech. I hope Avtech learned from what had happened.

Here’s my team (me myslef, Ko Anton, Vivi, and Iky (the one using plane). We acted poker face at that time haha. If some people asked about us, we would say that we were non-avtech.

The mountain is overloaded due to the event

The climb begins

I don’t know why but climbing Mount Semeru is pretty boring  for me. The long sloping track makes me feel sleepy and bored. The unusual thing, that seldom happened when I did hiking was, our bags were damn heavy ! I

t’s all Ko Anton’s fault, buying too much food ! OMG ! We turned into piggies. It’s raining but not very big, I used my lovely umbrella along our way. Everything was executed well, based on our plan. But Ko Anton’s injured plus heavy bags plus queuing made the schedule plus one hour.

First night camping at Ranu Kumbolo, the one I missed on the last hiking in Semeru and I really regret it. Avtech participants built their camp on the first side when we got down to the lake, but we chose to camp on the other side, facing the hills. It was a fun night ! Cooked so many food, playing card, loser had to massage the winner. Stupid Ko Anton farting in the tent and it’s sooo smelly.

Second day of the hike

We continued our journey to Tanjakan Cinta and down to Oro Oro Ombo. Ko Anton’s condition getting worse plus the steep track which drained our stamina. But finally after 4 hours trekking we arrived at Kalimati. We found a lil bit difficulties to build our tent. I once asked a person and this guy was completely mad at avtech I think.

There was such a police line written avtech, so I assumed this land was exclusive for Avtech. I asked this guy, “Where can we build our tent, any space?” This guy answered, ” You can build it over there” the area with Avtech line. then I asked “Can we? Isn’t it for avtech only?” He raised his voice, “This is not Avtech’s land, it’s belong to no one, everyone can camp wherever they want!” Eww, this guy dislike Avtech..

It’s me!

There’s a water spring called Sumber Mani in Kalimati. Usually people will refill water in this place. But when I went to this place, with distance around 1 km, I saw people queuing up to get the water. I took around an hour just to get the water, oh Godd…We’re having summit attack around 12 p.m.


Problem arises

Last year on the exact month September, I tried to reach the highest peak in Java, but unfortunately I was unable to step on that highest peak, Mahameru. After one year, I came back to test my fortune back to climb Mount Semeru.

I felt like the time had stopped at that moment when I heard someone’s screaming “Summit attack is not allowed”. My friend tried to calm me down, saying that it’s just their trick to diminish the number of people to continue their journey to the top of the mountain.

It’s ridiculous. No one came to Semeru only up until Kalimati. Ranu Kumbolo still make sense. I just could pray to God that we could do the summit attack. 12 a.m. Iky, Vivi, and I were ready to attack the summit. I insisted one person one bottle, learning from past experience when we ran out of water.

summit attack mount semeru
On the way to summit

Ko Anton’s not following because of his injury. We just walked few meters than someone stopped us. He asked, “Avtech or non avtech?”, I replied, “no”. He asked, “Do you have your identity card and letter from basecamp?” “Yes, we have in our tent.” So we went back to our tent.

“What are we supposed to do?”, asked Vivi. I said, “Let us take our id card and medical letter.” We went back to that place, and we passed by, and another guy stop us. He was from avtech, also participant. Quickly we told them we were avtech and then we joined their group to climb the peak.

The hardest part, on the way to summit

Here we go, to Arcopodo. The track was steeper than before and we had to QUEUE UP ! Too many people ! Problems happened when Vivi’s sinus relapse, her stamina dropped, and she couldn’t able to go up again. Iky and I had tried our best to cheer her up.

She did her best, but then she didn’t have energy left. Luckily there was a girl who’re going down, gave up for the summit. We commended Vivi to her, then continued hiking up. Passed Arcopodo, here’s the real challenge, the sandy part.

Seriously it’s not easy

Climb up three steps, slipped down two steps. This is the hardest part ! But holy crap, still queuing up. The line was not moving about 10 minutes. We could see one line lights covering the body of Semeru. Climbing at this time was easier than a year before. It’s raining before so the sand is more dense and compact, and many foot steps on the ground so it’s easier to step again on it.

Iky and I waited each other. We didnt want to separate far. Suddenly, I heard people screamed from above. “WATCH OUT ! BIG STONE !” You know what I saw at that time? Something that only I’d seen in movie? Yep. A big stone fell just like in the movie. People tried to avoid, but one guy got hit by the stone and he rolled down.

Someone in front of me tried to run to the other side and he almost pushed me away. It was totally chaos. Fortunately, the stone fell to the cliff before it fell further and reached where I stood. Iky called my name and asked if I was okay. I was okay but mentally I was shocked.

top of mount semeru
Top of Mount Semeru

My body trembled and my heart beat so fast. The guy who was hit by the stone and fell down was caught by some people. That guy was just about 30 meters on my left side. People shouted where’s medic? where’s medic? who got tissue to stop the bleeding?

When the incident happened, all people stopped hiking. I heard people shouting, “Hey you guys up there, don’t step on big stone ! You know how dangerous it is? look at what have you done !” The activities stop for few minutes than back to normal. I think that guy was saved by the medic and I think he had been brought down by the medic. So scaryy..

The sun rise and we had not reached the peak yet. I kept spiriting myself not to give up. I’ve gone so far, sacrificing my final presentation, I got water this time. I caught a cold and not feeling well. Iky before walked a little bit far behind me but now he had walked after me.

Whenever I saw people going down, I asked how long is it to the peak?  They said maybe one hour. Shit it’s in front of my eyes but still an hour? Be strong vel be strong. I cheered up myself. Again I asked, how long again to other guy, 30 minutes maybe. I walked and when I asked again, about 30 minutes.

mount semeru
The crater

Shit, why it’s so far. Finally, I saw Iky’s waving his hand and not long after that I reached the highest land on Java. I lied down and rest. “Let’s take picture, velyz” “Are you crazy? wait me rest for a while.” I was soo happy yet tired, I thanked to God, I felt moved and grateful.

Finally !!! The ground suddenly trembled and bushh, Wedus Gembel, an explosion from the crater. Without wasting any time we directly took our picture. The funny thing was we had to queue up even to take photo with the flag and the sign of Mahameru.

We made it!
I changed my clothes lol
The explosion at the back

After satisfied taking photos, we went down. It’s much more faster than climbing up. You can run and only takes not until an hour to get down. It’s like playing ski. But I got problems going down because literally I don’t like going down.

Reached Kalimati and then directly went down to basecamp. 12 hours to basecamp can you imagine?? normally it just took 5-7 hours to reached basecamp. But my friends got injured. Ko Anton and Vivi hurt her ankle.

We arrived at basecamp on 4 a.m. sleep for a while and then back to Malang. Thanks everyone! Still Semeru is a mountain fulled with stories, memories, efforts, tears, everything. I got a quote from Ko Anton. Mount Semeru is one of the best volcanoes in Indonesia. It is like a place of pilgrimage. It’s like Muslims go to Mekkah, so do hikers hike Semeru. You are not counted as a hiker if you have not hike Semeru.

My team, so much fun!


Hiked in 13-18 November 2012 


One response to “Climbing Mount Semeru: It’s Never Been Easy”

  1. Jaka Putra Avatar
    Jaka Putra

    Keren banget 😀 hehe.. jadi pengen banget mengunjungi semeru :3

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