The Volcanoes of Indonesia

I have climbed Mount Bromo and Mount Kelimutu, and got very, very close to Mount Merapi in Jogja, but I’ve always been fascinated by the countless active volcanoes dotted around Indonesia. Even small islands like Lombok have volcanoes! Seemingly not a month goes by without hearing of yet another eruption (sometimes fatal) from one of Indo’s volcanoes.

Indonesian volcanoes map
Major volcanoes in Indonesia – courtesy of Wikipedia (click for larger image)

Most recently Mount Sinabung in Sumatra erupted, killing at least 14 people, and causing mass evacuation in the vicinity. It must be awful to live close by to an active volcano and not knowing when the latest volcanic activity is going to destroy your livelihood. To make matters worse in this part of the world, people are also subjected to earthquakes and tsunamis. In fact, one of the most devastating volcanic eruptions in history was the biblical 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, which caused tremors that could be felt as far away as the Indian sub-continent!

I am now going to examine a few of the most famous volcanoes in Indonesia:

Mount Semeru volcano
Mount Semeru sizzling in the background

Mount Semeru is 3,676ft tall and is also known as ‘The Great Mountain’. It is located in the southern end of the Tengger Volcanic Complex (along with Mount Bromo) and has been in a state of constant eruption since 1967, with mini eruptions occurring every 20 minutes or so!

Mount Kerinci
The highest peak in Indonesia, and surrounded by rainforest

Mount Kerinci is the highest peak of the Bukit Barisan range is Mount Kerinci, which, at 12,848ft, towers over the tropical Kerinci-Seblat National Park, which is home to the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger. Mount Kerinci last erupted between April and June, 2009. The geography of all of Sumatra is determined by a long range of hills called the Bukit Barisan range. It spans over a thousand miles from the north to the south of the island, and played a role in the formation of the Sumatran-Andaman Earthquake in 2004 which devastated civilisations all over the Indian Ocean.

Mount Merapi Java
Mount Merapi has a fearsome reputation

Mount Merapi is the most active volcano in Indonesia. At 9,610ft high, it deserves all of its very violent reputation. It’s location on Java island nearby to the ancient town of Yogyakarta makes it particularly dangerous for the locals. Merapi last erupted in November 2013, and is known to have a serious eruption every few years.

Mount Sinabung eruption
Tweeting the latest photos from Sinabung (photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal)

Mount Sinabung of Sumatra is over 8,000ft tall and is one of the tallest stratovolcanoes in Sumatra, and is situated not far from Lake Toba, which itself used to be a stratovolcano. Sinabung last had a violent eruption throughout January and February, 2014, and this eruption is still on-going on a much smaller scale even now.

Mount Rinjani Lombok
Rinjani may seem beautiful but an eruption is just around the corner

Mount Rinjani is situated on Lombok island in the West Nusa Tenggara islands and at 12,224ft it is the second highest volcano is all of Indonesia. From the peak of Rinjani, it is on clear days possible to look across the waters to Mount Agung, although regretfully on most days this is prohibited by cloud cover. Rinjani last erupted in 2010.

Mount Agung sunrise
A calm (for now) Mount Agung basking in a Balinese sunrise

Mount Agung is a stratovolcano and at 9,944ft it is the highest part of the island of Bali. Agung has a very large and deep crater which constantly emits sulphurous fumes, although the last major eruption occurred as long ago as 1967. Due to Bali’s close proximity to Lombok, you can see from Agung to Rinjani on a clear day.

A great sight in Flores!
A great sight in Flores!

Mount Kelimutu is 5,377ft and is arguably the most scenic volcano in Indonesia. It is best known for having three crater lakes that change colour regularly. Located on Flores in the Nusa Tenggara region, Kelimutu is a prime spot for a sunrise tour, and has not erupted since 1968.

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12 thoughts on “The Volcanoes of Indonesia

  1. Great post, informative and amazing photos. I’ve climbed a few volcanoes in Indonesia: Bromo on Java, Agung on Bali, Rinjani on Lombok (the most difficult), and Kelimutu on Flores (the most beautiful). All wonderfully rewarding experiences. Thanks for the post.

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  2. I’ve just climed Mount Batur in Bali, and just had a view of Agung in the distance. It’s one experience I will definitely take to my grave. Had never thought I’d actually climb an active volcano, but what a climb it was!

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  3. Love the photos and info in this post – I’ve only climbed Bromo so far, but next on the agenda is Mount Ijen, the one that glows blue fire at night – have you managed to visit it?

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  4. Just want to promote a few lovely ones from my home province: Mt. Sibayak & Mt. Sinabung in North Sumatra. Great mountains, I’ve personally ascended Sibayak before. A relatively easy climb, but nonetheless great views.

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    1. I know of Sinabung. It erupted violently a few months ago. Would you consider Krakatoa part of Sumatra or Java? I guess it’s classified as Java, although technically it’s on an island between them both!

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