Hiking in Indonesia: A must read Preparation Guide

Hiking in Indonesia

This article on Hiking in Indonesia is graciously sponsored by Indo Trekkers. To learn more visit them at www.indotrekkers.com

Hiking in Indonesia offers many wonderful possibilities, especially on its many mountains and volcanoes. Trips can range from a simple day trip for all levels of experience, to a multi-day expedition for hardened veterans. All of them offer breathtaking views and unforgettable adventure. But before you plan your trip, let’s check out some basic hiking preparation tips, some unique to hiking in Indonesia. This will ensure a safe and memorable trip.

Do not judge a mountain by height only

Indonesia’s highest mountain is Mount Jayawijaya (Carstensz Pyramid) at “only” 4,884 meters above sea level (MASL). The highest volcano is Mount Kerinci in Sumatra at 3,805 MASL.

Despite relatively low heights, there are unique challenges to hiking in Indonesia’s mountains. For starters, most of them are in high humidity areas and thick jungle. This can cause lack of oxygen, especially at night when plants stop photosynthesis and breathe oxygen. Nowadays, all the Indonesian national parks strictly forbid any night hiking. Although some exceptions are made for the summit push.

Even though you start in a hot and humid climate, you can quickly reach an altitude where the weather becomes cold. Even to sub-zero temperatures during dry season. This has caught many hikers unprepared, and under-dressed. Unfortunately, this can quickly become dangerous.

Every mountain has different characteristic, trail and difficulties

Even if you are an experienced hiker, you will need someone who is very familiar with the mountain you’re trekking. They must know the characteristic of the mountain, every path, and evacuation routes. If you don’t have a friend meeting that description, it is best to hire a local guide. Make sure you hire from a reputable company when hiking in Indonesia. Do not pick up a guide at the last minute when you are already at the foothill of the mountain (although undoubtedly some will be available).

Hiking Tip: Be aware of evacuation routes.

Further, some areas require a mandatory guide such as Mount Gede, Rinjani, Semeru, Salak, Merapi and Merbabu. In general, having a guide is highly recommended on any hike that requires at least 2 days and 1 night, as trails are often in thick jungle making orientation difficult. 

Some mountains are closed off during parts of the year. So before you go hiking in Indonesia, be sure to find out if your intended mountain is available for when you want to. Generally, mountains and volcanoes above 3,000 MASL are closed for public hike every year between the 1st of January until 31st of March due to rain season and deforestation. Some mountains are closed for a month of August.

Obviously, during active time of volcanic eruption, or in any case of search & rescue, mountains are closed until further notice. Usually, National Parks send out notices to Indonesia hiking companies, communities or groups. Therefore if you want to make sure the mountain you want is open for hiking, you may contact Indo Trekkers by email at [email protected]

When hiking in Indonesia, be mindful of local customs and beliefs

Many in Indonesia still ascribe sacred beliefs to their mountains and volcanoes. As such please be mindful of local customs and beliefs. A reputable guide will inform you of any special considerations beforehand. For example, on Mount Agung in Bali you should not bring food items made from beef. This is because the cow is a sacred animal to the Balinese. Nor should you take water from the holy springs without permission.

Bring proper hiking gear

By knowing the characteristic of the mountain, you can prepare the required gear. Is the mountain you’re hiking a volcano, a rainforest montana, rocky, or a glacier? You are not bringing a minus 400C sleeping bag to hike mount Semeru. But when you hike Mount Jayawijaya, yes you will definitely need a minus 200C sleeping bag.

A raincoat is mandatory for any mountain in Indonesia, even during the dry season. Even in the dry season, heavy rains can appear after 2 pm in mount Gede or mount Salak, for example.

Do not wear jeans or clothes made from cotton. These absorb water, which can turn very cold. At higher altitude this could lead to hypothermia. Instead opt for a dri-fit shirt. It gets dry easily and protects you from the sun.

Hiking Tip: Wear a dri-fit shirt, not cotton.

Hike in a group

Hiking in a group of at least 4 people is highly recommended. Group hike requires solid teamwork, and increases safety. Make sure the group is properly managed, and each individual is assigned a role according to their skill. In case of emergency, accident or injury, 2 people can stay while the other 2 may go down to the main gate to find help.

Sleep and eat well before the trip

We understand you may have a limited time while vacationing in Indonesia. Yet that doesn’t mean you can cram a tight hiking schedule. Before hike, you will need proper sleep and nutritious food.

Try to arrive in the evening at the foothills. Then sleep at the base-camp for at least 6 to 7 hours before starting in the morning. Ensure a good meal before you sleep. In the morning before the hike, eat fruits, bread, milk, eggs. Avoid meals high in sodium and MSG. (Yes, none of those ubiquitous instant noodles!). They can cause dehydration. In fact, if you do bring instant noodles with you, it is very likely that the park warden will make you get rid of them, and have you buy proper food.

Permit Registration and Medical Certificate

Many hiking treks are in a national preserve area. To enter you need to register for a permit called Surat Ijin Masuk Kawasan Konservasi (SIMAKSI). For some areas you can even do this online.

A few mountains in Indonesia require a health certificate from a doctor for entry permit registration. You can obtain these at a General Practitioner in Indonesia or even abroad. There is not a particular format for this letter. However, it should include a statement that the person is fit to hike, the name of the mountain and the dates of the climb.

Remember to bring any prescription medication that you are using, including a few days extra supply in case it is needed.

Travel insurance

Your regular travel insurance may not cover hiking accidents. Please make sure you have proper additional coverage. It should include coverage for evacuation costs. Most of national parks provide insurance only to Indonesians. Also be aware that there are limits for evacuations. For example: On Mount Semeru, the insurance only covers evacuation until Kalimati camp site. If you need evacuations between Kalimati and the summit, this will have to be covered by your own insurance or personal funds.

Of the international travel insurers, Global Nomad insurance covers hiking trips. Also many European Alpine club memberships come with good travel insurance for hiking trips globally.

Recommended trips for beginner and intermediate hikers

For a nice one day hike in Bali, you can try Mount Batukaru. Near Jakarta, you can try Munara Hill in Bogor, about 1.5 hours by car from the city.

For a more challenging trip, not to mention to possibly witness a small volcanic eruption, you could try Mount Semeru.

About Indo Trekkers

This article is graciously sponsored by Indo Trekkers. Book your trip to hike Mount Semeru, or other exciting treks around Indonesia with Indo Trekkers – complete, exclusive service to ensure your safety and satisfaction.

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