There are alternatives for mountain trekking other than Merapi the Volcano. Just next to it you have Merbabu Mt., and some miles to the south west you have Mt. Sumbing and Mt. Sindoro which also lies next to each other separated by intercity road.
May 2013 me and four buddies had a chance to trek Mt. Sindoro from Kledung entry point. This had been a long planned trip for us. I made promise with them long time before that that I’ll treat them either Sindoro or Sumbing trekking all expenses on me. So after a week talk, we choose that weekend May 18. Three of us travel from Yogyakarta/Jogja, the other two from Jepara.
From Jogja to the base camp should take no more than 3 hours by car or motorbike. I think public transport is not an option unless you have a lot free time to do this. Our public transport is not very reliable and to reach quite remote location like base camp of mountains the last trip from nearest city usually at 3 pm at most. So unless you arrive early, there won’t be any bus available to get to the mountain hill. And we took a car.
The night at Sumbing base camp
I learned from my last trip to both Sumbing and Sindoro a long time ago that Sumbing base camp provides much more comfortable place for trekkers to stay the night. It’s originally a house owned by a tobacco farmer which is opened for public. One thing is that to trek either one you need to register as these base camps. You write your name, date, how many people in the team, date of arrival and when will you leave both for their record and for the rescue team to easily assess should any situation comes up. Oh yes, there are accidents in trekking, and yes local people have this trained rescue to get you or anyone from your team down to the base camp when necessary.
Trekking map for Mt. Sumbing
Upon registration, they will give you a map of possible routes to get to the top. Not very clear topography map or so (I was not able to read the map a long time ago) and pretty unclear one too because they do not put a lot of signs on site. But that one gives you idea how long it is from one point to another and on what kind of terrain you are.
Also coming with it is local rules during trekking. Usually something like: keep your manner, don’t be noisy, do not litter and don’t complain (you get tired sometimes, and some people complained a lot).
Sumbing Mt. as seen from Mt. Sindoro
So that night we decided to stay in Mt. Sumbing’s base camp. We registered to Sindoro’s base camp first and told them we’ll be back there. The next morning, 5 a.m. we left Sumbing to start going to Sindoro.
It takes about one and half hour from the base camp to the foot hill as the starting point, but you can also ride an ‘ojek’ -motor cycle- from locals. Cost you 10 thousands IDR. Less than $2. We drove up to this point, dropped all the stuff and I drive back to base camp, park the car and take an ojek back to this point. Others are waiting here.
Landak and Sumbing Mt.
The trek from base camp to starting point consist of local’s farms which by that time was mostly full of tobacco. At other seasons they plant cabbages, carrot, celery or potatoes. It’s a stone-paved road.
The end of it is a foot hill with clearly visible trail. It’s up and that’s where the game begins. Don’t be surprised if local pass you by in a home-brew motorbike fully loaded with one big roll of grass (for their cattle, obviously). Off-road motorbike will be able to go a bit further which gives you an idea to ride a motor-trail up to a point where it is no longer possible to ride, right? Well, at least that’s what I’m thinking.
Post #1 will be just about 100 meters from that foot hill. Locals usually hang around this place offering a ride to the base camp if you need one. This is Post #2:
Post #2: Ceng, Sinyo, Landak, Bujel (L to R)
Still post #2 : Ceng, Sinyo, Landak, me (L to R)
Sinyo is a senior in walking on foot. He’s been in a community which travel great deals of distance walking (with backpack for ransom). Hence, he’s a sweeper here.
Taking a break. Sinyo
We decided to bring ready-to-eat ransom in order to make the travel as light as possible. We separate rice, vegetables and fried chicken in separate wrapping in case one of them go bad earlier then the other.
Brunch break before summit attack
The summit. Due to rain we stayed for only 15 minutes more or less before heading back down to base camp: people look tired, we can’t find any dry place to rest and our ransom wouldn’t last for another meal time.
Summit: Ceng, Landak, Bujel, Sinyo (L to R)
By the time we reached base camp it’s already 6 pm-ish. We took shower, change to dry clothes and slowly drove back to Jogja.
PS: You can reach Bujel at @mamatbujel and Ceng at @RI1DZ. Initially written in Yogyakarta on July 11, 2013 in http://jogjaenglishguide.blogspot.com/ edited and completed in Sanur, Dec 23, 2013.