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Adventures in Merapi

With a name that means ‘mountain of fire,’ it is a no brainer that Mt Merapi is Indonesia’s most active volcano. It has erupted several times, telling us Merapi has quite a few legends to speak about its spirit and past eruptions. At one point it was so serious that it was well observed and followed by many volcanologists.


Its difficult peaks and trails, incredible views have made Merapi a destination for adventure activities near Yogyakarta seeking people to explore the outdoors and sample some high-altitude adventure.
There are many activities one can do around Mt Merapi. Here are my favourites. I haven’t done all of them for lack of time but would like to one day.

Hike Mt Merapi peak- If you have ever dreamt of climbing an active volcano, Merapi trekking is an experience you shouldn’t miss. A midnight trek from Selo village, walking through dense shrubs for a six hour hike to the summit, then watching the spectacular sunrise is an experience you won’t regret ever. With beautiful view of the volcano Merbabu on one side, and a green valley and hilly mountains on another, it is a sight to behold.

While a guide isn’t required, but is highly recommended. Trail markings could be difficult to see in the dark. You’ll find several shelters on your way, to take a short break or to have something to eat. The most popular time to start climbing is 1 a.m.

Tip: Avoid going there during monsoons (between October and early April) as the path becomes very slippery.

Explore the village Selo – If there is sufficient time left after you descend from the peak, you may opt to explore a bit of the base village before going back to Yogyakarta. Selo is the last village on your way to Merapi, situated between the slopes of two volcanos, Mt. Merapi and Mt. Merbabu.

adventure merapi

adventures Merapi

Go off-roading – After the lava eruption in 2010, off-roading has now become a very popular adventure activity in Merapi. You can hire an ATV or 4X4 Jeep or 150cc bikes with wide rugged tires. The thrill of even watching this spikes up your adrenalin, think of those who do this! These vehicles are quite affordable to rent. Also, available are the boots, helmets and gloves for your precaution. Try it out.
Depending on the package you choose, you’ll be taken to that unfortunate village covered in ash where many lives were lost in 2010.

adventure activities Merapi yogyakarta

Take a Volcano or Lava tour – Merapi Lava tour is a tourist attraction to see the glowing lava at its best. Mostly people visit using a jeep (four persons) to see lava flows after eruption 2010. Your Jeep safari of thrilling and exciting trip down the rocks and thru the remains of the eruption of Merapi could be a memorable one. This tour usually takes 2-3 hours.

Tip: Avoid rainy season; with rains and slippery ground, it’s not for weak hearted.

Try Sandboarding – Sandboarding is probably like snowboarding. Only difference is that you are dealing with loose black sands and instead of fluffy white snow. It challenges your physical fitness and alertness. One round and I am sure you would want to do it again! So much fun!

adventure merapi

Explore Gunung Merapi National Park – This national park has two entrances. The entry fee to the more developed entrance costs more, for, it offers a more dramatic view as the cliffs loom over a ribbon road. A short walk of 15-20 minutes takes you to Promojiwo viewpoint offering vistas of Merapi and takes you past the forest destroyed in the 2010 eruption. You will also see the caves where Japanese soldiers hid during WWII.

You are allowed to explore only a few kilometres of trails of the park. Do not venture beyond this marked area as there could be a sudden eruption. Do you know that the lava can flow down the mountain at 300km/hour? 😀



If you are looking for more activities or things to do, check here.

Getting there – You can hire a taxi from Yogyakarta till the base village Selo. There are also many tour companies which conduct these tours. They will pick you up & drop back at your hotel. Normally, the package includes morning breakfast, snacks, entry fees and other costs.

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46 thoughts on “Adventures in Merapi”

  1. This looks like such a fun time! I went to Indonesia earlier this year but skipped Yogyakarta (For the next trip). It was an incredible time and am looking forward to getting back there soon!

  2. The very thought of adventuring on the site of an active volcano qualifies as an adventure for me. Though I’m not an adventure person myself, I would be interested to visit Merapi to know how it feels just be be in a place like this. Maybe try a couple of those adventures that you mention.

  3. Looks like some great adventures to be had in Merapi. The sand boarding looks like great fun and something my daughter would love to try. I for one would be keen on doing the offroad tour looks like a world of fun for all

  4. I would love to hike or even sandboard down an active volcano! What an adventure! Really wanted to get to Taal Volcano recently while in the Philippines, though it didn’t happen, so maybe my next trip should be Indonesia!

  5. As someone who has family from Indonesia, I’ve visited Java (and Yogya) plenty of times. But I haven’t yet had a chance to visit Merapi. Thanks for the inspiration. Do you think those ATV tours are good for kids too?

  6. I’m a bit obsessed with volcanoes. I’ve trekked up Stromboli in Italy to see the lava erupting and I’m definitely keen to trek more active volcanoes. Those ATVs look like loads of fun too!

  7. Ah I love sandboarding, I did it in Peru and been wanting to do it again, so Indonesia might be the place! Pretty cool to be in an active volcano area. Plus the off-roading looks great fun

  8. I learned something new…sandboarding…and it looks like a whole lot of fun.! Volcanoes erupting like Kilauea in Kona, Hawaii kind of scare me though esp. at 300 kph. We will be there in December!

  9. Merapi holds the promise of some exciting adventure activities. I was particularly fascinated by the trek up the Peak of Mt. Merapi. The experience seems to be unique with the fact that you are trekking a volcanic mountain a high in itself. A night trek which is rewarded by a spectacular sunrise is something I would find irresistible. This trek alone is enough to draw me to Merapi.

  10. So much to do for adventure seekers. The Mt. Merapi volcano looks fascinating and offers so much to do. The night hiking is something I’d be really interested in doing. Sandboarding again!! How did it compare to the Philippines experience? Planning to visit Indonesia later this year and looking forward to some fun adventures!!

  11. I have never been to this part of the world, but I love places with volcanoes (loved Arenal in Costa Rica ). I also like off-roading in jeeps and would be interested in sand boarding!

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