|Elevation:||324 m (1,063 ft)||Prominence:||324 m|
|Google Earth:||kml||Other names:||Anak Krakatoa|
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Known incorrectly as ‘Krakatoa’ to most of the Western world, this cluster of small islands is the site of one of the most well-known volcanic eruptions in history. Krakatau exploded in August 1883, creating serious devastation and loss of life across the region and having an impact on the global climate. The eruption was so huge that the island of Krakatau was almost completely destroyed – what we now see in its place are a few fragments of the original island and – in the centre – a new, growing volcano named Anak Krakatau (child of Krakatau) which emerged in 1927. It grows by approximately 5 metres per year and in May 2011 was 324 metres high. The new volcano is very much active, so take great when visiting the island and heed warnings to stay away.
There are several organizations offering daytrip tours from the seaside resorts of Carita and Anyer on Java or Kalianda, Sumatra. It is significantly cheaper to hire a boat from the Sumatra/Sebesi side but it takes a lot longer to get there from Jakarta. From Carita, it takes about 1 and a half hours by speedboat to reach the group of islands. The usual approach if actually setting foot on the island is to sail between the impressive cliff of Rakata island (on your left) and Anak Krakatau itself (on your right) and then dock on a small sandy beach on the backside of the island. There are a remarkable number of trees desperately trying to grow at the base of the volcano but just a few metres beyond and all you will encounter is black volcanic rock and sand. Reaching the highest point is a little dangerous because the volcano is notoriously unpredictable. It is very common for the volcano to eject large rocks which can easily reach the trees and vegetation area near the start of the hike. However, during quiet phases, you may well be allowed to climb to crater rim and summit.
It takes just under 2 hours to reach the top from the bay at the start of the hike. Once beyond the trees, the path gets steeper as you climb the black volcanic sands. After 30 minutes you will have reached Anak Krakatau’s outer cone. This is a flat ridge offering fabulous views over to Rakata island and other, smaller islands in the Krakatau group. From here you can also gaze up at the steep, black volcanic cone and watch as sulphur gases rise from the earth. Most hikers are advised not to go beyond this point but during quiet periods it is sometimes possible – though dangerous – to ascend to the spectacular crater rim itself. It’s a tough and exhausting hour of clinging to black sand on the steep cone, zig-zagging across the volcano, trying to find places to dig your feet into in order to not fall all the way back down. There are often also a lot of sulphur gases around which may irritate your lungs. It’s not a good place to sit and ponder the meaning of life because after just a few seconds your feet will start to get very hot as they sink into the earth! If you’re worried, don’t risk it!
For the few that make it to the crater rim, the views are incredible – especially over to the steep cliffs of neighbouring Rakata island, which – at 813m – is the highest remnant of the original Krakatau island. Anak Krakatau crater itself truly looks like the devil’s cauldron! Bubbling mud, thick gases, hideous rockfaces and a narrow, slippery crater rim make this is terrifying yet fascinating place to explore. In May 2011, the highest point was marked with a small cairn, but given the volatile activity of this volcano by the time you read this the top probably looks completely different already.
You can slide back down to safety very quickly (rather similar to the scree-running that is possible on the cone of Gunung Semeru) and be back on the boat in no time. There are nice places to eat lunch, camp, swim and snorkel on some of the smaller islands in the group – Pulau Sertung probably offers the best viewpoint of the volcano. If you’re lucky during the trip, you’ll also encounter plenty of monitor lizards and flying fish.
For a fantastic account of the 1883 eruption, and more information on the Krakatau islands, read Krakatoa: The Day The World Exploded by Simon Winchester.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn
|Getting there||From Jakarta, take the toll road towards Merak. You have several options including these two: exit at Cilegon and follow the bumpy road down to Anyer and Carita, or exit at the Pandeglang turn-off and head to the coast at Labuan. Then follow the road north to Carita and Anyer. The former option is easier for navigating but the latter has much better quality roads. For Kalianda, take a DAMRI bus towards Bandar Lampung and get off at Kalianda town. Then head to Canti pier and take a boat over to Sebesi.|
|Accommodation||Plenty of options in Anyer and Carita. Carita is much cheaper. A range of accommodation in the Kalianda area too.|
|Permits||Your guide/ boat captain will arrange it for you.|
|Water sources||None except seawater – take sufficient supplies with you.|
Origins and Meaning
Uncertain. There are four main theories. The first suggests that the name is onomatopoeic, imitating the noise of birds inhabiting the island. The second – most likely – theory is that the name comes from Sanskrit ‘karka’ or ‘karkata’ or ‘karkataka’ meaning ‘lobster’ or ‘crab’. ‘Rakata’ also means ‘crab’ in old Javanese. The third theory is that the name comes from the Malay word ‘kelakatu’ which means ‘white-winged ant’. It is argued that before 1883 Krakatau slightly resembled an ant seen from above. The fourth – and least likely – theory is based on a linguistic error when a ship’s captain asked a local man for the name of the island. The local man replied ‘Aku nggak tahu’ which means ‘I don’t know’ in Indonesian/Betawinese. (Wikipedia, 2011).
Given the likelihood that Krakatau had been the site of a vast number of violent eruptions dating back many centuries, perhaps the onomatopoeic theory actually be strengthened by the idea that the name imitates the sound of volcanic eruptions.
‘Anak Krakatau’ meaning ‘child of Krakatau’ is the name given to the new volcano which emerged in 1927.