- Elevation: 3,339 m (10,955 ft)
- Prominence: 2,811 m
- Ribu category: Sangat Tinggi
- Province: Jawa Timur (East Java)
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: Arjuna, Arjuno-Welirang, Arjuna-Welirang
- Eruptions: Welirang 1950, 1952
This peak is the highest point of the enormous Arjuno-Welirang range, located just 50 kilometres south of Indonesia’s second largest city, Surabaya. The lower Welirang peak is active and still mined by local sulphur collectors. Arjuno (also spelled and pronounced ‘Arjuna’) itself is dormant and therefore perhaps a little less interesting than Welirang. The twin Kembar peaks nestle between them and a traverse of the entire range is one of the finest hikes in Java. It’s a huge area so camping for a night or two is absolutely necessary. If time is not an issue, then the best thing to do would be to visit both main peaks for dawn (i.e two nights on the mountains) but strong hikers could complete the range in two very long, strenuous days.
A guide is necessary for all routes (except Tretes to Welirang peak only, which is, for the most part, a wide stone track that jeeps sometimes use) as the navigating many of the paths can be very difficult indeed on the higher slopes because there are just so many of them and not many signs. Unfortunately, finding good guides seems to be quite difficult for this mountain range and there have been several reports of guides with little knowledge of the range climbing totally unprepared. Therefore it is best to try to arrange guides in advance rather than just turning up at the starting point. The little permit office in Tretes is perhaps your best bet if you can’t arrange in advance but definitely need a guide.
There are several routes – permits should be easy to arrange at all of them (if not, just tell your hotel where you’re going and when you’ll be back) – the most popular and well-defined being from the mountain resort of Tretes (760m) to the north of the range. This trail leads up a wide stone track to the sulphur collectors’ huts (roughly 5 hours) and then on to the fascinating crater area of Welirang (3,156m, another 3 hours to the highest point of the rim on the far side of the active Kawah Jero summit crater). Be warned that although navigating this route is relatively easy, it is not particularly pleasant on your feet (especially when descending) and it is a substantial climb of over 2,400m in elevation gain. That is why the Sumber Brantas/Cangar route is growing in popularity (at 1,750m it’s by far the highest starting point).
The Tretes trail leads up through sparse pine woodland and an outlying peak, Gunung Ringgit (approx 2,477m high according to the basic map given to us at the Tretes office), is clearly visible on the left of the trail. Notable landmarks after the office at the trailhead (812m) include joining the main wide track (950m – waypoint it if you have a GPS for the return journey as it is not marked!), Pet Bocor Warung (970m), Pos Pantau / Pos Jaga (1,000m), Pos Kokopan (1,650m) which has a good water source and a shelter, a hut with seats (1770m), a small stream (2,115m), a flat area suitable for 2 or 3 tents (2,210m), before arriving at the cluster of sulphur collectors’ huts (2,450m). After the huts, there is a popular camping area (2,485m).
At around this point you either stay to the right for Welirang or veer leftwards towards Arjuno. This spot is pretty much equidistant between Welirang and Arjuno but it takes a little longer to reach Arjuno. Onwards to Welirang, the main col is reached (2,965m) where you turn right along a very pleasant, near-flat track offering great views down the other side of the mountain (in the direction of Cangar and towards Gunung Anjasmoro and the unique shape of Boklorobubuh). Further along, a small trail leads off to the left. This is the sulphur collectors’ trail and you should be able to see them on a smokey side crater of the mountain, surrounded with sacks of large yellow rocks.
The trail to the summit of Welirang bends round a little to the right, passing an old, dormant crater full of vegetation on the left before leading across a rocky plateau where many local student hikers have written messages on the patches of flat volcanic sand using rocks. Finally you reach the summit crater – Kawah Jero – complete with an active sulphur fumarole. A circuit of the rim can be done fairly easily in about 30 minutes or so. The highest two tops both offer incredible views of Penanggungan (the ‘little’ mountain that looks so big from Tretes!) and if you are lucky all of the peaks from Lawu in the west to Raung, hiding behind Argopuro in the east. In fine conditions at first light this is one of the finest viewpoints in the whole of Java.
It takes about 6 hours to return from Welirang summit to Tretes for those not continuing on to Arjuno. For those climbing from Welirang to Arjuno, you can ‘bag’ the two Kembar peaks en-route but be warned this is the area which it is easiest to become lost in. For those climbing Arjuno from Tretes (but missing out Welirang and just skirting the Kembars) then notable landmarks include Lalijiwo Pleteau (Lembah Kijang) at 2,530m and Batu Gede (2,790m).
The range is also accessible from Selekta/Selecta in the south-west near Batu and from Sumber Brantas/Cangar to the west. This latter route is especially useful for anyone wishing to quickly climb either Welirang or Arjuno as it starts pretty high up and leads to a pass between the Kembars. Hikers can then choose to turn left (north) towards Welirang or right (south) towards Arjuno. Sumber Brantas is 11km beyond Selekta and the hike begins at two cement pillars (1,750m) just before the road descends to Cangar air panas (hot springs) at 1,628m. The start of the trek is a farm track leading through fields of carrots and potatoes. There are plenty of track junctions so local knowledge is essential. At 2,022m the trail enters forest and at 2,110 make sure you turn left rather than heading up to the right. There is a tiny camping area at 2,153m before a reight turn at 2,200m. There is a lot of dense vegetation here so it can be difficult navigating the correct path. The route leads under several large tree trunks before emerging at a slightly larger camping area (2,357m) marked with a large boulder. From here the Kembars are clearly visible in good weather.
The route continues through pine woodland, a right turn at 2,571m (follow the yellow and blue string). After another camping area you will encounter some hot steam emerging from beneath boulders in the middle of the pine woodland (2,644m). The forest ends at 2,900m and the truly great views begin. Soon the trail reaches the top of the pass (2,910m) between the Kembars. This is an excellent and popular place to camp.
To reach Arjuno, take a right turn (south) here. The trail is quite difficult to see at this point so simply follow the contour of the mountain ridge and you will find the correct trail. The first peak you reach is Kembar (south) and from here you can enjoy the fantastic panorama to many other mountains both near and far. There are shallow, grassy craters and lots of sulphur vents on this peak so take care not to inhale the gases. From this peak, the trail dips steeply to the col between Kembar south and Arjuno – now clearly visible as an impressive, narrow and steep mountain just ahead of you. The trail leading down from Kembar south is very steep so take you time and be careful not to head down one of the very dangerous cliff areas. Beyond the col is a large and incredibly wild area of huge volcanic boulders scattered across a minor peak. It’s a confusing area and easy to get lost here in bad weather. To avoid this area and head straight to the climb to Arjuno, head round to the left (east) and pick up the trail up the steep pinewood slopes of Arjuna at a green sign (2,851m). It’s a long haul up the slopes but the views are incredible – Gunung Butak to the right, Gunung Penanggungan to the left and Welirang behind (north).
There are plenty of place to camp all over Arjuna mountain so finding a spot even at weekends should not be a problem here, especially above 3,100m. The first top you will reach on Arjuno is crowned with a regional boundary marker (3,315m). The trail then descends slightly before heading up to a wider summit area. This is a very similar height to the final top – which most people consider the true summit – and may even be a metre or two higher. From this top Semeru is visible right infront of you. The final top is a very narrow, impressive and boulder-strewn peak and there is a green sign to inform you that you have finally reached the top of Arjun0. This summit itself is known as ‘puncak ringgil’.
If not returning the same way, there are routes down to Lawang and Purwosari in the east. Both are long, long hikes which take a minimum of 6/7 hours. Just below the narrow summit with the sign is a trail heading east (in the direction of Semeru). It leads down through pine woodland to a tree with signs on it (3,100m). Here take a left for a route down to Purwosari (which eventually leads to some ancient monuments) or a right turn for Lawang. The Lawang trail is very overgrown but if you keep the huge mountain range of Semeru infront of you it is difficult to get truly lost. Notable landmarks are Shelter 3 (‘Pos Mahapena’, 2,179m), a border stone at 1,910m, Shelter 2 (‘Pos Lincing’, 1,597m) which has an actual hut before the trail leads down through the large tea plantation at Wonosari. You finally reach a road at 925m and ojeks can easily be arranged at the security post for the 4km journey to the main Surabaya-Malang road at Lawang.
However, if you have time you can actually stay at Wisata Agro Wonosari – a popular weekend retreat at the tea plantation where there is a good range of accommodation available.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn (updated July 2013)
- Getting there: Lots of transport options from Surabaya and Malang – taxis, shared cars, buses, ojeks, angkots.
- Accommodation: Tretes and Batu are the best places to stay. The most convenient hotel in Tretes is the Tanjung Plaza which is just metres from the trailhead.
- Permits: Easy to arrange at the more popular starting points such as Tretes – take a photocopy of your passport photo page. Non-Indonesians pay Rp25,000 each.
- Water sources: Depends on the route but definitely wise not to rely on sources – take plenty of bottled water with you. The Tretes route up to the sulphur collectors’ huts has several reliable year-round water sources (see above).
- Travel insurance: We recommend World Nomads insurance, which is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities including mountain hiking.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):
Origins and Meaning
Arjuno is the Javanese pronunciation of Arjuna. Arjuna is the middle (third) of the five Pandawa brothers who are heroes of the Indian Mahabharata epic and the plays of the wayang purwa, the classical Javanese shadow theatre. Arjuna is renowned as the handsome, invincible warrior of the shadow play, so perhaps the mountain is named “Arjuno” because it is as beautiful and impressive as the shadow theatre character. (George Quinn, 2011)
Gunung Welirang means ‘Sulphur Mountain’ – for obvious reasons.