|Elevation:||2,600 m (8,530 ft)||Prominence:||938 m|
|Ribu category:||Spesial||Province:||Jawa Tengah (Central Java)|
|Google Earth:||kml||Other names:||Prahu|
|Eruptions:||Dieng 1375, 1786, 1826, 1847, 1883-84, 1928, 1939, 1943-44, 1953-54, 1956, 1964, 1979, 1981, 1986, 1993, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2017 (Kawah Sileri)|
The Dieng Plateau is a huge volcanic complex near the pleasant town of Wonosobo. It is quite rightly one of Central Java’s leading tourist attractions and there are so many fascinating sites, both geological and historical, that it definitely makes sense to stay in Dieng village itself and properly explore the place. Colourful lakes, hissing and bubbling craters and numerous temples are dotted all over the landscape. The area was a very important Hindu site and eight ancient Hindu temples remain here today, the main cluster being the Arjuna complex just a couple of hundred metres from Dieng village. These are supposedly the oldest temples in Java, dating from the 7th and 8th centuries and it is thought that there were up to 400 temples here originally. The most impressive craters are the busy and popular Kawah Sikidang, the atmospheric and ghostly Kawah Sileri (which erupted without warning in July 2017) and the somewhat bizarre bubbling and smoking Kawah Candradimuka.
Most people come to Dieng via Wonosobo from the south from either Yogyakarta or Purwokerto (from where there are frequent buses) and these are the easiest options. Those travelling from Jakarta are advised to get a train to Purwokerto then a bus up to Wonosobo.
However, if you are feeling particularly adventurous the area can also be reached from the north if you take a bus from Pekalongan to Bawang (2 hours) and then an ojek (motocycle taxi) up into the hills as far south as you can (30 minutes). This northern route from Bawang to Dieng used to be passable but the bridge over the river was swept away many years ago. With due care, descend then cross the river on foot and rejoin the steep farm track at the other side of the river. The track ascends through farm plantation and soon you will be on a proper tarmac road again. There are plenty of villagers and farm workers in this area so you may be able to arrange another ojek to Dieng. If not, in total it is only 2 hours from the river to Dieng village itself and could well save you time if trying to reach the Plateau from the north. The third route in is from Banjarnegara to the southwest but given how windy the roads are and how unreliable the public transport is, this is perhaps for those with extra time or their own vehicle.
Because Dieng is at an elevation of 2,093m, the area is in general quite damp, chilly and often misty. Good visibility is most likely in the morning. The crops grown here include delicious potatoes and cabbages – make sure you try this local produce. The most popular ‘hike’ is to the top of Gunung Sikunir (2,394m) for sunrise but, despite the great views of other volcanoes in Central Java, this is a very easy stroll of less than 30 minutes each way and most keen hikers will be left wanting more.
The highest mountain in the Dieng area is called Gunung Prau, presumably because it slightly resembles a boat. It towers directly above Dieng village and can be climbed without the need for additional transport. Because Dieng village is already very high up, it is a short and easy hike to the peak (2,600m). The views are absolutely spectacular at dawn – perhaps Central Java’s very finest. When I first wrote about it in 2010 it was quite possible to find the summit ridge deserted even at weekends, but now in 2017 you will probably be one of more than a thousand people up there enjoying the grand scenery on a Sunday morning.
There are actually multiple routes up Gunung Prau – in 2017 there are no less than 8 official ones, seemingly all with basecamps! The main 3 at present are Dieng village itself (recommended for ascent due to it being a short stroll from most hotels and homestays), Patakbanteng – which is only about 4km back along the Wonosobo road from Dieng (not recommended as this is already too popular at weekends with many hundreds of local hikers queuing up), and Wates, a less popular but very pleasant trail from the south-east (recommended for descent if you want to ‘traverse’ the mountain and have time to negotiate transport from what is a rather remote village).
Other trailheads include Kalilembu and Dwarawati (both very close to Dieng village and Patakbanteng therefore only of merit if the Patakbanteng trail is just too crowded), Kenjuran and Campurejo (both north of Wates and therefore worthy of investiagation for those wishing to get back to the north coast afterwards but currently not clearly-marked so a guide is probably essential) and finally Pranten, which is west of the mountain and would therefore be better combined with a traverse to Wates, Kenjuran or Campurejo (again, a guide probably essential for this). Dwi, who works at Bu Djono homestay and restaurant, is especially recommended for any hikes in the area.
At present, the recommended hike for those not wishing to return the same way is from Dieng village up to the summit ridge and then down to Wates (or Kenjuran or Campurejo if you can find an experienced guide). Hikers who have Indonesian language skills and have hiked plenty of mountains in Java previously can manage the trail from Dieng village to Wates without a guide (assuming good weather and/or use of GPS tracks – see resources) though it is not a good idea to trek alone. On weekends you are not likely to be too far from other hikers on any of the three main trails. The Dieng village to summit to Wates route is described below. It is best to set off from Dieng village at 3am with a torch so that you reach the summit ridge by around 5am ready to watch the sunrise.
From Dieng village, behind the Dieng Homestay follow the cement track up past the school (right) and graves (left). After less than 10 minutes you will have reached the new Dieng basecamp where you can register (Rp10,000 in 2017) and take photos of Dieng village below from the large red letters spelling ‘GUNUNG PRAU’. You can also buy simple snacks and basic clothing items. The track is well sign-posted and leads up through farmland (mostly potato fields) and into pine forest (Pos 1, Gemekan, 2225m – reached after just 20 minutes from the basecamp) where it begins to ascend more steeply. After under one hour you will have reached a border marker (2,400m), marking the end of one region (Wonosobo) and the beginning of another (Batang). This is now known as Pos 2 – Semendung and is where the less-used trail up from Dwarawati meets the main Dieng village trail.
From Pos 2 you should be able to see the radio transmitter mast (known as ‘repeater’ on the little map available at Dieng basecamp) as even at night there is a bright light on the tower itself. Whereas a few years ago the trail went up to the transmitter mast compound and more regional marker stones (2,560m), it now skirts round to the right of the ‘repeater’ peak meaning you don’t have to ascend to the tower and descend again along the ridge towards the true summit. You can simply do the short cut like everybody else does now – indeed, it seems that the trail to the repeater tower has been deliberately closed as the hike has grown so massively in popularity in the last few years.
After less than 90 minutes total from Dieng village you should have reached Pos 3 – Nganjir (2,520m) which is the start of the lovely ridge walk. It is quite narrow at this point with great views on either side. This ridge is presumably the remnants of an ancient crater wall and the trail is very easy to follow. After 20 minutes of hiking along the ridge you will reach the first important ‘peak’ which is marked with a cement marker with 2,565m written on it. In actual fact, this first peak is approximately 2,585m above sea level but the 2,565 figure seems to be the preferred one for t-shirts, stickers and so on that you can buy at the basecamps! From this top you will get your first proper view along the ridge to the south-east beyond a few other higher bumps and clumps of trees to the huge twins Sindoro (nearest) and Sumbing (taller but further away).
After this first peak, the trail drops down into a daisy-filled meadow area reminiscent of many small European hills. Locals actually refer to this area as Bukit Teletubbies (Teletubbies hill) and Bukit Rindu (Longing hill). The meadow area is home to occasional and impressive trees, both lone and in clumps. From this point on you will start to notice more and more tents as you get closer to the junction with the route up from Patakbanteng.
The highest point on the ridge (2,600m – possibly known as Gunung Patakbanteng locally) lies about 2 km along the ridge from the radio masts and, given how easy the trail is, can be reached in 2 hours total from Dieng village. It is basically just a bump on the ridge on the right side of a bowl-like dip of the meadow and interestingly it is unmarked though you may find a tent or two on it on weekends! From the true summit you will have a fabulous view down to Dieng village, Telaga Warna, Kawah Sikidang, back along the ridge to the ‘repeater’ tower and, most beautifully, Sumbing, Sindoro, plus Merbabu and Merapi in the distance to the left of Sumbing and Sindoro.
20 minutes further along the ridge over a series of slightly less high bumps is the junction with the Patakbanteng trail. This is the most popular camping spot and it is not unusual to have hundreds of tents here at weekends (meaning thousands of hikers!) The vast majority will have hiked up from Patakbanteng. The Dieng village route sees far less but still perhaps 100 or so. The Wates route might see 50 or so. The other routes see very few. You can see why this spot is popular – brilliant views of Sumbing and Sindoro.
From this junction, you have several options. Returing the same way to Dieng village takes about 2 hours. You can also make a small circuit by descending to Patakbanteng village (turn right at the tents) from where it an easy 4km along the road back to Dieng village (ojeks should be readily available). Better still, if the weather is clear making route-finding easy, traverse the mountain by descending to the small and remote highland village of Wates (1,700m).
To descend to Wates from the Patakbanteng junction (i.e where all the tents usually are) continue south-east down the ridge on the clearest path you can see in the direction of Sindoro and Sumbing. After less than 20 minutes you should have reached a tree with a red and silver ‘Wates’ sign on it. Soon after this the trail drops down to the left of the highest part of the ridge. You should have reached Pos 3 (Sudung Dewo, 2250m) in about 45 minutes from the Patakbanteng camping area. You are back in forest now so listen out for birdlife. It is then another 20 minutes to Pos 2 (Cemarang, 2120m) and a further 20 minutes to Pos 1 (Blumbang Kodok, 1973m) which has a pond and is the end of the forest. From here it is about 30 minutes down an often slippery farm path passing cabbage and potato fields. There are usually friendly farm workers around if you need help but the trail is pretty well signposted. The Wates basecamp (1,680m) can be reached in about 2 hours total from the summit ridge, meaning a total hike of under 5 hours from Dieng (not incuding breaks for photos etc.) Assuming you set out from Dieng village at 3am and spent around an hour taking photos on the ridge you will probably be down here no later than 9am. Treat yourself to some coffee and meatballs from the friendly Ibu at the basecamp!
The boys at basecamp have been doing a lot of work trying to promote this route to the top of Gunung Prau on social media. It is indeed a proper hiking trail – requiring slightly more effort than the Dieng and Patakbanteng easy routes up. To ascend from Wates to the summit ridge would probably take around 4 hours including rests, but you can get an ojek to Pos 1 for Rp20,000 (in 2017). They are also trying to publicise Bukit Larikan, a minor hill with a wooden or bamboo structure at the top, seemingly offering good views too.
Getting back round to Wonosobo from here shouldn’t be too difficult but you will need ojeks from villagers or the lads at basecamp. If you don’t have private transport already arranged and are trying to head to the north coast at Pekalongan or similar, you will probably have to pay around Rp75,000 per ojek for a 45-minute motorbike ride down to Candiroto terminal where there are regular small buses to Sukorejo (Rp10,000, 40 minutes). This ride down from Wates is very scenic – beautiful farming country (mostly tobacco and a bit of chili peppers). From Sukorejo terminal there are more small and uncomfortable buses on to Pekalongan via Bawang and Limpung (Rp40,000, 2 and a half hours).
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn (updated September 2017)
|Getting there||There are frequent buses to Wonosobo and the Dieng area from Yogyakarta and Purwokerto.|
|Accommodation||Plenty of basic accommodation in Dieng village or a wider range in Wonosobo. Nusa Indah 2 is pleasant and has hot water but it is unfortunately right next to the main Dieng mosque. Homestay Bu Djono is the only place in the village with cold beer and is a great place to chat to other tourists so it is recommended that you spend an evening in their simple restaurant even if you don’t stay there.|
|Permits||Rp10,000 per hiker (in 2017). Register at the relevant basecamp. All hiking trails usually closed January-March.|
|Water sources||Take enough bottled water with you – in most cases one large 1.5l Aqua per person should suffice unless you are camping and cooking up there.|
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Origins and Meaning
Dataran Dieng = The Plateau of the Great Gods. Dieng seems to be a modern contraction of the words da – hyang. In Old Javanese da (sometimes ra) is a kind of title in front of the name or title of someone of high rank, and hyang means “a god, goddess, deity”. So dahyang means “the great gods”. Compare this with the place name Parahyangan which is still in use today to denote the mountainous interior of West Java. Parahyangan consists of ra-hyang (the great gods) flanked by the prefix-suffix combination pa-an which signifies a place. So Parahyangan means “the place of the great gods”. (George Quinn, 2011)
Prau means ‘boat’ and refers to the shape of the actual mountain which looks like an upside-down boat (see also Tangkuban Parahu in West Java).