Dieng (Prau)

Facts

Elevation: 2,600 m (8,530 ft) Prominence: 938 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerSpesial Province: Jawa Tengah (Central Java)
Google Earth: kml Other names: Prahu
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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)

Photos

Bagging It!

 

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)

Practicalities

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.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm): semarang

Location

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).

Links and References

Wikipedia English
Wikipedia Indonesia

10 thoughts on “Dieng (Prau)

  1. Definitely one of the best viewpoints in Java. Glad to have made it back to Prau for a second time, especially as the weather was much better this time around. As with many of the ‘previously quiet’ hikes in Java such as Parang, Butak and so on, this is now an incredibly busy spot at weekends with local hikers, but the crowds are mostly just at the Patakbanteng junction area of the ridge so you can still find beautiful solitude by walking in the opposite direction for five minutes.

    We did a circuit of both central Java and Gunung Prau itself. Friday night train from Jakarta to Purwokerto, then a bus the next morning from perhaps Java’s cleanest bus terminal on the edge of Purwokerto up to Wonosobo (Rp30,000, under 3 hours). There seem to be small buses or minivans continuing up to Dieng from time to time but we wanted to get up there rather than wait around so we got a metered taxi direct to Bu Djono’s for Rp170,000. It took about 45 minutes including 5 minutes of delay at a recent landslide area where the road is being carefully reconstructed, or ‘rehabilitated’ according to the bizarre signs.

    The main Dieng tourist attractions are much as the same as before, with people dressed up as Shaun the Sheep and various Teletubbies characters for you to get a photo taken with them. Also now various owls chained up at Kawah Sikidang so Harry Potter fans can get owl photos – though the owls themselves can’t enjoy this much, being nocturnal beasts. Little chunks of giant fern trunks also for sale – very beautiful, as though the intricate pattern had been designed. If you made the terrible error of being born in a foreign country and don’t have a KITAS or KITAP, you now have to pay Rp100,000 (Monday-Friday) or Rp150,000 (weekends) to visit Telaga Warna, though the experience at weekends is almost certainly not 50% better than at other times. Watch out for the beautiful but deadly angel’s trumpets flowers (Brugmansia) which grow in abundance at Telaga Warna and Arjuna temples – if ingested these things can take you on a mind-bending trip of a very negative and potentially fatal nature.

    The hike itself was wonderful – especially the litter-free descent to Wates, but perhaps in another 7 years the Wates route will be crowded too. It would be great if a route heading directly north was more obvious and popular, as getting up to the north coast is still a bit time-consuming considering the distances involved. Indeed, the bus journey to Pekalongan was harder on the legs than the hike itself! Most notable incident was when the guy sitting next to me got up to disembark at Onion village and dragged a huge turkey from under our seat that had been resting, tied up, just centimetres from my ankles. I had no idea.

    Finally, there are some interesting fines listed on official basecamp leaflets. Some are very worthwhile, such as for the use of trailbikes on the mountain, the leaving behind of rubbish, and the chopping down of trees. Others are slightly more moralistic and eccentric, such as a fine of ‘3 bibit’ for urinating into a bottle, ‘4 bibit’ for ‘carrying alcoholic drinks’, and ’10 bibit’ plus being reported to the authorities for committing adultery up on Teletubbies hill. Still trying to get my head around the ‘bibit’ system of fines, but my best guess is that this is a way of reforesting the higher slopes by planting new trees as ‘bibit’ means ‘seed’.

  2. Nice and very helpful article! My friends are planning to also hike Mt. Prau this coming month. We will come straight from Jogja and go to Semarang after. Any idea on how to get to Semarang from Dieng?

  3. Just back from a second trip to Dieng. One of the most fascinating and friendly spots in Indonesia. To save time, we caught the train to Purwokerto on Friday evening and then took a bus to Wonsobo the following morning. There are buses running about every 10 or 15 minutes and most of the shoot along at terrifying speed. Cost was Rp25,000 per person and took 3 hours or just under.

    Once in Wonosobo we had trouble finding transport on to Dieng as there may be more than one bus station (‘terminal’) so we ended up getting a taxi up there for Rp125,000. Nusa Indah 2 is a very central place to stay, new and clean but the sound from the mosque is incredibly deafening at 4am so if you have to get up early it’s ideal but if you want a lie in then it’s a terrible place to stay!

    Met a very friendly chap called Dwi at Bu Djono homestay and restaurant (the best place to eat in Dieng) who has a website http://www.dwidieng.com and speaks excellent English and is highly recommended. One of the best guides in Indonesia. His number is 085310791967.

    The afternoon we took ojeks round to the main sites (Rp50,000 for the circuit of the main natural attractions). Bizarrely, there were men dressed as teletubbies at the Arjuna temple complex. Kawah Sileri remains relatively unpopular as it is 3 km or so out of town and that’s great – it’s a brilliant spot to sit in the late afternoon/dusk and watch the smoke swirl above the lake.

    The short hike up Gunung Sikunir was planned for the following morning but early morning rains and too much beer the night before meant this was delayed until 9am. You really need transport to get out to the starting point, Sembungan, which lies on the edge of a lake, Telaga Cebong, and at 2300m is said to be the highest village in Java. It takes about 20 minutes by ojek from Dieng village. There are warungs and a carpark and at weekends the place will be full of mainly domestic tourists.

    From there it’s just 20 minutes to the top of Sikunir (2,394m) on a very popular and well marked path. You don’t need a guide, but at present it’s Rp120,000 per person to do the sunrise hike including transport from Bu Djono homestay. Not bad at all. Sikunir is not the highest peak in this little area – even it’s less-often climbed neighbour Pakuwojo is a little higher at 2411m. However the ‘golden sunrise’ is supposed to be particularly fine. 15 minutes or so after the golden sunrise on Sikunir, there is apparently a ‘silver sunrise’ at the Arjuna temple complex.

    We tried the local herb, Purwaceng, which is for sale everywhere round Dieng, and mixed with coffee and so on, and is apparently good for ‘male stamina’ amongst other things.

    From the top of Sikunir the views were on this occasion limited by the clouds but the view over the lake below and to the Wonosobo road and viewpoint are excellent anyway.

    After that it was back to Bu Djono for more delicious local kentang goreng (friend potatoes). We then decided to try the other route back to Purwokerto (down to Banjarnegara). We got ojeks for 140,000 per person (including calling off at the fascinating kawah Candradimuka on the way) and it was pretty good value consider the distance and scenery (it’s about 58km away). You could theoretically get minivans all the way down but this would involve a lot of waiting around for the vans to fill up. From Banjarnegara you are back on the main road between Purwokerto and Wonosobo so it’s easy to get a bus back west.

    Dwi told us that there are some pitcher plants growing up on Gunung Prau. I never noticed this last time, so I may make another visit to the area sometime before too long.

  4. Most visitors to Dieng Plateau would visit Gunung Sikunir for the sunrise. However when doing research using Google Earth, I found Gunung Prahu to be the tallest mountain in the region, offering a better view as well. Since this mountain is rarely visited, photos and reports are almost unavailable elsewhere on the net except on Gunung Bagging.

    I arranged for a guide at Bu Djono’s Homestay on the second day at Dieng Plateau and started the hike at round 2pm, planning to stay overnight on the mountain. The starting point is just to the east of Dieng village. The hike was a 1.5 hours of ascend trough jungles followed by another 1 hour’s ridge walk (The summit rigion of the mountain is a long ridge). The ascending part was pretty slippery for my case since it rained like mad the previous day, and I can’t really comment on the view since I was shrouded in mist all the time. The ridge walk, though, was an easy and pleasant one through flower beds full of daisies.

    The placed I camped is probably Gunung Patakbanteng as mentioned in Daniel’s trip report on Gunung Bagging. The place is marked with a short cement pillar and is the southern end of the summit ridge, further down southwest is PatakBanteng village. There are plenty of space to camp near the pillar, however the west is obstructed by a taller hill. The top of the hill is covered with tall trees with little space to camp. To get a bird’s eye view of the west, one has to climb up this hill. In terms of weather, it wasn’t as windy as those 3000m peaks in Java, but the relatively higher humidity made up for it.

    The sunset was completely clouded out for my case, and my camp site was constantly shrouded in mist till midnight. It all cleared up after around 2am, and the sky was full of stars. Gunung Sindoro and Sumbing could be seen faintly lit up by starlight. The camp site offered a completely unobstructed view towards the east and south, and the morning view of Central Java peaks is unbelievable. Gunung Lawu, Merapi, Merbabu, Ungaran, as well as nearby Gunung Sumbing and Sindoro make for a surreal and incredibly photogenic sight. Rolling sea of clouds for my case further added to the view. To get a view of the west, I hiked up the small hill to the west mentioned earlier. The view as a pleasant surprise to me as smoking Gunung Slamet and distant Gunung Ciremai came into view, since I didn’t expect to view to be so extensive. The whole Dieng Plateau, numerous villages, craters, and even Arjuna Temple Complex could be seen. Major tourist attractions such as Kawah Sikidang (mud volcano) and Telega Warna (multi-hued lake) are impressive viewed from up above.

    I chose to descend southwest to Patakbanteng village. The trail was similar to the ascending trail, taking less than 2 hours, again pretty slippery for my case. The view west and south was fantastic in open areas. Gunung Sumbing gradually went hidden behind Gunung Sindoro as I descended. There are freuquent buses to Dieng village stopping at Patakbanteng.

    I could say that Gunung Prahu offers one of the best summit views in Java, and it will not dissappoint any hiker on a clear day. The hike is also less demanding with a mild camping condition, campared to those 3000m peaks in Java. I’m really surprised why this one is so rarely hiked. Rating? 10 out of 10.

  5. Thanks very much for the great report Jia.
    When I went, I climbed onto the north-west to south-east ridge that is Gunung Prau/Prahu via the mast above Dieng village at the north-west end. I didn’t descend to Patakbanteng so never got as far as the pillar you camped at at the south-eastern end of the ridge. Using my GPS I found the true summit to be an unmarked spot on the ridge between the pillar you camped at and the telehone mast at the north-western end of the ridge above Dieng village.
    Many thanks for sending your great photos in too, we will be transferring all galleries over to Google’s Picasa in due course.
    Cheers.

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