// Dukono


Facts

Elevation: 1,259 m (4,131 ft) Prominence: 356 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerSpesial Province: Maluku Utara (North Moluccas)
Google Earth: kml Other names:
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Eruptions: 1550, 1719, 1868, 1901, 1933-2015

Photos

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Bagging It!

Gunung Dukono is the northern-most volcano in the chain of volcanoes along the western side of Halmahera – from the south, Jailolo, Uno-Ranu, Gamkonora, Ibu, Dukono – and one of the most persistently active in Indonesia. Since 1933, the mountain has been erupting almost continuously. It is certainly one of the most spectacular active craters in all of Indonesia, and is very well worth the effort of travelling to northern Halmahera just to peer into its awesome crater and experience its violent activity.

The mountain complex has a low profile with multiple craters covered in deep ash creating a surreal moon-like landscape. The active crater emits violent roars every minute or so, like a dozen jet planes taking off, with plumes of ash billowing some 500 m upwards. With extreme caution and staying up-wind of the plumes, one can peer over the rim into Dante’s Inferno (Abandon all hope, ye who enter here), even into the vent itself from where the eruptions emanate far below the earth’s surface.

The usual route up the mountain starts at Desa Mamuya, which lies on the coastal highway between Galela to the north (about 10 kms) and Tobelo to the south (about 14 kms). A guide is essential, not so much for finding ones way through the plantations as on other mountains in Halmahera, but for navigating through the surreal moon-like, ash-covered, landscape to the active crater rim, and for anticipating wind changes to avoid heavy ash falls. Contact the Volcanology Post or Village Head’s office at Mamuya for guides. Sign the visitors’ book as a precaution to record your presence on the mountain. Masks are advisable and can normally be purchased in warungs at Mamuya (where the villagers themselves occasionally experience ash falls). Protect cameras etc. from fine ash.

A jeep track passes through the plantations to ‘Terminal’ where the trek begins (about 8 kms, one hour on motorbikes, 370 m). You can either walk this section, or take an ‘ojek’ (motorbike) or plantation vehicle. The trek from ‘Terminal’ is a steady climb to the initial crater rim (3.5 kms, 3.5 hours, 940 m) except for some eight small creeks/ravines to be crossed. The forest zone is reached at around 500 m and the ubiquitous dense, cane-grass zone in the mountains of Halmahera, at the interface between the forest and the bare mountain top, at around 800 m. The first view of Dukono’s active crater, with its ash plumes and roars, is gained from this initial crater rim.

The trek to the active crater rim is about another one km and takes about 1.5 hours. We climbed in October, towards the end of the dry season when the ash was at its deepest. Our guide led us through ancient lava flows covered in very deep ash. Come the wet season, much of this ash is swept downstream exposing the lava rocks below which, we were informed, makes for easier trekking. The landscape below the active crater, though which one treks, is surreal – see photos.

We emerged at the crater rim at about 1,100 m. The crater is almost circular and funnel-shaped – about 400 m across and 200 m deep (guestimate!). We crawled up to the edge of the rim and peered inside – awesome, stupendous, fearful, frightening – as the vent roared and issued enormous clouds of ash. With extreme care, peering over the rim, we could see direct into the vent from which the eruptions emit from the bowels of the earth below. A ‘selfie’ pole would be useful for extending the reach of your camera over the rim for photos direct into the vent below.

Ash plumes are emitted every minute or so rising some 500 m above the rim to be swept away gently in the direction of the wind. The sight of ash clouds being emitted from the vent below precedes the sound of the roars from the vent itself (sound travels slower than light). Also, two types of plumes are emitted, mostly pure white but also dark brown – the white plumes are accompanied by a roar like jet planes taking off, while the brown plumes are accompanied by a much more throatier, guttural sound. The later produce much heavier ash falls that feel like light showers of rain trickling down on your head and body. We never smelt any sulphur dioxide while on the active rim.

Many trekkers camp on the mountain, usually at the initial crater rim mentioned above, to see the fireworks display within the active crater in the dark. We descended at sunset, which proved to be a sensible move on this occasion, as the wind had dropped and ash from the plumes began falling across the entire area.

A scan of Google Earth suggests that the true summit of Dukono is somewhere on the eastern flank of the active crater rim. But, given the direction of the wind, the ash plumes blocked views of this side of the rim – so we have no idea which crag might be the true summit. In the wet season, when the winds are blowing the plumes in the opposite direction, the true summit might be visible.

The descent from the active crater rim to ‘Terminal’ took about 3.5 hours, plus another one hour on motor bikes back to Mamuya.

Submitted: Nicholas Hughes and Remy Lanz, October 2015

Practicalities

Getting there The climb starts at Desa Mamuya on the coastal highway between Galela to the north (about 10 kms) and Tobelo to the south (about 14 kms). From Manado, fly to Galela or Kao, the latter being 2 hours by road south of Tobelo. If starting from Ternate, speed boat to Sofifi on the Halmahera mainland then 4 hours by car to Tobelo.
Accommodation Ample and reasonably priced accommodation is available in Tobelo. Hotel President was fine. Galela?
Permits Register with the Volcanology Post at Mamuya.
Water sources Enquire with guides at Mamuya. None in dry season; carry at least three 1.5 litre bottles if day trip; more if camping on the mountain. Water may be available in mountain streams in wet season.
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Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm): ternate

Location

Links and References

Wikipedia English
Wikipedia Indonesia

Trip Reports and Comments

2 entries for “Dukono”

  1. avatar

    We agree with C. Jung: Dukono indeed is one of the most spectacular craters of all volcanoes in Indonesia that I have climbed, now some 60! We climbed Dukono in October 2015, at the height of the dry season, departing Mamuya about mid-day and returning same day late night. We contacted vulcanologist Iwan (0852 40620660) the evening before to enquire about guides/fees, and received most unhelpful information from a guide that Iwan introduced us to and wanted to charge us Rp 600,000 per guide. Clearly, this guide was attempting to fleece ‘bules’ to the maximum. He even told a blatant lie that motorbikes were not available in the village and that we would need to take a plantation vehicle at Rp 1,000,000 to ‘Terminal’. In the end, we simply took a local taxi to Mamuya (Rp 300,000 return) and hired two guides at Rp 500,000 each inclusive of riding pillion on their motorbikes to ‘Terminal’. Try to insist on more powerful bikes with good tread for negotiating sandy slopes and workable headlights if descending in the dark. Share your headlamps with the drivers to see the track if necessary.

    Posted by Nicholas Hughes | October 30, 2015, 23:46
  2. avatar

    I climbed Dukono yesterday. I didn’t do a booking in advance, I just asked at the vulcanology office and they recommended me a guide. the cost wer 600Rp. for a 2d 1n trip. it was definately worth the money. without a guide it’s almost inpossible to find the right path. there is very very very much ash in the air so protect your camera and your important belongings. The most important thing is to bring a diving mask with you! otherwise it will be horrible to climb the summit because the ash in the air is very aggressive to your eyes. if you miss the mask, you will remember these words if you climb it, i promise you! i didn’t have a mask with me and i missed it so much. the crater is the best i’ve ever seen. so active! i climbed also merapi, marapi, kerinci, bromo, ijen, anak krakatau, rinjani soputan, lokon, karangetang and gamalama in indonesia and dukono was definatly my favorite! its a hard tour, but worth all effort!

    Posted by C. Jung | September 22, 2015, 16:45

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