Elevation: 1,827 m (5,994 ft) Prominence: 1,827 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerKurang Tinggi Province: Sulawesi Utara (North Sulawesi)
Google Earth: kml Other names: Siau Api
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Eruptions: 1675, 1712, 1825, 1864, 1883, 1886-87, 1892, 1899-1900, 1905, 1921-22, 1924, 1926, 1930, 1935, 1940-41, 1947-49, 1952-53, 1961-62, 1965-67, 1970-80, 1982-89, 1991-93, 1995-2005, 2008-2013


Bagging It!

This volcano is supposedly the most active in Indonesia. It is the highest point of Siau island in the Sangihe Islands off the north coast of mainland Sulawesi. It has five summit craters and a north peak and a slightly higher south peak. Trying to climb to the top is probably asking for a lot of trouble! However, a wander round the island is well worth it in order to have a look at the devastation caused by previous eruptions. Siau is also a particularly beautiful place with some excellent beaches.

Dominik is an excellent local guide and he has even stood on the very summit itself during a particularly quiet period (rare!) He would be more than willing to take you as far as is considered safe up one of the three routes – Kampung Dompase (at 558m) where you can also visit the Vulcanology Post to see the monitors, look through books and ask for information, Lintatua (‘old worm!’?) which is not far from the main town of Ulu, and the more northerly approach from Dame. Dame is recommended for good photos at sunrise but climbing from Dompase which takes 25 minutes to reach by motorbike from Ulu is very straightfoward. In less than half an hour of hiking from the end of the cement track at Dompase you will have reached the start of the lava flows and bare rock leading to the summit. At night you can often see the orange glow of lava and hear volcanic explosions.


Getting there There are boats from Manado (or Tahuna) several times a week. The fastest is the Prima Oasis which takes about 4 hours from Manado and 2 hours from Tahuna (which has a small airport).
Accommodation A few hotels in Ulu – notably the Hotel Jakarta which is pleasant, clean but prices don’t include breakfast.
Permits Not required, but it is probably a good idea to check with staff at the Vulcanology Post in Dompase with regard to the status of the volcano.
Water sources Unknown – take plenty with you.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm): manado


Links and References

Wikipedia English
Wikipedia Indonesia

3 thoughts on “Karangetang

  1. Last Sunday I rounded out my half-century on the summit of Karangetang – the first British person, sixth non-islander, and apparently one of less than a dozen people ever to have done so (excluding, perhaps, the emperors and their virgins. I was only able to achieve this thanks to the current lull in seismic activity (after a ten-month spell of continuously spewing lava last year). Despite this, the summit cone remains a truly infernal place, with noxious sulphur, belching fumeroles and general instability under foot. I climbed with Dominik’s uncle and his 11-year old son (who both went most of the way barefoot), plus the family dog. Son and dog were both defeated by the hot rocks and poisonous gases and elected to remain below the summit ridge, so only Uncle and I reached the actual top. My iPhone app showed 1834 metres on the top. The route looks deceptively simple – an hour’s hike up through the forest followed by a another two-hour scramble over conveniently sized boulders. In fact, the ascent is extremely challenging – steep, slippery, often non-existent jungle tracks, followed by long pitches over last year’s lava field. The descent is pure hell, especially for someone over 90 kg not wearing gloves: the loose rocks and my weary body made things seriously treacherous. The final descent through the forest has to be negotiated in the dark. All in all, it was three hours up, ten seconds on the top, and eight hours down. The views from the lower slopes are stunning; higher up, visbility decreases substantially. But I had been on the lower slopes before – back in 1997 – and I was eager to summit. I am glad I did. I will never do so again. Ever.

  2. Our taxi driver at Manado airport told us how, unlike Jakarta, Manado never floods. Later that night he was to be proved sadly incorrect as about 17 people died in torrential rain which seemed to last nearly 24 hours. The following morning we were onboard the very pleasant Prima Oasis fast ferry (an ex Hong Kong to Macau ferry) in plenty of time waiting for departure at 12 noon. Tickets to Siau were about 250 each for VIP (bring your jacket as the AC turns the room into a freezer). Unfortunately the captain’s house had been affected by the flooding and we didn’t leave Manado until 3pm! Also in the VIP room was the friendly mayor of Siau himself, Toni Supit. He told us there was a plan to build an airport in Siau. He also told us of a Dutchman who had been to the island and had ‘baptised’ the lesser peaks on the island. We spent most of the time out on deck looking for dolphins (a few were spotted not too far beyond the Buanken islands).

    It took about 3 hours to reach the first stop – Tagulandang, which is adjacent to the attractive Ruang volcano island. It was dark shortly thereafter and on approach to Siau you could see sparks of orange in the sky as lava tumbled from the summit craters of Indonesia’s most active volcano. Apparently 3 local people died last year due to pyroclastic flows. They were never found.

    Local guide Dominik was also on the boat and turned out to be one of the nicest guides I have ever met. Unfortunately the weather the following morning was very grey and windy so our short trip to have a look at Karangetang from Dompase was cut short due to the rain. In addition, the trail itself had changed according to Dominik, in the last couple of weeks. No surprise really given the frequent landslides and eruptions.

    It cleared up a little bit in the afternoon so we took ojeks around the south of the island, visited the Makam Raja Lokombanua – the grave of the first Emperor of Siau – in Paseng. Dominik told us that in pre-Portuguese times the Emperors sacrificed local virgin girls by throwing them into the summit craters in the hope it would pacify the spirits of the volcano. I was also shown an empty area at Kampung Karung where a large eruption 6 years ago had destroyed an entire section of village houses.

    We planned to try hiking again the following morning before the onward ferry journey up to Tahuna, but once again there was torrential rain all night, to the extent that I think we each woke up wondering if the little town of Ulu was about to turn into a disaster zone. The hotel walls seemed pretty thick, but that did little to calm the nerves, staying as we were on the slopes of Indonesia’s most active volcano!

    We made it through the night and were delighted to find the ferry on time. Landslides had occurred and on the northern part of the island we spotted what looked to be a serious landslide at the coast where perhaps 2 or 3 houses had simply collapsed.

    Even though it would normally be utter madness to climb this volcano right to the top, it is an incredible sight both by day and by night and the beaches, bays and coastal roads are well worth exploring. I also really recommend Dominik (see guides list for his number or ask at Hotel Jakarta which is close to where he lives) who is a man of many talents including carpentry.

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