Elevation: 1,724 m (5,656 ft) Prominence: 938 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerSpesial Province: Jawa Timur (East Java)
Google Earth: kml Other names: Kelut
Rating: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes) Add your rating
Eruptions: 1548, 1586, 1641, 1716, 1752, 1771, 1776, 1785, 1811, 1825-26, 1835, 1848, 1864, 1901, 1919-20, 1951, 1966-67, 1990, 2007-08, 2014


    Bagging It!

    This mountain is one of the most active and dangerous volcanoes in Indonesia. A large eruption in 1919 killed approximately 5,000 people and a more recent eruption in 2007-8 resulted in the crater’s pleasant blue lake being replaced with a vast lava dome. In February 2014, a huge eruption occurred two days after local people reported animals fleeing from the surrounding forests. International airports in Central and East Java were closed as ash rained down over a wide area. 200,000 people were told to evacuate. No surprise then that the Kelud area is often closed and constantly monitored by volcanologists.

    During quiet times, it is a popular place for local people at weekends since there is a good quality road leading all the way to the crater where there are lots of small stalls, and some hot springs in the river below the crater. Most people come from the west via Ngancar from the city of Kediri – where there is a good range of hotels – but Blitar also makes a good base though the roads are slighter lower in quality. It takes just over an hour to reach the crater (1,250m) by car or motorbike from Kediri or Blitar and there are numerous signs for the mountain on the routes. The entrance fee is just Rp5,000 per person (plus Rp 1,000 for motorbike) and the entrance point is the village of Sugih Waras. About a mile beyond the village is the Volcanology Post. From here the road leads for another 10km to the crater area whose jagged outline is visible for many many miles. There are places along the way to stop for basic snacks and fuel. At the end of the road is a place to park motorbikes and a signpost for a right turn down to a hot water bathing area. Straight on leads through a dark but flat tunnel – known locally as ‘the channel tunnel’ – before emerging a few metres above the new lava dome. There is an incredibly impressive rockface on the right – Gunung Sumbing – which is a great place for rock-climbing but totally impossible for regular hikers to scale. You may notice a couple of red and white Indonesian flags halfway up the rockface – perhaps the point at which rock climbing fanatics had to turn back!

    The steep and jagged crater rim is a fascinating area – the true Kelud peak is the huge vertical chunk of rock with a couple of pinnacles at the far side of the crater. According to local hiking enthusiasts, nobody has ever reached the very top of the pinnacales and bagged Kelud! It is certainly a daunting task, probably requiring expert rock climbing skills and ropes.

    There are basically three main hiking routes on the mountain. From the crater carpark, beyond the tunnel, there are cement steps up to the left of the crater (in the direction of minor crater rim peak Gunung Lirang) towards a small pendopo (1,360m). This is about as far as most visitors to Kelud venture and ask them if they’ve been to the puncak – ‘peak’ and if they’ve been here they’ll probably say yes! From this  small roofed structure, perched on the rim, a trail continues some way along the rim beyond a small cement pillar (1,427m) towards the true peak. After a few minor ups and downs, a small rock crag is reached (1,454m). To get beyond it, skirt round to the left of it and watch out for holes in the ground beneath the foliage! From the top of this crag the views towards the true Kelud peak are astounding – it appears as an impenetrable castle of rock with impressive rocky turrets crowning it off. The trail continues to a slightly higher part of the rim (1,518m) after which is a vast drop between this part of the rim and the next peak. Even for skilled rock climbers this would be a tough proposition and for any ordinary hiker it’s totally impossible. This hikes does, however, offer some of the most excellent views of Kelud peak, Sumbing rock-face and the crater below. It’s a short morning stroll.

    There is a second approach from this side, but it is difficult! There is a vague and overgrown trail which skirts to the right below the Sumbing cliffs and then up onto a fairly flat ridge. Finding this trail is quite difficult and staff at the crater car park or office will definitely try to make you take an over-priced guide with you. It may be worth a try if you want to reach the summit area from this side.

    The best approach, however, is from the east at Tulungrejo on the small road running north-south between Kelud and Butak mountain ranges. Although this route is longer, you have the advantage of being able to start at whatever time you like (instead of having to wait until the crater road gates are open) and you won’t have any hassle from staff hoping to make a quick buck from a ‘tourist’. It takes just under an hour to reach Tulungrejo from Blitar. Once in the village, take a left past the mosque and then up to the right on a road which runs above an impressive wide river. The last house is at 688m and you may be able to leave motorbikes here if you need to. Local guides are essential for the start unless you can use the GPS tracks from our GPS tracks page. Be warned that you cannot traverse the mountain and reach the warungs and crater car park from this side – so take plenty of water and snacks with you as it is a remote and rarely-visited part of the mountain quite isolated from the other side.

    A small trail leads from the road to the left through pine forest (709m). After just 2 minutes, take the right junction and follow the track as it bends round sharply before continuing up onto a narrow ridge. After an hour or less you will have reached a pleasant shelter – Pos 1 (980m). The last reliable water source is near here (you should be able to hear a small river). Although this trail is not often used by hikers, it is well-defined thanks to the local farmers and hunters who use it. The biggest danger on this route is leeches – sometimes there are lots and sometimes you may  pass by totally unscathed! Be sure to check your boots and socks every ten minutes or so.

    Pos 2 (1,317m) is nothing more than a point on a pleasant ridge which may or may not be marked with a basic shelter made from thin tree branches. From here, the trail continues to rise gently and after about 3 hours in total you should have reached the top of outlying peak Gunung Tumpak (1,428m) which is crowned with the remnants of a wooden building (just a wooden post or two, in 2013). In clear weather you should be able to see Gunung Butak to the east and the south coast of Java.  A little bit further along are more remnants of a second hut. Unfortunately, sometime in 2012 this either collapsed or was demolished. If you are lucky with the weather, you will see the dramatic vertical cliffs of the peak of Kelud beyond.

    From Gunung Tumpak, the trail descends steeply before following the crest of a very narrow ridge – take extra special care here. The trail them leads upwards towards the col on the left of the vertical cliffs of Kelud, some of which are covered with a deep red lichen. From Tumpak to the col takes about one hour and the col (1,510m) has a boundary marker pillar on it. The panorama to the west suddenly appears before you and the cliffs of Gunung Sumbing are visible on the other side of the crater. From the boundary marker, it’s still more than another 200m of height gain to the true peak and according to local people nobody has truly gotten to the very top – please contact us if you have! The lower cliffs are overgrown and steep but certainly look negotiable without ropes but the pinnacles at the very top definitely require ropes.

    If you wish to camp, there are one or two small spots next to the boundary marker which are reasonably flat but still rather rocky. If, like most sane people, you don’t fancy trying to bush-bash your way up the summit cliffs, it is definitely worth wandering over to the inner rim and peering over at the lava dome. A reasonably well-defined little trail leads up towards the summit cliffs (which it stays close to) and drops down into a few crevices before bringing you out after just 15 minutes on the edge of the inner rim – the real crater rim of Kelud. From here you will be able to gaze over one of the world’s most dangerous craters and – during the daytime – watch visitors emerge from the tunnels from the car park on the other side of the volcano or climb up to the little pendopo. It’s a great panorama. An alternative viewpoint is the little top just metres away from the boundary marker. It only takes ten minutes to reach the rocky little top (1,540m) and you can see the top part of the lava dome from here, as well as admire the view to Gunung Butak and other mountains to the east.

    After admiring the panorama, it takes just 3 hours to descend to Tulungrejo from the boundary marker.

    Bagging information by Daniel Quinn.


    Getting there Ojeks to the crater car park can be arranged from Blitar or Kediri. Public transport would take longer. For Tulungrejo you would need private transport or ojeks from the main Blitar-Malang road up via Semen. Some executive class trains stop at the pleasant little station at Wlingi, which is the ideal place to get off at if you are hiking from Tulungrejo.
    Accommodation There are several hotels in Kediri and Blitar. The colonial-era Sri Lestari in Blitar is truly excellent and has rooms to suit all budgets. There is actually a basic losmen in Tulungrejo for those wishing to do the proper hike from the east (2013).
    Permits Entrance tickets are Rp5,000 per person and annoyingly the gates are not opened until 7 or 8am.
    Water sources There are plenty of warungs selling drinks at the crater car park. On the Tulungrejo route there is a stream at 1,002 m.
    Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm): surabaya


    Origins and Meaning

    (not clear, possibly) Old-Man Mountain. One of the meanings of kelud in Old Javanese is “old and decrepit” so it is possible that the name Gunung Kelud reflects a perception that the mountain is an ancient, ancestral entity. In modern Javanese kelud means “a feather duster” so it is possible (though I think unlikely) that Gunung Kelud is “that which sweeps through everything (when it erupts).” (George Quinn, 2011)

    Links and References

    Wikipedia English
    Wikipedia Indonesia

    7 thoughts on “Kelud

    1. Now well set up well defined jalur pendakian with new ropes for visitors via tulunrejo. 10k entrance and 5 k gojek help to get to signposted trailhead otherwise pleasant walk. Popular in april with recent high school graduates. A top hike. Superb forest. presence of bird hunters.

    2. Spent Saturday night camping at the boundary marker on the outer rim and just below the summit cliffs of Kelud. We had some unusually poor weather but still got a few reasonable photos.

      I actually got off the train from Jakarta at Wlingi – ideal for the Tulungrejo route. We left the cars at the last house before the entrance to the pine forest. A few things were different to my experiences in 2011….
      Not many leeches this time, just one or two.
      The ‘pos’ at Pos 2 was non-existent – these shelters come and go every couple of months.
      The shelters on Tumpak were both almost entirely gone – just a few wooden posts lying in the long grass.

      As we were carrying tents, the section from Tumpak to the col/ boundary marker was tough in both directions, especially on the way back in bright sunlight.

      Myself and Roman had a go at climbing up the summit cliffs but the terrain was so awful (overgrown with bracken and very steep in places) that you would probably need a full day of hacking away at the undergrowth to have a chance of getting up there. Pretty dangerous too. However I did spot an empty milk carton near the place that we turned back (about a third of the way up) and remarked that even in the English Lake District there would be peaks not dis-similar with regular hiking routes up to the top (or near the top) of. But in Indonesia if nobody uses a freshly-cut trail every couple of weeks it just gets overgrown again.

      From this side of Kelud, you can see the lights at night on the steps up to the pendopo from the tunnel near the Kelud carpark on the other side of the crater. This ‘civilisation’ is pretty close, but getting there looks very difficult indeed (you would have to traverse Sumbing cliffs somehow). Good job Jonathan checked with us if we could get over to the warungs or not BEFORE we started hiking as he had presumed we would be able to buy snacks etc. at the top. This is not possible on the Tulungrejo route.

      Back down near Wlingi we had a pleasant lunch at the restaurant on the corner of the road junction up to Semen and Tulungrejo. Recommended.

    3. Hi Daniel how are you my friend Ali who stopped at the store yesterday, the photos you great, if you plan to Kelud back, do not forget to contact me and Ali, I am waiting reportedly (from Windarto-Blitar)

    4. Well, lots of people say that the true peak of Gunung Raung is the most difficult in Java, but I reckon Kelud must be up there too.
      I made two hikes on this fascinating mountain this week.
      The first was from the usual crater carpark. We set off early from Blitar (I cannot recommend enough the Sri Lestari hotel – great restaurant, gamelan, internet free of charge etc etc) to try to make the most of early morning clear views. Unfortunately, although there is no gate at the foot of the crater road, there is a metal gate 2.5km from the crater carpark so we had to wait until about 7.30am before it was opened – very annoying given that the best time for photos are well before 7am. There were some good views west to the vast Liman range but Kelud summit itself was shrouded in low clouds for much of the time. I decided on an approach via the pendopo (which can be reached via the cement steps up to the left after the dark tunnel). We got some great panoramas of the area – especially of the cliffs of Gunung Sumbing which are very popular with rock climbers in East Java.
      After leaving the pendopo we set off on a less well trodden but clear trail along the crater rim beyond the small cliff-face and on as far as it is possible to go on this side, this peak is known as Gunung Lirang on Bakosurtanal maps. The vertical drop beyond meant that it would be impossible to continue to the true peak, but the skies had gotten more blue and we took some great photos of the top of Kelud itself before turning back.
      Back down near the crater we enjoyed the hot springs in the river flowing west from the mountainside below Gunung Sumbing. I enquired with staff at the car park about a possible route traversing to the right of Sumbing cliff-face and it would appear it is possible but overgrown. Staff in the entrance office claimed it was possible but (as ever!) they were expecting the ‘bule’ to pay a small fortune for an obligatory guide! They also denied the existence of a trail from the east, something I later found out to be untrue!
      And, so, two days later we made an attempt from Tulungrejo to the east of the mountain. This trail goes through regular forest rather than the grassy, rocky, treeless crater car park approaches, which were presumably burnt to pieces in recent eruptions, preventing any major trees to last long there. This Tulungrejo route offers a little seen side of the Kelud mountain range and although there is nothing spectacular about the first 3 hours, once you’re beyond Gunung Tumpak the scenery is fabulous. We had a look at the cliffs of Kelud from just beneath them at the boundary marker but nobody else was keen on attempting a scramble up them and the weather was somewhat cloudy and I had a train to catch from Blitar (14 hours on the Gajayana night-train back to Jakarta) so I decided to return with rock climbing companions for a proper attempt on the true summit another time. Do contact us if you fancy a weekend there in the dry season.
      Whether anyone has reached the top is unknown – my local guides said no, but that climbers had certainly gotten up the side of the cliffs from the boundary marker. There are vertical pinncales at the very top which you would think would be of great interest to rock climbers, but it seems that almost everyone prefers the more accessible cliffs of Gunung Sumbing.
      A fascinating area anyway, looking forward to another hike here before too long….

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