|Elevation:||2,891 m (9,485 ft)||Prominence:||2,116 m|
|Ribu category:||Tinggi Sedang||Province:||Sumatera Barat (West Sumatra)|
|Google Earth:||kml||Other names:|
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This Ribu is the most active volcano in Sumatra and is one of the most popular hikes in Indonesia. It is located to the south-east of the town of Bukittinggi and is easily reached from the main road south of the town. There are many places on Bukittinggi’s main tourist street – Jalan A Yani – where you can arrange a guide but be sure to haggle to prevent paying over the odds for what is a fairly straightforward hike, albeit onto a highly active volcano. The best thing to do is to climb at night so you reach the crater area for sunrise. The view from the Marapi crater area is staggering – as good as that from Gunung Kerinci, Sumatra’s highest peak. Most tour guides will suggest you set off at midnight or before. However, if you are a strong hiker it will not take you more than 4 hours to reach the crater so unless you want to freeze at the top waiting for the sun to appear it is better to start at 1 or 1.30am.
Unfortunately – and despite what 99% of local people will tell you – the highest point of the Marapi mountain cannot be reached from the usual western approach from Koto Baru. The true peak with the triangulation pillar (2,891m) – known as Marapi Tuo (‘old Marapi’) to some locals – lies in dense jungle to the east and you would have to hack your way across thick vegetation and up and down steep slopes for many hours. It is pretty much impossible at present from the usual approach. A new, longer, path from the north to the true summit was opened in 2003 – in an expedition which took 9 days – but it is nowhere as popular as the route from the west. It starts in the village of Kacawali (1,400m) and parts of the trail are incredibly steep and demanding. It was opened by hikers from MAPALA UNAND (Andalas University Limau Manis Padang).
Apparently the steep path is at 80 or 90% angles in places and it takes a minimum of eight hours to reach the top which requires at least one night on the mountain. There are two water sources at 1,400m (the starting point) and 2,500m. The first section is through bamboo vegetation and the difficult section begins at approximately 2,000m. There are spectacular views of a 500m high waterall at 2,400m and numerous craters and lesser peaks can be seen from the summit itself which is crowned with a triangulation pillar. Very few people have hiked this way and several have become lost. Most local people actually consider the area to be haunted. It is hoped that there will be an Gunung Bagging and Mapala Unand joint expedition in 2011.
Inevitably, most people are happy enough with reaching Puncak Merpati (2,757m) which is the highest peak in the crater complex. From Koto Baru, head up Jalan Tantawi (with the signpost “Lokasi Sekolah Darurat”) and take the immediate right turn. A telecommunications mast (1,313m) lies 3kms further along this road and the trail to the crater begins on a farm track next to some wooden huts. The trail leads through farmland, past a warning sign and a small, modern building (1,477m) and then over a bamboo footbridge (1,490m). As per usual, this beginning section is the area which you are most likely to get lost, due to the various different farm tracks.
There are many signs – often yellow – for both camping areas and water sources on the lower section of the trail. Because of its popularity the trail is very well defined and you will probably meet other hikers enroute. As the trail leads higher up the mountain, the vegetation becomes less dense and there are some excellent views over the Agam valley to Mount Singgalang and the town of Bukittinggi. The vegetation ends at approximately 2,500m where there are many camping spots. The path then zig-zags up the steep rocky slop of the volcano. When you reach the edge of the crater area, you should see a small white monument on your left at 2,683m. This is known as Tugu Abel Tasman, named after a man who died here in a 1996 eruption. Sadly, it has been somewhat vandalised recently.
From here it is a short 30 minute stroll across both sandy and rocky volcanic plains to the ‘summit’ of Puncak Merpati (2,757m). By now, the sun should be appearing and you should be able to see nearby Singgalang mountain to the west, Talakmau beyond Bukittinggi to the north and Lake Singkarak and Kerinci to the south. There are numerous volcanic features here – from deep smoking pits to rather peaceful looking rocky craters. You should be able to see the true forested peak of Marapi lying some 130 metres higher a couple of kilometres to the west. Another peak worth visiting is on the edge of the vegetated area, beyond the crater complex. It is easily recognizable because there are half-burnt trees and pleasant vegetation on its slopes. It is known as Puncak Garuda (2,735m) and is perhaps the finest easily-accessible viewpoint here.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn
|Getting there||The nearest city is Bukittinggi, the nearest airport is Padang, which is about 2 hours from the mountain.|
|Accommodation||There is no accommodation in Kotabaru – it is best to stay in one of the many hotels in Bukittinggi – try the Jalan A Yani area.|
|Permits||Not required – take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase.|
|Water sources||On the usual route to the crater area there are plenty of water sources on the lower slopes (look out for the signs – ‘Air’). On the true summit route water is available at 1,400m (the Kacawai starting point) and 2,500m.|
Origins and Meaning
‘Mountain of fire’ in Indonesian. According to legend, the mountain is the site first settled by the Minangkabau people after their ship landed on the mountain when it was the size of an egg and surrounded by water. There are large numbers of upright burial stones in the region which are oriented in the direction of the mountain, indicating its cultural significance. (Wikipedia, 2011)