Elevation: 3,145 m (10,318 ft) Prominence: 2,432 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerSangat Tinggi Province: Jawa Tengah (Central Java)
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Bagging It!

This Ribu is one of the most popular hikes in Central Java, and has spectacular views to other volcanoes in all directions from the summit area. It has five calderas, Condrodimuko, Kombang, Kendang, Rebab and Sambernyowo but no serious volcanic activity has been reported here for many decades. Merbabu can be climbed from Kopeng (northern slope, near to Semerang) or Selo (southern slope between Merbabu and Merapi and closer to Solo), The best hike is definitely a traverse from Kopeng to Selo, because the climb from Kopeng is a gentler slope and there is a good source of water halfway up. This hike could be completed in a day by very fit people, but an overnight stay on one of the summits is recommended.

The Kopeng starting point is actually Tekelan village (1,600m elevation), where you are requested to register at the tiny National Park Office. The hike is called the “seven summits” based on the fact that are indeed seven summits, although a few of them are more of a small bump on the ascent. It is a long 5 to 7 hours up to the summit and you will need a sunhat and sunscreen as most of the trail is not forested. This has an upside of course – views are breathtaking, particular towards Sindoro and Sumbing.

There are 4 “pos” or shelters: 1) Pending (1,936m); 2) Pereng Putih (2,162m); Gemuk Menthul (2,330m); and Lempong Sompan (2,510m). Strong hikers should take no more than 2 hours to reach Pos 4, but your porters may need longer. After the 4 pos, there are the seven summits. The first is Watu Gubug (2,735m) and the second is more obvious and called Watu Tulis (2,900m) where there is a old radio mast. It should take strong hikers no more 3 hours to get to this point. After Watu Tulis, the path drops down before the climb starts to Summit 3. Just before the climb starts to summit 3, there is a source of good water near to an obvious geological feature – a large area or outcrop of white/yellow sulphurous clay soil. You drop down an obvious path to the right and can hear the stream below very clearly. This area is a popular camping spot for those who do not want to hike all the way to the summits over 3,000m. If you do camp here, it means an early morning start if you want to get to the summits for sunrise, and you’ll miss the best views of the sunset. Geger Sapi (2,987m) is not really much of a summit, and is more of a small hump on the fairly relentless steep climb towards Summit 4. As you reach the summit ridge, you turn left to climb the last few metres to Summit 4, Syarif (3,142m). This is a fabulous camping spot, with views of Sumbing, Sindoro, Merbabu’s highest summits and Merapi. There are surprisingly many good flat camping areas, and you may well have the whole summit to yourself, until the sunrise hikers make their way up from Summit 3.

Another great camping spots and is Summit 6, which is near the true summit and called Kenteng Songo (3,167m). To reach Summit 6 from Summit 4, you drop back down and hike along the ridge between the summits. The path actually passes around the south side of Summit 5, Ondorante (3,000m), before the final steep climb to reach Summit 6. A short hop from Summit 6 is the Summit 7 – Triangulasi – which appropriately has a pile of stones and a blue cement rock at the very highest point.

All three of the main campsite areas offer wonderful views eastwards to Gunung Lawu, northwards to Telomoyo and Ungaran and south to Gunung Merapi, but the highest peak is definitely the best for watching Merapi. On your second day, return the same way or follow the steep but well-used track down to Selo (the village nestling between Merbabu and Merapi). This will take at least 4 hours and is hard on the knees. After the steepest part descent along the eroded trail you reach a fairly flat grassy area where the trail gives you two choices; take the left (more easterly) option and drop down through some open forest that becomes a denser as you descend further. Another hour or two and you’ll reach some pine plantation and suddenly see the village that marks your exit from Merbabu National Park, and the end of a fantastic hike.

Bagging information by Andy Dean and Daniel Quinn.


Getting there There are plenty of flights and train services from Jakarta to both Semarang and Solo. From there, public transport is available to both starting points but it will take much longer than if you can arrange your own transport.
Accommodation Available in Kopeng, limited accommodation available in Selo.
Permits Register at Tekelan Park Office – take a photocopy of your passport photo page with you.
Water sources Supplies usually available between Watu Tulis (2,900m) and Summit 3.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm): yogyakarta


Origins and Meaning

Ashy Mountain. The name Merbabu probably evolved from merabu or merawu which consists of the prefix mer– and the base word abu or awu. Mer– (same as the Indonesian-Malay ber-) means “to have/possess the quality expressed in the base word”, and abu / awu means “ash”. So Merbabu means “the ashy one” referring to ash expelled during the mountain’s incessant eruptions. Merbabu hasn’t erupted in recent historical times, but the name Mount Ashy may represent a memory of the mountain that goes back well beyond recorded history. See also Mount Lawu. (George Quinn, 2011)

Links and References

Wikipedia English
Wikipedia Indonesia

22 thoughts on “Merbabu

  1. I just climb to Merbabu last week… I took Wekas, Magelang rute (North side) and go down via Selo. Actualy I want to climb via Thekelan, but my guide advice me to climb via Wekas. He told Wekas rute are shorter.. And ya… I walk slowly and I make it to the summit only 5 hours… Stuning…!!! Tired but I proud…
    Recomend local guide who can lead the trek to climb Mt. Merbabu
    He is Sura Mendhol
    +6281548615234 / email :
    He life in Selo (south side of Mt. Merbabu)
    Experienced, speakin English, can arrange sunrise trekking and camping program.

  2. Hi,

    Planning to climb Merbabu some time in July.If i’m coming from Malaysia, where is the closest airport that I should fly to? Is it Jakarta?

  3. It is easy to get there using public transport from Semarang: get a Semarang -> Solo bus & get off in Salatiga at the junction with the road to Kopeng, from there get an angkot to Kopeng & get an ojek from Kopeng to Tekelan. The highest point with permanent water is Gemuk Menthul 2330 Metres where there is a tap. There was no water below summit 3 when I was there in the dry season. The Cuntel route mentioned above is good for descent & probably quicker than Tekelan but better to ascend via Tekelan as as water availability is better on the Tekelan route. It is easy to get from Cuntel to Kopeng by ojek, angkot or walking

  4. Went to Magelang this weekend with the objective of bagging both Merbabu and Merapi. Long story short, I made it. Made my way up to Merbabu’s puncak trianggulasi from Selo base camp in just over 3 hours in time to catch the sunset. Just to let you all know I pay a lot of attention on my fitness and half sprinted my way up the mountain as we had a late start. I was with someone who started off as my guide but is now a very good friend of mine, Bayu Saputra (check resources: Guides on this website). Give him one phone call, and he will sort out the rest for you. Calling him before going to Central Java was perhaps the best thing I did. I had nothing to worry about once I spoke to him from the comfort of my office space in Jakarta. He will make sure that not only you enjoy your trek up to the top, but also ensure you’ve got all your logistics and other details in order before you start and once you get there as well (I’m referring to unexpected issues of any nature whatsoever). If you’re planning a trip there, or to any of the neighbouring mountains, call him. Period. Or you can talk to me as well. I’d love to help out in any way I can.

    • Hi Gaurav,

      Need help with guide and logistics arrangement for climbing Mt. Merbabu. Appreciate if you can connect me to Bayu Saputra.

      Bryan Kho

      • Hey mate,

        Here you go.

        Bayu Saputra: +62 857 416 713 22

        A few other reliable guides in the link below. I’ve talked to a couple of them and they seem to know their way around as well. Type in Merbabu in the search and you should be good to go.


    • hai.. if you need guide to mt.merbabu or mt.merapi, call me 085743974154 (anis ,bayu saputra’s friend ) . Guide for Gaurav Tiwari to mt merapi last year..

  5. To Dan. Gito is an excellent guide and organizer living in Selo (southern approach). His number is 0878 363 522 60. He arranges everything from airport to airport.

  6. Just returned from a fantastic traverse of this superb gunung. We contacted Pak Danar of Kaloka Adventure ( who provided good service, porters, water, tents and meals (excluding snacks) for the 2d/1n hike.

    We did a traverse from Wetas to Selo villages. Wetas is situated west of the Kopeng starting point described by Andy and Daniel above, and is about a 6 hour hike to the camping spot on the ridge between Puncak Syarif and the true summit of Puncak Kenteng Songo. We started in the afternoon (would have been preferable to start earlier but the guides were insistent for some reason) and stopped at several of the post along the way, notably at Pos 1 (1752 mpdl) and then at Pemancar (2504 mpdl).

    Starting from Wetas you walk through a conctrete path for about 30 mins up through the agricultural land and then slowly into deeper and denser forest. Very pleasant hike, before eventually emerging into the craggy rock formations, and then spending the night on the ridge connecting the various Merbabu summits. Very memorable spending the night there but be sure to pack warm dry clothes because of the dipping evening temperatures!

    After the summit the next day, the descent to Selo is a truly memorable experience, with the backdrop of Merapi guiding you the entire way down. A pretty straightforward 4 hour hike (faster if you are moving fast and willing to slide on your butt down some muddy slopes) to Selo, which is coincidentally close to the trailhead for a Merapi climb. For the truly ambitious a long weekend climbing Merbabu and Merapi is definitely an option!

  7. An Indonesian volcano lover is not a true lover before setting foot on the peak of G Merbabu. The summit view is the best in Indonesia, in the same tier with G Rinjani’s.

  8. i live in salatiga, i’ve climb this mountain more than 15 times (maybe 20 times :D) and never get bored. very beautiful mountain with wide view (especially from pos watugubug and above). i think best time to climb there is summer where the sky very clear and u can get 360 degre point of view from the summit.

  9. Another approach, that joins the Tekelan route at the antenna (2900 masl) is starting from Cuntel village, around 3 km from Kopeng (~ 1450 masl). It might be a shorter alternative, if heading on foot directly from Kopeng. Having not climbed the Tekelan route, i cannot compare the condition of both paths, but the Cuntel route is not eroded and most of the walking is on a black, solid soil with a good grip. The only clay and slippery passages, being an overall exception, are present on the last 100-200 m below the radio mast.
    There is an asphalt road on the right (S-SE), starting about 100 m after the centre of Kopeng and the junction (again on the right side) to the Hotel/swimming pool, when coming from Magelang and moving in direction Salatiga. Many hotels are present along both sides of the road. Take the left fork after about 1 km (signposted) and continue for another 2.5 km on good asphalt. Left hand is a lush green forest, right side is agricultural land. Base Camp is situated on the left side, at the entrance of Cuntel village (1600 masl). Continue on the main village street, which turns right straight thereafter and look for a sign on the left. This is the trailhead, starting through some onion fields and turning sharp left and up the slope after 10 min. Soon you reach Bayangan 1 (wooden roof – 1860 masl) and after another 40 mins is Bayangan 2 (better shelter – 2070 masl, water in front). The path continues up and through a denser vegetation, but is clearly visible. Official Pos 1 (Watu Putut – 2145 masl) with an area for 3-4 tents is a short distance from there and after some 30-40 mins you reach Pos 2 (Kedokan – 2300 masl), but a large camping area on a huge meadow can be found at Pos 3 (Kergo Pasar – 2450 masl, no water). Total walking time from Kopeng to Pos 3 should be around 3-4 hours and the impressive ridge and hill with the antenna on top of it is clearly visible from here in good whether. Further the path gets steeper, winding endlessly and gaining a lot of altitude until after 90-120 mins, you join the Tekelan route, several meters below Pos 4 (Pemancar/Watu Tulis – 2900 masl). There is a sign at this junction, marking Tekelan and Cuntel directions. From here you follow the original route description.

  10. I climbed in the wet season starting in Kopeng. Had to turn around at Watu Tulis after sheltering in the shack next to the radio mast due to bad weather.

    Freezing cold but good fun

    • I sat in the same shack for 2h (Nov ’10), sheltering from raining ash from Gn Merapi and waiting for the sunrise so we could carry on to the summit. Luckily by 5am the weather had cleared and the freezing cold 2hours in the shack were rewarded with beautiful views!
      A very divers mountain! Great climb!

  11. I Climb this mountain on 2001. I took Jalur Kopeng, Salatiga. From Jakarta I took train to Semarang (stasiun poncol), and took a bus to KOPENG. From Kopeng I walked to Cuntel Basecamp.

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