|Elevation:||813 m (2,667 ft)||Prominence:||813 m|
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Rakata is the highest of the Krakatau islands in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. It is the remnants of the only one of three volcanoes which formed Krakatau to not have been entirely destroyed in the 1883 eruptions. The island has a cliff as its northern face and it is a popular place to stay in order to watch Anak Krakatau from a safe distance. It is thought to be volcanically extinct. Although it’s the highest peak in the Krakatau islands group it is very, very rarely climbed and because of this the trail is overgrown. I would go as far as to say it’s one of the toughest day hikes in Indonesia. It’s not for beginners! Thankfully in clear weather there are spectacular views from the summit, perched on the 800 metre high cliffs which were created when the original Krakatau volcano erupted in 1883.
The starting point for the hike is actually on the side facing the coast of Java, so you can be at the trailhead in less than 90 minutes in a speedboat from Carita. The trail initially appears to be rather good quality but the fact you start at sea level means it is incredibly hot and humid and a great deal of water is needed to prevent dehydration. The trail eventually starts to get steeper, though it also becomes incredibly vague and you will probably end up either following one of the ravines up the mountainside or clambering along a narrow, crumbly ridge above the ravines. Either way, you will need a local guide who has done this before and who is armed with a machete. The upside of how infrequently this peak is climbed is that there is almost no rubbish whatsoever.
There are lots of difficult sections where you will get very dirty and potentially cut to pieces. Long trousers, shirt sleeves and gloves are pretty much essential! As you continue up the mountain the vegetation becomes more and more dense due to how few people actual come here. If there were a decent trail, it would take 4 hours to reach the peak. In its present state it takes more than 5 gruelling hours! Eventually you reach a ridge covered in lower vegetation rather than trees, and you begin to notice that you are next to a cliff edge -an 800 metre high cliff edge! Do take extra care here as a fall would definitely mean death.
From the top of the cliff, the views across the ocean and down to Anak Krakatau are stunning. There are also a few interesting rocky pinncales halfway up the cliff-face. The actual highest point is unmarked and it’s amazing to think that so few people climb to this, the high point of the Krakatau islands. Hopefully given time this hike will become more popular, and therefore more easy to follow the trail. At present, a GPS is a very wise idea when trying to negotiate the forest here.
It takes about 3 hours to descend the same way, so altogether you really do need a full day for this – even with a group of strong and experienced hikers. Ask your guide to show you the place near the start of the hike where charcoal created by the 1883 eruption can still be dug out of the ground! If you’re thinking of climbing Anak Krakatau aswell there are plenty of good camping spots on the beaches of Rakata or even better on nearby Pulau Sertung.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn.
|Getting there||From Jakarta, take the toll road towards Merak. You have several options including: exit at Cilegon and follow the bumpy road down to Anyer and Carita, or exit at the Pandeglang turn-off and head to the coast at Labuan. Then follow the road north to Carita and Anyer. The former option is easier for navigating but the latter has much better quality roads. The islands can also be approached from Kalianda on the Sumatra side – it’s much cheaper but takes a long time to reach from Jakarta.|
|Accommodation||Plenty of options in Anyer and Carita. Carita is much cheaper. There is also a range of places in Kalianda, Sumatra, if doing it from this side.|
|Permits||Your guide/ boat captain will arrange it for you.|
|Water sources||No reliable sources except damp moss – so take sufficient supplies with you.|
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Origins and Meaning
‘Rakata’ means ‘crab’ in old Javanese. (Wikipedia, 2011). This is the most likely origin, followed by an onomatopoeic theory suggesting the name imitates the sound of the birds inhabiting the island, or possibly even the sound of volcanic eruptions. See Wikipedia or the Gunung Bagging Anak Krakatau page for alternative theories.
Links and References
Wikipedia. 2011. Krakatoa. Accessed from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krakatoa