// Tambora


Elevation: 2,722 m (8,930 ft) Prominence: 2,722 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerTinggi Sedang Province: Nusa Tenggara Barat
Google Earth: kml Other names: Tamboro
Rating: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (27 votes) Add your rating
Eruptions: 1812-15, 1880, 1967


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Tambora from above (Nick Hughes, June 2008)Tambora from above (Nick Hughes, June 2008)
Tambora from above (Nick Hughes, June 2008)
Tambora (Steve Campbell, May 2008)Tambora (Steve Campbell, May 2008)
Tambora (Steve Campbell, May 2008)
Tambora (Steve Campbell, May 2008)Tambora (Steve Campbell, May 2008)
Tambora (Steve Campbell, May 2008)
Tambora (Steve Campbell, May 2008)Tambora (Steve Campbell, May 2008)
Tambora (Steve Campbell, May 2008)

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Bagging It!

This Ribu is the site of the largest volcanic explosion in recorded history. In April 1815, the volcano erupted so violently that it was heard over 2,000 kilometres away and 71,000 people were killed. 160 cubic kilometres of fragmental material ejected in the explosion was responsible for 1816′s ‘Year without Summer’ around the world. It is no surprise, then, that the crater is enormous – over 7 kilometres in diameter. Thankfully, the volcano has calmed down considerably since the world-famous eruption.

Getting to the starting point is an adventure in itself. Tambora is on the island of Sumbawa, which is served by unreliable daily flights from Lombok. To be on the safe side, you may want to take the ferry over from Lombok. Once on Sumbawa, if you have a large group, you may perhaps even wish to charter a boat from the port of Badas to take you directly over (6 hours) to the small logging town of Calabai instead of the 8 or 9 hour journey by road. The Tambora office (where you get a permit) is in Pancasila next to the village field and it is recommended that you take porters from Pancasila rather than Calabai. It takes just under one hour along very bumpy roads to reach Pancasila from Calabai.

You can start the long trek to the crater in Pancasila itself, but better still arrange for a truck to take you up the track as far as it can go. In previous years, the hike was much longer but From the end of the track, where there is a small warung and lots of chickens, it is a long 8 or 9 hours to the crater rim. Because the trail starts at quite a low elevation, the first few hours of hiking through jungle are hot and sweaty. There is a source of clean water about an hour from the start of the trail.

If you can’t manage to start early in the morning, the best thing to do is to camp at Pos 3 (5 hours from the trailhead, nearby water source) or Pos 5 and then have a second night on the crater rim itself. Once you emerge from the forest, the vegetation becomes less and less and you can look back to the nearby coast and onward across the black volcanic sands.

There are plenty of sandy areas suitable for camping near the top but be warned it can get quite windy and difficult to keep tent pegs firmly held in place. The crater rim is one of the world’s most fascinating places and the views at sunset over Gunung Rinjani (Lombok) are fabulous. As for the incredible size of the crater itself, photos cannot really do it justice. The highest point is on the western edge of the crater and is marked with a cairn and Indonesian flag. Be careful when walking out there because certain areas are not stable and there are one or two fairly deep rock trenches.

The route up is the best route back down again – fast hikers will be down at the trailhead in 6 hours.

NOTE: Apparently there is also a rough vehicle route through a cashew plantation/’savanah’ to the caldera from Doro Mboha at the southeast of the mountain. With a 4WD,and in good conditions, you can get as far up the track as 1,830m (Pos 3). It is a long drive in (22km) and you have a good chance of getting stuck in mud but from Pos 3 it is then only 3 hours on foot to the crater rim. There is no water, food, fuel, kampungs or accommodation on this route but if you have a 4WD then it might be worth a go. (Thanks to Mauricio Claudio for information on this route).

Bagging information provided by Daniel Quinn


Getting there Difficult, but lots of options. Fly to Bima or Sumbawa Besar or take a ferry over to from Lombok, then take public transport. Allow lots of time to do this. If you can, it is best to go with a group on a tour bus to save time.
Accommodation Very basic accommodation available in Pancasila and Calabai.
Permits You are required to register at the Pancasila basecamp.
Water sources Available near Pos 3.
Help Gunung Bagging:
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm): bima


Links and References

Wikipedia English
Wikipedia Indonesia

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Trip Reports and Comments

75 entries for “Tambora”

  1. avatar

    Flights to Sumbawa Besar. Current options to fly to Sumbawa Besar are from Bali with Trans Nusa or from Lombok with Garuda or Lion/Wings Air. Flying from Jakarta with either Lion or Garuda involves at least a 3-hour stopover in Lombok. As it turned out, my return flight with Garuda was cancelled because of the eruption of Mount Rinjani and consequent closure of Lombok Airport. In this situation the airline declares “force majeure”, voiding any claim to compensation. I had to pay Garuda Rp30,000 to convert my Sumbawa-Jakarta ticket to a Bali-Jakarta ticket and then get to Bali at my own expense to catch the plane to Jakarta.

    Sumbawa Besar to Tambora. I took a combination of bus and hired car from Sumbawa to Pancasila and then a bus to return from Calabai to Sumbawa. The bus takes a slow 10 hours, even though the road is now in excellent condition. Travelling by car all the way should take under 6 hours. From Bima would take an hour or two less than that.

    Tambora. My plan was for the hired car to take me all the way to Tambora Guesthouse. However, our Avanza got stuck in the first sandy section after leaving Pancasila and almost slid over a ravine. Instead, I took an ojek to the Guesthouse, which appeared to be empty; Rik later told me that the manager Suparno had been out buying supplies. Anyway I travelled on to the hamlet of Oibura, where the kepala dusun Pak Suleiman (hp: 085239842593) found me accommodation in a room in a concrete block near his home and also 2 porters.

    The ascent. We set off at 07.00 and reached our campsite near the crater rim at 15.30. The first 2 hours featured interspersed warbling of birds and droning of chainsaws on both sides of the trail. (Several local people complained bitterly about indiscriminate tree felling, which they say is drying up water sources and rendering the land useless for farming; cattle in the area certainly looked close to starvation. But locals are powerless to stop the loggers.) At the stream at pos 2, we neglected to fill our water bottles, which turned out to be a mistake; pos 3 was dry, leaving us short of water for the rest of the trip. Around pos 4, much of the earth was bare and scorched to black. Smoldering tree trunks lay across the trail. My hands turned as sooty as Othello’s bosom from clambering over charred trees.

    I can corroborate Dan’s comment about the problems of camping near the crater. Although our site was sheltered under a small cliff, the wind seemed to whip in from every direction. Large pumice stones (the only kind available) were needed to weigh down the tent pegs and stop the tent from drifting.

    The summit. Next morning it took us 30 minutes to reach the summit, with its bracing wind and views of Pulau Moyo and Rinjani. A new adornment there is a memorial stone from Institut Teknologi Bandung for its former lecturer and keen hiker Widjajono Partowidagdo, who became Deputy Energy Minister in 2011. He proposed a number of controversial policies, including abolishing fuel subsidies and raising more revenue from coal companies. But after only 6 months in office he died of a heart attack at pos 3 on Gunung Tambora.

    GPS altitudes were as follows. Start in Oibura 690m, Pos 1 1070m, Pos 2 1330m, Pos 3 1630m, Pos 4 1870m, Pos 5 2050m, campsite near crater rim 2610m, summit 2728m.

    It would be interesting to know why many maps and brochures give the summit height as 2851m. There is only one point on the southwest crater rim that looks similar in height to the Google mapped summit, but certainly not 120m higher!

    For hikers ascending from the west, photographing the crater is better done in late afternoon, with the sun behind, than in the early morning, facing into the rising sun.

    The descent.We took 6h30m to descend from the crater rim back to Oibura, where I found an ojek to go down to Calabai; the accommodation at Mr. Henry’s villa is indeed basic, but well-located on stilts over the water.

    Sumbawa Besar. In Sumbawa Besar I can recommend both the Samawa Transit Hotel, a neat city hotel, and the Kencana Beach cottages, a few km out of town, though Bima is probably a more convenient base for reaching Tambora.

    Posted by John Hargreaves | November 12, 2015, 20:11
  2. avatar

    We climbed Tambora in July 2015. With the help of Rik at https://visittambora.wordpress.com/
    It was easily one of our best hiking experiences. Rik helped arrange everything from transport to porters and guides, and he did this generously, taking our phone calls and translating our questions. He wants to promote hiking on Tambora to help the local community.

    We planned to hike Tambora from the guesthouse in the cofffee plantation. The bus from Bima to Calabai didn’t turn up, so Rik helped us to arrange a driver to Panacisla and motorcycles to the coffee plantation. The motorcycle ride is adventerous at night if you have a large rucksack, but the drivers were very good. At the guesthouse the food was excellent, with big portions givings us energy for trekking. We first wanted to do the two day trek to the summit with just a guide, which is possible if you are fit. In the end we decided to take it in three days and two nights, sharing porters and guides between four people. This was a comfortable way to trek as we were a little unwell. Again, Rik was able to help us and very accomadating when we needed to change plans at the last minute due to illness.

    The trek with the guides and porters was extremely fun. We were able to set our own pace and were well looked after. Food was cooked by our guides and porters and was fantastic. Tents and sleeping bags were provided and many snacks and cups of tea around the campfire. It is important to rise early on the 2nd day to see the crater in the early morning. It was spectacular.

    We were able to communicate with our guides in a little english and Bhasa Indonesia. Thanks to them and RIk, our experience on Tambora was unforgettable and one of our best trekking experiences.

    Posted by Laura B | September 30, 2015, 22:37
  3. avatar

    The Tambora page in gunungbagging, under “Trip reports and comments” indicates that 72 entries are available; however I can only see the first ten or so. I could not find a way to read the others. Please give advice about how to do that. Best regards and congratulations for the excellent work you are doing with gunungbagging. Mirco

    Posted by Mirco | July 1, 2015, 17:41
  4. avatar

    Java Lava Bi-Centennial Climb of the 5-12 April 1815 eruption
    The President, Jokowi, had visited Tambora a week before our climb. Presumably he did not climb the mountain but did a helicopter fly-over. The remnants of his visit, one week later, were visible along the road where the ceremony had taken place – hectares of polystyrene lunch boxes and plastic water bottle scattered across the landscape. Local authorities are great in hosting an official guest but seemingly give little thought to cleaning up afterwards!
    Java Lava climbed Tambora a week later, 17-19 April. The track up the mountain had been cleared and many local groups were still on the mountain. It was great to see such interest in the bi-centenary of this massive eruption.
    A small volcanic quake occurred while our group was on the rim with a landslide into the caldera: advice, stay well away from the rim. We also noticed that the true summit can now only be climbed from the outer side of rim, whereas earlier (2009) it could be climbed from the inner side. Clearly, many quakes have occurred during this time creating enormous landslides into the caldera along the rim just below the summit.
    Our base was a lovely, hospitable bungalow in the coffee plantations above Pancasila. Contact: Rik Stoetman; 0813 5337 0951; visittambora@gmail.com for details. Rik also took us to a nearly excavation site of a village that had been obliterated by the 1815 eruption. Fascinating!

    Posted by Nicholas Hughes | May 19, 2015, 22:26
  5. avatar

    Thanx for the info Derek and Merantau. Plans have changed. I’ll be flying to Bima with some friends and going out there by public transport. Does anyone have a number for a decent local guide?

    Thanx for any help!

    Posted by Tom | May 12, 2015, 13:46
  6. avatar

    Has anyone been to Pancasila recently? what’s the condition of the road like now? Thinking of driving over there from Bali.

    Posted by Tom | April 11, 2015, 23:49
    • avatar

      Hi Tom, by chance i was there last Saturday for the 200th anniversary commemoration with about 20000 other people (you’ll see where it was on the savanna by the huge amount of litter left behind.)
      The road is now sealed all the way and in excellent condition – just a few pieces left to repair.
      The President proclaimed the Tambora National Park and announced a yearly Tambora Festival. Interest in the mountain is growing, now is a good time to go. Have a good time.

      Posted by Derek Pugh | April 14, 2015, 04:25
    • avatar

      I was at Tambora two days ago. The main roads are in excellent condition and you will have no trouble reaching Calabahi in around two hours or less from the tee intersection. I did not go to Pancasila so can’t comment on the road to there from Calabahi but it’s only a short hop. I actually only travelled about 57 km from the tee intersection towards Calabahi. I then turned inland in an attempt to reach Pos 3 on my motorbike. I got two kms past Pos 2 (976 mts above sl) before I had to bail out (clutch slipping badly and just became too hairy on my own as help is a long way away in an emergency) To give you an idea of the roads I, on Tuesday, I travelled from Hu’u Beach, 40 km SW of Dompu) to Poto Tano (ferry port to return to Lombok) in 9 hours and that was taking in easy.

      Posted by merantau | April 16, 2015, 10:44
  7. avatar

    For anyone interested in Tambora my book “Tambora: Travels to Sumbawa and the Mountain that Changed the World” is now available – see Amazon, Barnes and Noble, A&R or your local bookshop, or direct from me via derekpugh.com.au

    Posted by Derek Pugh | January 5, 2015, 18:26
  8. avatar

    Hi’ guys.

    I am hoping to climb Tambora by the end of the year, most likely the last week of december.
    Is it possible to organise everything for the climb on the spot in Pancasila and Calabai or is there anything I need to organise in advance?
    I will be coming by myself and will be happy to join any groups there might be but will otherwise just do it by myself with the help of a local guide/porter.

    Posted by Claus Andersen | November 28, 2014, 16:47
  9. avatar

    Hi guys
    I have no choice but to be in Sumbawa in January. So, is it impossible to climb Tambora at this time? I know the monthly rainfall is about 100mm in Jan…..
    Has anyone done it in the wet?

    Posted by Sean lavery | November 16, 2014, 12:55
    • avatar

      Hi Sean, Yes you can do it in January – we were talked out of it in February but looking through the registration book there were a dozen or so trips up in January. If you’re at the summit at dawn you’ll get the views, but probably a white out later. I was up last May and it still rained, not so bad…
      My book “Tambora: Travels to Sumbawa and the Mountain that Changed the World” will be released in the first week of January 2015. see my website.

      Posted by Derek Pugh | November 17, 2014, 19:28
      • avatar

        hi Derek:)
        Thanks for the information…. I think we will chance it and give it a go. Not a lot of choice time wise so hey, what could possibly go wrong?

        Posted by Sean | November 19, 2014, 19:01

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