- Elevation: 2,722 m (8,930 ft)
- Prominence: 2,722 m
- Ribu category: Tinggi Sedang
- Province: Nusa Tenggara Barat
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: Tamboro
- Eruptions: 1812-15, 1880, 1967
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. In 2018, Rp5,000 per day for locals and Rp150,000 per day for foreigners – even those who live, work and pay taxes in Indonesia.
- Water sources: Available at Pos 2 and usually near Pos 3. If your guides are uncertain about there being water at Pos 3, best fill up at Pos 2.
- Travel insurance: We recommend World Nomads insurance, which is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities including mountain hiking.
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