- Elevation: 3,371 m (11,060 ft)
- Prominence: 2,628 m
- Ribu category: Sangat Tinggi
- Province: Jawa Tengah (Central Java)
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none.
- Eruptions: 1730(?)
This huge mountain is separated from its similarly conical neighbour, Gunung Sindoro, by the Kledung Pass (1,400m) and is the second highest peak in Central Java. Its only known eruption was in 1730 but there is still minor volcanic activity in the crater.
It is most commonly climbed from the north from the basecamp at Garung village, which is very near to Kledung where there is a decent hotel. Public transport from Yogya is frustratingly slow so the area is better approached from Semarang if you are not using a private car (or choose one of the other routes below which are closer to Yogya and easier to reach). There are frequent buses through Kledung which run between Semarang and Purwokerto.
Garung village is just fifteen minutes on foot from Kledung. Guides can easily be arranged at the Garung basecamp or Kledung Pass hotel. Take the road leading south from the main road through Kledung next to a mosque and BRI bank. The basecamp is on your left (1,420m) and permits can be arranged there if your guide hasn’t already dealt with it. You can also ask for a basic map and route description (in Indonesian).
From Garung, the road leads up through Garung village and the trail through farmland begins at approximately 1,478m. You will almost certainly be able to get an ojek to the end of the road. There are actually two routes – old and new – that you can take (‘jalur lama’ and ‘jalur baru’) and they join together at two possible places further along the hike. The new route (baru) is more slightly more west than the old route but the distance between them is not great. However, this can lead to confusion as there are no signposts and guides have known to become lost themselves on minor farm tracks on the lower slopes! The new trail has presumably been opened to combat erosion on the old route, which is steeper and more slippery. Your guide is likely to take you up the new route (‘jalur baru’) which is a wise decision – even more so for the descent, which is slippery whichever route you take!
Experienced hikers should be able to reach the crater rim in 5-6 hours because although the trail is steep it is only 7 km long. ‘Jalur baru’ (new route) is better for water sources as a stream runs parallel to it on the west. On ‘jalur baru’ (new route) the last place for water is a large stream on the edge of farm plantation at 1,900m. Jalur baru has Pos 1 Malim (1,922m) and Pos 2 Gatakan (2,235m) which are both very basic wooden frames. They will protect you from rain but are of little merit as places to actually camp. There are numerous places to pitch a tent on the way up but most places can only accommodate 2 or 3 tents at most.
At 2,317m is a monument to a hiker who died on Sumbing and a slightly larger camping area. Beyond this, the forest becomes thinner and thinner and views over to Gunung Sindoro become correspondingly magnificent. After the two different routes have met, the first major landmark on the hike is ‘watu kotak’ (stone box) at 2,983m. The trail leads along the left side of this and a second rocky cliff of considerable length (known simply as ‘tebing’) a little higher up at 3,000 – 3,040m. This is near the area known to guides as ‘tanah putih’ (white land).
As you near the crater rim there are two destinations for hikers. Almost all hikers simply continue to the top of the rim. The peak is known as Puncak Buntu (3,308m) and and in good weather conditions hikers are rewarded with the tremendous view over to Merapi and Merbabu. Down below is the large crater – smoke may be billowing from the middle section and there is a large pool of water on the north-eastern end of the crater complex. It is possible to explore the crater by descending into it from the rim or better still by using one of the other routes that lead directly into the crater. However, be very careful of the gases and do not camp there.
The highest point of Sumbing mountain is a steep rocky part of the crater rim further south-west of Puncak Buntu / Puncak Kawah. Most hikers are happy to consider the crater rim as their destination. Although the real summit is not far away, it is slightly difficult to reach and not often visited. Indeed, if this is your plan you must mention to your guide before setting off that you want to climb to Puncak Rajawali or ‘puncak tertinggi’ (the highest peak). Just below Puncak Buntu, there is a trail skirting across the mountain, just 20 metres or so below the top of the rim. It leads up to a rocky part of the rim with an Indonesian flag (October 2010). This is where hikers are most able to descend into the crater itself should they wish.
From here you will be able to see two further rocky peaks on the rim, further west. The second one is the true summit. Getting to the first one (known as Puncak Kawah – the ‘crater peak’) is fairly easy but the terrain is dangerous because there are sheer drops and a little mistake would have terrible consequences. Indeed, by following the very crest of the rim you will encounter drops that are impassable without ropes but can be avoided slightly lower down from the top of the rim. The most difficult section which must be negotiated is an awkward step between the true summit and the rocky peak preceding it. Unless you are a very confident scrambler it is difficult and dangerous to attempt alone. However, if you are with others who can give you a hand you should be able to manage it. Please be careful.
After the tricky section, all you need to do is follow the trail round the side of the true peak and then up onto the top of it (don’t attempt to climb directly up the steep cliffs!). There is a tiled cairn with Javanese Edelweiss at the very top of Puncak Rajawali and the views are – understandably – even better than from Puncak Buntu. To reach the true summit from Puncak Buntu and the main Garung trail takes about 45 minutes each way. It could also be reached from the trail through the middle of the crater from Cepit, Banaran or Kaliangkrik – see below – if hikers climb up to the correct part of the rim.
To descend the same way to Garung from the crater rim takes about four and a half hours., but there are lots of other options if you have a guide who knows some of the other trails and you have already registered your plan to do a traverse.
Located just a couple of kilometres north-east of Garung is another trail starting in Sipetung (1,316m). It leads up via Pos 1 (1,717m), Kyai Santri (2,004m), Pos 2 Petai Cina (2,413m), a stream at 2,460m, Lembah Suci (2,615m) and Pos 3 Watu Ijen (3,060m) before meeting up with the Garung trail.
Sumbing is also climbed from another basecamp further north-east at Cepit, Pagergunung which lies 7km from Parakan. This route leads directly into the crater and it is a longer and generally less steep trail. It is also not as popular as some of the other routes so the middle section may be a little bit overgrown. It is requested that you register and pay a small fee at the basecamp (1,280m).
The village road ends at around 1,761m and you can actually get an ojek for most of the way up there for around Rp20,000 per person (in 2020) which is great value for money and saves well over an hour. Do note that there is only one spot near Pos 1 for water along this route so take plenty with you. The trail (which takes about 6 hours to reach the northern edge of the crater) goes via Pos 1 Aula (1,815m) which has a substantial shelter building like a pendopo (pavilion) and toilets which would be ideal if you wish to shelter from rain. There’s also a small wooden entrance to the forest itself.
The only stream on this trail soon follows (1,895m) just before an un-numbered pos (which might reasonably be called Pos Bayangan, at 1,917m). Next is Pos 2 Shondo (2,100m) which has another large but older shelter, after which the forest recedes and fabulous distant views are possible in good weather.
Pos 3 Lamtoro (2,362m) is next, where there is plenty of flat space for camping and a very small shelter. Then it’s Pos 4 Batu Kasur (stone mattress) (2,713m) which is another good camp spot, Segremeng and Batu Lawang (stone door). The terrain changes just above 2,900m, where you begin to encounter increasing numbers of rocks and boulders.
After these landmarks you reach the entrance to the crescent moon shaped caldera (3,195m) and will surely be able to smell the sulphuric gases. Drop down a little way to the caldera floor and what appears to be a four-seasons large shallow puddle or lake (3,170m). It is quite beautiful here in what is part grassy savanna, part volcanic sand plain (‘lautan pasir’), and part lake. The area is known as Segoro Wedi.
There are two separate sandy areas – the northern one is the one with the shallow lake and seemingly no volcanic activity. A couple of hundred metres further south is the second sandy area, and this time it is clearly active – with noisy fumaroles, small hot water pools and a couple of bubbling mud pools. There are also some caves here, the biggest of which is called Jugil.
There is also a local ancestral tomb (3,209m), known as Ki Ageng Makukuhan which is at the southern end of the southern sandy area. This important spot is protected with a stone wall and many local guides with pray here before continuing the journey. This person is thought to have had a strong influence on the spread of Islam in the local area but the tomb itself is probably just a petilasan, which means a place that has been visited or occupied by someone.
In poor weather such as limited visibility, navigating around the crater area is not easy, so be sure you have a guide who is experienced. After the grave is a signpost but be careful not to follow the arrows without double-checking as the wind can blow the arrows to point the wrong way! The main trail drops down here before dividing. Left is the trail down to Banaran and right is the trail to any of the three Kaliangkrik trailheads (see below) which are ideal for those approaching from the Yogyakarta side.
The Banaran route leads in from the east, starting at an elevation of just 1,128m, and passing via Pos 1 Sekelenteng (1,925m), Pos 2 Siwel-Iwel (2,170m), Pos 3 Punthuk Barah (2,368m), Pos 4 Watu Ondho before reaching the crater rim on the east side.
There are three similar routes in from the south in the Kaliangkrik area, all starting fairly high up and joining together halfway. It’s actually a little confusing as if you don’t specify your route, you might end up at any of the Kaliangkrik basecamps! All three are good options for those approaching from the Yogyakarta area and if you take an ojek then the Adipuro trail is the shortest and quickest of the lot.
Do note, however, that on this southern side of the mountain, the commonly-visited ‘puncak’ is not the highest one despite being named Puncak Sejati, which almost everywhere else specifically means the highest peak. It’s still a great viewpoint, but baggers need to be aware that the true peak is Puncak Rajawali on the western side (best accessed via Garung but also possible from most other directions, if a little more time-consuming as you need to hike through the crater).
The Dusun Butuh trail starts way up at 1,708m in an area becoming known as Nepal van Java, and leads via Pos 1 (2,119m), Pos 2 (2,460m) and Pos 3 (2,625m) which has water sources both before and after it. There is also a stream higher up at 2,825m but best don’t rely on it except during the rainy season.
The Adipuro trail has a basecamp in the village (1,484m) but local ojeks can be taken for a reasonable Rp25,000 (in 2020) all the way up to an elevation of around 2,109m, by far the highest starting point of any trail on Gunung Sumbing, making it the easier and shortest trekking time, especially if you are not bothered about reaching the true highest peak – Puncak Rajawali.
From the end of the farm track, cross over the little bridge (2,110m) and after admiring the stunning river and small waterfall continue up to the lovely Pos 2 (2,200m). The views here to lesser hills and the coastline in the distance are really impressive and it would be a nice spot to camp if you had extra time and good weather. The trail then gets steeper before reaching a junction (2,511m) with the Dusun Butuh trail before Pos 3. There are lots of spots to camp in this area and numerous streams flowing down the steep mountainside. Just after Pos 3, at a popular camping area, is the junction (2,666m) with the Mangli trail (see below).
Above the final water source (2,825m) is a nice section of trail beyond this goes over red-coloured rock (2,866m). Camp 4 AKA Pohon Tunggal / Cepogo is at around 2,985m before the trail finally reaches the crater rim on the east side not far from the Banaran trail. Just to the south is a peak which some locals call Puncak Sejati (3,323m) but it is not Sejati in the sense of being the highest on the range (that is Rajawali at around 3,371m) so we have called it Southeast peak.
Finally, a trail from Mangli (1,475m) is growing in popularity due to its relative proximity to Yogyakarta. It leads via Pos 1 Kongsen (1,755m), Pos 2 Siruwet (2,227m) and Pos 3 Ratan Butuh. The trail joins up with the Dusun Butuh and Adipuro trail at around 2,666m which is a popular spot to camp as there are numerous streams offering fresh water.
Finally, the Bowongso route leads in from the west and is regarded as one of the best for views and as one of the least steep paths. The basecamp is at an elevation of around 1,400m, with a higher parking area up at 1,760m, and the trail leads via Pos 1 Taman Asmara (approx. 2,030m), Camp Plalangan (2,215m), Sumber Air (rainy season water source), Pos 2 Bogel (2,400m), Camp Gajah, Pos 3 Zoro (2,860m) and Tanjakan Seginjel (3,035m).
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn (last updated December 2020).
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- Getting there: For Garung, buses between Purwokerto and Semarang run through Kledung. From Yogyakarta, take a bus to Magelang and a second bus to Wonosobo. Kledung is just under 3 hours from both Yogyakarta or Semarang by car. The Kaliangkrik trails are the most accessible for those coming from Yogyakarta. Cepit is around 2 hours from Semarang, making it probably the closest to those coming from the north coast.
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- Permits: Sign the book and pay the small fee per person, available at all basecamps, take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase. In 2020, Rp15,000 per hiker at the Cepit basecamp – likely to be similar at other trailheads.
- Water sources: According to the Garung basecamp map: Jalur baru – available fairly near the trail up to 2,350m, Jalur lama – available at 1,900m and none higher up. Available at Camp 3 on the Kaliangkrik and trails and just beyond Pos 2 on the Sipetung route. Available just after Pos 1 on the Cepit route and before Pos 2 on the Bowongso route.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):
Origins and Meaning
Mount Hare-Lip. The “mouth” of this volcano, or the “lip” of its crater, has a cleft in it like a hare-lip. (George Quinn, 2011)