• Elevation: 2,722 m (8,930 ft)
  • Prominence: 2,722 m
  • Ribu category: Tinggi Sedang
  • Province: Nusa Tenggara Barat
  • Google Earth: kml
  • Rating: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (34 votes) Add your rating
  • Other names: Tamboro
  • Eruptions: 1812-15, 1880, 1967


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.

Tambora is on the island of Sumbawa, which is served by unreliable daily flights from Lombok. There are now several official routes to the crater rim, but they vary in quality and popularity, and only two will bring you out near the true summit.

The most popular route is from Pancasila which lies to the north-west of the volcano. Getting to the starting point is an adventure in itself. Bima is the closest regional airport but, 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 (474m) 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 the trailhead is now at an elevation of around 700m. From the end of the track, where there is a small warung, 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.

The route leads via Pos 1 (1,080m), Pos 2 (1,320m – water available), Pos 3 (1,630m – water available), Pos 4 (1,800m), Pos 5 (2,060m) before reaching the crater rim at around 2,638m. 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.

A second route leads up from the south-west at Doropeti (23m) but most vehicles will be able to get beyond the village of Gunungsari (200m) to the end of the road near a water source (278m). From here the trail leads via Pos 1 (1,015m), a second water source (1,110m), Pos 2 Pondok Berburu (1,210m), Pos 3 (1,923) which is the best camp spot, another water source (2,360m) before reaching the rim south of the summit.

This trail can be combined with the Pancasila route as they meet on the crater rim near the summit.

A third route leads up from the south at Doroncanga (41m) and depending on the vehicle, the quality of trail and the weather you may be able to reach quite high up the side of the volcano in a truck, 4WD or on a trail bike – as far as Pos 3 according to some reports. Be aware that water is hard to find on this route so be sure to bring plenty and assume none available on the trail.

The trail leads via Pos 2 (983m) and Pos 3 (1823m) which is the best spot to camp. Beyond Pos 3 is the crater rim which on this southern side is at an elevation of around 2,400m and is just 3 hours of hiking from Pos 3.

Although the true summit is almost impossible to reach from this southern side of the rim, this trail has an advantage for those who have gotten permission to spend an extra day or two descending into Tambora’s crater itself! The best route down appears to be from less than 1 kilometre west (left) of where the trail reaches the rim and leads via cliffs (1,770m) before reaching the vast caldera floor (1,404m). Such an expedition is only possible for the very experienced who have already sought permission from local officials.

There are other official routes in from Kawinda To’i in the north and Piong in the east.

Bagging information provided by Daniel Quinn

Trail Map

Peta Jalur Pendakian Gunung Tambora
For a high quality PDF version of this and other trail maps, please download from our Trail Maps page.

Local Accommodation


Featured Guides

If you are a reliable local guide and would like to be featured on this page to increase your bookings, or a tourist who would like to support the development of a local guide business, please email danpquinn@gmail.com with the following information: Mountain name, guide name, guide location, guide contact details, and at least one English language review from a previous hiker who was pleased with the guiding services. An example is given below for reference. We have a maximum quota of 3 featured guides for each mountain page on the site. The fee for this is £20 (British pounds sterling, typically via the Wise app or PayPal) for a period of 1 year and helps to pay towards the ongoing development of the Gunung Bagging project.

  • Name and location: Pak Budi, Surabaya, East Java.
  • Contact details: +62812xxxxxxxx, budi@gmail.com, https://www.instagram.com/budi_mountain_guide/ 
  • Review from previous client: “Budi was a brilliant guide for our September 2023 trek up Gunung X and I would definitely recommend him to other tourists“, John, USA.


  • 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.
  • Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Tambora information pack can be downloaded here.
  • Trip planning assistance: Would you like Gunung Bagging to personally help you in arranging your whole trip? Please contact us here.
  • 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 on the Pancasila route. If your guides are uncertain about there being water at Pos 3, best fill up at Pos 2. Available at 278m, 1,110m and 2,360m on the Doropeti route. None available on the Doroncanga route and unknown for the other trails.

Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):



Links and References

Wikipedia English
Wikipedia Indonesia

86 thoughts on “Tambora”

  1. This is an extract from my forthcoming book: Tambora: Travels to Sumbawa and the Mountain that Changed the World. The bicentenary of the eruption is 2015.

    Travel Guide to Tambora, Derek Pugh

    Sumbawa is already on the traveller’s map. Surfers discovered it years ago and the growing number of resorts and hostels suggest a bright future in tourism. Tambora’s bicentenary in 2015 and the bicentenary of the Year Without Summer in 2016 will bring increased publicity. More people will want to climb to the top and stand like I did, mouth agape, looking into the crater of the largest explosion in 10,000 years.
    This chapter offers a short guide to people who want to get there and see for themselves. It is provided in the knowledge that it is not exhaustive and intrepid travellers will find other unexpected twists and turns in their journey but it is an offering that may be of use:
    Getting to Tambora is not without its challenges. Visitors usually come with a tour group or hire a car and driver from Bima and drive the three or four hours it takes via Dompu and along the Sanggar Peninsula coast road. Much of the road at the time of writing is in good condition, but there are sections where it is deteriorating and potholes are growing bigger daily. Two sections of dirt road still exist, but work has begun on sealing them. Self-driving cars or motorbikes is easy and the route there is straight forward with few other roads to confuse.
    Another way is to hire a boat from Sumbawa Besar and journey across Saleh Bay to Calabai, and from there seek a car or a motorbike to transport you up to Pancasila. The road up the hill is recently new and still in good condition.
    In Pancasila there are two places to stay. Pak Saiful’s guesthouse is on the far side of the football field. He has five rooms containing double bunks. In 2014 he was charging 100,000 Rp per night.
    The other place is the Tambora Guesthouse, which takes about 15 minutes walking after passing through Pancasila. It is an old coffee plantation homestead and many of its guests are groups on organised tours. They advertise they are willing to pick you up for 40,000 Rp from Pancasila in their vehicle if you ring ahead.
    Pak Saiful displays the walk times and distances on the wall of his barugaq and in the guest book. They come from the Kelompok Pencinta Alam Tambora (KPAT, the Nature Lovers Group of Tambora and I found the times suggested were surprisingly accurate, particularly on the way up and I assume the distances are accurate also (they were probably measured using a GPS). The climb to the summit is divided into six stages, and the descent follows the same path.

    Stage Time Up Time Down Distance
    1 Pancasila to Pos I (Post 1) 3 hours 3 hours 7.9 km
    2 Pos I – Pos 2 2 hours 1.5 hours 3.5 km
    3 Pos 2 – Pos 3 2 hours 1.5 hours 3.1 km
    4 Pos 3 – Pos 4 1 hour 45 minutes 1.2 km
    5 Pos 4 – Pos 5 1 hour 45 minutes 1.2 km
    6 Pos 5 – Puncak (summit) 3 hours 2.5 hours 4 km
    “Pos” = Post
    Source: Kelompok Pencinta Alam Tambora, Pancasila Total
    Return 20.9 km
    41.8 km

    Stage 1: Pancasila to Pos 1
    This is a long walk of 7.9 kilometres. It is not particularly strenuous as the climbing is gentle (although it seems never-ending on the return walk). The track starts by following roads through coffee plantations for forty minutes, plunges into the forest for another ten minutes and then follows an old forestry road, now overgrown with bracken ferns, fishbone ferns and raspberry bushes. In the late dry season it may be possible to be driven this stretch all the way to Pos 1 on a trail bike. In the morning dew and after rain, brushing up against the plants makes walkers very wet. Suggestions are to wear a long sleeved shirt to avoid scratches from the raspberry plants and two pairs of socks as protection against the leeches, which are numerous if the track is wet.
    Pos 1 is a barugaq (shelter) in the forest with a piped spring a few meters away providing clean water. A rest here gives you a chance to check for and remove any leeches and have a meal.

    Stage 2: Pos I-Pos 2
    The track from Pos I to Pos 2 starts climbing in earnest. The path is narrow and overgrown with many roots and fallen timbers and vines. Leeches are everywhere. Some sections of clear hard soil are incredibly slippery so beware. The track rises to Pos 2 with long inclines. There are many logs to climb over or under.
    Pos 2 has another tin roofed barugaq. This one is next to a fast flowing stream. There is a flat place to pitch a tent but the clearing is small.

    Stage 3: Pos 2-Pos 3
    The trail starts to climb more steeply. The forest here has never been logged, but it was completely destroyed by the 1815 eruption. There are steep, slippery sections both up and down through gullies and many fallen logs to climb over or duck under.
    Pos 3 is the usual camping site for two-day treks and the clearing for tents is large and open. There is a barugaq here also. The water source is about 200 meters off to the right on a narrow path. You can see the crater rim from here lit up in the afternoon. After six or seven hours walking up it’s a relief to get here. Most two day trekkers rise at midnight and leave at 1 am to climb to the summit to see the sunrise. It is cool here, but not cold.

    Stage 4: Pos 3 – Pos 4
    Leaving by flashlight you follow the steep path up along narrow ridges. The forest is thick and ferns press in on each side, along with other plants that release sticky seeds on your clothing. Then the track enters a thick area of stinging nettles called pajatan (or jelantik) which are painful, even with a slight brush against the skin.
    Pos 4 is a clearing between among very tall, straight trees. It is surrounded by the pajatan nettles. Here at 2.30 am it is cold. There is no barugaq or water source.

    Stage 5: Pos 4 – Pos 5
    Soon after leaving Pos 4 there is a log bridge about twenty meters long through the nettles to walk along – beware, it is very slippery and to slip off means painful stings, even through clothing.
    There are numerous tree ferns beside the path, and numerous flowering plants and bracket fungi that are worth pausing to look at (on the way down when the sun is up).
    The track rises steeply and breathing becomes more difficult with increasing altitude so numerous short rest breaks are necessary. At this altitude there are no leeches.
    Pos 5 is a clearing among Casuarina trees and grasses. It is cold here at night but a good place to camp if you have the gear. The guides will suggest you rest here until the right time to make an assault on the summit and arrive at sunrise.

    Stage 6: Pos 5 – Puncak (Summit)
    The track rises above the tree line steeply. The forest turns into grasslands as the Casuarina trees peter out. Eventually the grasses stop also and are replaced by sparse alpine vegetation like edelweiss. Look out for kijang (deer), who live at this altitude.
    The track flattens out and becomes a weathered rock-scape looking like it belongs on another planet. The crater rim is a plateau several hundred meters broad and the summit is to the right, easy to spot and an easy climb. The views of the crater are incredible. It is seven kilometres in diameter, 21 kilometres in circumference and 700 or 800 meters deep. It is still active and clouds of gas blow up in the wind. You can see a green lake on the bottom if the air is clear.
    Looking west, Mt Rinjani in Lombok and Mt Agung in Bali rise above the haze. Look down to view Moyo and Satonda Islands. Look east and you may see Sangeang Api, a small volcanic island north of Bima, which erupted at the end of May 2014.

    The way down is long and tiring, if you are going all the way back to Pancasila it means a 12 hour descent. Going down is where good boots are most needed as you need to avoid the continuing pounding on your toes.
    The daylight allows you to look at the views and vegetation you passed when it was too dark to see. Listen out for birds: the Casuarina forest has many different types that call to each other regularly and you can see them because the forest is open (in the lower, thicker forest it is very hard to see any birds, but you will hear them). There are wild pigs (look for the damage they do to the ground) in the forest and deer in the higher regions. There are macaque monkeys that live around the Pos 1 and Pos 2 level.
    Watch out for a vicious palm, locally called duli, whose fronds work like a climbing vine and its thousands of sharp hooks will dig easily into your clothing and skin.

    Pak Saiful’s “Guest Book” requires you to record a phone number when you register to climb. Make sure it is a number a rescue party can ring to get help for you, rather than a phone that you carry uselessly in your pack. Ask yourself who you would like the authorities to contact if you are in trouble and provide that number.
    Carry a credit card or insurance documents – hospitals will want to see these before providing any service (this is good advice for anywhere in Indonesia).
    Wear long sleeved clothing against the scratching of the raspberry bushes and ferns.
    Stick to the paths – it would be very easy to get lost in the thick forest.
    Keep away from the edge of the crater – it gives way regularly. You will hear rocks falling.
    If you are alone, two guides are recommended in case something goes wrong.

    Pak Saiful: Phone (+62) (0) 859 3703 0848, or (0) 823 4069 9138. Pak Saiful operates a guesthouse for 100,000 Rp per bed, and can provide meals at 25,000 Rp each. Pak Saiful does not yet have internet access.
    Tambora Guesthouse: Phone +62 (0) 613 5337 0951 visittambora@gmail.com, http://www.visittambora.wordpress.com : 75,000 Rp per bed, 40,000 Rp for meals, and transport from Pancasila 40,000 Rp.
    Guides and Porters charge 150,000 – 200,000 Rp per person per day depending on their experience. They will carry the food, water and camping equipment you need. A few have basic English. Pak Saiful may have some tents available for rent. Small shops in Pancasila sell simple foodstuffs like noodles and rice and local fruit and coffee, anything else you need you should bring. Calabai has more shopping opportunities as it is a larger town.
    There was no phone access during my visit to Pancasila or Tambora, though Pak Saiful says sometimes there is using the XL network. (I did successfully use my phone by going about three kilometres down the hill towards Calabai).
    In 2014 there is no ‘park fee’ or permit system to climb the mountain like there is for Rinjani so there are no hidden costs.

  2. Just back from the summit, May 2014 and will write more (book out about Sumbawa and Tambora in 2015 for the bicentenary).
    Quick note about costs and Pak Saiful. Experienced guides are 200,000 Rp per day paid directly to the guide. Saiful a very nice guy, professional and welcoming. His 5 room guest house is finished and open – 100,000 per night (don’t know if that’s per room or per person) and meals, cooked by his wife, 25,000 Rp each.
    He’s now running a shop counter and sells packets of Tamboran Coffee, noodles, rice etc.
    He maintains the “Guest Book” or register. Up to May 2014, 122 climbers this year, 10 foreigners. In 2013 604 climbers, but only 24 foreigners. Most climbers are university groups from Indonesia.
    The climb: tough and very long for two days, three days would be better. Guides: mine had no English, but were nice young blokes who did well.
    Tambora: fantastic.
    see photos on http://www.derekpugh.com.au

  3. It was August 2009 when I was blessed to be able to climb Mt. Tambora from Doropeti to Pancasila. It took us 3 days. I submitted the kml file of the trip and it is in the archives of Gunung Bagging.


  4. A nice report sent in to Gunung Bagging about climbing Tambora in the shortest possible time….


    During our recent holiday in the Indonesian province of Nusa Tenggara, we visited several volcanic areas. One of the most stunning is Gunung Tambora, a giant volcano rising in the northernmost peninsula of Sumbawa island. In 1815 it erupted catastrophically, with severe environmental consequences planet-wide. Even in Europe we felt the effect of this gigantic eruption, one of the largest since the last Ice Age (according to some estimates, a total of about 150 cubic kilometres of rocks and ashes were expelled). The next year, in fact, the old continent experienced a severe famine, due to the large amount of dust injected by Tambora in the atmosphere, which caused the so-called “Year without a summer”, in which crops failed due to unusually cold temperatures.

    We wished to climb this mountain, which now reaches an altitude of only 2850 m of altitude, having lost about 1300 m of height due to the cataclysmic events of 1815. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to climb Tambora by following the usual route from Pancasila, in the north-west side of the mountain, which requires three days of walk amid lush forests. Luckily, gunungbagging.com mentioned that by starting from a place called Doro Mboha, it could have been possible to reduce the trek to only one day, taking advantage of a motorized approach, following a twenty kilometre long track leading to Pos3 (nothing more than a basic wooden shelter, which can offer some protection to mountaineers in case of rain). After that it should have been possible to reach Tambora volcano crater rim in just a few hours of walking. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to know exactly where Doro Mboha was; maps available to us and those on the internet didn’t help, either. And nobody that we knew had ever heard of this alternative path to the mountain. Most of our attempts to collect more information were futile. Only a call to Mr. Rik Stoetman (tel. 081-353370951) of Visit Tambora was able to confirm the existence of this route. The bad news was that this gentleman was categorical in stressing that a jeep was absolutely indispensable for the initial approach, since the track was in a terrible condition. A jeep could have been rented at the cost of 3 million rupiahs, which we considered excessive. So we decided to look for an alternative motorized strategy, first by speaking with various people in Dompu, the nearest city to Tambora. A driver seemed to know something, but in the end he drove us through Doro Mboha without even recognizing this place, ending instead in Doro Peti, the only village present also on the maps available to us. In this location local people suggested us to ask for info at the small Tambora Volcano Monitoring Post, where a kind employee, Mr. Jaya, confirmed the possibility of another short route to the volcano west side. According to him, it should have even been possible to approach the mountain on motorbikes (it seems that in Indonesia everything can be within range of motorbikes and their expert and determined drivers!). Mr. Jaya offered to help us by arranging transportation to the Pos 3 shelter, from where only three hours of walking were necessary to reach the mountain summit. However, our problems were not over: the drivers asked what appeared to us a disproportionate amount of money.

    It was one of the longest and most exhausting bargaining efforts we ever made. We finally reached an agreement with Mr. John (mobile 085 338 921 858) and Mr. Yono to meet the next day at four o’clock in the morning in order to ride together to Pos 3.
    From there they would have accompanied us during the climb to the crater rim, showing us the right path. The agreed cost was 400.000 Indonesian rupiahs per person, all inclusive (motorbike, gasoline, driver/guide, food and beverage for the driver).

    As often happens in Indonesia, the next morning the drivers were not there at the agreed time. They arrived late so we left only at a quarter to five. We were surprised to find an additional and unexpected member of our expedition; the charming volcanologist Mr. Haris joined us on his powerful motorbike, since he had to go to a place very near Pos 3, to fix a problem with an automatic instrument measuring the volcanic activity of Tambora. Haris was impressively equipped; this, together with his remarkable charisma, made him the natural leader of our small group. As a kind of modern wild west cowboy he rode with competence towards our destination, opening the way and providing suggestions, indications and giving welcome advice. And this was especially useful since our motorbikes were often near (and sometimes well beyond!) their operating limits, due to their scarce power and balding tires, offering little grip on the steep and loose-soil sections of the track. But this we would have discovered later. At the beginning everything appeared to be fine and easy.

    In total darkness we headed South from Doro Peti, for at least half an hour and then turned left on an unmarked and apparently insignificant dirty track extending East towards the mountain. After an initial smooth riding, almost on a level plain, the track started to climb, winding through progressively taller and thick grasses, at times higher than a standing man, which made it difficult to see any potholes and other irregularities. Consequently the ride became strenuous; even the simple task of holding to the motorbike was exhausting. We had many falls which luckily didn’t result in any injuries. The high grasses, together with bushes and other plants, flogged the face of the motorcyclists (those following this route are advised to bring goggles and a mask, or other kind of face protection). The going became progressively more and more difficult, almost impossible at times, compelling us to repeatedly get off the motorbikes and walk, sometimes even having to push or pull the vehicles over obstacles and steep uphill parts. At one point, at one particularly steep point, one of the motorbikes flipped over! Luckily this resulted only in a painfully hit knee; it could have been much worse. We feared that we would be blocked by either the mechanical failure of the motorbikes or the refusal of the drivers to continue in what had become a really difficult test of endurance. Instead John and Yono remained steadfast and continued to valiantly push forward. Only Haris, on his powerful trail motorbike with new tires had no particular problems.
    It took four hours of gruelling progress to reach the vicinity of Pos 3, where the motorbikes had finally to stop (at this point also Haris’s vehicle could not proceed!) due to the steepness of the track and the loose soil. From there, it took another 15 minutes of walking to reach Pos 3. This was a basic shelter with just a roof and a wooden base of raised planks. All around laid abandoned plastic containers and other garbage; not a pleasant view. It was 9 o’clock. We were already tired, but at least the most nightmarish prospect, that of being blocked far from Pos 3, had been avoided.

    With renewed hopes we located a faint trail, at times almost invisible, extending uphill from Pos 3; it presented no technical difficulties worth mentioning, nor was it characterized by excessive steepness. We started to walk uphill at a slow pace, and in less than three hours we reached the summit. During our ascent the heat was not excessive due to a gentle breeze and some thin cloud layers; ideal conditions. Once at the crater rim, we were overwhelmed by its sheer size –6 km diameter, almost 1000 m deep! There were just very small signs of volcanic activity, only some weak solfataras on the left side of the crater. A small green-bluish lake occupied part of the crater floor. Dark lava-like flows at the bottom were in reality debris transported there by rainwater eroding the crater sides. We were lucky, since there was total absence of wind and fog. To the left of our position on the crater rim, rose the highest peak of the volcano. We didn’t bother trying to reach it, notwithstanding the inviting small path that followed the crater rim. Beyond the peak, we could see the point where trekkers following the Pancasila route would have arrived, but nobody was there. We were alone on the mountain; no sign of human presence or activity was detectable.

    After almost one hour at the rim, we started our descent to Pos 3. The weak trail could be located more easily than while ascending; the ground was mostly solid and didn’t present specific dangers.
    After a brief stop at Pos 3, we reached the motorbikes and started the slow, difficult, at times even painful descent towards the coastal plains. We said goodbye to Haris who quickly returned to Doro Peti. While descending towards the coast, nature offered us a precious gift: looking to the West, towards Sumbawa’s shores, we could enjoy the magnificent view of several small islands punctuating the blue sea; in addition, the warm late afternoon light enriched a panorama of rolling slopes covered with yellow grasses and scattered green trees. The place seemed remarkably peaceful and pleasant; an idyllic paradise.

    Even now, with hindsight, we find hard to believe that we had no mechanical problems, except the fact that one of the motorbikes ran out of gas well before reaching the coastal plain. The problem was overcome by sucking a little gas from the tank of the other vehicle, which luckily had more than enough.

    Apart from reducing the days needed to reach Tambora’s summit from three to just one, the advantages of following this route to Tambora’s summit are manifold: there is no thick humid forest to cross, no nasty insects, no painful stinging nettles, irritating leeches or other factors that could hamper one’s walk. But, to be clear, this route is not at all an easy one (perhaps the one starting at Doro Mboha, more to the south, might be better). The trail was totally dry in July, even if this season (first part of summer 2013) appeared to have been wetter than usual.
    During the entire day we met nobody nor saw any trace of human activity, except for the Pos 2 and 3 shelters, and an antenna for transmitting volcanological data. We did not find any water, and so it is necessary to leave Doro Peti with ample supplies.

    Now let’s spend a few words describing the main characters of this remarkable volcanic adventure:

    Abdul Haris.
    Head of the Mt. Tambora Monitoring Post in Doro Peti, he is a volcanologist, but in reality much more than that: a charismatic figure that feels at ease on his motorbike and can transmit feelings of confidence and reliability by a simple wink of his eye. Sun tanned, self-reliant with his prop and equipment, he led us up to Pos 3 despite our fears and doubts and the intrinsic difficulty if the long, rough way.

    Jaya, the young volcanologist.
    He kindly hosted us in his home/laboratory, patiently witnessing the long and difficult negotiations between the bike owner John and we strangers. Very helpful and spontaneous in opening the doors of his office and home to two foreigners. A young volcanologist “lost” in the middle of the 400 volcanoes of his homeland. Staring at his instruments, as if waiting for a new baby to be born.

    John and Yono, our motorbike drivers/guides.
    How can a local person figure out the reasons that motivate tourists to be so stubborn and insistent in their will to climb up a stupid volcano? Both John and Yono must have thought of this when they set off at 4.30 in the morning bringing the guests on the back of their roaring and spitting motorbikes.
    At any rate, in the end they must even have enjoyed it, ruthlessly driving up and down the trail, stopping and going in the green drizzling twilight. They were courageous, many times risking breaking their vehicles and nevertheless insisting on continuing even when confronted by major difficulties. They were good guys and perhaps motivated by pride, not considering for a single moment abandoning the challenge.

    People of Doro Peti.
    This is one of the best images I have carried away with me: a group of women and children of Doro Peti, waiting together with us at the (non-existent) coach stop. By the time we came back from Tambora, everybody in the village knew about us, two foreigners flying kites with the children and sleeping at the volcanologist’s, eating boiled eggs at the local restaurant while taking pictures of the owner and of his family… So the next morning when we were about to leave by coach, the waiting time was filled with their company and chatting. APA KABAR?!

    The sugar cane plantation entrepreneurs.
    Could you imagine that a volcano is … business?
    Could you imagine that challenging entrepeneurs would settle down in the middle of the savannah surrounding the powerful mountain and start up a prosperous sugar cane growing and processing plant.
    Could you imagine sharing an evening at the local restaurant with them, just after the «cease-fast» of Ramadan and then meeting them again, by chance,two days later, in the nearby city of Dompu and go on talking and discussing about plans and future development for Tambora and its population?

    Two Western tourists/mountaineers.
    Two very different and maybe improbable characters, joining forces for the sake of exotic holidaying. Maybe by chance or maybe by affinity; a bit of anarchy in each of them, combined with a sip of boisterous self-confidence and at times even irresponsible easy going attitude… Two funny Italians, hand-waving, acting theatrically, easily fraternizing with the locals.
    During that unforgettable, never ending afternoon of negotiations, Mirco was leaning on the chair at the volcanological office, patiently discussing, suggesting, praying, insisting, explaining, asking, waiting, before, at long last, John expressed his final consent.
    Ileana in the meantime was creating the human conditions for agreement, by performing as a clown, and playing with a rainbow-coloured kite in the courtyard in front of a cheerful company, flying the kite up in the sky while the children were laughing and running around crazily for joy, curiosity and excitation for those two strangers mysteriously arrived in Doro Peti. And the atmosphere slowly turned into a nightly and conspiratorial one. The funny Italian climber and the funny Italian clown, DIY guys with an inclination for the (un)reachable.

    Mount Tambora.
    It is the last and most important character that would deserve an infinite chapter … This gunung was our goal and our most longed-for achievement. Mission accomplished in so far that this massive creature embraced us with grace and calm, showing off his best in the clear fresh sky, in the golden silence of a majestic volcano that can hit at any time but allows you to honour it.

    Many more words could be said; they would never allow you, the reader, to comprehend its strength and power. Tambora is there, wants you to experience it; it waits for you. All the rest is a dream.

    A few weeks after the climb, the memory of Tambora is still fresh in our minds, and the sense of achievement is strong. We achieved our objective with the absolute minimum of resources, in the minimum possible time, with no relevant problems. But we are conscious that many things could have gone wrong, rendering our climb impossible. We were lucky, everything was fine in the end. We leave to each of our readers to consider if all our efforts were well spent, or if we really were crazy tourist-mountaineers looking childishly for strong emotions.

    Best wishes.

    Ileana and Mirco

  5. Most things are possible if you have the time. If you look on Youtube you can find a post by some Indonesian guys who carried their bikes to the top of Tambora and cycled around the crater!
    The ride to Pancasila from the tee-intersection (Bangga???)took me about 5 hours on a Vario. The road was very bad. It was 5 years ago though so hopefully the road is in better shape now. Others will have more up-to-date info. Have a good trip.

    1. Hi Tenggiri,

      I was on cycle tour when I visited Tambora. I decided to leave my bike at my guesthouse in Dompu and take the bus to Pancasila. My bike is a touring bike (no suspension, semi-slick tires) and I was really glad I did this, because the road is quite bad in places. However it would be possible even with a touring bike (though not very comfortable), and as you have a mountain bike it should be fairly straightforward for you.

      You might need to think about accommodation along the way. You’ll not be going fast because of the surface and it would therefore be a very long single day.


  6. Take a week to climb Tambora and really explore the local area.We flew in to Bima, drove 170km and climbed Tambora from the coffee plantation,spent a night on Sofana beach, quick trip to Satonda Island and then walked accross Moyo island to Pelabuhan Haji, where we took a boat to Sumbawa besar. Brilliant.

    See http://visittambora.wordpress.com and contact Rik Stoetman +62 81353 370 951 to assist with arrangements at the coffee plantation where you will spend a night before ascending and spending a night on the crater rim. Another day to go down and a night at the plantation. Next day take an ojek down to beautiful Sofanda beach, where simple cottages will be completed any day now. From here you can visit Satonda Island and see it’s crater lake. Next day get dropped off at Tanjung pasir on Moyo island and walk (or ojek if you can find it) along the coast to Barang Kua, then accross the island to Labuhan Haji. It’s about 8 hours in total – and by far the best part of the walk is the second part up over the hill from Barang Kua and through beautiful forest, passing the waterfalls on your way down. There are a couple of places to stay, cold beer to drink if the listrik is on, and relaxing to be done. Next day we got a public ferry at 06.30 to Sumbawa Besar. Pak Amin (+62 819999 80842), manager of the Samawa Transit Hotel beside the airport and beach cottages an hour out of town (samawatransithotel.com ), was extremely helpful – booking onward flights with Trans Nusa to Lomok and Merpati to Denpasar.

  7. We climbed Tambora in August 2013 and it was an amazing experience. The organisation of the trip was arranged for us by Rik (http://visittambora.wordpress.com/). I’d recommend getting in contact with him if you are planning to make the ascent, especially if you don’t speak Indonesian. We flew from Bali to Bima airport and were met by a driver who took us to the village of Pancasila, before being taking us by motorcycles up to the guesthouse at the coffee plantation. We received a very warm welcome from everyone, the rooms at the guesthouse were clean and comfortable and they provided lots of delicious food and local coffee. We began the hike the next morning, accompanied by two local guides who were excellent. The first days trek through the jungle to Pos 3 was fascinating, with the guides clearing the way through the dense jungle, pointing out lots of wildlife and plants, and although they spoke no English and we could only speak a few works in Indonesian, this wasn’t a problem. They bought and carried plenty of food and drink for us, and made camp fires to cook for us. After a night camping at Pos 3, we awoke while it was still dark, to a cooked breakfast of rice, noodles and coffee, before starting the ascent to the summit crater. When we reached the crater a few hours later, the views were breath taking. We had the opportunity to stay at the crater for a couple of hours, to admire the scenery and deposits from the 1815 eruption before making the ascent back down to Pos 3. We camped here for another night and then in the morning, we started the descent back to the guesthouse. It was a wonderful adventure, with great people and beautiful scenery that I’ll remember fondly for the rest of my life.

  8. I did the trek in the beginning of september. Started 8 in the morning and arrived at pos 3 at 2 pm. Woke up at 2 am and went for the summit.. took 3 hours to the summit. From summit and all the way down took 6 hours.
    I got into contact with Rik though his website http://visittambora.wordpress.com/ He sortet out the trek me and accomendation. A big thanks to him!
    I stayed two night a Calabai where there is a small guesthouse (100 000 rp) very basic but good. Also instead of Pacasila i stayed in a guesthouse in the coffee plantation. (also 100.000 rp) The people there are very nice and helpful and my porter Irfan was great 🙂

  9. we climbed tambora beginning of this week without guide and porter. from our starting point tambora guest house among the coffee plantations (basic accommodation, very friendly staff, you’ll saves the first app 1.5 hours from pancasila to pos 1)to pos 5 we needed 8 hours including some breaks at every pos. the “way” was clearly to see but can be overgrown quickly if is rains. from pos 0 to pos 3 the trek could be partly considered as a steeplechase due to transverse tree. best to fill or refill the water bottles is at pos 2 where is a small river with clean water. at pos 5 were just yellow coloured brackish water available even it still rains there almost every day. starting the summit attack at 3 am we made it to the top within 3 hours without rush. we got awarded with a beautiful sunrise and a fantastic view to the crater. the way from the top back to the guesthouse needed us 9 hours.
    ps: the road soriutu (intersection bima-sumbawa besar-calabai)via kempo and calabai to pancasila is to more than 60% alphalted, some more is in process.

  10. Dan – Thanks for that advice! I definitely have climbing Tambora in my bucket list and I’d definitely keep what you said about guides in mind!

  11. Excellent post Radek.

    I could really have done with this before my trip!

    My blog http://www.whereismaniam.blogspot.com is a personal account of my rtw bicycle trip and includes a short report on climbing Tambora which gunnung-baggers may be interested to read. My site is more a personal account than a how-to guide, so I have linked to both your site & to Gunungbagging.com (please let me know if you want me to remove the link).

    best wishes,

    1. Very good information page, Radek.

      I would ask you to please credit the photographer (Nick Hughes) for the image you have reproduced of the crater as seen from the air (at the top of your page).

      The following excerpt from your Tambora guide is particularly interesting with regard to the comments expressed previously on this very page…

      “Warning! K-PATA – while definately helping good cause – has been known for trying to charge exuberant fees for foreigners. Unfortunately it also happened to us. A couple of days before arriving to Pancasila we called Saiful from Gili Islands and via an Indonesian-speaking person we tried to negotiate a fee for the trek. Saiful wanted an astonishing 350 USD for arranging a three-day trek for two people, which obviously we refused. After arriving to Pancasila in the first hour we stayed away from K-PATA and managed to meet in one of the homestays an Indonesian from Jakarta who already had organized a guide for himself. We joined him and finally climbed the mountain in two days for less than 25 USD per person. However, you still can do it at virtually no cost if you follow our advice.”

  12. Rik, I appreciate your speaking to Saiful.

    Firstly, can I say that the Tambora crater is an amazing sight and Indonesia an amazing country.

    My experience of 6+ weeks travelling around Indonesia is of a warm & generous people. I have cycled the length of Nusa Tengarra & have been invited into peoples homes for drinks, meals, and to stay overnight; I have had my water bottles filled from shops that make their livelihood from selling water that have refused to take any money from me; People have shinned up coconut or fruit trees and brought me down the fruits of their labour, just out of the goodness of their hearts; I have been shown kindness and hospitality in too many ways to list.

    There are however a small number of people that treat non-locals as cashcows. At the market, I expect (like the locals) to have to bargain a bit, and, it’s arguably OK for govt to charge more for foreigners to visit national heritage sites and use the extra money to subsidise local entry and/or to fund public services, but in Indonesia dual pricing is also practiced by maybe 10% of individuals involved in services/government positions/public transport/shops/etc to personally make a bit of extra cheeky money on the side. No visitor goes home and says ‘Indonesia is such a great country because I sometimes get charged several times the going rate, get some imaginary fees added on, get to pay bribes to officials; and I get to waste at least half an hour a day just arguing to get the correct price’. It is a scourge on Indonesian tourism & the sooner it is wiped out the better for the country as a whole. The people who do this, only do it to the non-locals, so it’s not part of the ‘authentic’ Indonesian experience & the money nearly always goes into the back-pocket of that one unscrupulous individual rather than helping the greater good of the people. My experience of Saiful is that he is one of these people. I cannot speak for other peoples experience of him, but I give my own experience so other travelers/tourists/climbers can approach with due care and caution – I’m sure anyone who reads my comments will also read the positive comments about Saiful and will be able to make their own balanced judgement. I therefore do not withdraw any of my comments about him and his organisation, and based on experience of him find his proxy apology a meaningless gesture – he apologised to me before, but once he realised that I intended withholding part of the fee continued to ask me for some more of his extra made-up ‘fees’ and was not so nice in his dealings with me.

    In answer to your post, I too would rather not get into a discussion of what was said, but as you have brought up 2 points and the picture you paint of his treatment of me is incomplete, I feel the need to elaborate on just those 2 points – I was down the mountain very early and Saiful had 3+ hours when he could have told me that there was no bed for me that night, but the withdrawal of accommodation was made only after the fee was renegociated. Also, it was not Saiful, but my guide who transported me to different lodgings.

    Regarding my comment about Pancesila – I found the locals a friendly bunch, and I agree, they do not deserve to be disadvantaged because of one mans greed. I would like to withdraw my comment about passing quickly through Pancesila – that particular comment was unfair of me (what I meant, and should have written, was pass by Saifuls house as quickly as possible).

    I suspect that once I post my Tambora report on my widely-read blog, that it will have the effect of sending more people rather than less up Tambora. I hope the ordinary people of Pancesila benefit from this & I hope the climbers are able to have transparent, honest dealings with the locals.

    yours faithfully, Steve

  13. Hi Rik. Thank you for nice comments and we appreciate the fact that somebody had convey the message to Pak Saiful and working for solutions. Yes 100% agree…let’s work together in preserving Tambora and at the mean time getting mutual benefits both for us and the local people around Tambora.

  14. This just in from Rik at Visit Tambora….

    Sorry to hear about Steve’s less pleasant experience with Zaiful in Pancasila. I did speak to Zaiful about this and he asked me to relate his sincere apologies to Steve. It is true that Zaiful and his brother have a bit of an attitude, but it doesn’t mean they are not good guys.

    I told Zaiful the effect of your comment on the gunung-bagging website, which will be read by many people planning a trip to Tambora.
    The confrontation between Steve and Zaiful shouldn’t have an effect on all the people in Pancasila loosing out on this important way of making a living. I will not go into detail on what both steve and Zaiful have said, except for one thing; it is not true that Steve was no longer welcome in Zaiful’s house. Zaiful had or expected 4 other guests in his house and brought Steve on his motorbike down town.
    He would not have used his motorbike if he was indeed agitated.

    With presenting Zaiful’s apologies to Steve, in the name of all the people in Pancasila…we kindly ask Steve to consider revoking his statements on some of the sensitive & personal points. Also the one about avoiding Pancasila altogether or pass through it as quickly as you can.

    Allow me to further say that it is very normal in indonesia to have a price for locals and a price for tourists. Residents with Kitas (stay-permit) enjoy deductions on prices in hotels / hospitals and many more. With that and speaking the language, I am sure you might even enjoy some discount on using a guide and porter(s). Otherwise, Rp200.000 (20euro) for a guide and Rp150.000 (15euro) for a porter…to leave their family behind for three days to take you all the way up the mountain, carry your bag and cook for you….ain’t too much to ask for and YES standard fees all over Tambora.

    It is most likely true that Zaiful increased some of the other fees, something that will now be regulated between the people of Pancasila and Zaiful. Rp50.000 for the entrance to the trail is not an official amount issued by the Dompu government.

    Steve’s comments will have an effect in order to avoid future problems and a price-list will be hung up for all to see.

    I know of several people whom had to be rescued from the mountain; fallen over the edge of the crater, out of food and water, one broken leg etc etc.
    Keep that in mind if you decide to avoid using the local people to save some money; it is Zaiful and his crew that come to your rescue / revive you and carry you all the way down the mountain. That PLUS all the hassles they get from the authorities about you passing through their village without their knowledge.

    in Kintamani (mount Batur) Bali it is NOT ALLOWED to climb by yourself. People have died and the locals got hassled over it..
    Two “experienced” hikers fell into the ACTIVE crater, one body recovered / one never to be seen again.

    Give Zaiful and his organisation some credit please. He apologizes and we will work on ways to avoid any other misunderstanding to happen in the future. We kindly ask you one more time to revoke your statements.

    Thank you

    Rik Stoetman
    spokesman @ Tambora

  15. Hi Steve, nice to hear about your successful trip to Tambora, and thanks for some additional latest updates. But I’m really sorry to hear about your experience with Pak Saiful, as he was really nice guy when I was there months ago. Perhaps may be I’m a foreigner who can speak and understand some indonesian language make some slight different. Perhaps somebody should advise him about this incident as sometimes people do change when they start seeing big dollars start coming in…. !

  16. Tambora Update:

    I just climbed Tambora from Pancesila a few days ago and want to share some thoughts:

    – The path is now pretty good and, once you are on it, there are no major turn-offs, so you would be struggling to get lost, the plantation staff are even building small wooden shelters at some of the 5 ‘pos’ (bases) on the route – there appear to be many more people climbing it now. If you are an EXPERIENCED mountaineer, you definitely won’t need a guide. Care is needed at the top where the edges of the caldera are crumbling into the abyss (look out for cracks on the surface near the vertical crater edge) and, when I was there, it was only possible to reach the caldera (not the summit), because of a fissure that has opened up on the route to the summit (use your common sense!). Also be aware that you are a long way from help and mobile coverage is patchy. To get onto the trail, just get an ojek (motorbike taxi) to ‘Tambora Coffee Plantation”Pos 0’ and follow the narrow track directly opposite the wooden shelter marked ‘pos 0’ up between the coffee plants – in terms of navigation, getting to this point will probably be your hardest task.

    – Pak Saiful may have once been a lovely man, but if you are a non-Indonesian, he won’t see you as a person, but see you as having giant dollar signs on your forehead. I got there after dark, and was supposed to climb with Tambora Guest House, but for various reasons ended up in Saifuls house. He wanted to charge me what, for Indonesia, was a high price & would not back down, telling me that was the fixed price. On the mountain I met 2 guys from Java and discovered that they had been asked for half or less for everything & some fees they had not been charged at all. Pass through Pancasila as quickly as possible – he has a kind of quasi-official look about his set-up and will try and extract cash from you some how or other. If you feel you need a guide, you could try Tambora Guest House (though I think their prices may be similar), or pitch up at one of the surrounding villages, ask around, and you should find something. I paid 200,000 per day for my guide (I had to fight hard to take only 1 guide – Saiful was adamant I’d need 2!) – I was told the fee was non-negociable as foreigners have to pay more (the Java guys paid 50,000) – what did I get for my higher fee? a nice enough guy, but he didn’t speak English, and wasn’t qualified or fit for the job (I had to stop regularly for him to catch his breath/smoke a cigarette, and he was unable to complete the second days walk and had to call for a motorbike to take us down the last few kms) – I would have accepted all of this if I was paying local rates for a farmer making a bit extra on the side, but having paid premium rates I expected a premium service. When I got back down I told Saiful I wasn’t happy. He was full of apologies but when he realised that I intended witholding some of the fee his mood changed. Eventually we agreed on a price (I was still paying more than the locals) and after that he pretty much told me I was no longer welcome in his house (I had booked a bed there that eve and had to move elsewhere). If you do climb with him pay no more than 20,000 for ‘registration’ (he wanted 50,000 from me), 20-25,000 per ojek trip (he wanted 50,000) absolutely refuse to pay an ‘organising fee’ – he wanted 250,000 – in the words of the experienced gunung-bagging Java guys ‘this is just bullsh**’, bring your own food, but if you need him to organise food, it WILL be white rice and instant noodles and maybe an egg, same food every meal in his house and on the mountain – it’s up to you to decide what is fair to pay for him fixing this, but you can buy the ingredients for 5000, maybe pay double this for his ‘effort’ (he wanted 250,000 for 8 meals). As far as the guides fee goes, I’m not sure if there is an ‘official’ higher rate for foreigners – my guide was good friends with Saiful and was very closed on discussing this, another guide told me they always get paid the same – it’s up to you to work this one out, but do insist on paying your fee direct to the guide, so you know they get it all (apparently their is some agreement that this is how guide payment should be done anyway).

    – It can be cold up there so bring suitable clothing.

    – accommodation is also available at Kadindi (5 or 6 kms before Pancasila). Basic Hotel – mandi & squat toilet, but you get your own bathroom and it’s a step or 2 up from the homestay accommodation in Pancesila and they charged a fair price (it was 60 or 70,000 for a twin room with fan). You will have a much better chance of paying a fair price for your ojek here.

    – some of the buses from Dompu do now go all the way to Pancesila.

    – the superfit could do the round trip in a long single day.

  17. wolfgang piecha

    Per ardua ad astra, Keith – you are closer to the stars on the mountains. That’s why I have been to Indonesian mountains every year since I left, couple of year ago.

    1. Haha Wolfgang – you caught me! I know the ad astra version because that is the Canadian Air Force’s Latin motto, which I adapted to your feat of adventure. But I certainly don’t disagree with you. Tchuss, Keith

  18. I am so impressed at the helpful and friendly community brought together by Dan Quinn and this website. You all sound like great people and I would love to hike with you some day. I lived in Indonesia for a few years, but never had the chance to go to Tambora. Your stories are so inspiring, maybe I will fly there just to see the amazing sights and experience the trials of your happy trails. Per ardua ad promontoria!

  19. Pak Saiful may speak a little bit english at least for basic communication. But as said by the rest, he is very nice guy. The last trip I did, first day we camp at the POS 3, and did an early morning summit assault at 2 a.m. and menaged to see the sunrise. After spending few hours on the summit, about 9 a.m we decended from the summit all the way down to Desa Pancasila and the last person arrived if I remember correctly around 6 p.m. It really a nice experience !!

  20. Magnar, if you can, plan 2 nights. The first at Pos III and the second on the rim. Sun
    set with rinjani in the west is overwhelming. As the pos’s are in the jungle you don’t have a view there. But build your tent in an earth hole on the rim: night winds can be very strong on the rim. It is 6 to 8 hrs down from the rim to the coffee plantation

  21. Hello Magnar

    Four years ago when i met Saiful and the guys at Pancasila they knew minimal English – that may have changed a little but I doubt if very much. Never mind they are good people They seldom get many climbers so just arriving should not be a problem. if you are really fit you can do it in 36 hours A better option is outlined above in my reply to Edy. By the way, when I write “you can spend five to seven hours at top walking around crater” I am not implying you can circumnavigate the crater in 5 – 7 hours as it is over 20 km around. What I should have said is you can spend a few hours relaxing up top, walking around and exploring, taking it all in, seeking different perspectives. After all it is a once in a lifetime experience for most. I hope you enjoy your trek. There are a lot of photos on my website
    Best wishes


  22. I am thinking of climbing Tambora in one week. I see that the number for Saiful is here in the comments. Does Saiful speak enough english for me to arrange a trek with him? Is it a two day or three day trek (I only need to know so I can plan what to do after, I am up for both two and three days).
    Thanks for the help!

  23. Edy, if you are of average fitness you will do it. I went up and bacl from Pancasila in 33 hours which was quick. Next time I would leave at 7 am reach Pos 3 at 5pm, rest and start again at midnight. Reach summit at dawn. Spend 5 -7 hours at top walking around crater, then back to Pos 3 by 4-5 pm Rest up, have a good night’s sleep then next day leave early as it’s a 10 hour walk back down. Others may have a different view but to do it as I did requires more than average fitness. You will enjoy the trip for sure

  24. Hello
    We are planning to go to Tambora in the coming weeks,
    Is it really a hard hike? Can someone with “normal” fit can do it or is it really challenging?
    Thank you

  25. Hi, I just back from Sumbawa Island and scaled Mt.Tambora on 1st July 2012 successfully. I owed to this group a lot for the information provided leading me to Mt.Tambora. Yes it is a very satisfying climb and the view is spectacular especially during the sunrise from the crater rim. If you wish to see some photos, do see in my Facebook wanazman@facebook.com as I set these photos as public and you don’t need to add me to see it. I got help from Pak Saiful from PATA in getting things arranged and he even waited for me at Bima airport ( for a very minimal fees ). Stay 2 nights at his house and enjoy so much his hospitality and life at Desa Pancasila. Thanks again…..Cheers

  26. Hello Wan. Hava a wonderful trip. Please convey my greetings to Pak Saiful and Farouk and Haris if you happen to meet up with them.

  27. Wolfgang… what an amazing journey..!!!! congratulations to you and your team. Thanks for sharing with us. I’m going to Tambora, on the next 2 day, flying to Bali tonight and the next day to Bima. Contacted Pak Saiful as suggested by Merantau. But not planning to reach crater base. Seeing the mighty tamborra from crater rim would be good enough for me. Thanks again for sharing you guys wonderful journey and I’ll share mine once back. Cheers.

  28. Congratulations to all the team and thank you Wolfgang for an outstanding and informative report. It was certainly a Herculean effort to make it up out of the crater and back to base with an overnight walk – a credit to the fitness and determination of all involved. An 18 hour trek in that environment is really epic. I am looking forward to visiting Tambora again and of course 2015 would be a very appropriate time to do so. Once again thanks.

  29. wolfgang piecha

    Report on a trip to the crater base

    From May 21 to May 25 I made an expedition to the base of the Tambora crater. I was with a group of twelve, mainly young graduates from Bima College.

    I flew in to Bima, because the people that have been into the crater mainly live there. After 6 hours drive from the airport we arrived at the coffee plantation above Pancasila (800m above sea level). From here the trail starts and I stayed overnight in the nice guest house. At this altitude there are no mosquitoes. Next day we started at 7 am and built camp at 5 pm at Pos V (at 2.300m), just below the tree-line, which is quite low at Tambora. Next morning we started at sunrise to reach the rim (2.650m) at 8.30 am. Tambora as it stands now, after the eruption in 1815, is the base of a former 4.100m (or so) giant, so only the last stretch between Pos V and the rim was somewhat steep.

    When we reached the rim to reach the entry point into the caldera we turned left,. So, on this western edge of the crater we walked some 1.000m north, close to the peak, left, that is opposite to the real peak, which we had left behind on our right. The trail downhill generally followed two historic landslides which today are stable and partly overgrown. It ended just 1.200m below the point where trekkers coming from Pos V usually enjoy their view on Tambora crater, at 1.450m.

    In large parts the trail downhill had an inclination of 35 to 40 degrees. But nearly half of the trail has 45 up to 50 degrees and these are not solid rock but different lose materials. Here the only firm grips for our hands often were only bushes and grass, whereas Edelweiss did not hold. The first stop we had at 2.250m, in a granite formation at a place called Pos Wadunae. Here we found fresh water. After this point we kept right-hand and entered one of the steepest parts of the whole trail. While ropes nowhere else are really indispensable (except as a precautionary measure) here each of us hung on the rope for two meters or so. Whenever we came to a junction from here we should have kept right, but did so only on the way uphill, two days later. Instead, on one of those junctions we took the left option, so we had a very steep and rocky way downhill on our last 400m, which belonged to the steepest of the whole way. This detour cost us one hour extra and we arrived at the crater base at sunset, at 6 pm, 12 hours after we left Pos V.

    We camped two nights on the crater base, at the sandy banks of a small creek, between a lot of big debris. The crater lake, at the lowest point in the east, was already starting to dry up, end of May, but still measured 800 by 800 meters, as was our creek. Two other creeks, further to the east, had much more water. Fumaroles were ejecting white steam at many places all around the crater theater that measures some 6,5 by 6,5 km. They flag the border line between the (horizontal) cold and rocky cap on the giant magma chamber under our feet and the (vertical) crater walls – with one exception. That is the area around Doro Api Toi, the mini crater in the southeastern corner, 20 m high with a diameter of 100m. While this mini crater does not appear to have grown in recent years, some fumaroles sprang up in its vicinity, making even the water of a creek passing the area boil. The steam fumaroles were strongest in the mornings, after sunrise, losing power during the day.

    We packed tents before sunrise after the second night to start our climb at 6 am. This time we found the best entry point immediately. Nevertheless, the first 150m were very steep, again. It took us eight and a half hours to reach the rim again. At Pos V our Indonesian friends had to register that the wild pigs had eaten all their rice that they had hidden on the ground. So we decided to continue our walk to the guest house of the coffee plantation through the night. We arrived there at 11.30 pm, nearly 18 hours after we started our climb on the crater base.

    Remarks and recommendations:

    – Plan the water resources very carefully. At the beginning of the dry season, end of May, all springs (including at Pos V) and creeks on the crater base had plenty of water. The longer the dry season the less water you will find.

    – Consider plan B: in case of rain or sickness/accident you may have to stay extra days in the crater. So, take extra food with you.

    – In the crater you will be incommunicado (unless you have an Iridium phone). There is no point to register, hence you will not be missed for quite a while. So, form a sufficiently big team.

    – One point below Pos Wadunae at 2.250m you can only pass by hanging in a rope for two meters or so. At some other steep parts a rope is helpful as safeguard and precaution.

    – A safety helmet seems advisable as your companions above may trigger stones.

    – It is indispensable to take a guide and porters. I had two porters with ten kilos each. The few guides you get only in Bima. Ask Rik Stoetman for assistance (websites: http://travel4pros-indonesia.blogspot.mx/ or http://visittambora.wordpress.com/). He is very cooperative.

  30. Hi Wolfgang… how was your trip ? I’m sure you had a great journey, and if you don’t mind, please share with us your great journey…

  31. wolfgang piecha

    Invitation to an expedition to the ground of Tambora, the biggest active volcanic whole on earth, May 22/27
    We follow the trails of Rik Stroetman, who published his experiences and pictures at http://visittambora.wordpress.com/ and http://travel4pros-indonesia.blogspot.com/
    See also my zoom pictures from the ground at https://www.gunungbagging.com/tambora/?shashin_album_key=117&shashin_page=4.
    I am preparing a tour to the ground of Tambora, following the Java Lava tour to Rinjani (May 16/20). Requirements: fitness above the average, good experience in trekking, basic experience with ropes.
    Proposed schedule
    22 May: ((first option)) morning flight from Mataram to Bima, arrive there by 11 am, pick up the guides for the caldera and go by car to the coffee plantation in Oi Bura (above Pancasila). Arrive at the guest house there by 20h at the latest.
    ((Second option)) Flight from Mataram to Sumbawa Besar, take a car to the fisher port of Ai Bari, take a boat to Calabai, pass Pancasila and go to Oi Bura guest house. As experienced guides into the caldera live only in Bima, in this option you don’t make sure that they are with you on time.
    23 May
    Morning: walk from the coffee plantation to the crater rim of Tambora; build tent on the rim and stay there overnight. One day may be tough because it is a long trail. But as we are climbing the basis of an old mountain (that used to measure 4.300 meters) up to its actual rim of only 2.700m, it is steep only in a small part in the end. We did it twice in one day; requires good porters.
    24/25 May
    Leave tent at the rim, go downhill into the caldera one day, stay in sleeping bag at night close to the bottom, uphill next day. Uphill takes you 80% of a day. Rope (one for the whole group), also harness and two carabiners per person needed at a couple of spots downhill and uphill in the caldera.
    26 May
    Pack tent and go down from the rim to the coffee plantation. Stay the night at the coffee plantation.
    27 May
    Option 1: transport from coffee plantation to Calabai, boat to Ai Bari, car to Sumbawa Besar (one hour), flight back to Jakarta.
    Option 2: car from the coffee plantation to Bima; flight back to Jakarta.
    Depending on flight connections we have to stay in Bima/Sumbawa Besar one extra night
    Final decision to go into the caldera can only be taken on the spot, depending on the level of alert of the volcanoe. No entry possible at the two highest levels of alert.
    Cost (preliminary): apart from the flights, two nights in the guest house, porters, guides, car (with driver/fuel): 1 mio rups (one way), boat: 0,7 mio rups (one way).
    Best regards
    Wolfgang Piecha

    1. Hi Wolfgang

      How is participation looking for your trip to Tambora?

      I would like to do this climb in June so would be keen to know how it goes.


      1. wolfgang piecha

        Hi James,
        we will make
        the trip May 21 till May 27. As only a dozen people or so ever made it to the crater base preparation is not easy. I will post my report on return.
        Best Wolfgang

  32. To get to Pancasila village from Bima will take at least a day Wan and the key point is your time of arrival in Bima. You would have to arrive early morning to have ANY chance of reaching Pancasila by nightfall. You can get a bus from Bima to Dompu (maybe 2 hours) and depending on the time, overnight there. Next day, a bus from Dompu to Calabai will take 6-7 hours – the road is bad for the last 6 hours. From Calabai to Pancasila is about 15 – 20 km. You can get a motorbike or maybe a car. Chartering a vehicle from Bima would be possible I’m sure but it would be expensive, I imagine. All the best.

  33. Thanks Merantau for the updates. Yes I’m from Malaysia, so I do speak & understand a lot Indonesia if not 100%. My plan is to fly from Kuala Lumpur-Jakarta-Bima in order to save a lot of travelling time. Leading to my another question, is that easy enough to get a transport from Bima airport to Desa Pancasila and how long this will take ?

    Many thanks again.

  34. Hi Wan. I just called Saiful the Ranger at K-PATA. Climbing this month is possible but be prepared for rain. There has been a lot of rain recently and it is usual for Jan too. Do you speak Indonesian? If so give Saiful a call. +6285937030848. I told him your name and asked if it was OK to pass on his number to you. He is a good guy.

  35. Hi Abdi. I very much doubt you can climb at the moment. Better wait til next year (assuming the beast doesn’t erupt and give us another ‘year without summer’ for 2012!)

    1. Hello Abdi. Give Saiful a call. He is the Ranger/Ko-ordinator for K-PATA (Kelompok Pencinta Alam Tambora). His number is: 085937030848

  36. Hi there i would like to know the status for tambora for this October can we treks there.? or where we can get the info..

  37. Dear hikers and wanderers, I would like to bring to your attention that there is a guest-house in the Tambora coffee-plantation which can accommodate numerous people and has full board. It is nearest to where you start your climb of Tambora. Please have a look at the blog that I made. http://visittambora.wordpress.com/
    I do this to attract more and more people to the area, in order for the local population to develop.
    On my side this is a non-profit effort, but it would be nice if you make mention to the people there of how you came to know of this. I hope you will come and visit Tambora!!

  38. Below is an excerpt from Steve Campbell’s account of his recent climb up Tambora……

    The track to Pancasila, about twenty kilometres distant, passed by cultivated fields and pastures where cattle grazed contentedly. The road provided a stark counterpoint to this bucolic scene. A nightmare of mud and washaways, punctuated with deeply rutted sections, where trucks had gouged tracks into the rich volcanic soil, it rose steadily, winding its way around Tambora’s lower contours. Haris led the way unerringly. I followed in his wake, glad to be the beneficiary of his local knowledge. An hour beyond Calabai and we were there. We crossed the football field, where a mob of bare foot boys played a spirited game, and pulled up in front of a sign board announcing that this was the headquarters of K-PATA – Kelompok Pencinta Alam Tambora – the Nature Lovers’ Group of Tambora.
    Haris and I were met on the veranda by the ranger, Saiful Baharin, who invited us inside. Ordering his young daughter Dinda to prepare coffee, he ushered us into a small room where we sat on cane mats and began to talk. Saiful explained his role as custodian of the Tambora Nature Park. He produced the visitors’ book and a pamphlet on the history of the mountain and its famous eruption. Tambora saw few visitors. It was May and, for the year, only a lone Frenchman and a group of eight Indonesians had made the trip. In its five years existence the book had recorded about 20 foreign tourists – just one of them an Australian. On average about 30 people a year made the trip up – mostly groups of Indonesian students from university adventure clubs. Saiful explained the dangers of the trek and insisted that I take two guides – common sense really as, if anything untoward happened, there was no mobile phone coverage and the injured person would have to be left alone while the other went for help. Seeing so few visitors, the track was heavily overgrown. The ascent, let alone any rescue mission, was sure to be a challenge.
    And so, I was introduced to Farouk, a married man in his 30s. Wiry and compact, he’d made the trip many times. He looked at me a little warily wondering if, at 60 years old, I’d be up for the journey. I assured him that I’d be fine and that I’d be carrying my own gear too. It was arranged that we set out at 7.00 am next morning. The plan was to reach a spot called ‘Post 3’ in the late afternoon. There we would rest up, eat and sleep before the final push to the summit which would begin at 1.00 am and hopefully terminate at the crater rim just on dawn. A few hours at the top and then it was back down with the expectation of reaching K-PATA headquarters by nightfall.
    We shook hands all round and, after a good meal of rice, cassava leaves, spinach and salted fish, prepared by Saiful’s wife, the local primary school teacher, Farouk and Haris departed. I headed off for a shower and bed. My wounded knee had stiffened up a bit but the cut was clean with no redness – the tell-tale sign of infection. My left wrist was still a little sore but I’d get by.
    Sleep came easily that night; it had been a long day. I was awake with the village roosters at first light. Coffee and pisang goreng, (banana fritters), were on the go and, before long, the four of us, Haris and Farouk having arrived at 6.30 am, were being served by Dinda and her mother. All was in readiness and refreshed with full bellies, and the stimulation provided by tall glasses of thick, black, Sumbawa coffee, we made our farewells and stepped out onto the track that ran beside the house.
    It felt good to get underway. The air was chill and the grass wet with dew. The track rose gently uphill through a coffee plantation, the trees laden with ripening berries. After thirty minutes walking we came to a bamboo boom gate which announced the entrance to the Park. We slipped past and began to climb more steeply now. This was indeed a footpath only. Narrow and ill-defined it was for the most part, totally overgrown with trailing creepers and bracken. It was not long before the parang (machete) came out and Farouk and Haris began taking turns, slashing vigorously at the dew-laden vegetation. We were soon saturated. The greenery was like a thick curtain enveloping us, trying to swallow us up. Our choices were stark – we either resist or succumb to our verdant host. We pressed on.
    We were now deep in primary jungle. It had become increasingly difficult for light to penetrate the dense canopy overhead. Forest giants, home to a riot of climbing vines, with lush, bushy epiphytes clinging to their trunks, reached skywards, their crowns melding into the curtain of greenery which blocked out most of the sky. An occasional opening, revealed a dense blanket of rainclouds and it was not long before we heard the thunder rolling over the mountain. We trudged on wondering how long it would be before the storm broke. The peals of thunder came closer splitting the air with their reverberations.
    The first heavy droplets to reach us were refreshing; we had been sweating and staining our way up a steep incline fit for the labours of Sisyphus. But within minutes we were drenched as water streamed from every leaf and tendril. And so it continued for three hours as we hacked our way up the forested slopes. At each rest point we’d remove our shoes to get rid of the leeches. Haris made good use of his parang to make sure they would not return for second helpings! It was pointless changing into dry gear – we didn’t have any! I later discovered that even my passport, which I’d placed in a zip-lock bag inside my money belt, did not escape the deluge; it remains water damaged to this day.
    At 3.00 pm, eight hours after leaving Pancasila, we staggered into Post 3, a rude shelter fashioned out of bush timber and roofed with corrugated iron that some hardy souls had dragged up from below. Built up on stilts and set in a tiny clearing, it was as welcome as any Hilton had ever been. By now the rain had ceased. Farouk ferreted some dry wood out from beneath the shelter and got a fire going. I rigged up a line. We emptied our packs and began the big dry out. In the steamy afternoon humidity this was more a gesture of hope than of expectation.
    The exertions of the day had left us ravenous and we attacked our food with relish. Rice, instant noodles, hard boiled eggs and sweet buns were washed down with coffee and Haris and Farouk luxuriated in their first smoke for quite a few hours. We stoked the fire, producing a cheery blaze and did our best to dry some clothes prior to the hoped-for night’s sleep. We chatted about the track ahead and our plan for the night ascent. Farouk and Haris were agreed. We should rise at midnight, eat a hot meal, drink plenty of coffee and break camp before 1.00 am. I asked about the going and was dismayed to learn we still had some work to do before we got above the tree line. What’s more we were yet to reach the region of the dreaded jelantik, or stinging nettle. Brushing against this little nasty was, according to Haris, like being seared with a welder’s torch. To make our way through parts of it we would have to shinny up two fallen forest giants. Each lay against the mountainside at a 30 degree angle and on either side the jelantik lay waiting to enclose a falling climber in its poisonous embrace. The thought of this happening under torchlight at 3.00 am was, needless to say, sobering.
    It was time to rest. We lay down on the hard teak boards and tried to get comfortable. Still-damp clothes, hard boards, a coolish breeze and, just on dusk, the arrival of a squadron of noisy mosquitoes, conspired to keep us awake. Furthermore, every time I made a move to seek some comfort, I’d cramp in the quadriceps, or hamstring or calf – at times it seemed like all three at once! Thus, I discovered, it’s very difficult to sleep and massage your screaming muscles at the same time.
    Darkness closed over us with the rapidity of a stage curtain and we were left to contemplate the night sounds of the ever-present jungle. Far off were heard the faint rumble of thunder; each of us secretly hoped it was not coming our way. Close by, a burung hantu, which literally means ghost bird, began to hoot eerily. The undergrowth rustled and swished with the passage of a large beast – maybe a wild pig or a small deer. Sleep would not come and I began to worry about the hours ahead. Would this enterprise end in failure or even worse, end disastrously with one of us injured precipitating an emergency rescue? Thankfully, my wounded knee had not troubled me so far. Or, by some conspiracy of the clouds, would we be denied a view of Tambora’s awesome crater by the onset of more atrocious weather? I pushed the thoughts from my mind and entered the twilight zone of dozeland – unsure if I was dreaming or thinking, vaguely aware of my physical discomfort, but not able, or not willing, to move lest I jerk myself back into wakefulness.
    In this way I cobbled together an hour’s rest before my mobile’s alarm came to life with The Eagles crooning, ‘Welcome to the Hotel California’. I stirred, moving gingerly so as to not bring on cramp. The breeze had abated but the air was cold. Haris blew on the embers and soon had a blaze going, its halo a red glow pushing against the black night. Our clothes – and most importantly – shoes and socks had dried, so, at least we would be comfortable for a while. Plenty of warm food and hot coffee primed us for the off, and at 1.00 am precisely we left camp and struck out into the green curtain ahead of us.
    The narrow trail wound steadily on. We climbed under and over fallen trees eventually reaching the first fallen giant that would carry us safely above the forest of jelantik. The tree was too slippery to walk along. Perhaps 40 meters long we could just straddle it and, using our hands, drag ourselves up its length. On either side the jelantik lay, just a metre below, waiting. My head torch lighting the way, I inched myself forward after the others. Its silvery beam illuminating the seemingly endless wall of greenery, I wondered aloud: “When will this forest end?” The answer came back from Farouk, “Just one more hour.” Could I hang on? Could I make it till we reached the easier going?
    True to his word, shortly after negotiating a second fallen monster and tasting my first brush of jelantik against an exposed cheek, we found ourselves in flatter, more open country. Trees were smaller, thinner – a different species altogether – and instead of alang grass, bracken and trailing creepers, we were pushing our way through tussocky grass and could feel scoria, not slippery earth, beneath our feet. The end of the green hell distracted me from the burning sensation left by the jelantik – at last some easier going! The lightening sky brought promise of a soon-to-come rendezvous with the summit. Our hopes rose with each step. We quickened our pace eager to take in the long-anticipated vista. The open sky above was clear. The firmament blinked and twinkled a greeting to the first rays of dawn – we were assured of clear, uninterrupted views all the way to Lombok!
    The last few hundred metres were a scramble over a moonlike surface of sand, scoria and small rocks. With perfect timing we reached the crater’s edge. In the dim light we could sense we were standing, looking down into an awesome chamber. Gradually the sky lightened and our eyes feasted on a stupendous sight – Tambora’s crater bathed in the sun’s first rays. Seven kilometres wide, 21 kilometres in circumference, 350 metres deep, its sombre presence defied description. It was simply – THERE! – the result of the most cataclysmic event in modern history. No words were needed to describe the feelings we experienced at that moment. We smiled and embraced and my steadfast companions lit up a smoke. Below us the mountain fell away to the coast, beyond which lay the islet of Satonda with its salt water lake, created courtesy of the tsunami which followed the explosion – the explosion ‘which shook up the world.’ Far away to the west waves caressed the fractured, indented northern Sumbawa coastline whilst we contemplated the massive power of nature and the inevitability of the trip back down the mountain.
    We stayed up top for a couple of hours, resting, eating bananas and sweet buns, and congratulating ourselves.

  39. Steve Campbell

    Congratulations Heinz on your achievement. I look forward to reading your report. Thanks for Saiful’s number I will give him a call.

  40. I climbed Tambora in May 2009 from Pancasila. A GRAND experience, so do it! There is an organisation in Pancasila called K-PATA. Kelompok Pencinta Alam Tambora – The Nature Lovers’ Group of Tambora. Saiful is the man in charge. He allocates guides and you can stay in his house. His wife is the local school teacher. It is impossible to climb without guides. My guides were great company. We stopped at Pos 3 and began again at midnight. Up and back was 24 hours walking. You HAVE to be fit. There is no track really. It is so overgrown and so few people ever do it. Only 11 had been up by May of 2009. Do it. You will never forget it!

    1. dear Merantau,

      I am looking for the contact of pak Saiful in desa tambora, can’t find it on internet or through telkom. can you help me, we plan to climb the mountain on beginning of June.
      Best wishes,

      1. Sorry Socrates I don’t have his number. But don’t worry. Just rock up there and you will be taken care of. You will have the mountain to yourself I am sure. Saiful’s daughter is called Dinda (about 11 yrs)and his yougest son is Mohammed Bagus Purnama (about 2). He has another son but I can’t remember his name. He will be amazed that you know his kids names! My guides were Haris and Farouk. They were fine companions. Enjoy.

      2. Contact number for Saiful Bahari
        085 937 030 848
        We climbed Tambora last week and will have a report on the actual trek on our website in about one month.
        This has to be one of Indonesia’s toughest volcano to climb. Be well prepared and in good physical condition.
        Saiful and his team of guides are first class.

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