Mount Merapi Lava Tour

When Nick, myself and my mother went through Jogjakarta (which was a good month ago, so this post is a bit delayed, sorry), we visited the slopes of Mount Merapi. Mount Merapi is an active volcano, and there are quite a few of them in Indonesia.

Nick was quite interested to see lava but we didn’t see lava – what we saw was the intriguing remains of the volcano’s eruptions. We did a pretty quick tour so didn’t stop at every interesting part, but we did get a lot of the highlights. A driver took us in a jeep, and the ride was very, very shaky. We had to drive over a lot of gravel and large rocks, and it was at least twenty minutes’ drive (and gradually uphill) to the first site, so we couldn’t have walked.

Mount Merapi – literally ‘fire mountain’
Mount Merapi – literally ‘fire mountain’
Small hut on the slopes
Small hut on the slopes

The first site was a bunker which was built shortly before the volcano erupted in 2006. People who lived on the slopes of the mountain knew what to expect. A lot of people who lived there had their own farms with farm animals. I think we saw a lot of cows on the way up. The underground bunker was extremely dark. The main area inside was just a large concrete area, and there was a squat toilet in a small room to one side. We were told by our tour guide that two people stayed in the bunker during the 2006 eruption. Unfortunately, one of them died in the main area because the lava came through the bottom of the door, and the other died in the bathroom trying to relieve himself with cold water because the lava had caused the water in the bathroom to come out at a boiling temperature. It was sad hearing about this. Apparently, since then, the government moved the residents because it was no longer safe to live on that part of the mountain.

The underground bunker
The underground bunker

There was a sign outside the bunker showing what it looked like in 2006, compared to in 2010. The 2010 photo looks the same as the photos in this post, but in 2006 there was actually a lot of grass and a lot of flowers growing.

On the way back, we passed a house missing its walls and part of its roof. It was a house that was affected by an eruption. The creepy thing is that some of the furniture and wall decor was still there, but was all ash grey. I can’t quite remember but I think there was even the bones of an animal as well. Very, very surreal.

The rocky ‘river’
The rocky ‘river’

We also drove through a rocky sort of swamp. It was hilarious because it was so rocky sitting in the jeep and then all of a sudden the front tyres would splash into a puddle and we got a bit wet. It was like a rollercoaster, of sorts. The lava had created some sort of dodgy maze amongst the rocks.

It was an interesting experience and I learned quite a bit that I don’t think you’d just ‘find on the internet’. I’d probably recommend the tour, it was only about $30 – and per person if I remember correctly. 🙂

Other posts about my 2015 trip to Indonesia

Smoke coming from the mountain
Smoke coming from the mountain

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Comments on this post

Amazing photos! I especially love the shot of the “river”.

Drives up to the mountain tops are always worth it. As the view is always amazing, which was definitely shown in your photos.

The story of the two guys in the bunker is sad =(

I love that first picture! That must have been neat to see an active volcano. The only one I’ve been to is the one in Hawaii. I didn’t get to see lava either, since it wasn’t erupting at the time I was there.

That’s sad that the two people died, even when they were prepared with a bunker 😞 I think it’d be sad to see the damaged house too. I’m glad it was a good tour though!

Omg this excites me because I did a group project on Mount Merapi at Uni, where we talked about what happened in the 2006 eruption (and whether it was linked to the earthquake at Jogjakarta) and why some people refused to leave their homes. There were surveys done on the local people and many viewed the mountain in a spiritual sense, as an elder, and their perceived threat of the volcano was different (they didn’t feel as at risk). In fact lots of people were evacuated to camps during the 2006 eruption and some villagers sneaked back to their homes and farms at night, to protect them from opportunistic looters. Volcanic soil provides extremely fertile soil for crops; that’s why the sides of Merapi are so lush and green 😄

I can’t remember how many people died; that’s a sad story about the people in the bunker 😞
Merapi spews out more pyroclastic flows than lava and they come racing down the mountain at incredible speed. You’d be lucky to survive if you were in the path of it. Lava tends to move more slowly.

That’s so cool you got to visit Merapi!! 🙂