Gunung Lawu – Central Java

  • Written by:  Heinz von Holzen
  • Date Posted:  January 28th, 2012
  • Category:  Java
  • Comments:  No Comments »

Ancient tales:15th Century Central Java Terracotta Art

When looking at the history of Gunung Lawu one cannot ignore the story about the three summits, Hargo Dumilah, Hargo Dalem and Hargo Dumling. Each has its own legend and mystery. The story began during the government of Sinuwun Nata Bhrawijaya Pamungkas at Majapahit Kingdom. At that time, the King’s wife, Dara Petak gave birth to a son, Raden Fatah. Unlike his father Raden Fatah chose to convert to Islam as he grew up. He then established a Kingdom in Glagah Wangi (Demark). This caused great grief to his father, who then turned to meditation in search for guidance from God. His newly found understanding and perception showed that the glow of the Majapahit Kingdom would fade away and the divine revelation would shift to the Demak Kingdom.Trekking @ Gunung Lawu Central Java

The King then left the Kingdom and fled to Gunung Lawu escorted by Sabdopalon. Ontheir journey to the summit they met Dipa and Wangsa Menggala, two village heads that escorted the King to Hargo Dalem the summit. Before retreating at Hargo Dalem the King designated Dipa Menggala as the ruler Gunung Lawu and to be in charge of the invisible of the area. The King also appointed Wangsa Menggala as the vice regent and honored him with the title of Kyai Jalak.

Due to their loyalty and perfection of supernatural power, Dipa and Wangsa Menggala turned into mystical creatures to carry out the King’s mandate. Thus until today Gunung Lawu is still closely related to the cultural tradition of the Yogyakarta and Surakarta Palace.

The Massive Gunung Lawu, lying on the border between Central and East Java and is one of Java’s holiest mountains. Mysterious Hindu Temples dot its slopes and because of the colorful past, each year thousand’s of pilgrims seek spiritual enlightenment by climbing its peak. The unique temples on the mountain are actually the last ones that were built in Java before the region converted to Islam. The most famous ones are Candi Sukuh and Candi Ceto. Hiking @ Gunung Lawu

A climb filled with lots of little bonuses:

Due to the colorful history of Gunung Lawu and the fact that annually thousands of pilgrims make their way to the summit it is no surprise that the trek is by far the best maintained path to any summit in Indonesia that is over 3000 meters.  A further bonus is the fact that the starting point is at an altitude at 1800 meters, meaning that the actual climb covers “only “ about 1400 meters altitude. Comfortable accommodation only 150 meters below the summit, giving you a chance to forget your tent at home. To our greatest astonishment our host for the night not only cooked a delicious hot dinner but also stocked a little store with all the essentials for the hungry adventurer. But what makes Gunung Lawu special are the views, which are thoroughly stunning. It is actually very easily possible to climb this mountain in one relatively long 8-9 hour hiking day. However I strongly suggest spending the night near the summit in one of the hostels. Depart during the later part of the morning and reach the summit around 4.  This will give you a terrific chance to marvel at a hopefully spectacular sunset, and then an even more beautiful sunrise the next morning.Trekking @ Gunung Lawu Central Java

A walk in the park:

The adventure starts in Cemoro Sewu where at the beginning of the trek one has to register and pay a small entrance fee. Bring along copies of your ID or Pass Port. An additional packet of clove cigarettes is always most welcomed by the caretakers and will greatly speed up the administrative component, which often can be rather time consuming and frustrating. The entire path to the summit is rather straightforward without offering any specific challenges. The scenery is great and the mountain constantly rewards you with a magnificent landscape. There are 4 pos (rest points) along the route and it will take approximately one hour to reach each of the points. The lower sections will cross some vegetable plantations followed by a forested section and as you get higher the trees will give way to high alpine bush land.Trekking @ Gunung Lawu

Starting point Cemoro Sewu 1800 m:

Pos 1:  Taman Sari Bawah, Wesen-wesen 2203 m

Pos 2: Taman Sari Atas, Watu Gedeg 2589 m

Pos 3:  Sendang Panguripan, Watu Gede 2787 m

Pos 4: Cokro Srengenge, Watu Kapur 3099 m

Overnight camp:  Jolo Tundo  3177 m

Argodumilah: Summit 3265 m

Argodalam:  Second lower summit 3170 m

The descent:

The easiest way back is obviously to take the same path as you come up. However there is actually a rather seldom taken second bath which is a little longer but will end up at the same starting point. It is best to ask for directions at the summit, which the locals will happily give you. Another smart alternative would be to ask a local to guide you for the first ½ hour until you reach the defined trail which is in good condition and can be easily followed. If the weather is clear you will get some fabulous views of Gunung Merapi on the far horizon.Trekking @ Gunung Lawu Central Java

Summery Gunung Lawu:

Elevation: 3065 meters
Gunung Lawu summit  -7.627162, 111.194344
Cemoro Kandang, starting point -7.627162, 111.18782
Location: 110 km northeast from Yogyakarta on the border between central and east. The journey will take roughly 3-4 hours on a public bus
Difficult Grade V2: Moderate: No major obstacles along the entire trek. Keep sudden weather changes in mind and bring a good raincoat and some warm clothing. The morning on the summit can be very windy and very cold.
Physical Challenge V2: Moderate:  Straight forward if you are in reasonable good condition. From all the tall volcanoes in Java, Gunung Lawu is perhaps the easiest one to climb.
Hiking time: 4 ½ hours up and 4 hours down
Water source: 2½ liters is sufficient for the climb. Water available just below the summit in one of the Warungs.
Guide: Not essential
Permit: Registration essential at park entrance in Cemoro Kendang US$0.50
Transport: Yogyakarta-Depok–Prambanan-Ceper-Solo-Mojolaban-Karanganyar- Tawangmangu-Cemoro Kandang. Plenty of public busses available.
Accommodation: There are serviced shelters on the summit, which provide a cooked meal and basic essentials. If you wish to spend the night in the tent then there are several spots just below the summit.

Direction to Gunung Lawu:

Trekking @ Indonesian Volcano Adventures


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  • Welcome to Trekking and Volcano Adventures in Indonesia

    Unfortunately Indonesia is far too often for the wrong reasons in the lime light of the world press. Terror, tsunamis, earthquakes, destructions of rain forest and corruption seem to be the favorite subject of the media. To my great disappointment far too few people talk about the incredible cultural diversity of the nation, the enormous size, and totally forget to focus on the unbelievable beauty of this great nation.
Beside the incredible beauty of Indonesia, a nation is only as good as its inhabitants. I cannot think of another place on earth where you would find so many incredible kind people that will be delighted to look after you in a way normally only kings and royalty are treated.
 Hopefully these colorful stories will encourage many readers to pack a good pair of quality hiking boots and a backpack big enough to store the impressions of the countless memorable discoveries awaiting one throughout Indonesia. Selamat Jalan and happy trekking Heinz von Holzen Trekking @ Indonesian Trekking Adventure
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