Climbing Mount Kerinci, Indonesia

At 3,805 meters (or 12,484 feet), Mount Kerinchi is Indonesia’s highest volcano. Located on the island of Sumatra, it is surrounded by a lush national park which is still home to a few endangered species. At it’s base, you’ll find a rough yet charming town surrounded by dirt roads and tea plantations. At the top, you’ll find a dangerously steep crater filled with smoking lava and the strong smell of sulfur. What else could you ask for when looking for your next adventure from Singapore?

The Town

The small town of Kersik Tuo, a 6 hour drive from Padang, lies at the base of the mountain. The only tourists you’ll find here will be climbing the mountain, and we only saw a couple other groups during our 3 days. What you will find are friendly people living their daily lives. You’ll find kids running through the streets or playing in the fields. And if you happen to go during Ramadan (like me), you’ll find a lack of places to find a meal.

The Hike Up

The day started with a quick drive to the trailhead, and the trail got steep very quickly. The benefit of the elevation gain is that the air got even cooler, but the mountain threw additional challenges on us as we climbed. Before we knew it, we were using rocks and roots to hoist us through narrow gully’s and steep sections of the trail. I would later find my arms and shoulders far more sore than my legs from all the upper body work! We waited until we cleared the trees to find camp, which was especially impressive considering we were looking down at the clouds below.

The Summit

We started the summit trek around 3am the following morning. The purpose is to reach the summit before sunrise, which was completely worth it despite the cold and tired darkness. As the sun approached the horizon, we found ourselves looking down at a number of small volcano peaks and mountain lakes. We also found that the bottom of the crater was spotted with red lava! The crater was smoking and it was so steep that one wrong step could have ended very badly. Not only was the sunrise itself spectacular, but it also created a perfect pyramid shadow of the mountain on the opposite side.

The Hike Down

The hike down was much faster and much more fun. I like to call this bit rock skiing; the rock is so small and loose all you need to do is take giant leaps and you slide most of the way down. The problem is that if you needed to stop, well, you can’t. We got back to camp for a hearty breakfast and then hiked the entire way down to town. It was a long day and we were hungry…

The Random Meal

The problem was that it was currently the Muslim holiday Ramadan, which means everyone fasts from sunrise to sunset. When the sun does set, family and friends get together to celebrate their feast. What this meant for us is that we couldn’t find anywhere to eat. We roamed the streets sidetracked with a number of photo opportunities, but eventually we must have looked hungry because a random woman came out to greet us and invited us in her home. We sat on her floor, with what looked like the sheriff of town, and she proceeded to feed us many dishes of food that we didn’t know or recognize. We considered the fact that she was giving us drinks with ice and food that came from, well I don’t know where it came from, but we ate it all anyway. Including an eye-watering spicy dish with some kind of meat that we couldn’t figure out even after we tried to ask. One of the best and more unique experiences I’ve had in Asia.

Our Guide

Message him on Facebook