Merapi National Park, Part 1

Here’s the thing. I’ve been in Yogyakarta since 1994, so that means it’s already 21 years. I’ve been to Kaliurang and Merapi’s slope countless of time (well, I mean I’ve since lost the counter). But this is new! I don’t know that Merapi has a national park open for public! I just knew that Merapi NT is just for serious mountain climbers.

Merapi National Park located on a hill, some 5km from the peak. On a clear day, the majestic peak of Merapi could be seen clearly. It’s located near Kaliurang park. Just go right from there, and you’ll be in Tlogo Putri, you can enter the national park fom there.

Actually, the national park has two entrances. First is from Tlogo Putri, and the second one is from some unnamed point that is the starting point of Japanese Bunker trail. In this post, I will focus on the eastern part of the national park, the Tlogo Putri side.

One thing I noticed at the entrance is how the ticket’s fared up. As an Indonesian national, I only need to pay IDR 8.500. But, for foreigners it’s IDR 226.000. Holy shit, isn’t it like 25 times more expensive. This kind of thing needs to die. You see, if I go abroad and want to enter some places, chances are I don’t want to spend more than the locals spend. It’s an injustice. It’s a manifestation of shitty stereotype and government. Oh, so you’re a foreigner, you must be rich then? No!

Merapi

Anyway, at the base of the national park, one can choose which trail one wants to hike. At the eastern side of the national park, there are two trails: Pronojiwo observatory, and Plawangan observatory trails. I chose the Pronojiwo trail first, as it’s the easier one, only 1.5km round trip.

Pronojiwo, which I don’t understand what does it mean, is a hill. At the top of the hill, there is an lookout for scientists or rangers to observe Mt. Merapi. Yeah sure, the trail is only about 700m one way, but guess what, basically you are scaling the hill for 700m. It could be really hard for someone who is unfit. Even I, who are considerably fit, was struggling. There is almost no flat part in this trail. But, I think this trail is really good for training. It has medium length, and doable even for beginner (albeit with a lot of rest).

Merapi

Merapi

I finished this trail in around 30-45 minutes. At the end of the trail, there is a lookout platform. From the top, you could see the peak of Mt. Merapi, 5km away. It looked so close. However, just my luck, there were clouds shrouding the peak. I could see a glimpse of the peak, but that was it. After waiting for around 30 minutes, I gave up and just went back down.

Merapi

Merapi

Now for the second trails, it’s a trail that’s connecting the eastern and the western side of the national park. The trail is 3km in length, one way. My plan was to get to Plawangan - Japanese Bunker junction, then exit from the western entrance. Then from there I will walk down the road back to the eastern entrance. That would be around 4-5km loop.

Merapi

However, about 1.5-2km into the trail, I decided to double back. The problem with this trail is that it has no sign whatsoever, and there are a lot of junctions there. The trail after 1km in become more and more just a jungle path, it’s rarely used. I was not prepared with that, as I had got no map.

Merapi

I think the problem with that trail is that it got no maintenance whatsoever after the Mt. Merapi recent eruption. There are a lot of landslide points there. Often the trail would narrow into just 15cm wide. With cliff at the other side, it would be really dangerous.

Next week, I would go to the western side of the national park. There are two trails there: Japanese Bunker and Plawangan observatory trails. I hope Plawangan is accessible from the western entrance of the national park.

With that being said, I really like this area. It offers good trails, just perfect for me.