Mount Semeru reopens

Interest in visiting our country’s beaches, mountains, and waterfalls has increased these days, because we’re advised to avoid closed spaces during this pandemic, and mobility has been restricted across many places in Indonesia. 

That’s why it’s good news to nature-lovers that active volcano Mount Semeru, which is located in East Java and is the island’s highest mountain measuring over 3,676M tall, is one of Indonesia’s natural spots that has started to welcome visitors. After fires ravaged the area in 2019, followed by the volcano’s eruption in January 2020, Mount Semeru stayed closed for most of the year – only reopening on 1st October.

Despite the very recent reopening, visitor slots were already fully booked until the end of October 2020.

Update: as of 30th November 2020, Mount Semeru has been temporarily closed to climbers due to detected volcanic activity. 

Mount Semeru visitor guidelines during COVID-19

Summit - Mount Semeru reopens
The summit of Mount Semeru in 2018
Image credit: @rbihsan

After being closed for about a year, it’s not surprising that many adventurers have missed Mount Semeru, which is also known as Gunung Semeru or Mahamaru. So to prevent overcrowding, only 120 people will be allowed in per day, which is only 20% of the mountain’s usual capacity of 600 people.

Additionally, visits are restricted to trekkers between ages 9 and 60 who can provide proof that they are free of respiratory illnesses. They must use the online booking system to reserve a slot, and won’t be allowed to stay at the site for more than two days and one night.

But don’t get too excited yet – if you’re thinking of swinging by, you’ll have to wait until there are free trekking slots available because it’s fully booked up until the end of October.

Ranu Kumbolo caming ground - Mount Semeru reopens
Ranu Kumbolo camping ground around Mount Semeru in 2018
Image credit: @irmanismail11

As for health guidelines, reports that visitors must wear a face mask, bring their own hand sanitizer, and have their temperatures checked before entering the site. Being out in the open still requires caution, so tents have to be set up at least 2M away from each other. 

How to experience Mount Semeru

Mount Semeru in East Java, Indonesia
Mount Semeru
Image credit: @dwinandanm

While reaching the summit is not exactly a walk in the park, overall, Mount Semeru is deemed a newbie-friendly site. This doesn’t mean anyone can come unprepared, so be sure to wear a pair of proper boots and have a gas mask packed as Semeru is an active volcano.

Two days, which is the currently recommended duration of stay, is enough to trek this high mountain without having to push yourself.

Ranu Kumbolo
Image credit: @_jupleek

Ranu Kumbolo, or Kumbolo Lake, is where you would start off your journey to the top of Mahameru. Don’t forget to have enough food and water in your bag.

Trekking in Semeru
Image credit: @falaqkun

One of the reasons behind the popularity of Mount Semeru – and the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park as a whole – is its unique geology. The ashy landscape resulting from the active volcanoes makes it an interesting photo spot for those who want an alternative to the usual lush, green views.

Exploring nature during the pandemic

Avid travelers might be struggling to quench their thirst for a pre-pandemic-style adventure during this time, but it might be a great idea to start considering more nature sites such as Mount Semeru.

Even though you will have to be on a waiting list, being outside after months of quarantine might be the safest way for you to recharge until the COVID-19 situation improves.

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Cover image adapted from: @dwinandanm and @falaqkun

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