Hiking Mount Semeru, Java’s highest mountain

Mount Semeru is located in East Java in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. It is a popular destination among hiking enthusiasts in Indonesia. With its height of 3,676m Mount Semeru is Java’s highest peak. It is also one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes.

If you want to spend a few days in the outdoors, experience some of Java’s most breathtaking scenery and stand on top of an active volcano you should definitely consider hiking Mount Semeru.

Trip Overview

  • Duration: 2-3 days (excluding travel days to/from start point)
  • Trail start/end: Ranu Pani village
  • Closest airports: Malang and Surabaya
  • Distance: 36km
  • Elevation gain: 1,576m
  • Difficulty level: moderate

Hiking Mount Semeru: The Route

The Mount Semeru hiking trail starts at the village of Ranu Pani. The route is a round trip to the summit. The trail is usually hiked in 2 or 3 days.

2 days itinerary

  • Day 1: Ranu Pani to Kalimati basecamp
  • Day 2: Mt Semeru summit and back to Ranu Pani

3 days itinerary

  • Day 1: Ranu Pani to Kalimati basecamp
  • Day 2: Mt Semeru summit and back to Ranu Kumbolo lake
  • Day 3: Ranu Kumbolo to Ranu Pani

From the entrance gate, the route follows a narrow track through the forest. After about 10km (approx. 3-4 hours) the trail reaches the beautiful Ranu Kumbolo lake. After Ranu Kumbolo the route goes through savana-like landscapes and pine forests. It takes around 2-3 hours of easy hiking to reach Kalimati basecamp from Ranu Pani. From Kalimati basecamp the route follows a steep forest track. After the treeline ends the trail turns into a very steep, rocky, slippery path. This section is hard work but the view at the top is definitely worth it! It takes around 3-4 hours to reach the summit from Kalimati basecamp.

How To Get To The Trail Start

The closest airports are Malang Airport (about 50km from Ranu Pani) and Surabaya International Airport (about 120m from Ranu Pani).

To get from the airport to the trail head in Ranu Pani the easiest option is to get a taxi to Tumpang and then to get jeep transport to Ranu Pani. There are plenty of trekking agencies that can arrange jeep transport.

If you do the hike with a guided tour the transport from the airport to the National Park will generally be included in the package.

Permits 

Before hiking Mount Semeru you need to register in advance. Registration can be done online on the Bromo Tengger National Park website. The National Park imposes a strict daily quota of a maximum of 600 hikers on Mount Semeru. The quota fills up fairly quickly on holidays and weekends so make sure you register in time.

You will also need a permit to enter the National Park. The permit can be obtained at the ranger’s office in Ranu Pani. To obtain the permit you need to present:

  • A photocopy of your passport
  • A health certificate which must include your blood pressure and body-mass index data (you can obtain this in any local clinic in Tumpang or Ranu Pani, ask for a “fit to climb letter” or “Surat Keterangan Kesehatan” in Indonesian)
  • The entry fee (210,000Rp/day on weekdays and 310,000Rp/day on weekends and bank holidays)

Hiking Mount Semeru: Kit List

Make sure you bring plenty of warm clothing for camping. It gets pretty chilly during the night, especially during the dry season.

Below is a list of what we packed for hiking Mount Semeru. We did this hike with a trekking agency who provided the tent, sleeping matts and food/camping cooking gear. So if you are planning on doing the hike without a guide make sure you add those items to your list. Tents and other camping equipment can be rented at the ranger’s office in Ranu Pani.

Also, we didn’t take trekking poles but I think they would be very helpful, especially on the steep final section to the summit.

Hiking gear:

  • Backpack
  • Shorts
  • Short sleeve top
  • Buff
  • Socks
  • Trail running shoes
  • Gloves (for the summit)
  • Hiking trousers (for the summit)
  • Long sleeve top (for the summit)
  • Head torch (if you plan on reaching the summit at dawn)
  • Rain jacket (especially if you are planning this hike during the rainy season)

Camping gear:

  • Sleeping bag
  • Down jacket
  • Leggings
  • Flip flops
  • Toothbrush + toothpaste

Other:

  • Suncream + lip balm
  • Sunglasses
  • Passport + copy of passport (for permit)
  • Phone + charger
  • Kindle
  • Powerpack

Hiking Mount Semeru: When To Go

Mount Semeru can be hiked between beginning of April and end of December (Semeru National Park closes annually from January to the end of March for restoration purposes). However, it is good to keep in mind that the rainy season in Indonesia is between November and March. So if you are planning to hike Semeru in November or December there will obviously be a higher chance of rain. On the plus side, night-time temperatures during the wet season are higher than during the dry season.

Mount Semeru is a very popular hiking destination. To avoid crowds it is best to avoid starting the hike on a Saturday or Sunday (many Indonesians come to Semeru for a day-trip to lake Ranu Kumbolo on the weekend so the section between Ranu Pani and Ranu Kumbolo can get very crowded on those days). Also try to avoid bank holidays.

With Or Without A Guide?

It is possible to hike Mount Semeru independently without a guided tour. The route is easy to follow and since this is only a 2-3 days hike you won’t have to carry too much equipment.

However, if you want a more hassle-free experience, there are plenty of trekking agencies that organise Semeru hiking trips. The guided tour packages generally include transfer from the airport, medical check-up, National Park permit and camping equipment. We used the company Climb Indonesia. They offered an outstanding service so I would definitely recommend using them.

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