Gunung Merbabu : A gentle stroll from Wekas village to Selo
Mount Merbabu, standing tall at 3142 meter, is a dormant stratovolcano and the perfect place to view skyline of east java filled with volcanos. Mount Merapi, only few hundred meters from here, stands out among those. This mesmerizing view from the top of Mount Merbabu is perhaps only a stroll away for the fits trekkers but for a lazy occasional walker, this was some effort but a worthy one.
Almost a weekend gateway from Singapore, Yogyakarta is known for Prambanan and Borobudur temples in nearby Magelang. But there is much more than that. Within a radius of 100 km are Mount Merapi, Merbabu, Sindoro, Sumbing and Lawu. It is my second visit to this city and I chose Merbabu this time. My first trip was at Mount Merapi on a stormy night in January when I had to retreat from an altitude of ~2500 m, my guide suggested it was to dangerous to push forward for last 300~400 m altitude.
Given 75% experience of Merapi and full Merbabu, my recommendation will be to trek Merbabu, if one has to choose between the two. Merapi is like a virgin beauty and it likes being a virgin. It is a much better experience to admire it from distance than being on it. The vegetation has retreated from Merapi half way, the ash and the rocks make up the most of the topology. Merbabu gains from where Merapi loses. The lush green vegetation, the view of Merapi and the serene calmness. Though all this is the gift of Merapi to Merbabu. However, Merapi has it own silver lining. Reaching the summit certainly makes one proud of being on the top of one of the most active volcanoes! Best, Do a twin trek ? ;)
Coming back to Merbabu. There are at least three option to reach the summit of Merbabu. They start from base camps at Wekas, Selo and Kopeng. The Wekas route is 5~6 km long and starts from 1800 m. The Selo route is 9-10 km long and it starts at an altitude of 1600 m. I have heard that Kopeng route is 7-8 km and it the most difficult. Selo route is long but it has gentle slope. It is also most beautiful route for day trek.
|Merababu trek routes|
Our trip was planned from Wekas to summit to Selo. And after talking to my guide and my own experience, I would say this is the best way to do. One can Start after breakfast from Wekas, trek in the day, camp overnight, enjoy the morning at summit and come down to Selo, the next day. This way one does not come back the same way, so more exciting and newer views to look forward.
Our itinerary was to trek in the night from Wekas, watch the sunrise and come down to Selo. I had the company of my friend since teenage, Shiv and another friend Shubham. It was kind off reunion trip. Instead of booze and tobacco we choose a walk, a long one. At this point, it is worth mentioning about Suroto Sheby, our guide. A very nice gentleman and he arranged our trip right from the pickup at airport to the awesome "home made" breakfast at his home the next day. His email address is surotosheby[at]ymail.com.
So, in company of Suroto Sheby, we reached Wekas at 10:00 pm. And we started at 10:30 ~ 10:45 pm. This night turned out to be the first rainy night in 2 months according to our guide. Unprepared for rain and strong wind, we started. There was little hope to see the sunrise at this point. Shiv has his own reasons for being positive. Shubham kept pointing out that if it raining now then it will clear in morning. Nevertheless whether the clouds clear or not, reaching the top of Merbabu was prize in itself. The view can be counted as consolation.
Anyway from the positive energy of other 2 mates, we moved forwards with myself tailing behind with our porter, Sehmet. Right when we were out of energy and disappointed from the cold agony of rainy walk, my friends observed the clear sky. It was like a gift from God for our effort and the positive energy of Shiv and Shubham. There on it was a cake walk to reach the summit.
From Pos 5 to summit we encountered a stiff 2 meter climb. With our little experience it took us some time, 3 of us to get over it. I want to call it a bridge to the Heaven. The moment we crossed it, the awesome view awaited us. The opaque silhouettes of mountains turned into bustling green magic of nature.
|Green grass, blue sky in this beautiful world :)|
We reached the Summit at 5:00 am and started our decent at 6.15 am. In that one hour we lived a life time. Jumping around with our Camera. With the landscape already posing, it was our turn. We were the only one on summit!
|Sindoro and Sumbing posing like a twin sisters|
The walk from Summit to Selo is long one but a very beautiful one.
|View en route to Selo from Merbabu|
|The ash side of the mountain|
For people interested in Merapi trek, come down to Selo. Its a 4 hours trek to top and start at 10.00 PM~11:00PM for a comfortable trek for sunrise to have sometime to reflect over life in peace before the rush to reach Selo begins which is again 4 hours away.