MOUNT KERINCI- THE HIGHEST VOLCANO IN INDONESIA

THE NONCHALANT ‘YES’

Mount Kerinci wearing a cap.

This is my first time hiking at a volcano and outside my homeland. The whole journey was started when I nonchalantly replied YES to my friend without knowing the details of the mountain as I just wanted to go for hiking the mountain in other countries. After one month left approaching to the hiking, I started looking for the details and to my surprise, Mount Kerinci is the highest active volcano in South East Asia and the highest mountain in Sumatera. It is aptly called Atap Sumatera. Based on the reading from blogs and information garnered, my confident level plummeted and very much worried about the difficulty of the hiking. Having said that, I made a thorough preparation based on the advice from the blogs that I have gone through particularly on the mental preparation.

Preparation for the journey.

MOUNT KERINCI

Mount Kerinci is an active volcano with height of 3805m. It is surrounded with thick forest at the lower part of the mountain which is a part of Kerinci Seblat National Park. The forest area is the habitat of endangered Sumatran Tiger and Sumatran Rhinoceros. The type of plants of Mount Kerinci era based on the altitude which is very dense and tall at the lower altitude. Mid-size and mossy at the middle attitude and approaching to the top, there is no plant and you may find rubble and sand only. Mount Kerinci is located at the border of Jambi Province and West Sumatera and surrounded by farmland and picturesque of tea plantation. Mount Kerinci was last erupted on 2013.

OUR JOURNEY BEGINS

Start the journey in the early morning.

Our journey was started on 6th September 2018. The journey from KLIA to Minangkabau International Airport take merely 1 hour. 

Subhanallah.

Once we reached the Minangkabau International Airport, we straightly take the rental cars with drivers and begin our journey to Kayu Aro, Jambi. The journey from Minangkabau International Airport to Kayu Aro is approximately 230km and take 8 hours as the road is winding and ascend to higher elevation at the middle of the route.

Minangkabau International Airport, Padang.
This is actually Sengkuang or turnip which widely sold at kota Padang.
We stop for quick break. Long way to go.
The on road journey to Kayu Aro begins.
P.T. Semen Padang is the oldest cement plant in Indonesia founded on 1910.

Since the road is winding and keep changing in elevation, you might throw up at the middle of the journey..haha.. If your driver drives like a Nascar Race, your dizziness will further aggravate.. hihi. Along the route, you will feel the chilly weather and cold breeze of the highland and the picturesque of paddy fields and lakes.

Welcome to Kabupaten Solok

After 2 hours in the car, we stop for lunch at Rumah Makan Sungai Kalu 4 to enjoy the famous Nasi Padang.

Then, we stop for lunch at Rumah Makan Sungai Kalu 4, Solok.

The journey was very long and we had to stop for 3 times in order to let loose. Haha.. if not mistaken, I have drank 4 cups of coffee along the journey.

KERSIK TUO, KAYU ARO, KERINCI, JAMBI

After more than 8 hours, we reached Kabupaten Kerinci. Kabupaten is an Indonesian word and it is actually ‘district’ in English.

We have reached Kabupaten Kerinci

Our accomodation is at Kersik Tuo. Kersik Tuo is a village that located at Kecamatan Kayu Aro. Kecamatan in English is sub-district. The main activity is tea plantation and you may enjoy the breathtaking view of the plantation.

Reaching Kersik Tuo

Since Kersik Tuo is located at high altitute, the kampung is cold and you must take your jacket for more comfort.

The tea plantation at Kersik Tuo. Mount Kerinci was engulfed with clouds.

HOMESTAY B. DARMIN

There are a lot of homestay and a few hotel that you may stay for your journey here. We stay at Homestay B. Darmin. This homestay is quite big and may accomodate few teams at one time. The owner, Pak Darmin is very friendly and really helpful. He always offer to make a hot coffee for us.

The location of the homestay is also strategic as it is straightly facing Mount Kerinci and located near Tugu Macan and Masjid Syuhada.

Be prepared to sleep in cold and for information, the toilet use water collected from the mountain, hence, it is cold as well. Haha.. Having said that, we are actually feel very comfortable while staying there.

Our accomodation at Homestay B. Darmin. The owner is very friendly and helpful. Really recommended.

GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER

Most of the team members are not know each other since we all come from different places around Malaysia. Hence, at the evening, we take opportunity to enjoy the coffee and get to know each other.

Have a drink at one of the stall and take the opportunity to get to know each other.

Then, we take our dinner at one of the Rumah Makan near our homestay while discussing for our mission on the next day.

The deco of this restaurant is very unique and complemented with delicious food.

TUGU MACAN

Tugu Macan is the prominent landmark at Kersik Tuo. It was built for the symbol of Sumatran Tiger that inhabits at the foot of Mount Kerinci.

In front of the main landmark of Kersik Tuo, Tugu Macan.
The school kids happily go to school.
View of your morning to school everyday. Beautiful!
At tea plantation of Kersik Tuo with Mount Kerinci at the back.
It can be intimidating.
Our mission.

THE ROUTE

This is taken from my shirt that I bought at Kersik Tuo.

There will be 3 nos. of shelters before we reach the peak. The elevation is started at 1500m from sea level with a gentle gradient and will ascend to 3805m with steeper gradient after shelter 2 to the peak. From starting point which is at Pintu Rimba to Shelter 1, you will go through 3 checkpoints which are checkpoint 1 (Bangku Panjang), 2 (Batu Lumut) and 3 (Pondok Panorama).

THE HIKING

Selamat Datang.
This is the limit for vehicle. From this point, we have to walk for about 20 minutes to reach Pintu Rimba.
Walking along farmland.
Briefing and warm up at Pintu Rimba.

Pintu Rimba to Post 1 (Bangku Panjang)

The route is convenient with gentle slope and you can walk leisurely through the forest but it is advised not to spend much time at the area as it is the area of Sumatran Tiger wandering around. It takes approximately 30 minutes of walk to Post 1.

The condition of the trail to Post 1.
Post 1-Bangku Panjang at 1890m from sea level.
The trail at the beginning is just flat with the roots sprawling around.

Post 1 (Bangku Panjang) to Post 2 (Batu Lumut)

The route is still much similar with previous with little ascend. It takes around 20 minutes to get to Post 2 (Batu Lumut).

Reached Post 2- Batu Lumut at 2010 m from sea level.
Occasional increase in gradient.

Post 2 (Batu Lumut) to Post 3 (Pondok Panorama)

The route starts to ascend little more with occasional steep. It takes 30 minutes to get to Post 3 (Pondok Panorama).

Hiking and posing for photo.
With the local Indonesian hikers cooking for their lunch while take the breather.
Big tree that captured our attention.

Post 3 (Pondok Panorama) to Shelter 1

Yeah..Shelter 1!!!
Happy faces after have a rest and lunch at Shelter 1.

The hikers start to feel the steep of the route as some of it has extended to 45o. Since the steep route required more time, it take around 1 hour and 30 minutes depending on your fitness, numbers of participants and your style of hiking. Some are preferred to hike leisurely while enjoying the surrounding view.

Stop to enjoy the view.
One of the unique features.

At this point, you may spot mossy forest that indicates high elevation and chilly weather. You might be stuck a little longer here due to the photography session at the mossy forest. haha…

Spotted mossy plant along route to Shelter 1.
Mossy plant on the big tree at Shelter 1.

Shelter 1 to Shelter 2

Happy faces at Shelter 2.

The route to Shelter 2 becomes more challenging as the gradient has extended to 60o. It took around 3 hours for us to reach to Shelter 2. The shelter 2 is quite small and just can accommodate around 6 tents. When we reached the area, it was already cramped with other hikers and we tried to squeeze in for space.

Exhausted and pretend to take photo for a quick stop.
With the wild and unique formation.
Long way to go.

From shelter 1 to shelter 2, our team actually has separated to several groups as some was fast and some just wanted to have leisure pace. Our initial plan was to camp at Shelter 2 but since it is still early, we have decided to continue to Shelter 3. It was exhausting at that time but somehow, we still possess the energy and determination to continue to Shelter 3. We just take around 15 minutes of break at Shelter 2.

It is still a long way.
Keep going.
At the Shelter 2 which is quite a small area.

Shelter 2 to Shelter 3

I opined that the toughest route is from Shelter 2 to Shelter 3 even though the distance is merely around 600m. It consists of V-shape passage that you seemingly walking alternately at the top and invert of deep V-shaped drain. For certain area, you need to use all of your limbs to get through the rough terrain.

The branches and roots make the journey difficult.
Seems like you walking in a V-shape passage.
Need to use your feet and hands.
It can be very slippery.
Somehow, it looks beautiful.
Some area are quite narrow.
Need to take turn to go through the difficult area.
It is more than 60 degree in term of gradient.
Getting colder.
Cold and gloomy.
Steep and slippery.

Approaching Shelter 3, it was raining and we have to bear with the coldness. The strong blow of wind has deteriorated the condition. We reached Shelter 3 around 6.00 pm which is 2 hours’ time from Shelter 2.

Raining while approaching Shelter 3.
Yeah…hot coffee for the accomplishment.

Then, my biggest fret for this trip happened. Some of our team members got mild hypothermia. This was my first time witnessing people shaking rigorously. Before the hiking, I have studied profoundly and prepared for hypothermia as I am vulnerable to coldness. Even air conditioner at office bother me a lot.

If we are exhausted, we may get a rest, but if we succumbed to hypothermia, it affects severely our body systems and may thwart our ultimate mission to the peak.

Everyone was trying to bear the freezing cold weather.

Having simple hot coffee with biscuits was the best feeling that we had at that time. The rain was very heavy and we frantically went inside the tent without proper arrangement of our belongings. Due to the matter, some of our team members still went out from the tent for some arrangement.

Couldn’t fathom on this.

When we reached the area, our potter and guide has reached the area for quite some time and they have erected the tents for us. The view is breath-taking and we managed to capture photos and recorded videos before the rain fell heavily.

The view at Shelter 3. You may spot the small little people.

The rain continues to fall heavily wind strong wind blow. We just spend our night entirely in the tent hoping that the rain will stop so that we may continue our hiking to the top. To our dismay, at 3.00 am in the morning, the rain still continues and we got not much option, just get back to sleep till weather permits.

At 5.00 am, thank god the rain has stop and we were preparing for summit attack.

Shelter 3 to Summit of Inderapura

The temperature is around 6oC and the strong wind blow has exacerbated the condition. Everyone of us were exuberant to attack the summit. The distance is just around 300m but since it was so steep, it was approximate around 65-70o, it took around 2 ½ hours to reach to the top. The route is full with loose rubble and must be extra vigilant for every step.

Just embark our journey from Shelter 3.
At this point, there is about 100m of elevation left before reaching the peak.
Still long way to go.

After more than 1 hours hiking, we reached Tugu Yudha. It is a simple memorial to commemorate the loss of Yudha Sentika which lost on 23rd June 1990 at 17 years old when he was on the hiking from Shelter 3 to summit. It was mentioned that the cloud was very thick at that time and he lost the direction. On the other note, area of Tugu Yudha is flat and quite spacious. You can take a breather at that area while enjoying the magnificent view of Kerinci Tuo, Jambi, Sea and Danao Gunung Tujuh.

Tugu Yudha
Just a simple memorial.

The hiking towards the peak was very cold and the sight distance was short due to the area was engulfed with cloud and thick mist. Even from Tugu Yudha to the peak felt really long.

There is not much plant on the way up to the peak from Shelter 3.
Take a breather while enjoying the view.
Another 15 steps before reaching the peak.

After almost more than half an hour, we reached Inderapura Summit. My initial feeling was very relieved and happy but after one of my team members wept loudly, I was overwhelmed as this was very challenging.

Overwhelmed. Indescribable.
Thank God. Alhamdulillah.
The mix feeling once you reached the peak.
Happy faces.
Nice composition.
Top Mount Kerinci.
The magnificent view.
The cloud is the best background of your photo.

The view from the peak was magnificent. Indescribable. Even though it was engulfed with thick cloud, the view was really breath taking. We spend almost 45 minutes at the peak. The smell of sulphur was prevalent intermittently.

This is priceless.
Kak Aida with good pose.
The magnificent view.
Yay!!!
Panji Rasulullah.
We could not contain our happiness.
Our team.

DESCENDING

We went back to Shelter 3 for lunch then we started to descend to Pintu Rimba. The track was wet and full of thick mud as it was raining during descending. It was Saturday and we had to give way to many hikers that coming for hiking. Hence, it was a bit time consuming. It was stark contrast during our hiking as not many hikers spotted on Friday. So, it advised not to start your journey on the weekend.

The view while descending.
Must be careful not to lost in the thick cloud. There was a few cases where hikers diverted from the track.

During descending, we just took a quick breather for every shelters and checkpoints. We managed to reached Pintu Rimba at around 7.30 pm which was already dark. It was so exhausting as my leg start to feel the pain. Nevertheless, I was so happy that we have managed to accomplish the challenge.

NEXT DAY

For the next day, our entire team supposedly to go to Dana Kaco but some of our team members still exhausted and in pain. Hence, we opt for two choices which was one group will stay at Kayu Aro and explore the area and another team will go to Danao kaco as planned.

Mount Kerinci on the next day after we have descended.
One of the view.

DANAO KACO

The surreal Danao Kaco.

Danao Kaco is a small lake located at Lempur, Gunung Raya subdistrict. Danao Kaco means Mirror Lake due to its unique blue colour. It cannot be concluded why does the colour is so blue, but from the conversation with the locals, it is due to high mineral contained by the water.

Route to Danao Kaco

Danao Kaco is about 100km from Kayu Aro and take about 4 hours to reach there by using Jalan Sungai Lintas Penuh-Padang. The track was muddy and need to cross a river and it is advised to wear rubber shoe. It took around 2 hours to get to Danao Kaco. You will see a beautiful waterfall named Seluang Bersisik Emas on your way to Danao Kaco.

The colour is so tempting.

Don’t be fooled with the look of object in the lake as it is very deep compared to what you have saw. The depth of the lake is yet to be determined. Several attempts have been made but to no avail. There were fatalities at the area as the victims were drowned.

Valet.

The lake is shrouded with mysteries that yet to debunk but for certain, it is very unique. On the other note, it is listed one of the world heritages by UNESCO.

EXPLORING KERSIK TUO, KAYU ARO

Kersik Tuo is a quaint small village but hectic with plantation activities. Even though it just a small village, there is so much to explore and it can be an option for holiday as well.

Martabak Priangan. Manis and Asin.
Coffee with the view of Mount Kerinci? Why not.
KFC Haris. Sedap wooo..
Bas Sekolah. I love this photo.
One of the cute house at Kersik Tuo.
This one also cute too.
The kueh for breakfast. So colourful.

TUGU MACAN

Tugu Macan is a statue of tiger that represent Sumatran Tiger which Seblat Kerinci National Park is the habitat of the endangered species. It is become the prominent features of Kersik Tuo, Kayu Aro. The statue is actually gated and it is open for certain time only every day. The open time is from 2 pm to 5 pm.

PASAR BEDENG 8

At Pasar Bedeng Delapan.

Pasar Bedeng 8 is actually located at Kayu Aro Barat. It is approximately 8km from Tugu Macan and take around 15 minutes by van. For information, you can take local transportation which is van that is painted with white colour. The cost from Tugu Macan to Pasar Bedeng 8 is only IDR 5000/person.

Sate Singgalang.
Enjoying our satay.
The golden hand. We bought quite a lot at his shop.

Pasar Bedeng 8 is only open on Sunday morning. There are a lot of things sold at the pasar ranging from local foods, eateries, crops, clothes, toys, souvenirs and other paraphernalia.

Busy place.
One of the stall selling tidbits.
Can be congested at certain time.
Masjid Fajar Islam, Bedeng Delapan.
The bangles that we bought at the Pasar Bedeng Delapan.

KEBUN TEH KAYU ARO

Our senior, Abang Halim and Kak Rosni.
Me showing the way. Haha.

Kebun Teh Kayu Aro is the tea plantation area that located at the vicinity of Mount Kerinci. The view is so breath taking and insta-worthy. You must strolling at the area as it so serene.

Emulate my photo at The Aoraki, Mount Cook Village, New Zealand.

DINA CAFÉ

Our favourite Rumah Makan Dian.

There are a lot of food places along Kersik Tuo but our favourite is Dina Cafe. It is located not far from Tugu Macan. The specialty of the café is sup daging and ginseng telor. You must try it !!!

OUTDOOR, SOUVENIRS SHOPS

If you want to buy hiking equipment, t-shirts, jackets and souvenirs, there are plenty of shops along Kersik Tuo main road. There is a lot of choices.

TEH KAYU ARO, TEH KULIT KAYU MANIS AND KOPI KERINCI

You must take along at least one pack of Teh Kayu Aro (Kayu Aro Tea),  Teh Kulit Kayu Manis (Cinnamon Tea) and Kopi Kerinci (Kerinci Coffee) before you leaves Kerinci as these are the signature products of the area.

DANAO GUNUNG TUJUH

Danao Gunung Tujuh (Gunung Tujuh Lake) is located approximately 14km from Tugu Macan and take 30 minutes to get there. The hiking took around 2 hours towards the lake.

View of Mount Kerinci from Post Gunung Tujuh.
The pole as a marker.

There are poles with numbers along the track to give guide to hikers. You will need to go thorough quite a steep hike until poles no. 38.

Our team.

After poles no. 38, you will start to descend until pole no. 41 before you reach the lake.

The information board.

Danao Gunung Tujuh is actually a lake that is surrounded by 7 peaks (aptly with the name) which are Gunung Hulu Tebo, Gunung Hulu Sangir, Gunung Madura Besi, Gunung Lumut, Gunung Selasih, Gunung Jar Panggang and Gunung Tujuh. Danao Gunung Tujuh is the highest lake in South East Asia which sits at 1950 m from sea level.

Finally !!!
Mount Kerinci spotted.
Contemplating to take on the sampan.

There are few antiquated ‘sampan’ made from timber log waiting for you to explore the lake. It was an awesome experience to paddle around the lake. You can see Mount Kerinci from the lake itself and it looks beautiful from that view.

With the pak cik who own the sampan.
It is so fun.
Satisfied.
Yeah…it is so tempting. So, here we are.

BID GOODBYE TO MOUNT KERINCI

Our journey come to an end as we have to leave Kersik Tuo at 9.00 pm as we have to catch up early flight at Padang to KL. It was a surreal experience as I never thought that I will hike the highest volcano in Indonesia. May our paths cross again Kerinci.. Goodbye.

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