Central Java, Gunung Slamet

Written by on July 16, 2012 in Java Mountains with 0 Comments

Central Java, Gunung Slamet



Gunung Slamet is the highest peak in Central Java and second highest in Java island. Upon seeing Slamet during his first exploration of the world, Sir Francis Drake immediately directed his boat to dock in Cilacap on Java’s south coast. It is an immense mountain and the vast lava field summit is one of the most isolated places you can be in Java. It is also one of the best places to see both the north and south coasts. Slamet is one of Java’s more active volcanoes and there is almost always lots of gas around at the crater. It can also get very windy on the slopes so choose your camping spot wisely and whatever you do, do not even think about camping at the summit area because of the dangerously large amount of gases.

There are several hiking routes and they are all long and it is hard to estimate exactly how long each one takes as it will vary greatly from person to person. Suffice to say that you will need at least one night on the mountain unless you climb at night which is not recommended. The most enjoyable thing to do is to ascend one way and descend another way. However, please bear in mind that guides from one side of the mountain will be much less familiar with other routes. A popular route from the south leads up from the mountain resort of Baturaden near Purwokerto but has been closed in the past due to too many hikers becoming lost. It is currently (April 2010) open and is the easiest place to arrange public transport to and from due to its close proximity to the small city of Purwokerto.

There is also an increasingly popular route from the north-west at the popular weekend retreat of Guci where there is decent accommodation and hot springs. This trail starts at 1,200m and is very accessible from Tegal and the north coast. There are plenty of buses running between Guci and Tegal but remember to agree on a fare before you board or else you may well be expected to pay substantially more than the going rate – especially if you are white. A taxi from Tegal railway station should take just over one hour. From the bend in the road just above Guci market, the trail leads up through woodland and dense foliage. It is well-marked with Pos markers nailed to trees and also red and orange ribbons tied to small branches on the higher slopes. However, initially the narrow trail has a broken asphalt surface. At approximately 1,399m the trail branches – take the left. The trail branches yet again at 1,540m. Once again, take a left to find Pos 1 (1,550m). The trails leads up to Pos 2 (1,937m), Pos 3 (2,125m) and Pos 4 (2,577m). There are small flat areas suitable for camping at most of the Pos. Near Pos 4 there is a good camping area on the left beyond which is a small trail leading down to a nearby water source – don’t rely on finding water here though. The first building of any description is a small shelter at 2,675m. Not long after this you will reach the treeline and start ascending very steeply up bare rock, slippery scree and old lava flows to the crater area. Once at the top, you still have to negotiate the complex crater areas to find the summit ridge itself which lies 1km further east. In bad weather this can be very difficult indeed, especially as there are often sulphur clouds at this side of the peak. That is why experienced guides are absolutely essential for this mountain.

Probably the best route for the summit of Slamet starts from the east of the mountain at Bambangan (at roughly 1,500m). It can be reached by public transport from Purwokerto in 90 minutes. At the end of the road, there is a small registration building on the left where you register and pay a small fee. If you haven’t already made arrangements, guides should be easily arranged here. The trail leads up through vegetable plantation and pine woodland. Once out of the farmland the trail is clear and well-defined but the numbering of posts (Pos) is rather unusual and many of them do not have a visible number. After about 90 minutes there is a newly-built hut (1,930m) which would be a great place to stay if making a late start.

Further on is a small stone border pillar (2,159m) and after about 4 hours of hiking you should have reached the signposted Pos 4 (2,655m). Another hour up the trail is a red hut. This is Pos 5 (2,800m) and is an excellent place to shelter or camp because there is a small stream just two minutes down to the left where you can usually find water in the gully. There are plenty of places to set up tents and in good weather there are some nice views to the east.

Behind the red hut the trail continues to lead up the mountain and it is less than an hour to a similar shelter building – painted black. This is known as Pos 7 (3,040m) and lies just below the treeline. In good weather, this is the first place where you can really begin to admire the views. The small Serayu Mountains and the south coast of Java are often visible from here. There are many flat areas where you can pitch a tent and if you are the first to reach Pos 7 you could even pitch it inside the shelter building for added protection from any wind and rain. It can take anything from 6 to 8 hours to reach this shelter. It is by far the best place to camp if you want to climb to the summit for dawn because the summit lies at this side of the mountain. It is about two hours up steep, loose rock to the crater lip and summit ridge. Gloves and a torch you can attach to your head would be very useful here so that you can use both hands. The last huge explosion occurred here in July 1988 and there are frequent fatalities usually due to the toxic gases. The summit ridge itself is usually reasonably safe but it is not a good idea to linger too long near the complex crater area and active fumroles which are about 1km further west.

At the top is an old cement pillar – presumably a triangulation pillar – and a new triangular monument dedicated to the students who lost their lives up here recently. Because of Slamet’s isolation, there are few nearby mountains to admire but in good weather Gunung Ciremai should be visible to the north-west and the huge twins of Sumbing and Sindoro should be seen in the distance to the east. To descend, return the same way, or if you have experienced guides and wish to descend via an alternative route continue beyond the crater area and make sure you are on the correct, well-defined path down to Guci or to Baturaden.

Bagging information by Daniel Quinn


Getting there

From Jakarta, take a bus to Purwokerto from Lebak Bulus, or a train (more expensive but faster) from Gambir station to either Tegal (for Guci) or Purwokerto (for Baturaden and Bambangan).


Available in Baturaden, Guci and Purwokerto.


Available at Bambangan and Baturaden. Take a photocopy of your passport photo page and sign any guestbooks if requested to do so.

Water sources

Water usually available at Pos 2 on the Baturaden route, Pos 5 (2,800m) on the Bambangan route and sometimes Pos 4 (2,577m) on the Guci route.

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