East Java, Gunung Kelud

Written by on July 17, 2012 in Java Mountains with 0 Comments

East Java, Gunung Kelud



This mountain is one of the most active and dangerous volcanoes in Indonesia. A large eruption in 1919 killed approximately 5,000 people and the most recent eruption was in 2008. The crater used to be filled with a pleasant blue lake but in the huge 2008 eruption a vast lava dome emerged in its place. The area is regularly closed and is being constantly monitored. Despite all this, it is a popular place for local people at weekends since there is a good quality road leading all the way to the crater where there are lots of small stalls, and some hot springs in the river below the crater. Most people come from the west via Ngancar from the city of Kediri – where there is a good range of hotels – but Blitar also makes a good base though the roads are slighter lower in quality. It takes just over an hour to reach the crater (1,250m) by car or motorbike from Kediri or Blitar and there are numerous signs for the mountain on the routes. The entrance fee is just Rp5,000 per person (plus Rp 1,000 for motorbike) and the entrance point is the village of Sugih Waras. About a mile beyond the village is the Volcanology Post. From here the road leads for another 10km to the crater area whose jagged outline is visible for many many miles. There are places along the way to stop for basic snacks and fuel. At the end of the road is a place to park motorbikes and a signpost for a right turn down to a hot water bathing area. Straight on leads through a dark but flat tunnel – known locally as ‘the channel tunnel’ – before emerging a few metres above the new lava dome. There is an incredibly impressive rockface on the right – Gunung Sumbing – which is a great place for rock-climbing but totally impossible for regular hikers to scale. You may notice a couple of red and white Indonesian flags halfway up the rockface – perhaps the point at which rock climbing fanatics had to turn back!

The steep and jagged crater rim is a fascinating area – the true Kelud peak is the huge vertical chunk of rock with a couple of pinnacles at the far side of the crater. According to local hiking enthusiasts, nobody has ever reached the very top of the pinnacales and bagged Kelud! It is certainly a daunting task, requiring rock climbing skills and ropes and Gunung Bagging hopes to return to the area in 2012 with some rock climbing experts.

There are basically three main hiking routes on the mountain. From the crater carpark, beyond the tunnel, there are cement steps up to the left of the crater (in the direction of minor crater rim peak Gunung Lirang) towards a small pendopo (1,360m). This is about as far as most visitors to Kelud venture and ask them if they’ve been to the puncak – ‘peak’ and if they’ve been here they’ll probably say yes! From this  small roofed structure, perched on the rim, a trail continues some way along the rim beyond a small cement pillar (1,427m) towards the true peak. After a few minor ups and downs, a small rock crag is reached (1,454m). To get beyond it, skirt round to the left of it and watch out for holes in the ground beneath the foliage! From the top of this crag the views towards the true Kelud peak are astounding – it appears as an impenetrable castle of rock with impressive rocky turrets crowning it off. The trail continues to a slightly higher part of the rim (1,518m) after which is a vast drop between this part of the rim and the next peak. Even for skilled rock climbers this would be a tough proposition and for any ordinary hiker it’s totally impossible. This hikes does, however, offer some of the most excellent views of Kelud peak, Sumbing rock-face and the crater below. It’s a short morning stroll.

There is a second approach from this side, but it is difficult! There is a vague and overgrown trail which skirts to the right below the Sumbing cliffs and then up onto a fairly flat ridge. Finding this trail is quite difficult and staff at the crater car park or office will definitely try to make you take an over-priced guide with you. It may be worth a try if you want to reach the summit area from this side.

The best approach, however, is from the east at Tulungrejo on the small road running north-south between Kelud and Butak mountain ranges. Although this route is longer, you have the advantage of being able to start at whatever time you like (instead of having to wait until the crater road gates are open) and you won’t have any hassle from staff hoping to make a quick buck from a ‘tourist’. It takes just under an hour to reach Tulungrejo from Blitar. Once in the village, take a left past the mosque and then up to the right on a road which runs above an impressive wide river. The last house is at 688m and you may be able to leave motorbikes here if you need to. Local guides are essential unless you can use the GPS tracks from our GPS tracks page. A small trail leads from the road to the left through pine forest (709m). It continues up onto a narrow ridge to a hut – Pos 1 (967m) – and then a small stream (1,002m). Although this approach is not often used by hikers, it is well-defined thanks to the local farmers and hunters who use it. The biggest danger on this route is the vast number of leeches – there are literally hundred of them so check your lower legs frequently!

Pos 2 (1,317m) is nothing more than a small structure made from sticks. From here, the trail continues to rise gently and after about 3 hours you should have reached the top of outlying peak Gunung Tumpak (1,428m) which is crowned with the remnants of a wooden building. In clear weather you should be able to see Gunung Butak to the east and the south coast of Java.  A little bit further along is a second hut in much better condition where you can sit, rest and check your socks again for leeches! If you are lucky with the weather, you will see the dramatic vertical cliffs of the peak of Kelud beyond.

From the hut on Gunung Tumpak, the trail descends steeply before following the crest of a very narrow ridge – take extra special care here. The trail them leads upwards towards the col on the left of the vertical cliffs of Kelud, some of which are covered with a deep red lichen. From Tumpak to the col takes about one hour and the col (1,510m) has a boundary marker pillar on it. The panorama to the west suddenly appears before you and the cliffs of Gunung Sumbing are visible on the other side of the crater. A trail leads in the direction of Kelud cliffs, but actually bends round to the edge of the crater rim for a view over the crater itself. From the boundary marker, it’s still more than another 200m of height gain to the true peak and according to local people nobody has truly gotten to the very top – please contact us if you have! The lower cliffs are overgrown and steep but certainly look negotiable without ropes but the pinnacles at the very top definitely require ropes – Gunung Bagging will be returning in 2012 with a rock climbing expert for a more detailed look at the Kelud summit area.

After admiring the panorama, it takes just 3 hours to descend to Tulungrejo from the boundary marker.

Bagging information by Daniel Quinn.


Getting there

Ojeks to the crater car park can be arranged from Blitar or Kediri. Public transport would take longer. For Tulungrejo you would need private transport or ojeks from the main Blitar-Malang road.


There are several hotels in Kediri and Blitar. The colonial-era Sri Lestari in Blitar is truly excellent and has rooms to suit all budgets.


Entrance tickets are Rp5,000 per person and annoyingly the gates are not opened until 7 or 8am.

Water sources

There are plenty of warungs selling drinks at the crater car park. On the Tulungrejo route there is a stream at 1,002 m.

Country: Indonesia

Subregion Name: Java (Indonesia)

Volcano Number: 0603-27=

Volcano Type: Stratovolcano

Volcano Status: Holocene

Last Known Eruption: Unknown

Summit Elevation: 2563 m 8,409 feet

Latitude: 7.808°S 7°48’30″S

Longitude: 111.758°E 111°45’30″E

Gunung Wilis is a solitary volcanic massif surrounded by low-elevation plains on all but its southern side. It was formed during three episodes dating back to the mid Pleistocene. Following destruction of the 2nd edifice, the most recent cone grew during the Holocene. No confirmed historical eruptions are known from Wilis volcano, although there was a report of an eruption in 1641 AD, the same year as a major eruption of nearby Kelut volcano. Fumaroles and mud pots occur near Lake Ngebel on the lower western flank of Gunung Wilis.

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