One of the most beautiful experiences I had in Sumatra was to climb independently the Sibayak volcano reaching its summit, happy and surrounded by a cloud of ash. The view that you enjoy once you get to the top of the crater, allows you to understand the dynamism of the earth under your feet and the generating and destructive power of our planet. The entire area around Sibayak is predominantly volcanic, in fact less than 30 km away stands another active volcano, the Sinabung, which was the protagonist of 72 short but spectacular explosive eruptions that occurred during 2020.
IL VOLCANO SIBAYAK
Mount Sibayak is a stratovolcano that dominates the city of Berastagi with a height of 2212 meters and erupted for the last time more than a century ago, in 1881. However it remains geo-thermally active, through sulphur sprays, hot springs and the presence of a sulphur lake. It is also one of the most climbed volcanoes on the island thanks to an accessible path that starts fromBerastagi and reaches the summit after an easy 2-3 hour trek that you can walk even without a guide.
The path of Sibayak is a path for everyone, even those who are not well trained, and is structured as follows:
- The first part of the trek is on asphalt road and after about an hour, you reach the entrance of the path where there is a hut for the purchase of the ticket. The cost is 10,000 IDR.
- The second part is very different: at first you walk on an asphalt section interspersed with another dirt road and then you continue along a long path made of muddy steps that disappear once you get to the crater. The duration of this walk along the second section is an hour and a half but the view from the volcanic peak will repay you for every effort.
WHAT TO BRING
- Comfortable clothing and waterproof shoes.
- Rain jacket, given the unpredictability of the weather.
- Water and food, as along the way there are not many refreshment points.
- Sunscreen in case of shining sun.
- Swimsuit and towel if you make a stop at the hot springs.
Once I arrived in Berastagi, I stayed at the Kaesa Homestay, from which began my trek together with two other guys who were staying in my own dorm. The owners are lovely, very welcoming and have provided us with all the useful information to make the excursion safely but autonomously. Even the breakfast was delicious, every morning with a different juice. The first part of the hike follows the main asphalt road along which you can enjoy the beautiful view of the Sinabung volcano. . The stretch continues to the entrance of the path where there are two men inside a barrack improvised from bamboo reeds and billboards that sell the ticket for the climb to the volcano. However, if you do not want to reach the entrance on foot, you can take some shared buses with the inscription KAMA that pass near your accommodation and take you to the entrance of the path.
The two men had us compile a register and reading it, I discovered that few other Italians had gone so far. One of the two gentlemen inside the hut confirmed to me that Mount Sibayak is not a popular destination among Italians. After passing the entrance, the asphalt road begins to shrink and once you start to walk into the jungle, the path is nothing more than a line of white powder that looks like chalk. After a little more than two hours of walking, the sulphurous smell of rotten eggs begins to fill the air and accompanies you as long as the path opens onto a natural terrace from where we could see the crater in the distance. All around there were small openings (vents) in the rock and the steam hissed out creating many small fumaroles that came up with a loud noise, like that of a chimney. Around these cracks, the rocks were colored blue, green and yellow, due to the reaction with sulfur. Once we reached the crater we observed some people who at a lower point were writing words, wishes and some their names, on stones that deposited at a point not far from the crater. For a while we wandered around the rim, took pictures and had lunch at the end of the crater, before we started our descent.
We walked the same path as the way there and when we arrived at the entrance at the foot of the volcano, we turned left towards the thermal water pools where you can take a relaxing bath. It is possible to reach them within an hour after passing some sloping cultivated fields and a group of houses, along the path. We went to the Hot Spring Pesona Sibayak View and the entrance fee is 10000 IDR. It is appropriate to wear the bikini here, but remember that you are in a Muslim area, so even if it goes well, you will probably still have a lot of looks on you. It was the perfect way to relax our muscles after an excursion. To return to Berastagi we took a shared bus at a cost of 7000 IDR. It was an unforgettable experience!
If you are planning to do this hike without a guide, I recommend two things: do it during daylight hours and don’t walk alone along the path. It is always better to join groups of people maybe staying in your guest house or with other people in the area that you find in Facebook groups dedicated to trekking of this type. If you want to go totally alone, leave directions to your hotel about where you are going and what time you will return.