Located on the ring of fire, at the junction of the Eurasian, Pacific and Indo-Australian plates, Indonesia has the largest number of historically active volcanoes. Travelling in the archipelago you can witness those giants on each and every island. Sacred, feared, they host temples and farmlands on their slopes and offer to hikers the promise of amazing panoramas and the thrill that comes with their organic activity.
But when comes time to book your holidays in Indonesia, which of its 150 volcanoes should you add to your trekking tour? It would be pretentious to make an attempt at describing them all; instead we offer to go through some of the most iconic, and a few less notorious, 'Fire Mountains' shaping up the country for ages.
Addressing the topic of Indonesian volcanoes makes Java the obvious starting point. The cultural, artistic, and political epicenter of Indonesia, most populated island in the world, is also a place of non-stop volcanic activity due to the density of strato-volcanoes in the area. From West to East, it's in Java that most of the famous volcanoes in Southeast Asia are located.
Traveling to Indonesia you might end up in the region of Jawa Timur, or East Java, a long-time favorite for tourists due to its situation near the Bali touristic hub. That's where some legendary mountains are standing proud, offering a wonderful panel of volcano tours to try. It is the case of the Bromo Tengger Semeru Park, where you can discover two legends named Mount Bromo and Mount Semeru.
Between Java and Sumatra sleeps a volcano responsible for one of the biggest eruption ever recorded in the world: Krakatau volcano. In 1883 the explosion of this island - a result of magma and sea water meeting - has generated a gigantic tsunami felt as far as the European coasts that even changed the world climate for decades. Nowadays you can reach the island from Carita in West Java and sleep there for one night before exploring the craters of this legendary monster and literally walk on fire.
The rest of the archipelago isn't short of active volcanoes either and those interested in volcano trekking activities during their Bali holidays will be able to get a sense of it. Seriously experienced trekkers can try to reach the peak of Bali, Mount Agung, while the less ambitious hikers will enjoy the breakfast atop Mount Batur. The ascension of Mount Agung will bring you on the most sacred mountain of the Island as Balinese built the mother temple of Bali, Besakih, on its slopes. Batur, like Agung, is an active volcano (last eruption dating of 2.000) located near a lake and featuring a large caldera, making the scenery very beautiful from the peak.
As a growing number of tourists planning a trip to Indonesia are including Lombok Island in their itinerary, the great Mount Rinjani has become a very popular destination for hikers. Second highest volcano in Indonesia (after Mount Kerinci in Sumatra, which is 3805 meters high) rising to 3726 meters, it promises a very tough walk as well as fantastic panoramas along the way. Summit features a magnificent crater lake receiving the lava generated by each eruption. Trekking Rinjani will also allow you to meet with the Sasak people cultivating rice, soya bean, coffee, tobacco, cotton, cinnamon, cloves, bananas, cassava, coconuts, vanilla, corn or cacao on its slopes.
The thrill of climbing a volcano is incomparable and trekkers doing it in Indonesia are rewarded with some of the most spectacular sceneries in Asia. Playing a huge role in history and in the daily life of the people, those sacred mountains can be deadly and remain fascinating objects that will continue to attract hikers in the archipelago. With tourism, Indonesia has already find a way to generate activity and revenues with its volcanoes, but more eruptions are bound to happen as islands like Java are literally sitting on fire and the country is now thinking of implementing facilities able to convert this fire power into geothermal 'green' energy. In any case, the magic of volcanic activity in the region will continue to punctuate the everyday lives of the local population and travelers catching the volcano bug are certainly going to visit Indonesia more than once.