Steaming Volcanoes

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February 3rd 2012
Published: February 3rd 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Following a four hour bone shaking journey from Bukit Lawang I arrived in Berastagi, a pretty miserable town in northern Sumatra nestled between two large active volcanoes.

I was on a tight time scale as I needed to meet a mate in Jakarta a few days later and so without much planning I set off, taking a public bus to the bottom of the volcano Gunung Sibayak.

The buses in Sumatra are impressive, often nothing more than a knackered old minivan, they’re custom painted in psychedelic patterns and have musical horns which are constantly blaring. When the two facing benches inside get filled passengers will jump on the roof, holding on for dear life.

My plan was foiled pretty quickly. I had intended on paying the volcano entry fee and grabbing a map showing the paths. The park office never materialised and so I continued with the assent in the general direction of the steaming volcano.

Three hours of uphill trekking and circumnavigating recent mud slides paid off; the volcanoes crater appeared and the landscape became moon like. Gushing steam mixed with the strong smell of sulphur.

Getting up to the volcano had proved simple however getting down without a map on a different route did throw a spanner in the works. I had heard that there were two routes down; one through the jungle which could only be done with a guide for fear of getting lost and the other a simple meandering path with steps.

So of course I inadvertently ended up on the jungle path. It was a route which hadn’t seemed to have been used for quite a while, there were no markers and there was a lot of jumping or climbing over rocks. I emerged, bedraggled but intact in a small village where I was greeted by wide eyed people and ironically a bloke offering his services as a guide who could take me up the volcano.

Volcano done, time to head to Lake Toba.

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