The best views on the Dieng Plateau, and the reason most people visit the place, can be seen from the top of two mountains on the east side of the plateau: Gunung Sikunir and Gunung Perahu. I visited both, but unfortunately the rainy season foiled my visions of awesome volcanic panoramas in Dieng. At least I got some good hiking out of the deal.
Tuesday I hiked to the top of Gunung Sikunir, the most popular spot to watch sunrise since it’s the easier hike compared to Perahu. I woke up before dawn every day I was in Dieng, looked at the sky, and (with one exception) went back to bed because every day there were clouds. I climbed Sikunir on Tuesday in the late morning and followed it up with a visit to nearby Kawah Sikidang, the most impressively steaming, bubbling crater on the plateau.
I talked to a Malaysian guy at dinner later after seeing Kawah Sikidang, the big, steaming hole visible in both the previous photos. I’d walked around a bit on the rocks with sulfurous steam pouring out and taken some photos, but he’d one-upped me. There was only a single guard rail in the entire place, fencing off that giant, menacing crater with tons of steam pouring out. He stepped over that railing to stand about 6 inches from the crater and get a photo. Who’d have guessed, the sand and gravel inside the railing weren’t stable. They collapsed and his foot dunked in the boiling water/mud. He pulled up his pant leg and showed me some moderate burns on his foot and ankle, mostly above the shoe line. He was lucky. According to him, 7 people died just last year falling into that crater. Seems incredible, but that’s what the park officials told him after he’d been taken to safety.
On Wednesday, it rained all morning. Around noon, it stopped and I asked Teto (the manager of my guest house) to take me to a viewpoint above Telaga Warna that I’d been unable to find with the Canadians. The view from above was much better than the one lakeside (plus the light was better for it, and I worked more to make this photo look good).
After getting back from the lake Wednesday afternoon, I wanted to check out Gunung Perahu in preparation for a possible morning attempt on Thursday, my last day in Dieng. I set off with vague instructions from Teto, “Follow the path that starts at the pink sign,” walking a maze of pathways through the potato fields. I wandered around, trying to follow the biggest path, and eventually reached another village. I asked directions there, and they pointed to more potato fields. I continued walking towards Perahu, but I could see an enormous, menacing thunderhead moving closer and I decided to retreat for the day.
Later, over dinner, I started to tell Teto and his friend Dewi about my hike. “I walked through the fields until I got to the village…” but Dewi interrupted me. “What village?”.
“You know, the one that you get to when you follow the main path.”
“Ooooh,” they said in unison. “You can get there that way, but it is longer and steeper.”
Good thing Dewi was there this time, his instructions were much more useful than Teto’s.
“Just follow the power line all the way up the hill to the towers.”
The next morning, I woke up again before dawn, and lo and behold I saw stars for the first time all week. Not many, but enough to get me out of bed and walking toward Gunung Perahu.
The hike went smoothly with Dewi’s good instructions. I reached the top and found the towers in less than an hour. The hike up Perahu is similar to Manastash Ridge in Ellensburg, a bit longer but not as steep.
The valley was clear, but as I climbed higher I moved into a cloud shrouding the top of Perahu. In the pre-dawn light, prospects for a view did not seem good.
I waited until I knew the sun had already risen, but still nothing. Then, all of a sudden a gust of wind brought me this:
If only Perahu were another 100 meters taller, I might have been able to see all the way to Merapi. As it was, I was low enough that the low clouds were still blocking my view.
To make the best of it, I kept hiking along the ridge on Gunung Perahu. The clouds broke in the direction of Deing village for a couple of minutes, but I didn’t get any photos, and things never opened up in the other direction
The trail along the top of the ridge was overgrown. I don’t think it gets much use in the rainy season. I was clearly breaking trail for the first time that day. I found that for spiders, the gap in the brush on either side of the overgrown trail was the perfect place to string their webs. I was pushing through a lot of these, every 10 yards or so.