Mount Merapi is an extremely active stratovolcano on the island of Java in Indonesia. It straddles the border of two cities; Yogyakarta and Solo. Aptly, the name ‘Merapi’ is Javanese for Mountain of Fire. It is estimated to have erupted at least 68 times since 1548 and smoke can be seen rising from the summit almost every day. The volcano stands at an elevation of 2,930 m (~9,613 ft).
Thousands of people live within close proximity of the volcano; there are even villages as high as 1,700 m (~5,577 ft) above sea level on its slopes. In 2004 the volcano and an area of 64 km2 (~25 sq mi) surrounding it was designated national park status. This was a controversial move, challenged in court by The Indonesian Forum for Environment on behalf of local residents.
Merapi is a popular tourist attraction; appealing to novices and experienced climbers alike. Those with a good level of fitness will not find the trek too difficult. It can take anywhere between 3 and upwards of 4 hours to reach the top, and the same to descend. Many hikers choose to start the climb in the very early hours, in order to reach the summit for sunrise. The views from the top are spectacular and well worth the effort. A series of trails are also available around the base of the mountain for those who prefer a gentler hike.
Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in the world – always heed local warnings before attempting to visit and ascend.