The 6 km (4 mile) wide caldera of Mount Tambora, creator of a deep volcanic winter..
Well, I have some news. I am writing a second book!
In a little less than a month, I’ll be packing my pack and heading to Indonesia to trek some of the region’s stunning volcanoes. From Sumbawa to Lombok to Bali to Java, I’ll be taking in Mount Rinjani, Mount Tambora, Mount Ijen, Mount Bromo and Anak Krakatoa. I might even find time to watch some baby turtles hatch on the beaches of Sukamade.
Now if those names don’t mean a thing to you, fear not!
Mount Tambora: Home of the largest eruption in modern recorded human history in 1815. The following year became globally known as ‘the year without summer’, as temperatures plummeted in a severe volcanic winter, and people from all over the world perished. At 2850m (9350ft), Mount Tambora is still a decent climb while the massive, almost perfectly circular caldera spans 6km (4 miles).
Mount Rinjani: Indonesia’s second highest volcano (3726m, 12224ft) dominates the island of Lombok to the east of Bali. It is possible to see all the way to Bali on a clear day, while views of the lake-filled caldera look pretty damn delicious from the piccies! I’ll be teaming up with Arie from Green Rinjani - the leading operator in the region - that make it possible for visitors to plant their own trees on the slopes of the mountain, aiding Indonesia’s reforestation efforts.
Mount Ijen: It’s time to cheat a bit, four-wheel drive style. So, I have hired Ali from Java Eco Tours to Jeep me around East Java to a certain extent. However, the climb of Mount Ijen begins at midnight, and I hope to glimpse the phenomenon ‘blue fire’, where sulphurous fumes ignite on the earth’s surface, forming brilliant, fluorescent trails that appear randomly from vents on the mountainside. Come daylight you can to see hundreds of sulphur miners, who risk life and lungs to carry down loads of up to 100kg (220 pounds) on their backs.
Mount Bromo: Not the highest but certainly the most famous of the many volcanoes that make up the Tengger massif, Mount Bromo sits on a valley floor named the “Sea of Sands”, rising actively out of the earth. Spectacular views are to be had. Flick ‘Mount Bromo’ into Google and click on Images. You’ll see what I mean. Then please come back and finish off this blog!
Anak Krakatoa: Meaning “Child of Krakatoa”, this volcano is like a big, annoying spot that won’t go away. In 1883, its daddy, Krakatoa Senior, erupted with such violence that it was heard 4800km (3000 miles) away, and is widely agreed to have been the loudest sound ever heard by modern man. Barometers around the world recorded the rise in atmospheric pressure from the sound waves four times. This means that the sound from the culminating explosion travelled around the world four complete times. In all directions. That is just mind-blowing. It ruptured people’s eardrums up to 60km (40 miles) away. It has been likened to standing next to a jet engine at full throttle without hearing protection. Four terrifying explosions launched four unthinkably large tsunamis at the West Java and South Sumatran coastlines. The final explosion blew Krakatoa into oblivion, propelling a wall of water so large that it destroyed solid Dutch-built structures at 41 metres (135 feet) above sea-level. In 1927, where Krakatoa had once stood, a few pebbles began to poke through the ocean. A year later it was a five-metre tall volcano. And it has continued to grow at that rate until this very day. When it gets big enough again, it will go bang! I intend to sneak in, do a bit of camping and snorkelling around nearby islands, then sneak out before the child spits the dummy.
Clearly these are places worth looking at. And if you’re reading a book about this in late 2017, there were no repeats of those cataclysmic events.
Now I’m off to kick Air Asia’s ass! They have, on the same day, rescheduled every single one of my connecting flights to depart before I arrive! Wish me luck and see you soon.
Mount Bromo and Senaru, East Java.. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons..