Climbing Gunung Sibayak in Sumatra

Gunung Sibayak

Two months ago I tackled Gunung Sibayak — an active volcano in North Sumatra, Indonesia, with three new friends. The visuals, eerie landscape, and risky downclimb were part of an adventure that I’ll never forget.

As an added bonus, I was kept awake all night before the climb by earthquakes rattling my bungalow. I guess that’s what happens when you sleep between Gunung Sinabung and Gunung Sibayak, two of Sumatra’s busiest volcanoes!

I just wrote up a nice four-page feature of the trek for this month’s edition of Leisure Travel Magazine in Southeast Asia.

Since I’m too lazy to rewrite everything again, here’s the magazine PDF where you can read about the adventure: Climbing Gunung Sibayak. (10MB – takes a minute to load.) If that doesn’t work, try reading the text-only version.

or if you don’t want to read my dribble, enjoy these photos!

(oh…and unlike this blog, I’m still alive) 🙂

Climbing Sibayak

We were literally climbing in the clouds. Low visibility made finding — and not falling off of — the trail a little tricky sometimes.

Sibayak Caldera

The stinking caldera vent on top of Gunung Sibayak.

Gunung Sibayak Sumatra Trail
The trail leading to the volcano. We were practically the only trekkers for most of the way.

Climbing in Sumatra
Mike (England) and Sebastian (Germany) scramble up to the volcano rim.

Sumatra Volcano
The views of the Karo Highlands were amazing before we got up into the clouds. The jungle down there was/is major Karo and Batak headhunter territory.

Volcano Caldera Gas

Not what I expected at all: gases were literally just coming out of the ground around us. No cute, defined hole to relieve the pressure like on other volcanoes. We stank like sulfur for more than a week afterward.

Berestagi Cabbage Monument
What to do after climbing Gunung Sibayak? Well, Berastagi was quite an exciting town. You could always hang around this giant cabbage monument — the only highlight in town.

And finally, if you get hurt on the volcano, this is where you end up: At Dead on Arrival Mama’s clinic. Hmmmm….

The rest of the Berastagi, Gunung Sibayak, and Sumatra photos can be found here.

  • Active volcano climbed: check.
  • Head still attached to my torso after Batak encounter: check.
  • Life still good: check.
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7 Responses to “Climbing Gunung Sibayak in Sumatra”

  1. Very cool! Glad to finally see an update, I thought maybe you had perished at the hands of those head hunters…

  2. Woho, update!!!
    Good to hear from u Again, Kinda hardcore to climb an Active volcano.
    Keep up the exploring and updating 🙂

  3. Great adventure. I enjoyed reading it. I still click amazon, e-bay, etc. links through your website, too. I hope every little bit helps keep you going on these fun trips and posting for us to read.

  4. This is an awesome achievement – way to go! =)

  5. Cool experience!! I love Sumatra and would so love to do this

  6. mau ikut petualang ke sibayak,,hahah
    hubungi saya ya…
    will be have fun

  7. nice info, thank you so much, i like to climb siabayak mountain

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