With over 120 volcanoes spread out over the whole of Indonesia one of the most popular ones to visit is Mount Sibayak. Located close to the town Berastagi on Sumatra this 2094 meter tall volcano is quite easily accessible. Mount Sibayak has been attracting adventure travellers ever since the Dutch first settled the area in the early 1900s. Although Gunung Sibayak has been quiet for the last century, new steam vents and seismic activity indicate that the volcano is merely taking a break between eruptions.
All this seismic activity has a nice side effect all around the mountain you can find hot water springs (Air Terjun). Some of the locals have turned these into baths where you can enjoy the hot water while at the same time enjoying the beautiful scenery.
How to get up the volcano
To get up the volcano there are two routes to take. The easiest and most popular trail for trekking up Gunung Sibayak starts about 10 minutes northwest of Berastagi just past the Sibayak hotel; anyone in the vicinity can give directions. Past the hotel you can actually find a lot of guide that can take you up the volcano. They can even provide a car for the first part of the hike which is accessible by road. However climbing Sibayak can be done independently. Just keep in mind that you should always team up and never go up alone. Unexpected wheather changes can cause serious problems and has even caused some fatalities in the past. The only other worry is finding the right path. Just before the road ends on the left will find a rather low stretch of bear rock where can see a trail going up. Use this and then just keep following up the trail all the way to the top. This hike should take around 3 hours.
Second option going up
Another option to go up (or down having done the ‘easier’ trail up) is to take transport to the hot springs at Semangat Gunung. Walk in the direction of a big geothermal plant and the trail will start directly on the right side of the plant passing the grave of the local celebrity. Although going up on this side means only a two-hour walk, the trail is extremely steep and has its share of stairs. Many people choose to make a circuit of the trip, beginning in Berastagi and finishing with a dip in the hot springs before catching a ride back to town. Although recommended as a nice trip it is quite difficult to find the trail going down to Semangat Gunung on the top of the volcano. This is because instead of following the obvious road you have to down a steep side with a lot of loose rocks. If the weather is bad or if it is only raining this trail is not recommended.
When to Go
Gunung Sibayak is best enjoyed during Sumatra’s dry season between June and August. If possible, plan your volcano climb for a weekday; Berastagi becomes particularly busy on weekends during the peak season and then so does the volcano.