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Between volcanoes YOGYAKARTA - There are those period in which the normal life gets a little bit more exciting. It is mainly the many volcanoes which show off at the most strange times and can cause the most strange events. In the middle of 2006 it was the Mount Merapi volcano which caused people to flee it's slopes with an outflow of lava and some lahar (hot or cold mud flows with volcanic rocks), right now I am virtually half way between the Mount Anak Krakatau in the Sunda Strait and the Mount Kelud volcano in eastern Java.

However all of the mentioned above are known for their active past and present, it is just a waiting game to see what will happen next. The Mount Merapi cooled down to her normal activity without too much spectacle. This is no guarantee however that the same will happen with the current activity of the Anak Krakatau and Kelud volcanoes.

Because the Anak Krakatau is well-known for it's many eruptions, there doesn't seem too much activity there for now. There are no permanent residents on the island, so only fishermen are advised to keep some distance. From mainland Java, mainly Anyer and surroundings, you can see the beautifully shaped cone of the still young and small volcano when the weather is good enough. With the birth of a new crater at the southern side of the volcano some days ago now, there is fireworks on display as well; glowing hot rocks and volcanic debris are spit out from this new crater. And in this way, the island grows by the hour now.

The Mount Kelud volcano, just some 215 kilometer from Yogyakarta, but over land some 380 kilometer, is another story. That thing is not as active as for example the Anak Krakatau and the Merapi volcanoes. However if this one is active, it seems to be a guarantee for a relatively large eruption which causes quite some problems. For now it is just a shadow-play that already lasts just short of three weeks. During that time different levels of government have tried to evacuate as many as possible; especially when the volcano roars one more time. But the expected large eruption didn't take place yet. Also there is not a single person that can tell if it will really blow this time.

Mount Merapi volcano as seen from the hills north of the city of Yogyakarta, late 2006.
Mount Merapi volcano as seen from the hills north of the city of Yogyakarta, late 2006. indahnesia.com

However some will say that I am crazy - maybe that's the reason I am in Indonesia? - it is merely a very interesting thing to se. Of course I am talking about the phenomena of an eruption and not the possibility of casualties. Few things are more attractive to see than this play of nature. A nice eruption with lava, some ash clouds and things like that. I will gladly admit that I have only seen these things on TV and on pictures. Maybe that is one of the reasons to 'experience' one at a closer distance, even though Mount Kelud is still quite a distance - about eight hours - away, so I can't just drop by. I need to plan such a trip as well as any other thing I have to do.

However I am ready to depart if needed, I don't feel the need to be waiting for it all the time. With the help of internet and some local TV-stations I can keep myself - and others - perfectly updated about the whole situation. Based on that information I will eventually decide when I will go for it. Unfortunately the weather is still not that good, which is a factor of some importance as well. If there are no images on TV, it is most likely of little use for me to go there as well of course. But by now I have the choice between two volcanoes; however Mount Anak Krakatau is somewhat further away.

Because of this young geology this country is a very nice destination for lovers of this kind of environment. Just take a look at these three volcanoes. The Mount Anak Krakatau and Mount Merapi have almost perfect conical shapes while Mount Kelud - and many other mountains higher than the Kelud itself - have many spikes, it is almost like you can make a huge sate there. That kind of circumstances makes it possible for me to look for some mountains any time I want. Within a 20 minute time span I will find myself in a refreshingly cool environment. If I ascend some more I will find the first observation posts for tourists as well as scientists. The latter can also be visited by tourists of course.

The perfect image that I am able to see Mount Merapi from my garden will be a dream forever I suppose. Dozens of trees have to be cut down for that and if there is something I don't like it's chopping down trees. Let alone just because I want to have a better view. I can live with the fact that I have to walk 50 meters to see the mighty mountain of fire. That is somewhat lucky I suppose, because I wasn't really taking that into account at the time I settled down here. Hopefully it will be something funny, because some 1,000 years ago the famous Borobudur temple was covered in meter of ash and debris from ... the Mount Merapi volcano.

Related links Mount Kelud (Kelut) volcano
Mount Krakatau (Krakatoa) volcano
Restless Mount Merapi



Posted in Volcanoes @ 08 November 2007 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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