The film-makers soon leave, and we are again on our own.
We walk across the sandy flatland and come to another crater rim.
Beyond it, a real, live, smoking crater, reeking with that familiar sulphurous odour.
Nukman does not dare to go near. The slope is full of loose pebbles and a slip can easily be a one-way ticket into the cauldron a hundred metres below.
The whole place smells of sulphur and nobody dares to get any nearer
Guide Fahmi says there’s a trail to descend into the crater lake, but it can be dangerous. In the event of imminent eruption, the authorities in Bukittinggi would issue an amber alert forbidding climbers, but of course some people would ignore it and climb to see the living craters.
The craters are the highlight of this climb (in addition to “Man vs Wild”, maybe) and Nafis joins Aina in front of the smoking crater. Local guides thinks Aina (who’ll be 11 next April) is the youngest person ever to climb Marapi. Yay, a clap for Aina, everybody!
Back to the flatland (where the chopper landed), there’s a shallow lake in the depression. The fine black sand becomes mucky here.
It’s amazing to have such a landscape atop a 2,900m live volcano.
Ripples form as the wind gusts. At night it could reach freezing point here.
It’s getting late and weather is not improving, so we take a final look at this beautiful ‘football field’.
We start the descent at 5pm, after more than 1 hour at the top.
The loose stones and pebbles are our main worry as we find our way down.
Down below we can see the edge of the forest and the spot we had our lunch earlier.
Still a long way to go, and the ominous clouds are covering everything down there. It could be raining in the jungle, which is bad news.
Next to me I notice a deep gully …
… which goes all the way to the forest. I wonder if it’s caused by lava flow or ancient glacier.
The stones around me look embedded in some sort of rock.
Aina carefully finds her way …
… as I observe more hardy vegetation growing in harsh conditions.
Bonsai, almost similar to the ones I found at Mt Kinabalu.
Beautiful stunted plant.
As we descend, more plants appear.
The weather below us deteriorates …
… and we take a short break.
Aina is also getting tired, but we still have a lot of walking to do, most likely in bad weather.
As we enter the wooded zone, we take a final break. We leave our rest area at 6.30pm as it starts to rain.
The rain makes the trail wet, muddy and slippery. It is nightfall and our progress is poor, as we grope our way in the dark with incessant rain. We reach the start of trail at 11.40pm, 16 hrs after starting the trek, and got to our Bukittinggi hotel at 12.30am. Aina, being a girl and the youngest in the team, performs admirably well for the 16-hr, 15-km round-trip. What an adventure. Mr Bear Grylls should have joined us for the descent!
Acknowledgments: Thanks to Fahmi for his excellent guiding skills and company. If anybody is keen on a trip to amazing Sumatra Barat (including climbing Marapi), please contact Mr Anas, who’ll cheerfully arrange everything right from airport arrival. He’s contactable via WhatsApp +62.813.6342.6617. Thanks!
I managed to snap this view of Marapi caldera from plane on way back to KUL. Note the large-ish ‘tear-drop’ lake below the white plume. That’s the lake in the depression (where the choppers landed) shown above. The sulphurous plume comes from the active crater next to the quite one, which has a smaller lake. Bottom right, see the deep gully described above, cutting the slope. Our trail is just to the left of it. The huge caldera shows how insignificant we are in the scheme of things! 🙂
> THE END – return to HOME