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This is information based on my last attempt and memories of hiking Mt Lawu many years ago. Mt Lawu hasn’t got great landscape view like Mt Bromo or Mt Semeru but it’s quite challenging for novice hikers. This mountain usually for training and first stages of hiking.
Location and access
Mt Lawu lied between Central Java and East Java. You can access from both ways which require hitchhiking and local transport.
From capital of Indonesia Jakarta takes train/flight to Solo (Surakarta an hour flight) then bus to Tawangmangu. From here either you’ve wait for another transport cross the border to East Java by hitchhiking with vegetables van or motorcycles (ojek) to Cemoro Sewu/Cemoro Kandang.
From Surabaya (East Java) takes bus to Maospati (20km from Madiun) then align with mini bus to small town Magetan. From here takes local transport to the famous lake Sarangan. Wait until you’ve got the other transport Cemoro Sewu.
Guides and Porters
Since the mountain quite easy climb so you might not need for porters or guides. But if you never climb on these area better take a guide who willing to take care of your needs. Most of them are farmers who will persuade you take the best route. As I said stick with the track as you need to protect these area from unnecessary misadventure. Mt Lawu is not part of any National Park so there’s no such organization to maintain the main track. But indeed there are clubs or several people organized themselves to keep an eye, especially during busy season. Cost of porter/guide might different but you can expect as much as Rp50,000 for a day (locals class) or US$20 for whole trek (price based from Rob)
When to climb
You might find that better to climb in dry season (March-September). The rainfall in these area pretty high, but largely people climb in anytime. There are several fires reported from these area so be vigilant if you do at dry season. Weekend is most of favour for locals. You might find that there are great numbers of hikers a one time. They might be pilgrimage who doing ceremony and pray for bless of Eyang Lawu (Prabu Brawijaya V-the King of Majapahit reign who refused surrender to the Islam influence). The busiest time to climb is during Islamic’s Syiah Holy Day (Asyura) when thousands people flock in to several sacred places around the summit of Mt Lawu.
Most of people started climb at midday to the Post IV, having a tent and rest there. It took normally 5-6 hours. Then continued climb at the 3am in the morning to chase the sunrise.
Things to carry
Water is essential. If you want spend night there you need tent and stove to cook. It will take 6-8hours solid walk so you might need 4-5liter each to secure. It’s better if you have salt or electrolyte type of drink that replace your body mineral straight away. Raincoat also important as the torrential rain may occur in the morning or midday when you up and down. Good shoes/boots will be an asset to make your walk more enjoyable.
Food and Drink
Food can be anything that easy to consume and have high calories such as chocolate, breakfast bar, dried fruit or fresh locals fruit. Guide/porters might prepare breakfast with rice, or boiled noodle with eggs. They are great but you might find that’s too heavy to start the morning.
Ask them to take lots of roti tawar (bread) and carry selai (jam) with you. Drink can be coffe or tea but you might try something different like wedang jahe (ginger tea). Energy drink such as Red Bull (Krating Daeng) is not good for your body as they contains caffeine. You might feeling been boost but soon it’s gone you will end up pretty necked though.
Map and Information
There is no good map with good contour which easy to get for hikers. But you can see the hand written map on the Monitor Base. There are in Bahasa Indonesia though but you can guess how the track will go. Remember this track is easy to follow with well-maintained stone path.
Hiking Route and Distances
There are several routes to the top but this is description made by locals. Here is the route from Cemoro Sewu. The other route takes from Cemoro Kandang which less demanding but takes little bit longer. See Bob and Rob did the Cemoro Kandang this year 2007.
Cemoro Sewu (Monitor Post ) : Post I = 1.99km
Post I Wesenan : Post II = 2.00km
Post II Watu gedhek : Post III = 0.7km
Post III Watu Gedhe : Post IV = 1.2km
Post IV Watu Kapur : Post V = 0.3km
Post V Jolotundo : Summit = 0.8km
Total about 7km
There are many sacred sites around Post V to the summit, which lead you to the vast area of grassland. You will pass Sumur Jolotundo then Sendang Drajad before heading to Hargo Dumilah. You can have a tent around post V or little bit further. The temperature on the summit can be about 4-6C so prepare to warm yourself.
Position on earth
Cemoro Sewu (the hiking based )
Lat : 7°39'52.15"S
Long : 111°11'29.48"E
Pictures taken with gps tracking transfer into Google Earth