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Sumbawa, Indonesia

Mt Tambora Trek

A trip to Mt Tambora takes you through Sumbawa, a lesser-known island of Indonesia. Its unusual savannah terrain is dotted with herds of cows and water buffalo bathing in muddy water pools. Nestled in the southwest of the island, Mt Tambora emerges like a phoenix. As the sun rises over Mt Tambora, it exposes the vast caldera that in 1816 was the epicentre of global climate change. The eruption of the Tambora volcano made that year 'the year without summer' all around the world. Peeking down the green sloping grooves reveals Earth like you've never seen her before - living and breathing.

The closest airport to Mt Tambora is Bima, the capital of Sumbawa. Please try to arrive before 2pm, so that you can make it to the guesthouse before sundown. Your guide will arrange your transport from the airport (or at your chosen location in Bima) to Rik's guesthouse, where you will spend the night before the trek.

From the airport, the journey by car from Bima to Pancasila (the closest town to the base of Tambora) is about 3-4 hours. From Pancasila the guide will arrange for a motorcycle to take you to Rik's guesthouse, about 30 minutes away.

It is not advisable to trek to Mt Tambora's rim without a guide as the trekking paths can be confusing, especially in the dark when you are trying to make it for sunrise. If you are trekking all the way into the caldera, you will need a licensed guide and a special permit, as mandated by the state park.

You should be in reasonably good shape to do this trek. The trek to the rim includes a steady incline which requires stamina, so you should be used to regular vigorous walking. If you choose to descend into the caldera, the descent includes rock walls and requires holding onto ropes to assist in the descent.

It is possible to go all year round. Rainy season (December -March) may make the journey a bit less pleasant, but you will still be able to do the trek.

The trek is 2, 3 or 5 days (depending on which option you pick), but the entire length of the experience is 4, 5 or 7 days as you will need to add one extra day to each end of the trek to take into account journey times.

There are three options to pick from: the 4 day and 5 day options both include a trek to the crater rim, and the 7 day option includes a trek to the crater rim and into the caldera. The 7 day option is the most challenging and most beautiful trek of all the options.

4 day trip: This includes a 2 day trek to the crater rim. When you arrive at Bima, spend the night at Rik's guesthouse. Early the next morning, make your way up to the rim of Mt Tambora, stopping to camp at position 3 or 5, a few hours before the summit. On Day 3, wake up around 1am to make it to the rim for sunrise. After sunrise, head back to the base to spend the night at Rik's guesthouse. On Day 4, head to the airport.

5 day trip: This includes a 3 day trek to the crater rim. It's similar to the 2 day option, but instead of heading back to base after sunrise at the rim, spend Day 3 trekking around the rim. After exploring the rim, trek down to position 3 or 5 to camp on the third night. On Day 4, trek back to base and spend the night at Rik's guesthouse. On Day 5, head to the airport.

7 day trip: This includes a 5 day trek to the crater rim and into the caldera. After heading to the rim as per the 2 and 3 day options, proceed to make your way into the caldera on Day 3 and spend the third and fourth nights in the caldera of Mt Tambora. On Day 5, make your way back to the rim and spend the night at position 5. On Day 6, head back to base camp and spend the night at Rik's guesthouse. On Day 7, head to the airport.

Waterproof backpack to store your items
Trekking or running shoe with good grip
Medium-thickness hiking socks
Head torch
Warm clothing to sleep in (as it gets cold at the crater rim)
Hiking clothing (shirt, shorts/trousers)
Jacket/Wind breaker (if your jacket isn't waterproof, we would also recommend bringing a disposable raincoat)
Small towel
Wet wipes (as there is no shower on the mountain)
Hand gloves (useful for scrambling downhill)
Personal toiletries
Leech socks
Basic first aid supplies (e.g. bandaid, ibuprofen, antiseptic and gauze)
IDR 300,000 for the park fee, which needs to be paid in cash at the Park Registration counter in Pancisila village

The Tambora area is quite isolated, so there are not many choices for eating out. Luckily, the food at Rik's homestay is very tasty!

In terms of sites that you may want to visit, there is a Hindu Temple attended by Balinese just around the corner from Rik's guesthouse and there are also archelogical dig sites nearby, where vulcanized remains have been found from the Tambora eruption. If you have an extra day and would like to see the dig sites, ask Rik to take you there. He has worked on those digs himself so can share some fascinating facts with you!

Please note that this trip does not include an English speaking guide, but it does have excellent porters who have grown up on the mountain and know it very well.