17 Oktober 2008

Mount Merapi National Park

Mount Merapi or Gunung Merapi in Indonesian language (bahasa), is a conical volcano in Central Java, Indonesia. It is the most active volcano in Indonesia and has erupted regularly since 1548. Its name means Mountain of Fire. It is very close to the city of Yogyakarta, and thousands of people live on the flanks of the volcano, with villages as high as 1700 m above sea level.

Several of its eruptions have caused fatalities. It was erupting from 1992 to 2002, and a particularly large explosion killed 43 people in 1994. It began erupting again in 2006, and scientists believe a large eruption is imminent. In light of the hazards it poses to populated areas, it has been designated a Decade Volcano.

Merapi is the youngest in a group of volcanoes in southern Java. It is situated at a subduction zone, where the Indo-Australian Plate is sliding beneath the Eurasian Plate. It is one of at least 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire - a section of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and South East Asia.

Stratigraphic analysis reveals that eruptions in the Merapi area began about 400,000 years ago, and from then until about 10,000 years ago, eruptions were typically effusive, and the outflowing lava emitted was basaltic. Since then, eruptions have become more explosive, with viscous andesitic lavas often generating lava domes. Dome collapse has often generated pyroclastic flows, and larger explosions, which have resulted in eruption columns, have also generated pyroclastic flows through column collapse.

Typically, small eruptions occur every two to three years, and larger ones every 10-15 years or so. Notable eruptions, often causing many deaths, have occurred in 1006, 1786, 1822, 1872 (the most violent eruption in recent history), and 1930—when thirteen villages were destroyed and 1400 people killed by pyroclastic flows.

A very large eruption in 1006 is claimed to have covered all of central Java with ash. The volcanic devastation is claimed to have led to the collapse of the Hindu Kingdom of Mataram, however there is insufficient evidence from that era for this to be substantiated. Merapi continues hold particular significance for the Javanese: it is one of four places where officials from the royal palaces of Yogyakarta and Solo make annual offerings to placate the ancient Javanese spirits.

More like hers brother, Mount Merbabu is a favorite mountain for local and foreign mountaineers. The average temperature in its top is around 15 grade Celsius during the day, of course in the night, it’s biting cold.

The magnificent Merbabu is in the middle of Central Java Province, comes from the word "Meru" means mountain and "Babu" means female or lady. For years it has been known as a sleeping mountain, but in fact it has 5 calderas, namely: Condrodimuko, Kombang, Kendang, Rebab & Sambernyowo. Mt. Merbabu last eruption was in 1968 which caused a lot of erosion. Usually it gives a tranquile atmosphere to its green beautiful environment.

Gunung Merapi National Park consists of tropical forest ecosystem areas influenced by volcanic activity. Characteristics of the ecosystem vary from montane ecosystem, tropical mountainous forest, secondary forest, and timber plantation. Mount Merapi is often called as ”the heart” of Yogyakarta Province. Culturally, this area has a close connection with the community surrounding the Park. Many traditional ceremonies are conducted in this area.

Legal Basis of Designation:

Ministry of Forestry Decree

Number: 134/Menhut-II/2004

Dated 4 May 2004

Total area:

6,410 ha


1. Province of Central Java;

District of Boyolali, Klaten, and Magelang

2. Province of DI (Special Region) Yogyakarta;

District of Sleman

Geographic Position:

07°22’ - 07°52’ S and 110°15’ - 110°37’ E

History of the area

• 1931: the Dutch Government appointed Gunung Merapi Forest area as a protection forest;

• 1975: Ministry of Agriculture appointed part of the protection forest to be a Plawangan Turgo Strict Nature Reserve;

• 1984: Ministry of Forestry changed part of the protection forest located at the Yogyakarta Province to be Plawangan Turgo Nature Recreation Park;

• 1989: Ministry of Forestry appointed 282.25 ha of forest cluster located at Sleman District, in Yogyakarta province as Plawangan Turgo Strict Nature Reserve and Nature Recreation Park;

• 2004: Ministry of Forestry changed the statuses of the Protection Forest, the Strict Nature Reserve and the Nature Recreation Park of Gunung Merapi Forest Areas (6,410 ha) located in Magelang, Boyolali and Sleman Districts into Gunung Merapi National Park.


Geology and Soil

Geographically, Gunung Merapi NP is located at the cross section of two faults, transversal and longitudinal, of Java Island. The area is formed from two phases:

Volcanic sediment of young volcanic formed by tuff, pyroclastic, breccias, and andesitic to basaltic lava. They are evenly distributed at the entire area of Gunung Merapi, and

Volcanic sediment of early quaternary. It is found locally at small hilly topography areas at the Young Merapi Mountain. It is part of the Old Merapi Mountain activity. The sediment can be found at Bukit Gono, Turgo Plawangan, Maron and the Eastern part of Mount Merapi crater (Geger Boyo).

Most of the soil is regosol. The regosol soil is developed at volcanic slope. Because the Mount Merapi is the most active mountain in Indonesia, so the soil main materials came from volcanic materials. Regosol soil is categorized as young soil where the profile has not developed yet. This soil is characterized by its grey color to black color with the rough soil as course as sandy soil. The soil structure is not formed yet, so it is categorized as granular texture.

The andosol soil is also existed. This soil can be found at Cepogo and Selo sub-districts. The soil is characterized by the silt loam texture, grain or grainy block structure, friable consistency, mild permeability, mild to low organic content with pH 5.0-5.5, high saturated alkali and CEC (cation exchange capacity).


Gunung Merapi landscape is unique. It has deep slope close to the crater and slightly plain to the downward. The Eastern slope (Selo) is slightly deep, while the Western and Northern parts (Babadan and Kinahrejo) are relatively plain. The direction of the Gunung Merapi lava seldom goes to the East, but goes to the West and Northwest part. It is also often shown the explosion process, and the best slope is often resulted from the explosion. This makes the Western part more and more plain.

The peak of Mount Merapi located at 1,500 m asl with more than 30° of slope. The largest area is the 12-30° slope area. It is located in an altitude between 750 – 1,500 m asl and is functioned as the water catchment for the surrounding areas.


Based on Schmidt-Ferguson climate classification, the area is categorized as Ctype or slightly wet. It has various rainfalls, with the lowest rainfall is 875 mm/year and the highest rainfall is 2,527 mm/year. The wet months are from November to May, while the dry months are from June to October.


Generally, Mount Merapi is constituted from three main watersheds, namely Progo (West part), Opak (Central part), and Bengawan Solo (East part) watershed. The river systems form three river flow patterns, as follow:

Started from the peak of Mount Merapi , the intermittent form a radial and centrifugal river pattern;

At the foot of the mountain, the intermittent flow relatively parallel downward and form a sub parallel pattern, and

All the intermittent go to the main river located in the alluvial volcanic foot slope and form a sub-dendrite flow pattern.

This area has full soil water and has many springs used for irrigation, plantation, husbandry, fishpond, tourism objects and also for commercial water drinking company.


Gunung Merapi NP has three vegetation zones, as follow:

Upper zone; there is a xyrocere process on this zone, which is a primary succession of the dry stone forest. This area is dominated by lichens, grass, herbs and shrubs.

Middle Zone; it is a tropical mountain natural forest.

Lower zone; it is an interaction zone of human and nature. The vegetations are dominated by agroforestry system species that include grasses, commercial trees, horticulture, staple food, and timber.


There are around 72 flora species exist in Gunung Merapi Forest area. The primary forest is dominated by serangan (Castanopsis argentea), whereas it’s secondary forest is dominated by puspa (Schima walichii) and pines (Pinus merkusii). Other species are Acacia decurens, Bambusa spp., Albizia spp., Euphatorium inufolium, Lithocarpus elegans, Leucena galuca, L. leucoocephla, Hibiscus tiliaceus, Arthocarpus integra, Casuarina sp., Syzygium aromaticum, Melia azadirachta, Erythrina variegata, and Ficus alba.

More than 47 species of orchids are found in this area such as Dendrobium saggitatum, D. crumenatum, Eria retusa, Oboronia similis, Spathoglottis plicata, and one of the endemic orchid is Vanda tricolor.

There are also many species used by the community for their daily life including various grasses such as Imperata cylindrica, Panicum reptans, Antraxon typicus and Pogonatherum paniceum.



Leopard (Panthera pardus melas), leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), three-striped ground squirel (Lariscus insignis), plantain squirrel (Callosciurus notatus), long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis), javan fuscous leaf monkey (Presbytis fredericae), wild pig (Sus scrofa vittatus), barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak) and timor deer (Cervus timorensis).


Based on the inventarisation in 2001, there are 99 bird species at the Mount Merapi area. Some of them are endemic and have limited territory distribution such as javan hawk-eagle (Spizaetus bartelsi), scarlet sunbird (Aethopyga mystacalis), white-flanked sunbird (A. eximia), javan kingfisher (Halcyon cyanoventris), and yellow-throated hanging-parrot (Loriculus pusillus). The other species can be found are black eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis), chinese goshawk (Accipiter soloensis), oriental hobby (Falco severus), blood-breasted flowerpecker (Dicaeum sanguinolentum), orange spotted bulbul (Pycnonotus bimaculatus), spotted dove (Streptopelia chinensis) and javan munia (Lonchura leucogastroides).


Indo-chinese rat snake (Pytas korros), white-lipped pit-viper (Trimeresurus albolabris) and anglehead lizard (Gonocephalus sp.).


Interesting objects

Gunung Merapi NP has many interesting tourism objects such as:

Upper Merapi Area; there are four craters namely Pasar Bubar, Pusung London, Kawah 48 and Kawah 46, with five fumaroles fields namely Woro I, II, III and Gendol A and B. The mountain eruption is the interesting attraction in this area.

Wonoleko location; the attractive object in this area is a beautiful waterfall.

Kinahrejo Tracking - Tlogo Muncar route; a view of tropical mountain forest with beautiful flora and fauna.

Tlogo Muncar and Tlogo Putri; There are beautiful nature view and swimming pools that has a high historical value. For local community, the pool is believed to be a bathing place of Princess Dewi Condrokirono from the Majapahit kingdom.

Arboretum of Kaliurang; This arboretum collects native species and exotic species such as Pines.

Turgo Hill; It is a dirt track to Syeh Jumadil Qubra tomb, including the Japanese and Ledik Paku caves.

Plawangan Hill; It has beautiful scenery and a Japanese cave at the top of the hill. It is easily reached by foot.

Kaliurang Area; There are private lands that intensively managed for agrotourism.

Lembah Sungai Boyong - Kali Urang Barat; It is a river valley landscape remained from the pirolastic flow/hot ash. This place is very potential to be developed for tourism with special purpose, such as volcanic tourism.

Turgo Traditional Village; Visitor can enjoy the traditional cultures form the community in Java, especially Yogyakarta. The culture represents a harmony of life between human and nature.

Javanese Traditional Architecture; Java traditional house has traditional and sacred values. Each part of the house has its own meaning and represents the relationship between human and God.

Community beliefs; Communities in Mount Merapi, especially those who stay at the southern part (Yogyakarta and surrounding areas) believe that the dynamic of Mount Merapi is strongly linked with the supernatural phenomena. For this reason, many ritual ceremonies are held by the communities, including the labuhan ceremony, to prevent the mountain explotion, Tuesday Kliwon night ceremony, Friday Kliwon night ceremony, animals ceremony, and many more. The ceremonies are attraction for visitors because of the unique experience that hardly found in any other places.

Tourism object in Gunung Merapi NP are managed by various institutions, including the Tourism district office, forestry district office, Perum Perhutani (state owned forest company), privates, as well as the communities/villages.

Best time to visit

June to November


Information center, camping ground, observation tower

How to get there

The National Park can be reached from three routes:

Yogyakarta - Gunung Merapi (30 km)

Magelang (Muntilan) - Gunung Merapi (14 km)

Boyolali - Gunung Merapi (25 km)

All the routes can be reached by car or public transportation.


The National Park is managed by Balai Taman National Gunung Merapi as a Technical Management Unit of the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation, from Ministry of Forestry.


Balai Taman Nasional Gunung Merapi
Jl. Kaliurang Km. 19.4, Dusun Banjarsari,
Desa Pakembinangun, Pakem, Sleman,
D.I. Yogyakarta Province 55582
Phone: +62-274-6567925

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