Walking the volcano
Girls brave slippery trails, rain and Sumatra – and miss a volcanic
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But it wasn’t slippery and slimy all the way, what makes a volcanic hike in a tropical region unique is its diverse terrain. From the main tar road, we took a shortcut by climbing up some whitish limestone, a route punctuated by branches which stuck out and overhanging shrubs. My friend accidentally knocked her head into one of the branches.
Even with an LED torch light, each step we took was risky as we weren’t sure if the ground was solid, or actually a muddy pool of water. There were certain parts where we had to dip our shoes into the “stream” but as we went higher, more rocks and boulders emerged. It was like going through natural foot reflexology!
An active volcano means that geothermal activity remains high and it takes the form of hot springs and fumaroles, openings in the earth’s crust where steam and sulphurous gases are emitted. The sound can be quite deafening if there are a few fumaroles in close proximity.
The sulphuric smell kicks in as well and it is not hard to spot the yellow lumps of sulphur around you. And while you wouldn’t expect to see a pool in a mountain hike, craters are another attraction of this trek.
When we finally reached the top, we were just in time to catch the sunrise before 7am. We realised we were the only people in the mountains and, as how difficult hikes end, we reaped our reward: a spectacular scenery of cascading mountains with a clear view of Mount Sinabung which looked as dormant as a hibernating hedgehog.
With the sun up, trekking down was easier and we moved on with our plan to visit Lake Toba after submerging ourselves into the hot spring nearby.
the town of berastagi, 65km from medan.
mount Sibayak has diverse terrain. at the foothills, there are lush forests interspersed with limestone. at higher altitudes as here, noisy fumaroles belch sulphurous fumes.