Arjuna/ Welirang mountain chain in East Java consists of 4 peaks over 3,000m from the active Welirang in the west to the long dormant Arjuna in the East. This mountain is set in the ancient Mojopahit heartland and is dotted with temples, graves and other historical sites which are still visited by local folk today. The lower slopes are forested and the upper slopes are covered with tussock and a type of local alpine pine tree. The lalijiwo plateau between the twin peaks of Kembar and Arjuna is noted for deer and wild pigs. Most tracks start off in good condition but as one gets higher the tracks frequently dissappear or turn into a multitude of trails left by animals and lost hikers!
I will add some photos and altitudes in a couple of weeks.
Just heard (13 sept 02 )the slopes of Arjuna were on fire and they had closed the mountain from Tretes. Will try to go down on the 11th of October instead. Should have burnt out by then. Probably just the tussock burning which is a yearly thing during the dry season.
The mountain is located about 50km south East of Surabaya and it is easy to rent a taxi from Juanda (Surabaya) airport to take you to Tretes. (or anywhere else for that matter!)
Tretes is a mountain resort town with lots of hotels and guesthouses to suit any budget. A good place to spend a few days chilling out. Guides, porters and supplies can be got here.
There are three main routes on the mountain.
The most popular starts from the village of Tretes and follows a wide trail to the Sulphur carriers camp located at a water source between Arjuna and Welirang. From here, one can turn left and head for Lalijiwo Plateau and Arjuna or continue on to the active Welirang.
Another route starts above Selecta above Batu to the South.
A further route climbs directly to Arjuna from Lawang in the East.
Tom Otte wrote a detailed account of his trip to Arjuna and posted it on the net. I have included part of it here because it is good info.
Thanks Tom...Hope you don't mind!
"Climbing Arjuno-Welirang by Tom Otte"
"Arjuno-Welirang is an active volcanic massif, 50 km south of Surabaya. Gunung Arjuno (3,339 m) is dormant, and forms part of the Arjuno LaII-jiwo Reserve, a 5,000 hectare montane wildlife park. A 2,700-m-high saddle, connects Aduno with its active neighbor, Gunung Welirang (3,156 m). Seismologists classify Arjuno-Welirang as "A-type": the most dangerous.
Some of Java's most, picturesque mountain resorts: Tretes, Batu, Pandaan and Selekta, lie on the slopes of the massif. This area is an 1deal base for mountain-lovers.
Although only recommended for experlenced trekkers, the Arjuno-Welirang route offers one of Java's most spectacular treks: from Selekta to, Tretes via both peaks and the Lalijiwo, Reserve.
If you want to climb the peaks individually, start the Arjuno climb frorn Selekta (a shorter route) and approach Welirang from Tretes. The trail to Arjuno leads you through magnificent Alpine forests, to one of Java's highest, summits.
Unpredictable weather conditions, and the fact that many paths are hidden, make hiring a guide essential for climbing Arjuno. Guides here speak very little English, so you should either speak some Indonesian or hire an interpreter. Mr Asir, who lives in Kampung Junggo, 2 km north of Selekta, is recommended. His house is 50 m to the left of Pos Tulungrejo. He charges about $5/day. To reach him, rent a motorbike in Selekta at losmen Mona Lisa, JI. Raya Selekta 83.
The route described below follows the trail from Selekta to Tretes. The total walking distance of 35 km includes both peaks, the Lalijiwo Reserve and sulphur-collectors' camp. Allow 2 to 3 days, bring energy-rich foods, a water-resistantjacket and a sleeping bag. One bottle of water is sufficient-more is available up the mountain.
SELEKTA TO GUNUNG ARJUNO
From Selekta either walk, or ride a motorbike, to Kampung Junggo. The trek begins among asparagus plantations. After 1.5 hours walking you enter montane forest, where a narrow footpath winds up Arjuno's western slope. This path is often hidden under thick ferns, particularly after the rainy season."
The above in parenthesis from Tom Otte's account
I don't remember any but you may be asked to fill out your details and leave a few (<5,000) rupiahs. Always carry a photocopy of your passport if hiking in Indonesia. Every year a few foriegners go missing hiking around Indonesia alone and if nobody knows you are there it is hard to mount a search party.
Recently the bones of one were found just a few kilometers from Bromo! Seemed like he had slipped and broke a leg descending a small peak behind Mt Bromo. Out of earshot, but still in the huge crater and as few folks venture over there he eventually died. Take a guide on Arjuna. The sulphur carriers from Tretes know the area and are incredibly fit.
When To Climb
10 Sept 2002.
Arjuna Welirang currently on fire and authorities are preventing people from climbing. Probably just a typical dry season grass fire but the smoke can make life uncomfortable.
The dry season in East Java is from May thru October but remember it can rain at anytime in the mountains.
If it is wet it means cold and thick fog up high and getting lost becomes a probablilty.
You will pass several spots on the way in from Tretes.
The most useful spot is somewhere in the vicinity of the Sulhur camp called Pondok Welirang. This is a collection of huts inhabited by the sulphur gatherers working on Welirang. A bit messy and untidy but good water nearby. A bit above the pondok there is a flat area and supposedly about and hour along the track to Arjuna is another campsite and watersource.
(I hope to confirm this shortly)
The best campsite is about 30 minutes along the trail leading left from the Pondok. You will arrive at a huge open area and there is a water source under the trees to the right at the south end. The trail to Arjuna leads on past this. We did not find any water above this point (2,450m)
A picturesque spot to camp is located in the saddle between Kembar I and Kembar II. No water but a magic spot. You can go directly to it from Pondok Welirang (1-2hrs)but the trail and turnoff are not well defined. If you are doing the traverse from Welirang to Arjuna you will descend into the saddle from Kembar. There are two huge holes about 50 foot accross on the saddle to the North. Sheer sides about 20-30 feet deep. Obviously some volcanic feature. Don't fall down them at night. A trail also leads down to the hot springs at Cangar to the South.
From the saddle a path of sorts leads on to Arjuna. It is not too clear. We lost it last time but found it again after some bushbashing. We thought we had a guide!
Will report back soon on campsites closer to Arjuna.
This year 2006 we camped in the grass at the top of Kembar One on the Welirang side about 1.5 hours above the sulphur camp. No water but great views and a lovely setting. Easy to pop down and up Welirang from here.
Ask around in Tretes to be directed to the start of the trail which heads off behind the forrestry post on a good trail. The trail, (which is surfaced with rocks painstakingly handplaced) winds on steadily upwards towards Welirang and the sulphur camp.
In someplaces the trail has been severely damged by the carts the men are hauling down full of sulphur and they have formed several dusty shortcuts as well. Stick to the rock path or follow up the dusty shotcut as there are no turnoffs and the trails soon rejoin. Takes 4-5 hours at a relaxed pace to reach the Pondok.
From the Pondok to Welirang should not take more than 3 hours and a further 2 hours to scale the Kembar twins and descend into the saddle campsite.
From Tom Otte
SELEKTA TO GUNUNG ARJUNO
From Selekta either walk, or ride a motorbike, to Kampung Junggo. The trek begins among asparagus plantations. After 1.5 hours walking you enter montane forest, where a narrow footpath winds up Arjuno's western slope. This path is often hidden under thick ferns, particularly after the rainy season.
After 3 hours you should reach the top of a 100 m gorge. This is an excellent picnic spot. Keep quiet and you might see black and red monkeys on the opposite side of the canyon.
The path continues precipitously to Arjuno's peak region where some sections are as steep as 45 degrees. After another 2 hours of crawling between tall conifers you reach the tree line and an open plateau. Keep left at the turnoff: the path on the right descends to Singosari and Malang.
It's another 30 minutes from the plateau to the peaks (6 to 7 hours in all frorn Kampung Junggo). A few hundred meters below Arjuno's summit look for a big cave on your left, this is a useful spot to bivouac in bad weather. If the weather's clear when you arrive at Arjuno's summit, which lies at 3,339 rn above sea level, you get stunning views of East Java's volcanoes stretching into the distance.
A steep and arduous path leads from the summit to Lalijiwo Plateau. After 12 noon it often gets very misty along this section : sometimes you can't even see your guide walking directly in front of you. If the mist descends do not stray from the footpoth: in certain places it winds alongside a deep, invisible nothing.
Take it easy and allow two hours to reach the fairytale-like Lalijiwo Plateu. Hight meadows of alang-alang grass with muddy swamps, pools of clear mountain water, surrounded by stands of tree fern, groups of rustling casuarinas and pretty alpine flowers await you at this idyllic resting place. If you don't want to bivouac on Arjuno's icy summit or foggy Lalijiwo Plateau, make sure you leave the summit by 2 pm to ensure that you can reach Pondok Welirang, the sulphur colectors' camp, which lies at 2, 400 m.
Continue nortwest after the pools at Lalijiwo and find the path with a plastic tube snaking along it. The tube provides the sulphur men with fresh drinking water, and climbers with freezing ahowers. Just follow it and 30 minutes later you enter a clearing in which lies Pondok Welirang, looking like a Tibetan mountain village.
TO WELIRANG & BACK TO BASE
Leave the camp before daybreak (4:30-5 am) to give you enough time to explore Gunung Welirang's craters and descend to Tretes without undue haste. From the camp start on the trail which climbs straight up. The turnoff to, the left behind the watertank leads back to Gunung Arjuno, Lalijiwo and back down to Selekta.
After ascending at a gentle 15 degrees, the rocky trail suddenly becomes steep. It climbs up onto the small Bluntu plateau, winds around some smaller peaks on the saddle between both volcanoes, and finally zigzags up Welirang's steep flank from the southeast.
Around 3 hours later you reach Welirang's flat crater complex. The first one you pass is extinct but a bit higher up is a bigger, active crater. WARNING: Do not stand on the edge of the crater rim, especially if it is still dark. Crater walls consist of porous ash and loose debris, and are often overhanging. Just a small step too far and that's it...
From the highest point (3,156 m) you can enjoy marvelous views over the region. Try to get here before 9 am, when clouds begin to travel frorn the humid lowlands and engulf the surrounding area, including you, by noon.
To witness the sulphur collectors doing their hellish work, trek back to the extinct crater. Off the main trail to the west lies a track that descends 100 m to a parasitic crater which faces the Selekta valley. This is called "the kitchen" and it is Welirang's acidic heart. Here sulphurous vapor condenses to form a yellow mass which workers gather in blocks. After carefully loading A steep and arduous path leads from the sum- their baskets they carry the sulphur down the mit to Lalijiwo Plateau. After 12 noon it often rocky serpentine paths-some only wearing slippers and smoking kretek cigarets.
To get to Tretes by public bemo, continue for 200 m beyond the gate, turn right and continue for another 200 m until you reach the Tanjung Plaza Hotel. Wait opposite it for minibuses heading for Pandaan.
If you want to continue back to Selekta, go to Pandaan and change onto another minibus to Malang (Pattimura statior-0. From there take a minibus to Batu and another one to Selekta (around 2.5 hours and Rp2,000 in total). You'll reach your losmen much more exhausted than the sulphur-men arrive in Tretes, and you will be two kilograms lighter than when you began.
- Tom Otte
Climbing from the South (Selectar/Sumber Brantas/Cangar)
There is a quite good trail starting from the farmlands just before Cangar if coming from Batu. There is a stone 4WD road leading off to the right 1km before the mushroom factory. This trail leads up to the pass between Kembar 1 and Kembar 2 at about 2,900m. If it has been raining their may be a puddle at the top, otherwise the nearest water is at Pondok Welirang Sulphur camp about 45mins down on the tretes side. From the pass trails lead left over Kembar 1 to Welirang and the path down to the sulphur camp and right down and around to the big campsite at lalijiwo an hour or so of siddle and descent on a rather indistinct trail. Easy to get lost heading towards Arjuna and Lalijiwo so try to maintain altitude and keep contouring around until you meet the saddle before Arjuna. At this point you should pick up the more used trail from Lalijiwo to Arjuna. Follow it down to Lalijiwo and water. Better not to descend if you have not found the trail as the undergrowth gets worse as you descend.
On the Cangar side be careful not to wander too far off the track because there a numerous steam vents and holes. Be careful.
Back to the beginning again...If you do not have a guide to help you find the start point try to get a ride on a 4wd heading up to the carrot and potato fields and get the farmers to point out the way. The start point is a bit hard to find if you do not know where to look but it is over to the right at the top as you descend. No real features to point to as farmers can change the landscape at will. Keep asking directions or pay someone to show you the start. The trail is overgrown but quite useable and you should be able to reach the pass in 4 hours. It took us 1-3/4 hours coming down at a reasonable clip. Easier to go in from Tretes and out from here and grab a ride into Batu once you hit the farmlands. You have a 3-4 km walk from the bushline to the road.