Mount Merapi (not to be confused with the homonymous volcano in Java) is a complex volcano located in West Sumatra. Its lower slopes are covered by a buxom rainforest and higher near its top an extraterrestrial-like volcanic plateau and great views are to be marveled at. It bears the great honor of being regarded as the most active volcano in Sumatra. It is currently (as for May 2016) erupting and has been in a state of alert since 2011. It also bears yet another honor of being celebrated as the first settlement of the local Minangkabau people, according to a legend narrating of an ark of their ancestors landing upon its top after some sort of cataclysm, in the exact same fashion as Deucalion landed upon Parnassus, Noah upon Ararat and every other corresponding hero of the Eastern Mediterranean mythology upon a mountain or another. There is one main route (a second, much longer and demanding one has been opened recently ascending from the north and it's rarely used) ascending up to the crater complex from the west slope of the mountain. The trail is straightforward and extremely easy to follow, making it possible for anybody to climb independently. It should take anywhere between 4 and 8 hours to reach the crater complex. The highest point of the mountain, Puncak Garuda, lies in dense forest at the northeastern extension of the mountain and there is no trail leading thither. Thus, most commonly people will only reach as far as the crater complex.
The closest major transport-hub to the mountain is the city of Bukittinggi. From the center of the city, you should change two mini-buses, paying 8000 IDR in total, to reach Koto Baru village. The trailhead is situated a few km outside the village and a hired motorbike will get you there in under 15 m for 10000IDR.
Reaching by own means, you take the main road leading south towards Padang. Once in Koto Baru, after some 12 km, you take a left (-0.391779 100.402122), some few meters after the first mosque you'll encounter in the village, and an immediate right. You keep driving through plantations and up the low slopes for a few km till the end of the road, where a small registration office and the trailhead (-0.393803 100.412964) are.
The first part of the trail runs along a dirt-road through farmlands. Soon after the point it goes past a small, wooden, green hut, you'll be passing across a small bridge made of a bundle of bamboo reeds. That's where you enter the forest. The trail keeps ascending in a staright east line and cannot be missed. At ca 2400 amsl, it exits the forest and keeps ascending straight east through rocky/sandy volcanic terrain till it comes onto the plateau.
No guide is required, nor for any reason useful. A small fee of 10000 IDR is to be paid at the registration office. That fee might tentatively be augmented for foreigners. They asked me for 40000 IDR in the beginning, but after I told them that I'd rather pay 10, they show no objection.
There are plenty of camping spots all along the trail within the forest, and sufficient for an entire regiment at the top. There are quite a few water sources in proximity to the trail, the last of which at ca 1700 amsl.
My account on climbing Mount Merapi