Deadly but absolutely beautiful, I could not resist the temptation to climb it. With a couple of notable hiker friends of mine, I tagged along to this notorious volcano. Departing from Jakarta on domestic flight to the city of Mataram in Lombok, we continued the journey by ferry from the Lembar Port. Upon arrival at the Poto Tano Port in Sumbawa, we took public transportation to Doro Peti Village in Dompu Regency.
Doro Peti is where the volcanic monitoring station is located and is the starting point of the hike. The trek from the village to the mountain passed through a wonderful view of the blue ocean on the right side of the road and green rolling savannas on the left. The turtle-shapped Tambora could already be seen from afar. My heart started to beat a little faster in a mixture of fear and excitement.
An hour later, our vehicle entered a steep off-road track bordered by challenging bushes that we occasionally had to clear to pass through. Reaching 800 meters above sea level, we had to resume on foot to Camp Cemara. The trek was not easy but we were rewarded along the way with astonishing panoramas. We also encountered a few wild horses galloping freely through the savannas!
We stayed at Camp Cemara for the night. We planned to hike very early the next morning to catch the sunrise on the way to the summit so we all went to bed right after dinner to preserve our energy. Being a late night person, I had a little trouble sleeping. But I was told that sunrise is one of the best moments of a Tambora experience, so I forces my eyes closed and counted sheep until I fell asleep.
Toward the Summit
A few hours before dawn, our guide woke us up and we got ready for the hike. After a quick breakfast, we proceeded on a canyon-bordered track and progressed around huge volcanic boulders serving as a powerful reminder of the massive eruption 200 years ago.
A rocky and sandy field angled at 25-30 degrees was the next challenge. We stepped cautiously and persistently, making sure we didn’t take the wrong trail that would take us into the unknown. I knew it would be a grueling journey so I refrained from complaining and focused on my steps instead.
The climb lasted around four hours and ended at a cliff. This is one of the summit’s rims. I made it! I could express how I felt gazing down at the enormous crater below. The crater is almost one kilometer deep and four kilometers in diameter. Feeling so small and humbled, I shuddered a little remembering how the earth’s fiery interior ejected violently from under this crater almost two centuries ago. The unmistakable rotten smell of sulfurous gases occasionally found my nose, reminding me that it is still very much active. I shuddered again.
We waited as the first majestic golden rays of the sun made their way to Tambora, touching our skin with its warmth and brightening the vast landscape of thrilling beauty. We captured these precious moments as much as possible before making our own way down again. And just like the way Tambora changed my life forever, bestowing me with well-preserved memories of the volcano’s masculine mightiness wrapped in the gentle feminine beauty of its landscape.
Text: Ninus Andarnuswari
Source: Journey Indonesia Magazine
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