Ibu Volcano: The Ultimate Camping Experience Halmahera, North Maluku, Indonesia

Yet another active volcano on Halmahera

Because Dukono was great and because on Halmahera island there’s another one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, we absolutely wanted to go to Mount Ibu. Plus, we were told that there we’d be even closer to the action (is that even possible?!). Our guide for this tour was Alex Djangu, a native from Ibu town who lives in Tobelo and is the dean and English teacher at a catholic private school in Tobelo. Without any problem though, he was able to take off a few days to accompany us to the volcano.

After a very uncomfortable seven hour drive – the roads on the western side of Halmahera are in bad shape – we arrived in Ibu village at the foot of Mount Ibu. A bit removed from the village and amidst coconut plantations, Alex has built a small bungalow for his guests. It’s very basic but there’s a toilet and a shower (if there’s water) and it’s fine for one night.


Walking in the rain

For whatever reason, the next day we didn’t start trekking until almost 11 a.m. and by the time we reached about halfway, it started to rain. No, wait, it didn’t rain. It poured. Within minutes we were soaking wet. Thanks to banana leaf umbrellas we managed to keep our backpacks partly dry but I was not looking forward to a night on the volcano in the rain. Going down was not an option however, we were already too close to the top. So we went on, slipping on mud, swearing, and crossing small waterfalls until we finally reached the crater.


Volcamping on the crater rim

The rim is about 2 meters wide and that’s where we put our tent. It’s definitely not glamping; it’s volcamping. The tent stands right next to the deep wide crater filled with black lava rocks. Further away is a smaller crater and that one is very active; every 20 minutes or so there’s an explosion and the volcano spits lava and stones and releases a big ash cloud. It sounds like an airplane taking off and a few moments after the ash cloud goes up, ash rains down.

As soon as the tent was ready, I went inside and didn’t come out again until the next morning even though it stopped raining shortly after we arrived. Fortunately, I had packed some dry clothes and most of it was really still dry. Not so our sleeping bags, however. So I sat in the tent freezing while Hossam, brave as he is, was outside taking pictures of the volcano. I only peeked outside from time to time. The sight was quite impressive, especially at night when the glowing lava was clearly visible.

Ibu or Dukono?

The location of the camp is spectacular – but also, let’s face it, very dangerous – and we were constantly scared that the volcano would throw rocks onto the tent. The volcano was an amazing sight too but, to be honest, nowhere near as impressive as Dukono. Maybe because, even though the active crater is at eye level, you can’t get as close to the crater and you can’t look into it. Also, since you camp on the volcano’s crater rim you don’t have that big, majestic volcano in front of you like that’s the case at Dukono.


However, we don’t regret at all that we went to Ibu – we’d always regret if we wouldn’t have gone. It was an interesting trip; although starting early in the morning would have made it much better. Ibu volcano is great, and by now we laugh about how wet we got (I’ve had enough rain for a year, though). Plus, the views from the top are stunning: To one side there are the small villages at the foot of Ibu volcano, the west coast of Halmahera and the small islands off the coast and, to the east, you can see as far as Dukono – the big ash cloud is unmistakable.

You can contact Alex by phone: +62 (0)821 91235467



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