Kerinci Seblat National Park comprises an area of 1.5 million ha in four provinces: West Sumatra, Jambi, Bengkulu and South Sumatra. A large part of the biggest national park of Sumatra lies above 400 m and is relatively cool. The park probably contains the largest contiguous population of the Sumatran Rhino, estimated at between 250 and 500 individuals.
Due to the fact that a large part of Bukit Barisan Mountain range, including it’s highest peak the Gunung Kerinci (3,805m), lies in the park, Kerinci Seblat consists of very mountainous terrain. In the mountains you will find hot springs and many rivers with rapids and scenic waterfalls. Especially around the crater-lakes of Gunung Tujuh (2604m) and Gunung Kerinci, the landscape is very beautiful.
East of Gunung Kerinci lies lake Bento, the highest freshwater swamp in Sumatra. Ladeh Panjang is probably the highest peat swamp woodland (altitude 2,000 m).
The relatively flat Kerinci valley cuts the park in two and forms the main entrance to the area. The valley is situated at an altitude of 800 m and has a population of about 300,000 people.
As stated above the main entrance to the park is the Kerinci valley. In Sungai Penuh, halfway between Padang and Bengkulu, you can find several losmen. Buses to Sungai Penuh leave from Bukittinggi, Padang (10-12 hours) or Jambi (20-24 hours). Permits are available at the PHPA offices in Jambi, Padang or Sungai Penuh. Inside the park a guide is obligatory.
* Sungai Penuh
o Hotel Busana, Jl. Martadinata
o Hotel Matahari, Jl.Jend.A.Yani 25
* Kersik Tuo
* Kayu Aro (1500m)-Gunung Kerinci 2 days
* Pelompek-Danau Gunung Tujuh 1 day
* hot springs at Semurup
* Letter W waterfall
* Along the several rivers: Air Rupit, Air Seblat, Air Tebat Pelapo.
More than 4,000 plant species, including 300 species of orchids and the rare Javan Edelweiss (Anapahalis javanica) grow in the park. The world’s biggest flower, the Rafflessia arnoldi and the tallest flower, the Bunga bangkai raksasa (Amorphophallus titanum) are also find here. In the forests grow trees of the Shorea and Dipterocarpus family.
About 180 species of birds and 200 species of mammals live in the park.
|Mount Kerinci is the highest volcano in Indonesia and the highest Indonesian peak outside Papua (Irian Jaya). Much of the Kerinci Seblat National Park is located in the province of Jambi but the peak itself is in West Sumatra. Considering its height, Kerinci is not as difficult a climb as you might think and the views from the top are amazing. The closest airport is Padang from where it is a 6-8 hour road journey to the nearest accommodation to the Kerinci trail, at Kersik Tua (also spelt Tuo, 1,519m). Transport can be arranged at Padang airport or by contacting one of the homestays in advance. However, given the length of the journey it doesn’t come cheap so it isn’t recommended unless you have a group of 4 hikers minimum.
Although it is possible to get to the top and back in a very, very long day (minimum 12 hours hiking there and back), it is recommended that you spend a night on the mountain at Shelter 2 (3,040m) or even the more exposed Shelter 3 (3,306m). The summit is usually cloudy after mid-morning so if you want to admire the views it is best to plan on reaching the top for dawn the second day before making the descent back to Kersik Tua. The water sources are not reliable so make sure you take ample supplies.
You need to obtain a National Park permit, available from one of the homestays in Kersik Tua, which currently costs a reasonable Rp 20,000. It is also a good idea to take a photocopy of your passport with you. The best known homestay in the area is the one owned by Pak Subandi, one of many ethnically Javanese who live in the area. He is an expert on flora and fauna and many people stay here to explore the amazing animal and plant life including incredibly rare birds, pitcher plants, Armorphophallus titanium (the tallest flower in the world) and perhaps even elephants and tigers or even the mysterious Orang Pendek, a bipedal ape of Yeti-like reputation. There are plenty of guides available and Pak Subandi will provide you with some excellent meals of local produce both on and off the mountain. Make sure you discuss the cost in advance to avoid being surprised when the bill arrives.
The trail itself starts about 5km west of Kersik Tua, through the tea plantations past the very visible statue of a tiger. At the end of the road at 1,755m there is a dilapidated signpost beside fields of chillis and potatoes. The trail leads past a ranger post and up into the forest. After 30 minutes, Pos 1 (1,880m) is reached and after another 30 minutes you should have reached a rusty old sign (1,988m). There is a shelter at 2,207m and another rusty sign next to a large tree at 2,450m. Sections of the trail are steep muddy gullies which can be problematic when it rains but generally there are no technical difficulties.
At 3,040m there is a small path leading down to Shelter 2 on the left. This is the best camping area on the trail as it offers some protection from the wind and there is often a source of water down in the gully beside the camping area. There are metal frames here so extra tarpaulin would be excellent to keep you extra protected from getting soaked in the usual afternoon rains. It takes 3 hours to the summit from here which means a starting time of 3am if you want to see the sunrise from the top. Alternatively you can camp higher up beyond the treeline at Shelter 3 (3,306m) which will save you an hour in the morning. It is much more exposed but you will have great views of neighbouring Gunung Tujuh and the Gunung Tujuh Lake from your tent.
From the edge of the treeline, the trail is steep and there is plenty of shallow scree to negotiate. It is a good idea to wear gloves and make sure you have a torch you can attach to your head so you have both hands free. The tiny summit area appears quite suddenly and is marked with a cairn and orange flag which lies between two rocky outcrops. Down below steeply to the right is the smouldering crater and to the left is the Indian Ocean. Views are extensive – you should be able to see Gunung Tujuh on your right, Gunung Raya and Gunung Masurai to the south, and Gunung Talang, Gunung Marapi and Gunung Singgalang to the north.
After celebrating havng reached the top of Indonesia’s highest volcano, it is a long walk back down to Kersik Tua and Pak Subandi’s delicious potatoes.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn