Monday, July 13, 2009

Gunung Lokon Volcano, North Sulawesi, Indonesia

The Lokon Volcano with it's steaming crater

The Lokon volcano is located in the highland district of Tomohon about and hour's drive from the town of Manado in North Sulawesi. It has recently become active in the with small tremors being felt occasionally. It has an active 150m x 250m crater at it's base which is a small lake/large pond of startling blue water (when you can see it through the steam). The peak itself is about 1,580 meters.

The trek up the volcano takes roughly an hour. You make your up along an old lava trail that has now cut an almost alien worldly swath through the mountain's terrain of tropical vegetation. It can get a little tricky at some parts especially when the rocks are wet from the rains. Some caution when navigating these rocks - shoes with grip are essential.

The peak of Lokon

The final section of the lava trail. Can imagine the fiery scene in the past when the fresh lava spilled over and flowed down the mountain.

The plume of steam from town

Closer. The tiny blue dot you see on the left is Dharma,
impatiently running to the top.

The crater rim.

The steaming hot crater. You can just about make out the blue water through the smoke/steam

It gets hot at the top. In a way we were lucky as it was an overcast day with intermissions of bright sunlight breaking through the heavy cloud cover. We had to be catious as the sulphuric smoke would billow about depending on the wind conditions. I assume breathing in too much of that stuff might result me growing pineapples out of my ass.

Antje taking a break.

You can see a bit of Tomohon town and Tondano Lake in the distance

On certain days it seems that the crater is like a cloud churning factory. Puffing out billowy white puffs of smoke that lazily drift up to join their whispy white brethren chilling nonchalantly in the blue, blue sky above.

The most magical sight was when I took a walk out about 3 in the morning, down the little path that lead up to Onong's Palace. The full moon was out, bathing the plain with brilliant moon light. The sky was clear so I could still see the distant sparkles of stars. Lokon stood out, a darker grey against the night sky. And in the moon light it looked like the volcano was giving birth to baby clouds, gentle wispy buds of floating cotton, slowly drifting up into the cold night sky. It made me feel that I'm just part of a bigger world. One that does not care about deadlines, office politics, who gets to that cashier counter first or takes that car park closest to the lift. In this world, the rules of eternity held sway.

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