Volcano Hazards – A Real Experience!
The Gunung Papandayan (or Papandayan Volcano) is located near the town of Garut, which is about 60 kilometres south east of Bandung. Gunung Papandayan is an active volcano and is about 2600 metres high.
It last erupted in 2002, which caused thousands of villagers to evacuate their homes to avoid the smoke and ash.
Ironically, the last time I visited a volcano was at Mount Etna in 2002 – when it was erupting as well. So my thinking was that this visit to Garut would be somewhat less dramatic than that.
Or so I thought.
Anyway, the drive there is pretty scenic, and takes in scores of rice fields and vegetable crops. Garut is a major producer of food in this part of the world.
And then, you come across this: the view of the volcano crater from the carpark.
One of the Volcano Hazards is that Gunung Papandayan can be a bit smelly up there with the odd hit of sulphur hitting the nostrils. Sometimes it’s like being trapped in a poorly ventilated room with 10 people who are only on a diet of baked beans and cabbages.
Apart from eruptions, another potential hazard are landslides, caused by the odd torrential downpour. I’m standing on a landslide here over what used to be a car park.
But this place is fantastic, but make sure you take a guide. The path is not well defined because the rain continuously erodes the land away.
Here are some of the cool shots from Gunung Papandayan:
The Golden Crater
Bubbling Mud Pools
Sulphur Deposits and steam Vents
Whilst taking in these sites, the drama happened when we spotted someone who was shouting out across the regular clouds of steam.
Anyway, my guide Danny told me to stay put and went over to investigate.
A woman had accidentally stood in a pool of boiling mud, and could barely walk because of her burns. She had not taken a guide with her to show her around the crater, and where to avoid the hot spots.
These guys know where to go, and where not to go.
Note, there was no-one else up there at the time, so she could have been there for hours.
When Danny helped her over to where I was, I had noticed that her skin had already started to peel.
He then helped her down to the car park (in some places, via piggy-back) and then escorted her to the local Garut Hospital. I assume she was then sent to Bandung for further treatment.
This is what can happen when you don’t take a guide.
Meanwhile, when Danny had reached the bottom, he then sent up a substitute guide to take me for the rest of my trip!
The going rate for a guide at Gunung Papandayan is about 30,000-50,000 Indonesian Rupiah – about 3 to 5 US Dollars. I assume that her time in hospital, and the cost to her health will be well more than 50,000 Rupiah.
The thing that had really astounded me was that the substitute guide and Danny had agreed to split my payment for guide services between them because they had spent roughly half of their time with me!
I thought that was ridiculous – and gave them both more than the going rate each to show my appreciation for being decent human beings. And I’ve never seen two more grateful people.
So during this trip, I saw the real spirit of Indonesian people – right there.
These guys are just trying to make a living and really make a pittance for what they do.
Anyway, something less hazardous than the Volcano Hazards at Gunung Papandayan is visiting the nearby Candi Cangkuang.
This is one of the few Hindu temples left in West Java and was build around 800 A.D.
The best thing about it is walking through the spectacular rice fields to get there, with the volcanos in the background.
More Volcano Hazard Stuff
You can read more at Volcanoes of Indonesia.
If you’re really paranoid about volcanoes, then check out The Ultimate Survival Skills Guide.
Visit their website now and book a flight there!