The volcano that changed the Earth.

If you’re in Pancasila, you’re here for one reason and one reason alone: to climb Gunung Tambora. The small village perches on the lower slopes of the Volcano That Changed Everything, little more than a sprawling of village houses surrounding an oversized football field, which in turn is surrounded by vast coffee plantations.

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The village is a fairly nondescript affair, with a few simple places to stay and a handful of spots to eat. The people, as with all of Sumbawa, are very friendly.

On top of the world. : Stuart McDonald.
On top of the world. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Here it’s all about the climb. The only other possible reason (that we can some up with, anyway) is you’re in Pancasila to visit Satonda Island. But really, climb the volcano first and give yourself Satonda as a reward afterwards!

The mechanics of climbing the peak are relatively straightforward. You need to register before climbing (you can do so at the office at Pondok Petulang) and then, assuming you have all the kit you need, you can start walking. Unlike some volcanoes in Indonesia, hiring a guide or a porter is not compulsory for Tambora, but we would strongly advise against embarking on the climb without one or the other. The costs are reasonable and, at least when we did it (at end of wet season), the trail can be infernally difficult to find — even with a guide. In our case, with someone who had climbed three times previously we got lost twice coming down.

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