Photo: The scenery is great.

Exploring the greater Dieng Plateau

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Sitting at some 2,000 metres about sea level, the Dieng Plateau is ringed by a series of peaks and ancient crater rims which are patchworked by hundreds of plots of potato farms running down the slopes to geothermal stations, steaming mud pits and cute little villages—and one of the best ways to explore the greater plateau is by scooter.





While the mainstay of Dieng’s attractions including the Arjuna Complex, Candi Bima and Kawah Sikidang which can easily be explored on foot from Dieng village, the more far flung spots are, well, too far flung to reach on foot, but with a scooter (either self-ridden or with a driver) the outer highlights can be visited in as little as a few hours.

You can’t miss the geo-thermal plants. Photo taken in or around Exploring the greater Dieng Plateau, Dieng Plateau, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

You can’t miss the geo-thermal plants. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The key attractions all lie to the west of Dieng, and our route takes you in an easy to follow clockwise circle to the west of town. Scooters can be rented at both Tani Jiwo and Losmen Bu Djono and other places will probably be able to arrange an informal rental. If you do not have a valid license for riding, please familiarise yourself with the small print on your travel insurance, take care and always wear a helmet!

Starting from in front of Tani Jiwo, ride west on the main road (Jalan Raya Dieng) out of town, and after around about one kilometre, you’ll reach a Y-intersection and you want to take the left (southern) option (you’ll return via the right one—if you want to do the loop in reverse, take the right option) continue along this road to the south for about a kilometre and you’ll reach the first of a number of small villages you will be passing through. Keep your eyes peeled for a signpost on your left to Telaga Merdada, when you see it, take it and follow the road till you can go no further.

Still waters run deep at Telaga Merdada. Photo taken in or around Exploring the greater Dieng Plateau, Dieng Plateau, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Still waters run deep at Telaga Merdada. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Telaga Merdada is a large and peaceful lake sitting at the base of an even larger kilometre-wide, steep-sided crater which is often shrouded in mist. As with the rest of Dieng, the crater walls are lined with small farms, and there is a small jetty running out over the lake’s waters so a small sala. There was a sampan tied up by the pier when we visited, so if you could find a boatman you could probably arrange a boat trip out onto the lake’s waters, though for most, this is probably just a photo stop for a couple of minutes.

From the lake, return the way you came back to the village and when you hit the main road, turn left to continue on the loop for around six or seven kilometres at which time you’ll hit the smallish village of Gembol and on the far side of you’ll reach a turn off to the right, signposted to Kawah Candradimuka—turn here. The ride to the village from Telaga Merdada is a very pretty one, so take your time to enjoy the views—but be wary of the traffic—it isn’t a heavily trafficked road but it is easy to get distracted by the scenery and have a bus sneak up on you—take our word for it.

It should not take you long to fully take in Sumur Jalatunda. Photo taken in or around Exploring the greater Dieng Plateau, Dieng Plateau, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

It should not take you long to fully take in Sumur Jalatunda. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Follow the road north for around four kilometres and you’ll see a signposted turnoff to Sumur Jalatunda, which is about as underwhelming as sights get. A deep sinkhole, filled with water, it is barely worth slowing down for—and if you do, there is a 5,000 rupiah admission fee. Allow about 30 seconds to take it in...

From Sumur Jalatunda, continue east for a short distance and you’ll see the signposted turn off to Kawah Candradimuka which lies a kilometre or so to the north. Note the road north is absolutely awful, often just rough stone, and novice scooter riders will struggle, especially if it has been raining. Exercise considerable care please.

Getting up close at Kawah Candradimuka. Photo taken in or around Exploring the greater Dieng Plateau, Dieng Plateau, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Getting up close at Kawah Candradimuka. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Kawah Candradimuka is an impressive volcanic feature with a few separate steam geysers and bubbling mud pits in a large crevice. A staircase has been built to let you get up and close—dangerously so we’d say—and a steam room of sorts had been built beside one of the geysers. Some of the mud pits spit mud out at a considerable pressure and you should exercise serious care here as the site can be unpredictable. While we saw an admission booth, nobody was there, so entry was free.

From here, continue back to the main road (slowly!) the take a left when you hit the main road. A couple of kilometres to the east of here will bring you to the village of Kepakisan and on the eastern side of the village there is a turn off to the north (left) to Kawah Sileri and D’Qiano Waterpark.

Boiling mud at Kawah Candradimuka. Photo taken in or around Exploring the greater Dieng Plateau, Dieng Plateau, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Boiling mud at Kawah Candradimuka. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Kawah Sileri last erupted in 2017, with the eruption injuring ten tourists and a rescue helicopter crashed killing all eight on board. As such the site is considered dangerous and is off limits save for a distant viewing platform which you’ll pass on the way to the waterpark. We didn’t give D’Qiano Waterpark a try, but we imagine if you’ve got kids in tow (or are just young at heart) it could make for a fun half day diversion.

From the waterpark, return to Kepakisan village, take a left and follow the road back to Dieng village which is just a few kilometres away.

Steam from Kawah Sileri in the distance. Photo taken in or around Exploring the greater Dieng Plateau, Dieng Plateau, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Steam from Kawah Sileri in the distance. Photo: Stuart McDonald

We did this entire loop in just a couple of hours, but those with more time could easily spend half a day exploring and there are plenty of other possibilities in the area. Tani Jiwo has a quite useful map of the area, but all the sights are relatively well signposted, so you could just go and figure it out yourself.


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