The two-day trek starts in the town of Ranu Pane, six kilometres south of the Tengger Caldera.
Most visitors stay at the Tasrip Homestay, which is operated by a lovely Christian family, and commence the trek early in the morning heading to Kalimati, seven hours away. The following morning, hikers commence the punishing climb up Semeru which is a four-hour scramble through scree and ash.
At the summit, many people choose to poke their heads into the crater, but we were warned that this is extremely dangerous as the mountain, which has been erupting continuously for decades, explodes approximately every 15 minutes and some years ago a number of foreign tourists were killed by tephra raining down upon them.
The descent from Semeru to Ranu Pane all happens on the second day and takes 10 hours, making for a truly punishing schedule.
Although it is possible to do this entire trek without a guide, it is not recommended. An American tourist several years ago became disoriented and lost for a few days before a search and rescue team was dispatched to locate him.
Pak Thomas at Pak Tasrip Family Homestay (T: (082) 8393 0369 / E: firstname.lastname@example.org) can organise everything you need to climb Gunung Semeru including tents, cheap thin sleeping bags and food. It is essential to bring warm clothing, particularly for nights when temperatures become frigid and the quality of the sleeping bags is tested. Expect to pay:
Tent: 30,000 rupiah
Sleeping Bag: 30,000 rupiah
Food: 50,000 rupiah per day (basic meals only -- make sure the guide brings a large enough quantity as we have heard reports of trekkers being extremely hungry)
Guide: 200,000 per guide per day
Porter: 150,000 per porter per day
Travel to and from Gunung Semeru is usually combined with a visit to Gunung Bromo. It is a 17 kilometre trek from Cemoro Lawang to Ranu Pane. Ojeks can be hired in both Ranu Pane and Cemoro Lawang to carry you and your luggage back and forth. It is also possible to catch ojeks from Ranu Pane to Tumpang (80,000 rupiah) where angkots regularly make the journey to the Arjosari bus terminal in Malang or straight through to Malang for 100,000 rupiah. Alternatively, jeeps make irregular runs between Cemoro Lawang and Tumpang and will pick up passengers in Jemplang for the journey to Tumpang for 60,000 rupiah.