Gunung Tujuh is a massive, extinct volcano whose eruption in ancient times blew apart the top of the mountain, eventually forming a large, 4.5 km long lake, Danau Gunung Tujuh, in the crater left behind. Being completely within the Kerinci Seblat National Park, the surrounding peaks (of which there are 7 – hence the name “Tujuh” in Indonesian), are home to a wide variety of wildlife. The caldera lake, at around 2000 meters, is the highest in Southeast Asia. Being up there, with the clouds clinging to the primeval forests all around, it truly feels like you’ve stepped into a prehistoric lost world. There are even tales of the mountain being home to a mysterious creature: the elusive Orang Pendek.
The trek up to the lake takes approximately three hours, plus or minus an hour depending on your level of fitness, and how much time you take to slow down and notice the environment around you. It’s a fairly strenuous hike (no switchbacks in Indonesia), with the tree roots forming a type of staircase in places.
Once at the lake, cross the bridge and trek to a camp site further into the forest, where you’ll set up your tents. For an additional cost of 500,000 IDR to a local fisherman, and based on his canoe availability, it might also be possible to take a 1.5-2 hour canoe ride to the Pasir Putih area on the other side of the lake. Other options, if requested ahead of time, could be to take our trail camera to set up along a trail, and after dark, take a night walk or canoe ride out on the lake using flashlights to try to spot wildlife.
Wake up in the morning to the beautiful song of the Siamang gibbons as they echo throughout the caldera. There are a number of options for exploring from your camp. If arranged ahead of time, you could choose to follow the shore line with the canoe, looking for birds and wildlife. If you’re doing the two day option, pack up around noon, and head back down the mountain.
If you’re doing the three day option and have a lot more time, you could cross to the south side of the volcano and find game trails to follow. You could head into the forests and swampy areas around Pasir Putih. Or you could choose to climb up one of the surrounding mountains. Keep an eye out for Nepenthes pitcher plants – there are a number of endemic species only found on Mt. Tujuh.
Don’t forget to take a night walk or canoe ride in the evening to try and spot nocturnal creatures.
Difficulty: Moderate. Difficulty significantly increases if you choose to climb one of the peaks surrounding the lake.
Activities: Hiking, Camping, Canoeing, Swimming, Bird Watching, Wildlife Spotting
Terrain: Jungle, Mountains, Lake
Nearest Village: Pelompek, Gunung Tujuh subdistrict, Kerinci regency, Jambi province, Indonesia
- A quality pair of hiking shoes – preferably waterproof – are essential.
- Comfortable trekking socks are recommended.
- Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Preferably made from quick-dry material.
- Your own water bottle, to cut down on single-use plastics.
- A headlamp, especially if you want to take any night walks.
- A waterproof jacket in case it rains, and to keep you warm in the chilly evenings and mornings.
- Sunscreen, especially if you plan on spending much time on the lake. Being so close to the equator, it’s easy to burn quickly-especially when the air is so deceptively cool.
The trek up can be a bit challenging if you’re carrying too much or trying to go too quickly. At the top, the temperature can be quite chilly, especially during the night, so bring a jacket or enough clothing to layer. Best to avoid times of extended rain, but, as it sits within a tropical rainforest, be prepared for it. Also best to avoid weekends and public holidays, or at least be willing to cross to the other side of the lake during those times, as local students can crowd the campsite and are prone to being disruptively loud.
Keep an eye out for the Orang Pendek – Sumatra’s version of Bigfoot. The most frequent sightings are reported around Mt. Tujuh.
Like all of our trips, you travel at your own risk. Keep in mind that you are visiting a wild and extremely remote area of rural Sumatra, far from quality medical care. It’s your responsibility to make sure you are covered with valid travel and medical insurance.
There are now daily flights to Kerinci from the city of Jambi! You can read more about them here.
The village of Pelompek, where there are two guest houses, is closest to the Mt. Tujuh trail-head, making it potentially the more ideal place to stay if you’re solely focused on Mt. Tujuh. The town of Kersik Tuo, which is about 40 minutes south of Pelompek, is also a good place to base yourself, as it has a few more accommodations, and is on the edge of the tea fields at the foot of Mt. Kerinci.
Many travelers come overland via the city of Padang in West Sumatra. Expect the drive to Pelompek to take around seven and a half hours, although it can vary by an hour or two depending on the road conditions and the driver, and if you are taking public or private transport. Padang has direct flights to/from the hubs of Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Medan, and Batam. If you are in Bukittinggi, it’s possible to drive directly to Kerinci, roughly a nine hour drive.
The city of Jambi is also a possible launching point, although since Mt. Tujuh is in the northern part of Kerinci, the drive from Jambi would take roughly ten or eleven hours. The road from Jambi is less winding than the road from Padang, so a bit more comfortable. As mentioned, Wings Air has daily flights to Kerinci. Susi Air also has thrice-weekly flights directly to the town of Sungai Penuh in central Kerinci, although the flights aren’t as reliable as the Wings Air flights, and are difficult to book.
You can read more about transport to/from Kerinci, and what travel looks like within the valley here.
When booking with us, we’ll be happy to assist you with all accommodation and transport arrangements.
We are proud that 5% of the total cost of this trip goes directly to WildCats Conservation Alliance in support of forest rangers and wild tiger conservation projects in the Kerinci Seblat National Park.
As always, we use only local guides and porters from nearby communities, who are paid a fair, ethical wage above the standard local price.