This post was last updated on May 23rd, 2020 at 10:40 am
The Kerinci Valley is gorgeous, perhaps the most beautiful thing Sumatra has to offer. However, there are few tourists in this area. The people who go there discover beautiful panoramas of mountains, tea plantations (the second-highest and largest in the world), waterfalls, lakes, and jungles of the Kerinci Sablat national park.
The valley and the surrounding National Park are named after the highest volcano in Western Indonesia, Mount (Gunung) Kerinci. This volcano, with its 3800 meters summit in relation to sea level, has a perfect shape and rises above the tea plantations in a truly spectacular fashion.
Kerinci Seblat National Park
One of the most important national parks in the world is located on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The Kerinci Seblat National Park is home to various animal species that are threatened with extinction. New animal species are regularly discovered in this national park. A visit to Kerinci Seblat National Park is, therefore, an absolute must.
Kerinci Seblat National Park is essential to the island of Sumatra. The park was co-founded to preserve the tropical rainforest of the region. In addition, Kerinci Seblat National Park, at almost 14,000 square kilometers, is the largest national park in all of Indonesia. The rainforest is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
You can take a great walk through the area, led by a local guide. You can even choose to make a multi-day trip. You will spend the night in the middle of the jungle; this is definitely an experience you will never forget.
The national park has a huge variety of animals. Birds are particularly well represented in the park. There are 370 species of birds, of which almost 20 species live alone in this park, and nowhere else in the world. In addition, there are no fewer than 4000 different types of flowers, plants, and trees. The largest flower in the world also grows here; the Rafflesia arnoldii.
One of the reasons Kerinci Seblat National Park is so important is that there are several animal species that are nearly extinct. For example, the last 150 Sumatran tigers live in this park. In addition to the Sumatran tiger, many other tiger species also live in the park.
The tigers are so well protected in this area that more tigers live in this park than in China, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia combined. Other very rare animal species that live in Kerinci Seblat National Park are the Sumatran rhinoceros, the Sumatran elephant, and the clouded leopard.
In Kerinci Seblat National Park you will find lowland rainforests, mountain forests, and higher alpine vegetation. East of Mount (Gunung) Kerinci lies Lake Bento, the highest freshwater swamp in Sumatra. The relatively flat Kerinci valley divides the park in two. It is also the main access to Kerinci Seblat National Park.
The valley is located at an altitude of eight hundred meters and is inhabited by 300,000 people. Unfortunately, the constant growth of this local population is also one of the biggest problems in the park. Agricultural activities, commercial and state projects come at the expense of the park’s territory.
Climbing Mount Kerinci
A handful of travelers make the effort to climb this volcano. Please note that this is a serious undertaking (much heavier than, for example, Mount Sibayak volcano in Berastagi or Mount Merapi in Java). The climb and descent take about two days.
Most travelers who come to Kerinci want to see the Seven Mountain Lake (Danau Gunung Tujuh). This lake is the highest situated lake in South East Asia. The ascent and descent normally take between 4 and 6 hours. This depends on the travelers’ physique and the amount of time you want to spend near the mountain lake.
What to Bring to Mount Kerinci
- The tracks are muddy: waterproof shoes and socks are a must.
- When you’re near the top you’ll have to use your hands so we recommend bringing gloves.
- It’s very normal to rain here so you should bring a raincoat and enough clothes.
- On the mountain, it’s cold and windy. Bring warm and dry clothes.
- You won’t find any toilets along the way. It’s a good idea to bring some tissues.
- The climb can be tough so you need enough water. About 6 to 7 liters should be sufficient. If you need more water during the trip the guide will be able to help you out.
Activities in the Area of Mount Kerinci
- Climb volcanoes such as the Gunung Kerinci (highest volcano in Western Indonesia) or Gunung Kunyit (a.k.a. yellow mountain due to the many sulfur deposits).
- Perhaps the highlight of a visit to the Kerinci valley is the Danau Kaco (mirror lake), the wonderful blue lake hidden in between the jungle, rivers, and large bamboo forests.
- Hiking to natural attractions such as mountain lakes, waterfalls, and hot springs. The Telun Berasap waterfall (Smokey waterfall) is accessible and impressive to see.
- Take a trip to the top of Bukit Kayangan, a hill that has a beautiful view of Sungai Penuh and Lake Kerinci.
- Visit tea plantations (second highest in the world), chat with the tea pickers, and watch the tea making process in the tea factory.
- Visit Kerinci Seblat National Park, try to spot gold-colored macaques, tapirs, or perhaps discover the footprint of a tiger.
- Take a boat trip to Ladeh Panjang, a wetland area with special birds.
- Discover the cap and city life of Kerinci, the villages of Kersik Tuo and Lempur are fun to explore on foot and the market in Sungai Penuh is also worthwhile.
- Climb to the Seven Mountain Lake and, if possible, take a boat trip with a fishing boat.
- Take a look at the Jeruk orchards (citrus fruit that resembles a mandarin and orange), potato fields, and coffee plantations.
Trek to Danau Kaco (Mirror Lake)
Perhaps the highlight of a trip in Kerinci is a trek to Danau Kaco mirror lake, a fascinatingly beautiful blue lake located in the jungle. It is a real challenge to get there. You’ll have to pass over very muddy and wet trails, through impressive bamboo forests and fairytale mossy trees, walk over rickety bamboo bridges, and through rivers. Finally, you will arrive at the Danau Kaco after about 4 hours. This lake is so blue and unique that it will surprise you.
How Long You Should Stay
Our advice is to take a minimum of 3 or 4 days to experience and discover Kerinci well.
Since it is a remote area (about 7 to 8 hours from Padang city) it is a shame to stay there for only one day. Use one day to see the most beautiful tea plantations in Indonesia and to hike and climb to Seven Mountain Lake. Another day for a waterfall tour (There are many waterfalls to be seen in the entire valley) in combination with a trip over and around the still authentic Kerinci lake.
Another day to go to the marshes for birdwatching or to the Kerinci Seblat National Park to view animal and plant life. Finish your trip with the “little” natural wonder of Danau Kaco, the blue lake.
Accommodations Near Mount Kerinci
Because relatively few travelers visit Mount Kerinci and surroundings, the choice of accommodations is limited. In Kersik Tuo there are about six Homestays of comparable quality. From the homestays, you look over the tea plantations to Mount Kerinci. Unfortunately, all these homestays are also located on public roads and at night you may be startled by passing traffic.
Pak Subandi’s homestay is probably the best known. This man is a household name in the region. He specializes in birds. Bird watchers all over the world come to Kerinci and use its services. In his house are some simple rooms where you can spend the night. The dining and relaxing area is very cozy and you may have to share it with other guests.
Sungai Penuh has a somewhat more varied choice of hotels and guesthouses. These are more luxurious than the homestays in Kersik Tua. The fairly new Kerinci hotel in the middle of the city could be a good choice. For more peace and a pool at hand, the Mahkota hotel is an excellent choice. The hotel offers rooms of different price ranges and hot water. Air conditioning is not necessary because the temperature in Kerinci is very pleasant and in the evenings it can even get very cold.
Padang is also an excellent choice and since it’s a much bigger city there are more accommodations available. Most of the tours and climbs of Mount Kerinci are started from Padang. Take a look at all accommodations here.