Treading "dangerously" on Sikidang Craters

The nearest that I have been to a volcanic crater was when I climbed the mouth of the Taal Volcano from Mataasnakahoy in Batangas. It was very far because it is prohibited to go down the crater of Taal volcano not only because of the high health risk brought by sulfur emissions, but also the physical risk that goes with the downhill trekking. But of course, there are tour operators on the other side that allow tourists to even go down and get exposed. In this case, you might want to consider being covered by insurance for trekking.

When we went to Sikidang Craters, I really thought it was very dangerous to set foot on the place. It is an active volcano, after all.  What if this volcano suddenly erupts while we were there? We would be definitely not only toasted but charred to our extinction.

Being located on Dieng Plateau, the whiff of cool air was welcoming, but the fetid odor of hydrogen sulfide emission was a bit disconcerting that made it difficult to breathe. Save for my scarf which helped block and lessens the stench like that of a rotten egg. Hydrogen sulfide can be very poisonous, corrosive, flammable, and explosive. Truth to tell, I had an asthma attack after that trip. I was just prepared enough to bring my inhalers that lessened the effect.

Nonetheless, we came out alive and still healthy and bringing home that short but the great adventure of treading on the unstable and dangerous grounds.

Sikidang is probably different from the other volcanic craters you think about. It looks like a deforested or a landslide area. It is covered with rocks and ash in varying shades of gray, green and yellow. The area is filled with potholes and vents that can give in anytime whenever you step on a loose soil, which would definitely injure you if you become careless. Some larger vents are filled with water, which mixes with the ash to form mud. The main attraction of the area is the large crater filled with boiling mud and constantly spewing steam.

Every visitor in this tourist attraction is being warned to be careful. Vents and holes are scattered everywhere--some with boiling water, steam or a combination. There is a magma chamber beneath Sikidang Crater. When this magma gets too hot, it creates high pressure hence small eruptions happen--and this can be anywhere in this large complex.

Like the volcanos in the Philippines, Sikidang craters has its share of folklore. Sikidang Craters got its name "Sikidang" from"kidang", a Bahasa Indonesia word for "deer"

Legend has it that King Kidang Garungan, a creature with a body of a deer and the head of a man, fell in love with Queen Shinta Dewi. A contest was held among many suitors to mary off the queen. When Queen Shinta Dewi learned about the freaky appearance of King Kidang Garungan, he did not approve of the king's intentions. Instead, she tricked the king into digging a very deep well to prove his love. When the king has dug deep enough, the queen ordered his men to bury the king alive. In his fury, the king used his supernatural powers that resulted to a strong explosion from the ground that formed the crater. The king was not yet able to escape, hence in his every attempt to escape, it created big and small craters. His efforts appeared to be like traces of a deer jumping from one place to another.  Hence the crater was called Sikidang.

Until now Sikidang crater is still active. A geothermal plant was built to exploit the natural gas it produces. The geothermal energy is being used to power Dieng Plateau.

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The Pinoy Explorer

Aside from my day job, I love photography and storytelling. Going places--be it a cliche destination or the far side of the road--stoke and free my soul. I dig deeper into the people’s psyche, culture and ethnicity, and heritage. I love to observe how they thrive and build social institutions, preserve their culture and traditions.

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