Indonesia Volcano Trail

Indonesia is a magical destination. The mention of it conjures up visions of exotic beaches, palm trees, lush jungles, temples…..and volcanoes. Yes, volcanoes, their brooding, haphazard, almost surreal presence throughout the country are as much a part of Indonesian life and culture as Satay Ayam, skewered grilled chicken, with a peanut sauce.

The volcano culture in Indonesia is a byproduct of seismic activity. It is the worlds largest archipelago and is littered with around 130 active volcanoes. To put that into perspective, the United States and all its territories have around 65 that are considered active, or potentially active, while Canada has around 21. The explanation for the high numbers in Indonesia is that it sits on the western edge of the “Ring of Fire.”

The Ring of Fire is a horseshoe shaped string of volcanoes that begin at the southern tip of South America, stretches up the west coast of the Americas, curls westward across the Bering Strait, and descends through Japan and Indonesia before petering out in New Zealand. The high degree of seismic activity is a result of “plate tectonics.” The “plates” are large pieces of the earths crust that are constantly moving. Some plates move away from each other, divergent plates, which create trenches, others converge, which create mountain chains and volcanoes. The Ring of Fire follows the leading edges of many of these plates.

In a sense, Indonesia is a country of naturally occurring land-mines, add a population of 250,000,000, 58 percent of which live on the island of Java, and a coexistence with volcanoes is not considered an act of folly, but a necessity of sound land management. So they have adapted to their situation. Crops adorn lower slopes where fertile soil can return twice, sometimes three times a normal crop. Cattle graze where food is plentiful, and tourists come to indulge in their mighty presence. Companies now offer trips to many of the volcanoes, such as the “Krakatau to Bali” 16 day tour. The trip looks fascinating, though clients are advised the itinerary is subject to change depending on volcanic activity! (guardianlv.com)