Located on Ternate Island, with a height of 1715m, Gamalama is not quite as tall as its dormant neighbour Tidore (1750m) but it’s an an imposing sight nonetheless. One of a chain of volcanoes to the west of Halmahera Island, Gamalama last erupted in 2015. With so many people living in the shadow of Gamalama, the volcano is monitored very carefully and when it’s deemed safe, between bouts of activity, trekking to the summit crater is permitted. If the mountain is declared unsafe, don’t ignore the warnings and climb anyway. It is wise to respect the opinion of the locals.
Gamalama can be approached from two directions. The route commencing from Moya village (341m), a 20min ojek ride from Ternate City, is slightly longer but it’s easier as its not as steep and is more defined as villagers us it to access their plantations. The alternative route commences from Marikurubu village (400m). Guides are recommended and can be arranged at Moya and Marikurubu or ask at your hotel.
From Moya, it takes around 3 hours to reach the ‘Terminal’ camp ground at 1,350m and it’s here that both trails converge for the final 400m to the summit. From here the trail become more challenging, taking another hour to traverse a series of steep ravines to reach the edge of the cane grass (1,580m) where you get your first good look at Gamalama’s volcanic cone. Beyond this point the mountain is considered sacred, a common characteristic on many of Indonesia’s mountains.
Depending on the level of activity it is possible to continue climbing up the side of the cone to the crater rim but take care as this section is riddled with sharp, lose rocks and it may be hot underfoot as shot sulphur gas billow from the crater constantly. Not only is the summit zone eerily fascinating, on a clear day the views across to Kiematubu and other small islands are amazing.
Trekkers will need to allow a full day to complete the climb and be reasonably fit. It is best to start as early as possible (take a torch) as clouds may roll in later in the day and spoil the views. No permits are required but climbers are requested to sign in at the village starting point. Water is available on the trail but it is safer to be self sufficient. Allow around 7-8 hours for the return trek.