One of the great things about Indonesia is the diversity of the landscape. Sitting up in the mountains about 150 kilometres northwest of Yogyakarta, the Dieng Plateau is absolutely stunning: rolling hills terraced with vegetable gardens as far as the eye can see, boiling pits of mud and coloured lakes.
The spectacular lofty volcanic plateau of Dieng (Abode of the Gods) is home to some of the oldest Hindu architecture in Java. More than 400 temples, most dating from the 8th and 9th centuries, originally covered this 2000m-high plain, but they were abandoned and forgotten and only rediscovered in 1856 by the archaeologist Van Kinsbergen.
These squat, simple temples, while of great archaeological importance, can be slightly underwhelming for non-experts. Rather, Dieng’s beautiful landscape is the main reason to make the long journey to this isolated region. Any number of walks across the volcanically active plateau, the marshy caldera of a collapsed volcano, are possible – to mineral lakes, steaming craters or even the highest village in Java, Sembungan.
The temples and the main natural sights can be seen in one day on foot. Get a very early start if you can, before the afternoon mists roll in. It’s a pleasant three- or four-hour loop south from Dieng village to Telaga Warna (Coloured Lake), Candi Bima (Bima Temple), Kawah Sikidang (Sikidang Crater) and then back to Candi Gatutkaca, the Arjuna Complex and the village.
From Candi Bima, you can continue down the road on foot for a kilometre or so to Telaga Warna (Coloured Lake), the best example of Dieng’s coloured lakes, where sulphurous deposits shade the water blue, from turquoise to azure. Adjacent to the lake is crystal-clear Telaga Pengilon, which makes for beautiful photos in nice weather.
Temperatures in Dieng can be icy — literally. Frosts can occur year round, but are particularly frequent during June, July and August when overnight temperatures often drop below zero. During the day when walking around, it’s not necessary to be rugged up, but a light jacket and jeans are a good idea. At night, most homestays and guesthouses are positively freezing as there is usually no in-room heating.
Located in the Kejajar District in Wonosobo, Central Java, this beautiful lake with its surrounding natural forest is one of the prime tourist destinations in the Wonosobo regency. The route up to Dieng is stunning, switchbacking through vertiginous hillsides of terraced vegetable fields.To reach this lake from Wonosobo, it is an approximately 25 miles’ drive.
Getting to Dieng from Yogyakarta requires heading by bus to Magelang, then Wonosobo, then Dieng.