Mount Mahawu (Gunung Mahwau) is a volcano approximately 15 kilometres south of Manado in North Sulawesi. Reaching the crater at its summit (1324 m / 4344 ft) hardly qualifies as hiking. The ascent is a 10 minute walk up concrete steps to a view point. However, things get a bit more interesting if you decide to do the easy hike around the crater rim (50 minutes).
The path around Mount Mahawu’s crater is easy to follow. Going clockwise, it is paved at first. Tall grass offers limited views of the crater for the first half of the walk. However, it is worth continuing because there are great views to the left (west) towards Mount Lokon and Mount Empung. About halfway around the crater is a second viewing platform offering better views of the lake at its centre.
The final half of the rim hike offers ever better views down into the crater, with fumaroles smoking through the rocks. At least one short detour from the main path seems to offer a route down into the crater. People have clearly been down there previously as names have been spelt out with loose rocks. However, the lake seems reasonably active and even on the rim the smell of sulphur was strong, so a descent didn’t seem pertinent.
Many tour companies offer Mount Mahawu trips, but there is absolutely no need for a guide. In fact, had I paid for a tour I would have surely been disappointed – there is very little to justify the $100 US per person fee. Instead I hired a vehicle and driver from Manado Safaris and combined Kali waterfalls, Mount Mahawu, Lake Tondano, and Lake Linow in a full-day trip. I highly recommend Manado Safaris – they were organised, very responsive to communication, and my driver/guide was excellent.