Earlier this year, a friend introduced me to trail running around Jakarta. That has opened my eyes to the plethora of opportunities in exploring the beautiful surrounding of our beloved town, Jakarta. In the midst of this new excitement, a small group of friends decided to do a daytrip to climb up Mount Pangrango.
Following a request from a reader, please see my side post on what equipments to bring for a trip like this.
Gunung Pangrango (Mount Pangrango) is the second highest mountain in West Java at 3,019 m above sea level. It is one of the two peaks that form the famous Gede-Pangrango National Park (Taman Nasional Gede Pangrango). A 50km drive from Jakarta, it is easily accessible with many transport options.
We chose the easiest and most accessible route to ascent, which is through the Cibodas Gate. The drive to Cibodas Gate was surprisingly short, leaving Jakarta’s SCBD area at 4:30am and reaching the parking area of Cibodas gate by 6am. Cibodas Gate is the main entrance for the National Park. It is filled with warungs (traditional food stalls) which also offer alternative to sleep in. The accomodation is very basic as you may expect, basically just some sleeping space for you to sleep with your sleeping bag. They also provide place where you can clean yourself with fresh cold water but no hot water facilities as far as I know of (note that I do not write shower as none of the places I saw has showers).
A few of the friends I went up with were spending the night there. Our group had 6 people in total, with two newbies (never hiked the mountain before) which included myself. Armed with a hearty breakfast of fried rice at the warung, we started our climb to Pangrango at 7am.
First thing I noticed in Cibodas Gate was the freshness and coolness of the air (temperature felt like 18 degree Celcius at that time). At 1,250m above sea level, Cibodas and its surrounding is blessed with cooler climate and healthy soils to grow vegetables and fruits. My favorite produce there is the sweet Ubi Cilembu (Cilembu sweet potato) which is baked along the street side toward the entrance oozing beautiful caramel flavor. Coincidentally, sweet potato is one of my favorite fuel to bring along on a trip like this.
At the Cibodas gate entrance, you will be checked for your hiking permit. This needs to be lodged a few days/weeks before the trip. The only thing you need to bring for the permit is a photocopy of your identification and the entrance fee, which is IDR 33k for domestic tourist and IDR 230k for foreign tourists.
Then off we go to start our hike! The sights and surroundings were surprising to me and to my foreigner friend. Who would have guessed, by driving less than 2 hours from Jakarta, we would be able to experience a rainforest walk like this. I thoroughly enjoyed the start of our walk passing through the canopies of tall Rasamala trees. Crossing the Gayonggong swamp, the trail changed from natural rocks and dirt to man-made concrete walk with wood logs shape. A little bit old-fashioned but I had no complaints. I had to keep on reminding myself to be careful here as there were many holes along this man-made walk, which showed the unkempt condition of the overall trail.
Then, the first notable stop from the Cibodas Gate was the T-junction toward the Cibeureum triple waterfalls and the two peaks. This is around 2.4km from the gate. There will be an additional detour of around 400m to get to Cibeureum waterfalls. I would recommend to save the visit to the waterfalls on the way back as you will see why later. The walk so far took us around an hour.
After this junction, we continued our walk toward Kandang Badak (around 2,350m above sea level). Both Mount Pangrango and Gede shared the same route from Cibodas Gate up to Kandang Badak, a large and not surprisingly the most popular camping area due to its location sandwiched in between the two peaks. The most fascinating spot that we passed before Kandang Badak was the hot spring waterfall. Personally, I have never seen such thing before in my life. And we had to walk pass it, wasn’t it exciting?! I could feel the steam and the hot water touching my socks while scrambling through the waterfall. We did try to stop for a nice photo but unfortunately the picture did not come very nice for us.
The leg from the T-junction toward Kandang Badak was one-step more challenging than the earlier path. Total time for us to reach Kandang Badak was 2.5 hours. But according to our more experienced friend, the best (or challenging) part was yet to come! Coming to the hike with a bit of hangover from last evening’s drinking, I did not feel prepared for what was more to come. But mystified by the beautiful surroundings so far, I braved myself to continue.
Turned out, my friends were right. The next leg of hiking was pretty challenging. But it was a thrill! I have not had that much fun for quite some time. As one of my trail running friend put it, it felt like one of those Takeshi Castle’s games.
The climb was quite steep and there were many fallen trees so it was not rare that I had to climb down or jump over the trunks. The inner child of any nature lover will be satisfied here.
We clocked in 4 hours total time to get to the peak of Mount Pangrango. Okay, the view was not spectacular as it is a rainforest covered peak. Nevertheless, I was pretty satisfied and happy to reach there. We could see the smoke puffing from the Mount Gede’s crater across.
After a long break at the peak and some obligatory peak photos, we did a quick visit to the romantic Mandalawangi edelweiss’ field. I have been intriqued to visit this spot since high school due to the poem below, composed by a well known student activist and mountain lover back in the 60s.
Mandalawangi – Pangrango
Senja ini, ketika matahari turun
Ke dalam jurang-jurangmu
Aku datang kembali
Ke dalam ribaanmu, dalam sepimu
Dan dalam dinginmu
Walaupun setiap orang berbicara tentang manfaat dan guna
Aku bicara padamu tentang cinta dan keindahan
Dan aku terima kau dalam keberadaanmu
Seperti kau terima daku
Aku cinta padamu, Pangrango yang dingin dan sepi
Sungaimu adalah nyanyian keabadian tentang tiada
Hutanmu adalah misteri segala
Cintamu dan cintaku adalah kebisuan semesta
Malam itu ketika dingin dan kebisuan
Kau datang kembali
Dan bicara padaku tentang kehampaan semua
“hidup adalah soal keberanian,
Menghadapi yang tanda tanya
Tanpa kita bisa mengerti, tanpa kita bisa menawar
Terimalah, dan hadapilah”
Dan antara ransel-ransel kosong
Dan api unggun yang membara
Aku terima itu semua
Melampaui batas-batas hutanmu
Aku cinta padamu Pangrango
Karena aku cinta pada keberanian hidup
Soe Hok Gie
Isn’t it inspiring (okay, I will need to translate this poem later)? Side note: Soe Hok Gie was a real inspiring figure for many Indonesian youths. He died while hiking Mount Merapi in 1969 at the age of 26.
The climb back down up to Kandang Badak was again a fun and exciting walk. However, the next few kms all the way to the gate felt soooooo long as the trail was all rocks. That is why, I think it was the most excellent idea when my friend insisted that we made a quick stop at the Cibeureum triple waterfalls.
The feeling of dipping our sore feets to the ice-cold water around the waterfalls were sheer bliss. Instantly, I was converted to a strong-believer to the effectiveness of cold water immersion for the muscles after a strenuous workout.
Total hiking time with the detour was around 7 hours. The drive-back to Jakarta was unfortunately a pain, which took us around 4 hours.