A Daytrip to Mount Pangrango, West Java

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.

Pangrango1 Pangrango2 Pangrango3 Pangrango4

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.

Pangrango5 Pangrango6

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.

Pangrango7 Pangrango8 Pangrango9

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
Menyelimuti Mandalawangi
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

Djakarta 19-7-1966
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.

Pangrango10 Pangrango11 Pangrango12 Pangrango13 Pangrango14 Pangrango15

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.

Pangrango16 Pangrango17 Pangrango18

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.

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Living in Jakarta…. and finding it exciting! Part 2 (Day trip to Gunung Salak)

Another exciting find in Jakarta is its surrounding area. Lately, I have been going to Sentul or Bogor in the weekend for some outdoor activities. End of August 2014, a friend asked me to join an activity organized by both Sentul Ultra Trail Running Academy and Trail Maniak to do a trail-run to Gunung Salak.

Gunung Salak (Mount Salak) is a volcano in Mount Halimun-Salak National Park, which is administratively located inside the regencies of Bogor and Sukabumi. Mount Salak has its special characteristic which is it has a few summits

A group of 10 runners started the trip in Bogor, which is around an-hour drive from Jakarta, at 6am. We waited a while for the angkot (small public pick-up chartered for our group) to pick us up. It took us only around 30-minutes from Bogor to the start of the trail, which is at altitude of 900m above sea level. Then at our own pace, we climbed the mountain to its first peak, Puncak Salak 4, at altitude of 2,020m above sea level, which took us around 1-1.5 hours depending on the pace. From there, we just followed the small undulating path along the peak to the next 3 peaks, which is Puncak Impressa, Puncak Salak 3, and finally Puncak Salak 1 at 2,211m above sea level. The path is quite clearly marked although we had to be extra careful as there are cliffs on both left and right side. The mountain is always surrounded by mist as well which to my opinion adds its surrounding beauty and mystery. But it is a mountain that is known to be a little scary and mystical. There is a small tomb of Ki Salak on the summit of Salak 1, which we think is actually empty but some locals frequent for praying. Hiking here is actually walking through a tropical rainforest. A fellow hiker claimed that he saw a macan kumbang (panther) up on the trees while we were hiking.

Any nature lover living in Jakarta should consider a trip to Gunung Salak as climbing here is really fun because: 1). you rarely meet any other hikers especially if you take the same route as us which starts at Sukamantri. 2). you barely feel the sun as you will hike into the forest and surrounded by mist, 3). it is fairly an easy day-trip from Jakarta that can be done within 4-5 hours time if you are fit.

The cons of hiking Gunung Salak are: 1). There is no fresh water supply along the route, 2). There is barely any views you can see from all the peaks as they are always surrounded by mist, 3). The route gets quite muddy and slippery while hiking/running down especially during the rainy season – wear proper trail shoes and prepare to get dirty.

Note on the route, which is generally called the Sukamantri Route or Kopasus Route:
Starting point: Cows farm at Sukamantri village (take a public bus towards Curug from Bogor and stop at Sukamantri intersection)
Total distance: Around 10-12km according to Endomondo
Elevation gain: Around 1,300m
Difficulties: Moderate as there are sections where you need to scramble (fun!!)
Total time: To reach the final peak – Salak 1, it will take around 2-3 hours depending on fitness. It will take around 2 hours to walk/run down through Cimelati route, which ends in Sukabumi. Cimelati route is an easier route since it is wider and very well-marked. You will also encounter more hikers on this route. It will take you around 2 hours by public transport to go back to Bogor.

Start of the trail from Sukamantri - fairly thick vegetation for around 500m

Start of the trail from Sukamantri – fairly thick vegetation for around 500m

Reaching the first peak - Puncak Salak 4

Reaching the first peak – Puncak Salak 4

Surrounding view of Puncak 4 - all misty

Surrounding view of Puncak 4 – all misty

Heading to Puncak Impressa and Puncak 3 - cliffs on both sides

Heading to Puncak Impressa and Puncak 3 – cliffs on both sides

At Puncak Salak 3 - not much different from the other peaks

At Puncak Salak 3 – not much different from the other peaks

Some scramblings

Some scramblings

Finding way

Finding way

Finally, Puncak 1 of Gunung Salak at 2,210m

Finally, Puncak 1 of Gunung Salak at 2,200m


Running down on Cimelati route

Running down on Cimelati route

Clean water for drinking and washing ourselves at the bottom of Cimelati route

Clean water for drinking and washing ourselves at the bottom of Cimelati route

End of the hike - waiting for our pick-up to arrive

End of the hike – waiting for our pick-up to arrive

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Living in Jakarta …. and finding it exciting! Part 1 (Pasar Santa)

It has been almost 2 years since I moved back to Jakarta. Surprising to myself, I am finding living here exciting. Especially recently.

The past few months, we, Indonesians, have been engaging ourselves (both in our daily and mostly in our virtual life) with the Presidential election. I even felt a post-election blues then, fortunately I went straight to my 3-weeks long vacation right after.

The result of the election is said to give positive developments for the creative industry and small businesses. But even before that, Jakarta has seen the sprout of creativities popping out in every corner of the city, not only in the “Pusat” (center) area but all over Jakarta. Later, I found that part of it is thanks to our beloved governor who has just been elected as the new president.

One of the proofs to the above is: Pasar Santa (on Jalan Cipaku, South Jakarta)
A traditional market strategically located between South and Central Jakarta, Pasar Santa is becoming the “it” place in town. Despite its lack of air-conditioning, a few creative hip shops and eateries are opening up in this space. Started with abcd_coffee or A Bunch of Caffeine Dealer, with their pop-up cafe and pay-according-to-your-generosity policy, Pasar Santa is crowded with curious visitors especially towards the end of the week.

ABCD Coffee is the current talk-of-town among coffee lovers. A coffee school, it also serves quality espresso with trial beans from different roasteries around the world during certain weekends. Their main business is providing coffee lessons to interested students in small groups. Friday is their Milk Day where during certain hours they will give-away 30-something cups of cappuccino to the market’s visitors. Why? Because this is the day when the students are learning to make cappuccino so they have an overflow of cappuccino made by these students. Their options are to throw it away or to make other people happy.

A lunch visit to the market found me with two servings of bakmi ayam (noodle with chicken) at the barely a week-old Mie Chino. Started by a young ex-chef, who gained his experience in Melbourne, mie chino sells a simple dish loved by local Jakartans. Their only menu currently is just that chicken noodle, however, you only need one good dish to have people come and frequent your shop.

Visiting the market the next evening gave a different flavor and ambiance. With a few more shops opened, we got more glimpses of what this place will hopefully become. Bear and Co., helmed by a team of husband-and-wife, sells hand-crafted drinks and cakes. Their signature drink is Nitro Cold Brew Coffee and Tea infused with CO2, served directly on tap. This is probably the first in Jakarta. They can also make different twists as cold cappucino and others. A really refreshing and fun place to hang around.

Another curious shop opened that time was Ketan Pasar, serving Indonesian sticky rice with your choice of condiments. We loved their tiny serving of this ketan with our choice of sweet (coconut, milk, and sesame seeds) and savoury (spicy soybean cakes) ones.

Siomay Tiban, which is a bit hidden from the happening-stair-area, was sold-out by our order. Like other shops, this place serves only one item, siomay or Bandung fish cake, and at a very reasonable price, IDR 3k per piece.

Chatting around the market, we learned that this is one of Mr Jokowi’s initiatives which is to provide a creative space and community in a traditional market. All of the spaces on the second floor have been fully leased out and the management was actually asking for a grand opening of the shops on August 30th last week. However, many of the spaces are still undergoing construction or even left empty for now. But if you are looking for something different in Jakarta and tired of going to malls, visiting Pasar Santa is a good alternative.





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The Sea – Pablo Neruda


I need the sea because it teaches me,
I don’t know if I learn music or awareness,
if it’s a single wave or its vast existence,
or only its harsh voice or its shining
suggestion of fishes and ships.
The fact is that until I fall asleep,
in some magnetic way I move in
the university of the waves.

It’s not simply the shells crunched
as if some shivering planet
were giving signs of its gradual death;
no, I reconstruct the day out of a fragment,
the stalactite from a sliver of salt,
and the great god out of a spoonful.

What it taught me before, I keep. It’s air
ceaseless wind, water and sand.

It seems a small thing for a young man,
to have come here to live with his own fire;
nevertheless, the pulse that rose
and fell in its abyss,
the cracking of the blue cold,
the gradual wearing away of the star,
the soft unfolding of the wave
squandering snow with its foam,
the quiet power out there, sure
as a stone shrine in the depths,
replaced my world in which were growing
stubborn sorrow, gathering oblivion,
and my life changed suddenly:
as I became part of its pure movement.

By Pablo Neruda


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