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Gede Pangrango National Park
Java Island’s twin mountains – Mount Gede soaring high at 2,958 meters and Mount Pangrango looming at 3,019 meters is the most visited national park in Indonesia because of its easy access and its spectacular panorama. Located in the province of West Java around these peaks are tea plantations, recreation parks, waterfalls, hot springs, lakes and accommodation facilities within the park as around its periphery. Today the Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park covers 15,196 hectares that include Cibodas, Cimungkat, the Gunung Gede-Pangrango Reserve , The Situgunung recreation area, and the forests on the slopes centered on two volcanoes.
Most notable about the Gede-Pangrango Park are its three very distinct ecosystems: a sub-montane ecosystem, a montane ecosystem characterized by large tall trees, and a sub-alpine ecosystem, characterized by grassy meadows where the Java edelweiss grows in abundance. It also has a savannah as well as marshland ecosystems.
Gede Pangrango has been an important site for biological and conservation research. In 1977, UNESCO declared it as part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. This first generation national park plays host to 251 bird species from the existing 450 species in Java. One of these birds is nearly extinct Javan hawk-eagle that has been immortalized in the country’s official coat of arms. If you are lucky enough you may even get a glimpse of the creature in its natural habitat, such as the presence of the Javan panther that can still be detected from its trail of footprints.
Gede Pangrango offers fresh, crisp, clean air. Its lust forest supports a range of plant species including the giant rasamala tree, tropical pitcher plants that lure and digest insects and an array of wild orchid.
Most hikers’ destination in Gede-Pangrango National Park is actually Gunung Gede because you can hike around the towering cliffs of its crater. Gede offer a much better viewpoint than the forested Pangrango peak with an extensive views of Pangrango, Salak, the Bandung area and on clear days you can see Gunung Karang in Banten Province, Jakarta, and the coastline of West Java. Many people camp on and around the summit of Gede, and at least there is no hike for sunrise, but there is also no source of water. From the summit to the south is the wonderful and atmospheric Surya Kencana meadow, located less than one hour beyond Gede summit, which is a great place for a second night’s camping if you have time.
Pangrango itself is a dormant volcano with a forested summit, however for fit hikers a trek to both peaks can be done in a weekend with only one night’s camping. The best place to camp on Pangrango is just below the highest point at a flat area called Alun-alun Mandalawangi, but there is no source of water. The main reason to camp here would be for the relative peace and quiet since most people prefer camping at Kadang Badak or on Gede.
The national park is accessible through four main entrance gates: Cibodas, Mount Putri, and Selabintana that leads to the mountain peak, and there is also Situgunung that brings you to a lake perfect for family recreation. From Jakarta, there are plenty of buses to Bandung via Puncak and Cibodas. The Cibodas Gate of Gunung Gede Pangrango Park is easily accessible by car. From Jakarta, you should take the Jagorawi Toll Road out of the city, and exit at the Gadog tollgate. Drive straight towards Puncak, about 4.7 miles, until you reach the intersection after the Outlet TSE store, where you can turn right. Go straight for about 1.8 miles more until you reach the Cibodas Gate. Travelling back into Jakarta on a Sunday is not recommended, as the traffic is horrendous. You could go back via Cianjur and Padalarang but it’s quite a detour.
The most common starting point is at the entrance to the magnificent Cibodas Botanical Gardens where the Gede-Pangrango Park office is located (for permits, guides, porters and basic maps).
From the National Park Office in Cibodas (1,250m), follow the track by the side of the botanical garden golf course to the gatepost where the park staff checks you have a permit and a guide or porter. After 30 minutes along the track at 1,500m is Telaga Biru (blue lake) which lies to the left of the path. Another 15 minutes and you will reach a large swamp area, which has a wooden and concrete walkway across it. After that is a wooden hut and signposts just before Cibeureum waterfall (which isn’t actually on the main path itself but makes a pleasant minor detour).
It is another 90 minutes from here to the fantastic hot stream waterfall (2,100m), which you cross with the use of the rope and poles to hold onto. The water is incredibly hot even though it has travelled quite a long way already out of the crater. Just beyond the hot water is a rather unattractive cement hut and another steaming stream. From the hot springs, it is about 15 minutes to reach the camping area of Kadang Batu, which is an option for camping only for those who are novice hikers. It has a source of water, but really you should hike on another 30 to 45 minutes to Kandang Badak camping site, which is a relatively flat forest area in the col between Pangrango (northwest) and Gede (Southeast). This is the most popular camping area, since it offers the option to climb both peaks and has a good source of water. Total hiking time so far is less 3 hours for fit hikers, but perhaps 4 or 5 hours for those who are less regular hikers.
The recommended option if you want to climb both peaks in one weekend is to pitch your tent here, and then proceed directly to climb Pangrango. You can leave you porter or guide to look after your tent, although there are not likely to be any security concerns. It is approximately a 3 hour round trip to climb Pangrango from Kadang Badak. Just a few minutes on the path above the Kadang Badak campsite, you will reach a T- junction with the trail between Gede and Pangrango and a signpost (right for Pangrango, left for Gede). Take a right and follow the steep forested trail up to the top of Pangrango. The trail is crossed by some large fallen trees and the path becomes rutted and it is easier to zig-zag up the trail with the lesser gradient rather than taking all the short cuts. From the signposts it takes about 2 hours to the top where there is a wooden structure and cement pillar at the top and some reasonable views through the tree branches to the Gede crater.
After spending the night at Kadang Badak, you should get up early and complete the much easier climb to the crater time and the summit of Gunung Gede (2,958m). From Kadang Badak, follow the obvious route onto the shoulder of Gede. You shouldn’t have problems if you stay to the trail because it is a very popular hike and there will be many other hikers around. As you start to climb higher in the forest, you reach a point where there are some metal posts with wire strung between them, as the trail gets markedly steeper up a rocky outcrop. It’s easy to climb this initial part, but above that the rock slop is very steep and some people may not be comfortable hauling themselves up this steep section. If you don’t want to do this, just as you reach the start of the metal bars and rope, there is a path in a deep gully that curves off to the left of the trail. Take this route since it is an easy and safe alternative route. At very least, look out for this route on your descent.
When to Go:
Visit Gunung Gede Pangrango from May to October, when the dry season is on and the paths are at their most passable. The paths are closed to visitors from January to March and throughout August – the park takes advantage of the bad weather to let the ecology recover from the year-round visitors. Unfortunately, the Park is closed for hiking in January, February, March, August, Idul Fitri and at any time when the management think there is going to be bad weather.
Each vehicle entering Cibodas will be charged an entrance fee of IDR 3,000 with an additional IDR 1,000 per head. Entry ticket is Rp 50,000 for foreigners and Rp 2,500 for Indonesians. You need a photocopy of your passport too. Guides are mandatory for foreigners according to National Park “policy” and cost Rp 350,000 (2 days and 1 night) in September 2010. Porters cost 400,000 (2 days and 1 night) in November 2011.
For traveller who wants to take guide and porter please know that you have to prepare all gear camp for porter, such as tent and stove. If you order and request they have rental for gear camp. You will experience cool and wet weather at the mountain’s higher altitudes, so rain jackets and waterproof trekking shoes are recommended. Although there are plenty water resources available around your campsite in Kandang Badak and Kandang Kuda, they are still considerable unhygienic due to high human waste around the water source, it is better to bring your own mineral water with you or find a higher water resource where less accessed by human.
Eco Travel Tips:
The park protects an important watershed for Java. However, small-holder and plantation agriculture, infrastructure development, small-scale gold mining, and unsustainable fuel wood and non-timber forest product harvesting threaten GHSNP’s resources. The tree adoption program organized by the Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park (TNGP) is proving very popular to recovering this national park area from deforestation; you can try to contact the national park office to join this program.
Useful contact and important number:
Taman Nasional Gunung Gede Halimun
Jl. Raya Cibodas PO Box 3, Sindanglaya Cipanas 43253, Cianjur West Java
Phone: (+62263) 621256
Fax: (+62263) 621257
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