Halimun Salak National Park

Established to preserve the largest remaining lowland forest on Java Island, this natio...


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Halimun Salak National Park

Located in West Java, Gunung Halimun - Salak, Sundanese for 'The Mountains of the Mist', contains some of Indonesia's largest remaining lowland and montane forest. Each year visitors come to Halimun Salak National Park to explore its mountainous terrain, canyons, rivers and waterfalls, natural hot springs, tropical forest and tea plantations in the middle of the park. Established to preserve the largest remaining lowland forest on the island of Java, this national park extends across two adjacent mountains, Salak and Halimun. The two mountainous areas are connected by a forest corridor that serves as a natural wildlife bridge and is excellent for exploring the abundant, local, untouched wildlife and the stunning scenery.

You should make it a point to visit Ratu Crater that lies at the slope of Mountain Salak amid dense natural forest. The crater area actually consists of three craters – the Queen crater (the largest) plus the Paeh Crater (death crater) and Hurip Crater (life crater). It’s an astounding landscape: a vast hillside of white rocks, steaming sulphur gases, bubbling water and mud pools and rivers of sulphur. To reach there you can follow the Cangkuang route or go through Pasir Reungit at Mount Bunder. Not far from the village of Citalahab, you will come across the Cikaniki research station that also functions as an ecotourism destination. Roughly 200 meters from the station there is a canopy bridge at 100 meters long, 0.6 meters wide and elevated 20 meters from the ground. From high above the canopy walkway, visitors can observe different bird species and luxuriant trees.

The 3.8 km footpath that connects Cikaniki and Citalahab is equipped with hectometre (HM) markers, direction signs and shelters. After HM 15, there will be two alternatives routes. The first route leads you directly to Citalahab where you can find lodgings run by local villagers, while the second route takes you round to the Nirmala tea plantation at Citalahab Bedeng almost 3.8 km away. A wide variety of flora and fauna endemic to the tropical forest can be found along these routes.

The plants that dominate the forests in the Mt. Halimun – Salak National Park, among others are, "Puspa" (Schima wallichii) "Rasamala" (Altingia excelsa) and "Jamuju" (Dacrycarpus imbricatus). About 75 species of orchids are found in this national park and some types are rare species. Mt. Halimun – Salak National Park has 204 species of birds and 35 species endemic to Java, including "Elang Jawa" (Spizaetus bartelsi) and two bird species that are endangered the “cica matahari” (Crocias albonotatus) and the “poksay kuda” (Garrulax rufifrons) and it is also a home of several species of mammals such as leopards (Panthera pardus weld), the "owa" (Hylobates moloch), muntjak deer (Muntiacus muntjak muntjak), the "Ajag" (Cuon alpinus javanicus) and "Surili" (Presbytis Comata Comata).

Inside and around Gunung Halimun - Salak National Park also live ethnic Sundanese who are integrated into the Union of the South Banten Customary Law Communities, or the 'Kesatuan Masyarakat Adat Kasepuhan Banten Kidul'. They live an agricultural slash and burn culture, a way of life which has been passed down in the form of their ancestral beliefs called 'tatali paranti karuhun' (the manners of the ancestors). This belief influences all aspects of the Kasepuhan community. The cyclical pattern of slash and burn agriculture is called semi-permanent because it is not defined by the crops’ seasons, but rather emphasizes the rule of 'wahyu' (divine inspiration) from their ancestors.

The national park board offers two lodging options: home stay lodging at Citalahab village is a nice way to get right into the heart of the local community, or you can stay at hotels in Sukabumi. There are also hotels available around Pelabuhan Ratu, which is located 60 km south of Sukabumi. You can also stay overnight in Bogor, located 36 km to the northeast of the national park area, it offers more lodging options including Desa Resort and Spa Cikakak, Bunga Ayu Bungalows and Restaurant, Javana Spa, Rancamaya Golf and Country Club, Kampoeng Wisata Cinangneng and Sahira Butik Hotel.

GETTING THERE

Take a flight to Jakarta and take the shuttle bus from the airport to Bogor, West Java. From Bogor, travel by road to Kabandungan through Parungkuda for 1.5 hours or take the Cisangku route that covers a distance of 50 km (1.5 hours’ drive). Alternatively, take a train or bus from Jakarta to Bogor. For Salak 1 mountain peak hiking, take a bus towards Pelabuhan Ratu (get off at Cimelati or Cicurug) then take an ojek or angkot to your chosen starting point. For Salak 2 hiking route, from Bogor take an ojek or angkot (number 03) to Ciapus near Curug Nangka.

You can also reach Salak 1 from this approach and – despite being a longer route than from Cimelati – it is increasing in popularity due to the fact there are markers on the trail so it is very hard to get lost. To get there, take a well-signposted right turn for ‘Javana Spa 12km’ off the Bogor-Sukabumi road just beyond Cicurug. The entrance gates and information centre are 2 kilometres before the end of the road at the Javana Spa and this is where you purchase a National Park ticket.

To reach Kasepuhan Banten Kidul you can take different route such as the route from Bogor or Sukabumi to Parungkuda and through Kabandungan which takes around 1.5 hours, or from Bogor to Cisangku which takes about 2.5 hours, and there is another route from Rangkasbitung-Bayah-Ciparay which takes around 6 hours.

TREKKING ROUTE

The best starting point for the highest of Salak’s seven summits is from the agriculture station near Cimelati (800m) – there is a signpost where you take the right turn near Cicurug. It takes just over 4 hours to reach the summit, which features a prominent blue sign, a gravestone and a shelter. It is a steep but straightforward hike through forest to Salak 1 (the highest peak), and the forest does thin out a little as you get close to the summit. You may be lucky to spot the elusive Javan Ferret Badger on the upper slopes. Despite being forested on top, you are rewarded with views to Salak’s other lesser summits, the Gede-Pangrango massif, and the city of Bogor below.  

The second highest, and more northerly peak, Salak II (2,180m) is best approached from Curug Nangka or the Highland Park resort, Ciapus, to the north of the mountain (at approx. 750m and just 40 minutes from the centre of Bogor). This is slightly more challenging than Salak 1 and access is a grey area. It would appear it could be done if you pay for a member of park staff to accompany you on the trek but the park staff are incredibly difficult to get in touch with.  

There are poisonous gases in this area and sadly people have lost their lives, particularly when camping. Therefore, although the trail to the crater makes an adventurous family day out you must be very, very, careful near the crater. The best route back is to return the same way to the Javana Spa starting point in 90 minutes or less. However there is another route to the crater from the north at Pasir Reungit and it would probably make a great traverse to start at one side and descend to the other.  

WHEN TO GO

The best visiting season is in June to August. The big “Seren Taun” ceremony is conducted in July at Kasepuhan Banten Kidul with traditional art performances, ranging from endangered art performances, such as invincibility demonstrations in “Debus”, big angklung music and other Sundanese arts. For hikers, Gunung Salak is part of Mount Halimun Salak National Park, which is closed entirely for hiking activities from December to March and August and the Islamic holiday of Idul Fitri.  

WHERE TO STAY

Taman Sari Hotel
Address: Jl. Surya Kencana No. 112, Sukabumi
Phone: (+62) 266 225008, 2
Mobile: (+62) 812 351 112 39
Website: http://www.tamansarihotel.com/

Hotel Delamar Palasari Indah
Address: Jl. Raya Cimacan Puncak Km. 85 Cimacan, Puncak 43253 West Java
Phone: (+62) 263 518 237 / (+62) 263 518 239
Email: sales@hoteldpi.com; info@java-banana.com
Website: http://hoteldpi.com

Augusta Hotel Sukabumi
Address: Jl. Cikukulu No. 22 Sukabumi, West Java
Phone: ( +62) 266 22745 622
Website: http://www.augusta-ind.com

Hotel Surya Indah
Address: Jl. Gadog II / 45 Cipanas, Cianjur, Jawa Barat, Indonesia
Phone: (+62) 263 512 871
Fax: (+62) 343 571333
Email: reservation@hotelsuryagroup.biz
Website: http://hotelsuryagroup.biz

Hotel Puri Iska
Address: Sukapura Village, Probolinggo, East Java
Phone: (+62) 335 581103 – 5 / (+62) 31 732 9945 - 6
Email: info@grandbromo.com
Website: http://hotelsuryagroup.biz

Hotel Bromo Permai
Address: Jl. Siliwangi No.99 Cicurug, Sukabumi, West Java, Indonesia
Phone: (+62) 266 731055
Email: hotelpuriiska@yahoo.com

Website: http://www.hotelpuriiska.com/

 

TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Hikers are supposed to register before their hike. Take extra caution at the crater; don’t stay too long or get too close to the source of heat because it may spew toxic gases. The crater area actually consists of three craters – the Queen crater (the largest) plus the Paeh Crater (death crater) and Hurip Crater (life crater). It’s an astounding landscape: a vast hillside of white rocks, steaming sulphur gases, bubbling water and mud pools and streams of sulphur. The water here is supposed to have cleansing properties but you should not drink it due to the high sulphur content. Indeed, after heavy rainfall the water is thick with sulphur.

ECO TRAVEL TIPS

Eat local, find and eat what the locals eat. Try your hands at harvesting rice or gardening or playing with the local kids. You’ll get to know the culture, and more than likely the food will be locally grown and sourced. And you get to support local communities and their needs — in this case, paying the vendor directly instead of paying up a chain of command.

USEFUL CONTACT AND IMPORTANT NUMBER

Halimun Salak National Park Office
Address: Parung Kuda PO Box 2, Kabandungan Sukabumi 43157, West Java
Phone: (+62) 266 621256
Fax: (+62) 341 490885
Email: tngh@telkom.net

TRAVEL PACKAGE AND GUIDE INFORMATION

Indonesia Trekking
Address: Jl. Tigaraksa Blok AF 26/29 Kaduagung, Tangerang 15720
Phone: (+62) 215 990 690, 5991904
Email: info@indonesia-trekking.com; tour@exoticjavatrails.com
Website: http://www.indonesia-trekking.com/

Exotic Java Trails
Address: Jl. Saturnus Utara XII No.1 Margahayu Raya, Bandung 40286
Phone: (+62) 226 944 2211
Mobile: (+62) 813 2111 2244
Email: danielgn@exoticjavatrails.com
Website: http://www.exoticjavatrails.com

Siliwangi Tour and Travel
Address: Jl. Narasoma 3 No.5 Perumahan Indraprasta 1, Bogor 16152
Phone: (+62) 8128662795
Email: ikaf_2000@yahoo.com

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