Baturaden: Central Java
Indonesia is a country renowned for its fabulous and sometimes all too volatile mountains and volcanoes. The mountain known as Slamet in Central Java has been among these renowned and volatile peaks relatively recently and as one travels toward the resort area of Baturaden one is a little in awe of its great width and height.
The mountain looms up ahead — broad, massive and phenomenally powerful looking. Clouds drift by the mid-section of the mountain and as one travels along the road from the nearby town of Purwokerto it is apparent that the road is constantly climbing upward toward the foothills of this great mountain range as Simon Marcus Gower explains further.
Slamet itself soars to a quite staggering height of some 3,432 meters but Baturaden lies only perhaps a third of the way up this great height. But even from this height, sweeping views of the surrounding countryside and towns and villages lying below can be gained.
Baturaden is, then, high up enough on the slopes of Slamet to look back down on lower lying parts but there is plenty to attract the eye within the park and resort area here. There are various hotels and villas that provide accommodation right outside the park area of Baturaden and they are there because the park attracts many visitors.
The park itself has a variety of attractions that may appeal to a range of interests. Entering the park through a dark stone gateway one is immediately struck by its cleanliness and well-kept appearance. Having passed through the gate, the seemingly ever climbing hills come into view.
Moving on into the park one of the first areas that is reached is a stretch of waterfalls and hefty rock formations over which the mountain water tumbles. At a huge outcrop of rock the water drops down a height of between 15 and 20 meters. It is here that local youths try to provide some entertainment and make some money at the same time.
They stand at the top of the waterfall and call out to visitors. In trying to attract attention they then straddle the waterfall and offer to jump down the waterfall for the visitors’ apparent entertainment and once safely in the clear water below, they will swim to collect their small jumping/diving fee from the visitors.
This seems a dangerous way to make a little money as the rocks look jagged and the water hardly seems deep enough for diving.
Not too far away are calmer and safer waters in which to swim. Swimming pools are dotted around the park area and just a short walk across a bridge down from the waterfalls is a small swimming pool.
This pool features the spiraling water booms that are so popular with children and so is typically busy with families crowding around. Perhaps an even more leisurely water pursuit is not too far away from here either.
But to reach Baturaden’s best spots takes some stamina and strength as it is an area of undulating landscapes. Thus, although places are but a stone’s throw away, it may be necessary to climb up slopes or up stairways cut into the hillsides in order to get to them.
But a short climb away from the swimming pool is a small and placid lake. Here two-seater pedal boats can be hired and taken out onto to the water. The waters here though are not entirely placid as they are quite heavily stocked with large fish that will aggressively snap at any snacks thrown their way.
The environment here is, however, very attractive — with slopes covered with fine grass tumbling down to the water and an array of palm trees and colorful plants and shrubs creating a highly exotic surrounding.
Further on up the slopes there is a small zoo, but it somehow seems odd to view nature behind bars when all around there are signs of nature that is free and so much more appealing.
The zoo, though, can be a place of fascination for smaller children.
The more adventurous visitors might set off for more challenging trekking and climbs nearer the great heights of this mountain range but great climbs and strains do not need to be the order of the day when visiting Baturaden. It is possible to keep cool and simply relax here.
The area is sufficiently large so that, even at busy times, quieter spots can be found. One particularly attractive corner of the park is an area of undulating slopes that are generously covered in fine blades of grass and have attractive shade trees.
From an area such as this it is possible to view thickly forested slopes that dramatically sweep down to valleys and troughs in the surrounding countryside. Also, in quieter parts of the park like this, it is possible to rent mats on which to rest and relax and even enjoy a picnic.
One aspect of an area like this that can be a little disturbing, however, is the apparently hollow nature of the ground beneath one’s feet. Should a child go running by it feels as though the weight of that child’s footfalls are more like the weight of a giant’s.
While much of the hillside area that is Baturaden is made up of rocky outcrops — one can imagine volcanic activity blasting into existence — there are also areas of earth that are soft and rather hollow and, so too, much more vulnerable and fragile.
In some ways then Baturaden is an area of contrasts. In parts it is made up of quiet scenic and attractive greenery, in others it is made up of rocky and jagged vistas that reflect the volcanic power of Slamet that looms large above.
There are peaceful parts of Baturaden that allow the visitor to enjoy cooler mountain air and look down on the sweeping views across the surrounding countryside. Yet still, there are the “play” and “entertainment” areas such as swimming pools and side shows where children may be noisily at play.
Whether then it is noisy fun that is being sought or quieter cooling and calmer times, Baturaden seems to be able to accommodate. But it is perhaps the cooling climbs more than anything else that set Baturaden apart. The fresh, clean and cool air offers relief and revitalization.