Gunung Gede – Pangrango National Park: West Java
The National Park adjoins and includes the Cibodas – Gunung Gede Reserve, the oldest reserve in Indonesia, declared in 1889.
The Cibodas Mountain in the Botanical Garden is a subsidiary of the famous Bogor Botanical Gardens and the area has been a focus of research and enjoyment since botanists, local and foreign, first became reserve conscience in Indonesia.
While the Cibodas Gardens contain many exotic species of interest to local visitors, the natural forest formations (sub-montane, montane and moss or cloud forest) of the two side-by-side mountains of Gede and Pangrango are regarded as the finest extant examples left in Java. At the highest altitudes, the flora shows some similarities and shared genera with the mountain plants of Europe and Asia.
Both the mountains are volanoes. Gunung Pangrango, the higher, is extinct and its vegetation is more diverse; gasses are still escaping from fissures in the big Gede crater, and interesting pioneer plants are able to withstand the sulphur fumes. They are the only ones able to grow there. The big open ‘meadow’ land just below the craters edge is famous for its everlasting plant – the Javan Edeweiss.
At lower altitudes the forests are dominated by Oaks, Chestnuts and Laurels, the latter is so common on the lower slopes that their white flowers litter the paths and the forest canopy.
Looking down or across it at various viewpoints, it seems flushed red with its new growth of leaves. Pitcher plants and Begonias are common by the streams and Impatiens grows everywhere, pink flowered below 1,400m and paler above. Epiphytes grow luxuriantly everywhere in the lower altitudes until mosses take over in the misty, ever-wet moss forest – cloud forest on Pangrango.
The wildlife is of an amazing variety. Leopard, Muncak and pigs are there but rarely seen. Gibbons, Leaf Monkeys and Macaques are frequent and heard, The Java Gibbon and the Leaf monkey are both endangered species and confined to deep in the forest.
There are perhaps 200 bird species in the park, most of them difficult to see except those that frequent the open mountain or crater tops – such as the Peregrine Falcon (rare elsewhere in Java), and the Mountain Thrush which feeds on the blue berry-like fruits of the Rubus bushes growing on the outer crater slopes.
The turn to the west leading to the park entrance is at Pacet on the Bogor-Bandung road about 30 klms from Bogor and 90 klms from Jakarta. This turn-off is not well sign-posted so be alert for a sharp turn to the northwest in the Pacet village.
From the Cibodas Gardens near the park entrance to Kandang Badak, there is a shelter on about 2,400m saddled between Gede and Pangrango. Getting there takes about 4 hours. Cibeureum Falls on the way is a small side trip after about an hour into the walk. From Kandang Batak or ‘Rhino Stable’, to the Alun-alun on Gede and onto the crater edge takes about 1.5hrs. From Kandang Batak to the summit of Gunung Pangrango it is a stiff 2 hour trek.
There are hot springs about 2.5hrs from the initial entrance.
An alternative route to Gede and hence, via Kandang Batak to Pangrango, is to drive to Selabintana on the south side of the park from Bogor or Bandung via Sukabumi. The hike from Selabintana to the Alun-alun on Gede takes about 5-6hrs, the first hour through tea plantations, the rest of the hike a fairly steep climb through nice forests with excellent views of the surrounding countryside.