Pangrango is a cool retreat at the foot of the volcanic mountain bearing the same name, and has a long restaurant and swimming pool. You may enjoy ample mountain views overlooking tropical forests and hills; this is located on the Salabintana Road, at 7 km from Sukabumi.
Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park is a combination of several former protected areas: Cibodas Nature Reserve, Cimungkat Nature Reserve, Situgunung Recreational Park and Gunung Gede Pangrango Nature Reserve. The park comprises an area of only 15,000 ha which makes it one of the smallest national parks in Indonesia. It is named after the two mountainous volcanoes in the park: Gunung Gede (2,958 m) and Gunung Pangrango (3,019 m). Gunung Gede is still active, its last eruption having taken place in 1957.
Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park comprises a variety of landscapes. Although small, the site has beautiful waterfalls, lakes and rivers, rugged volcanic landscapes, quiet alms, mountain swamp and tropical mountain forest. At higher elevations there are vast alpine grassy areas.
Adjacent to the park lies through Kebun Raya Cibodas, an annex of Indonesia's famous Kebun Raya Bogor. Note that during the weekends the place is veritably overrun by local residents from Jakarta.
Permits and guides are available from the PHPA office at the main entrance. For the permit you need a copy of your passport. Guides are not really necessary because Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park has an extensive web of foot-paths. If you want to trek through the area or climb one of the mountains you need a special permit, available at the PHPA offices in Cibodas, Selabintana or Gunung Putri. The park is best visited during the dry season: May-October. From January till March the park is closed.
Most of the park's flora is comparable to that of the Gunung Halimun National Park. Only around the craters of Gunung Gede and Pangrango is the flora very different. Due to poisonous volcanic gasses only plants adapted to this kind of environment, such as Myrsine avensis, Rhododendron javanicum, R. retusum, Selliguea feeiand Vaccinium varingiaefolium will grow here.
As many as 200 species of orchids can be found.
Notwithstanding the small size of the park a variety of animals can be seen. The park is a bird-watcher's paradise as more than 250 species can be spotted.
Mount Gede is a favourite place for hiking and camping. Almost every weekend, adventurers often come to this place in order to conquest the summit of mount Gede, at a height of 2,958 above sea level. From the summit, we can see the summit of Mount Pangrango which looks like a triangle. Both are with the Mount Gede Pangrango National Park system.
Atop Mount Gede are some active craters (last exploded in 1957), and savannah meadows with eternal flowers (Edelweiss/anapahlis javanica) with an attractive view for climbers. We can also see the near cities such as Cipanas, Sukabumi, Bogor, and Cianjur from the summit of Mount Gede. Other places that can be visited are Mandalawangi summit (3,002 m), Sukaratu (2,836 m), and Gumuruh (2,928 m).
Located in West Java, Gunung Halimun, Sundanese for "The Mountains of the Mist", contains some of Indonesia's largest remaining lowland and mountain forest. The area has been a nature reserve since the 1930's; therefore in 1992 the Government changed its status to that of a National Park. The Park has abundant untouched wildlife and stunning scenery. Each year visitors come to Gunung Halimun to explore mountainous terrain, canyons, rivers and waterfalls, natural hot springs, tropical forests and tea plantations in the middle of the park. With an area of approximately 40, 000 hectares, this park is a nirvana for the endemic (native) wildlife of West Java. More than 200 species of endemic, rare and common birds including the endangered Javan Hawk Eagle, as well as several species of primates, including Javan Gibbon, Javan Leaf-monkey, and Black Leaf-monkey reside within the park.
Halimun is also known for the richness of its plant species. In addition to the known hardwood and non-hardwood trees, lianas and medicinal plants, scientists believe that there are many species of orchids and other plants yet to be identified. It can thus be considered one of Indonesia's most exceptional National Parks.
Visitors can choose from many kinds of activities in and around the Park, from bird watching, hiking, camping and trekking. For those who seek serenity, it is a superb place for quiet walks and seeing sunrise or sunset. Local communities extend their hospitality to those visitors who would like to stay overnight in the Park. They have built and manage guesthouses that combine comfort and tradition.
The FIRST CLIMBER
Who made the first recorded climbs to the peaks of Gede-Pangrango? The ubiquitous Raffles visited in 1811 and in his role as Lieutenant Governor of Java organised the construction of a trail on the southeastern slopes of Mt Gede: the remains of a large track can still be seen. Reinwardt, founder of the Bogor (Buitenzorg) Botanic Gardens, set foot on the Gede summit in April 1819. However he credits an American, geologist/physician Thomas Horsfield, has having already climbed to the mountain, but the date is uncetain. Horsfield collected natural history specimens and carried out research on Java between 1802-1819. The first recorded climb from Cibodas was made by Blume in 1824. He ascended via Cibeureum, the hot springs of Air Panas and Kandang Badak (Rhinoceros-field), the route used by most climbers today.
The "first climbing" of Mt Pangrango is very controversial. The honour is usually given to the German, Junghun, who reached the small crater meadow in April 1839. However, many years before, in August 1821, Kuhl and van Hasselt, two young biologist working for The Netherlands Commission for Natural Sciences, had written letters describing how they had followed rhinoceros tracks to the summit. Junghun seriously doubted that they had actually climbed all the way to the top. Controversy arose because they failed to mention the Imperial Primrose (see picture). At that time this spectacular primula grew only in the Pangrango crater. On Java the plant is recorded only from a few high mountains, and would have been of considerable interest.Teysmann, the then Director of the Gardens, supported the earlier claim. Unfortunately, Heinrich Kuhl and Johan van Hasselt could not be consulted, as both had died prematurely, in Buitenzorg - aged 24 and 26 respectively - of tropical diseases. The identify of the first people to stand on the peaks will never be known. They may have been Hindu worshipper belonging to the ancient Sunda kingdom of Pajajaran, or perhaps members of an even older society. Without a doubt, whoever they were they looked down from the summits a very long time ago: human remains found on Java date back over one and a half million years.
Surveying the grandeur and isolation of Gede and Pangrango, you will not be surprised to discover that these mountains are rich in history and legend. Such stories may well hold the key to our fascination with high places. At Cibeureum, there is a large rock in the Cikundul waterfall. By tradition this natural formation marks the spot where a holy man knelt and meditated so long and deep that he turned to stone. On the last day of the world, so the stories goes, he will revert to flesh and blood. In such stories natural and spiritual existence intertwine.
Birds excite particular interest not surprising when you consider more than half of Java's bird fauna, including all but a couple of the island's twenty or so "endemics", can be seen here. The park's most famous bird is the Javan Hawk Eagle. Less spectacular in appearance is the crater swift let, a bird which likes to live dangerously as it has only ever been recorded from three active Javan volcanoes. Even the humble chestnut-belled part-ridge, frequently seen running across the paths in family groups, is endemic to the western half of the island.
Alas, the Javan tiger and the rhino roam no more, but a surprising array of mammals can still be found. The most dramatic being the leopard. Leopards take an array of food including mousedeer, barking deer, wild pig and monkeys and will even have a go at Javan porcupines and pangolins. The other cat to occur is the leopard cat. It looks gentle enough but is actually more aggressive than its larger namesake. Keeping to the remote area of the peaks is the Asian wild dog. Listed by IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) also vulnerable it is perhaps the rarest of the park's larger predators.Out of the Gede Pangrango's four species of primate three are endemic to Indonesia. The rather scruffy ebony leaf monkey fortunately is still quite common. The Javan leaf monkey, by contrast, is a real aristocrat: gray on its back, with white underside and possessing a very slender looking body and limbs. As with the gibbon, this species is endemic to western half of Java. The park's most well known primate, the Javan Gibbon, has the dubious distinction of been the world's most endangered gibbon, of which around 100 live in the National Park.
Often the rich diversity of Gede Pangrango's smaller animals is overlooked. The park has a healthy population of small-clawed otters, considered by IUCN as "insufficiently know" but probably at risk. At least 19 species of frog have been recorded in the park ranging from a tiny brown species able to jump almost a meter, to several species of medium to large tree frog.
Eyang Suryakancana - Perhaps the most famous character in Sundanese mythology is Eyang Suryakancana. ("Eyang" means grandfather and is a title given to someone possessing spiritual power.) His father, known as Eyang Dalem Cikundul, was the first governor of Cianjur,
appointed in 1677. Eyang Dalem Cikundul was very handsome and married a beautiful woman, who born him two children: a boy, Suryakancana, and a girl, Dewi Sukaesih. People do not tell detailed stories about Eyang Suryakancana as much as believe in his perpetual presence. His spirit still dwells in the Alun-alun (square/meadow of) Suryakancana - just below the summit of Mt Gede.
In the forest bordering Alun-Alun Suryakancana is a site claimed to be ancient grave of prabu (King) Siliwangi – in legend many of the rulers of the West Javan Kingdom of Pajajaran are known by this name. The king of this particular story was at war:
fighting either the Hindu kingdom of Majapahit to the east, or the newly-established Muslim Sultanate at Banten. After suffering defeat the king is said to have fled with his followers to Mt Gede. Climbers often report dreaming of a "kraton" or palace in the meadow and occasionally the thunder of spirithorses is heard. Confusion seems to exist, however, about whether the kraton and horses belong to Eyang Suryakancana or Prabu Siliwangi
Sometimes fact merges into legend, as in the case of the famous leader, Mbah Jalun, a son of the King of Mataram. He led a long and oarduous campaign against the Dutch in the first half of the 19th century. After pursuing a rather nomadic lifestyles, he made his base in the Cianjur area. Stories tell of his trekking through the forest of Gede and Pangrango to avoid capture. On several tell of his trekking through caught and sentenced to death but escaped miraculously each time, seemingly by employing great mystic powers. Evantually he settled down on the southern slopes of mountains. Its is said that Mount Masigit, one of the smaller peaks in the park, derives its name from the belief that Mbah Jalun built a mosque there. According to local tradition the birth of a son prompted him to leave a permanent legacy for future generations, and so in 1817 he created a lake, Situ Gunung, on the southern slopes of the National Park – now a popular picnic spot. In old age Mbah Jalun was once more discovered by the authorities and again taken into captivity. Once more he escaped and made his way westwards, but a hard life had taken its toll and he died a few months later at the age of 71. He was buried at Kampung Baru, near Bogor, around 1840.
Caves and Stones
Several small, remote caves and named stones in the park are probably sites of ancient religious significance. Over the years these have become linked to the Suryakancana legend. Park staff receive special requests for permission to visit these sacred places. Pilgrims usually rest in Suryakancana Meadow, where they ceremonially wash in a small pool fed by a spring, close towhere the path from Gede summit descends into the meadow, before they commerce the journey to their chosen site.
Various reasons are given for such visits: occasionally people report that they have received a spiritual command or instruction, but usually visitors have a particular request that they wish to have fulfilled. Many requests are financial in nature, but some relate to very personal matters, suach the desire to marry or conceive a child. Several sites are considered to be good for kesehatan (health) and visitors frequently bathe in the freshwater springs for this reason.
Tropical forest are the world's most rich ecosystems, but on first entering a forest you may wonder where all the animals are. If you want to see forest animals, you must be prepared to spend time looking for them, particularly in the stillness of montane forest; a rich variety of diverse creatures is all around you. Bird-watchers, armed with both binoculars and determination, observe the behavior of manny different animals including monkeys, tree shrews and flying squirrels. Dawn and dusk often prove the best times to see active animals. Night-time "spotting" with a torch can yield birds such as nightjars and the rare Javan scops-owl, as well as nocturnal mammals including otters and stink badgers, not to forget a array of frogs; but for safety's sake, keep to the path when out at night.