Jan 06

Gunung Putri - Princess Mountain - by nightfall as seen from Puncak PassJakarta – the capital of Indonesia – is a huge bustling Moloch of 23 million people, almost as many cars, motorbikes, exotic smells, street dogs and clouds of pollution. Currently you can add flooded streets and houses, which increase the usual chaos even more. Still it’s an amazing city, a mix of many cultures and a cosmopolitan place to live and work.

Locals and Expats who live here are longing for a weekend getaway, just to see something else than hectic traffic and jammed intersections. They want to experience nature, lush green hills, unspoiled beaches and most of all – uncrowded space:

While until a few years ago, the magnificent islands just north-west of Jakarta – called Pulau Seribu (or Thousand Islands) – made for a good short trip for a few days, the unspoiled nature of the islands has deteriorated somewhat over the last couple of years.

The waters are full of plastic bags, trash is flying around everywhere and even the marine life inhabiting the islands is showing the toll of increasing environmental pollution and garbage.

How good that there is still one or the other natural oasis closeby. One of those places are the cool and misty Puncak Highlands, a mountainous area just south-west of Jakarta.

How to get there?

Just driving 2-3 hours south the main highway in direction to Bogor, you will reach an incredible region, which is known as the ‘Gede Pangrango National Park’ – an UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve – and loved by Expats and Locals alike.

The most well-known city here is Puncak (the Peak), a sleepy town in the Puncak Highlands, which comes alive big time during the weekends. It’s a good place to get started or making it your base while exploring the surrounding countryside and the National Park.Tea Plantations near Puncak Peak

You are here about 1.500 meters above sea level, which results in a cool, breezy mountain climate, similar to European spring or autumn weather. Most surrounding hills are packed with Tea Plantations, which offer superb views.

Fresh breeze, cool mountain air

While driving the long and narrow-winding road higher to the top, just open your windows and feel the fresh breeze and serenity!

Reaching the top over the Puncak Pass you are offered incredible views to the plains below with the huge mountain Gunung Putri (Princess Mountain) far away on the horizon. When darkness falls you can see fantastic colors created by the setting sun and clouds, which leaves you in an almost magical scenario.

Fruit Sellers in Puncak, West JavaStreet vendors are selling everything from warm clothes to food; like barbecued corn sticks, delicious fresh strawberries, packaged black tea to sate sticks, fried tofu balls, fresh fruits, vegetables and other local delicacies.

Activities aplenty

The whole surrounding area offers amazing natural sights like 60 meter high waterfalls, hot thermal springs and caters to fans of many activities like animal and bird watching tours (250 of the 450 bird species in Java reside here), camping and Night Safaris in the nearby Zoo (you can even have a drive-through tour, with Tigers breathing through your half-open Car Windows) and a Flower Garden.

Other possible activities include Tea Walks, Paragliding, Horseriding, Cave Exploring, Trekking, Motocross and Mountain Biking.

The modern-design Mosque just below the Puncak PassThere is no difficulty in finding accommodation ranging from Rp. 50.000 (about USD 7) per night up to USD 200 and food stalls and restaurants are springing up all over the place.

You have typical Sundanese Makan Places, Sumatran Padang Food or typical Javanese Cuisine, usually very affordable and tasty.

The area features as well the Presidential Palace which is regularly frequented by the President and other high-ranking officials, which are in love with the region as well.

Further in the National Park, you have the summit around the 3.000 meters high Twin Peaks, from where it’s said that you can see both the North and South Coast of Java and even the southern tip of Sumatra on a crystal clear day. It’s a tranquil and quiet forest area with waterfalls, fast-flowing rivers, small lakes and plenty of wildlife.

Botanists can count here more than 200 kinds of Orchids, or about a third of those found in Java. It is said that you can still find many close-to-extinction species, like the Javan Gibbon, Panthers, Leopards, the South-East Asian Porcupine, the Java Hawk Eagle and Asian Wild Dogs.

Some more information about the Gede Pangrango National Park can be found here.

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written by Chris

10 Responses to “Want to escape sticky-hot Jakarta? Try Puncak Highlands!”

  1. Az AzuraNo Gravatar MALAYSIA Says:

    I had seen Puncak being shown in Indonesian soaps and movies shown here in Malaysia and I think it is a beautiful place.Would like to go there one day.

  2. panjiNo Gravatar GERMANY Says:

    Hi Chris, love your blog.

    Seems you haven’t heard that a couple years ago an Indonesian travel association “embargoed” Puncak as a tourist destination to promote, since the Bogor and Cianjur regencies (they administered Puncak region, the border is in Puncak Pass monument) apparently lacked of planning for Puncak environment. Rubbish and illegal kiosks everywhere, villas that were built everywhere (you can see the results in Jakarta’s newspapers during rainy seasons anyway).

    Sieht so aus, dass die Lage ein bisschen verbessert.

  3. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Az Azura and Panji, thanks for the additions!

    I didn’t know about the boycott though, but yes, there are plenty of kiosks and businesses. Rubbish too, I tend to overlook that sometimes, as environmental responsibility seems to be less developed here. But when you go a bit off the beaten track it’s easy to avoid it as well – vendors, garbage and all. ;-)

  4. anno'No Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    if u want to get very-very adventure..please come to Bukittingi, West Sumatera…. :-?

  5. BerryNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Hi mate,you have a good article,a lot of interesting places in Indonesia to escape from the crowded.Some places close to Jakarta,like Puncak and it’s surrounding, Bandung,Subang with Ciater hot spring water,tea plantatation,pine apple plantation,close by Mount Tangkuban Perahu.Sukabumi with rafting,surfing at Pelabuhan ratu.
    Bukitinggi,Maninjau lake,Padang Panjang,Singkarak lake,Solok,Twin lake.Bangka Belitung,Sulawesi etc.Some of them in http://youtube.com/longberryku.

  6. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    So far I’ve only been to Danau Toba in Sumatra, Anno. But it wasn’t so impressive to me as advertised. Maybe because I’m European and used to mountains or the constant cheating of hotel, transport and other people. The Driver from Medan to Parapat even stopped in the middle of nowhere and tried to re-negotiate the before-hand agreed, already steep price (basically asking triple the price now). The alternative of paying him again was to get out and waiting 2 hours for a bus coming along. Not so pleasant. The hotels around the lake all wanted to charge double or triple of the openly visible rate, even though they were mostly under occupied. I can understand their economical desperation, but still can’t help the whole region in just one trip.

    Berry – thanks for the additions! Most of them I never heard of, I know Pelabuhanratu (south-west Java) and enjoyed the hot springs there (which are really hot by the way). I came out a fresh cooked lobster. :D

    And for sure – Sulawesi is a beautiful place on earth, the islands around Manado are a true feast for divers and lazy beach bums. I definitely have to check out your other recommendations!

  7. ryan ZoupNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    you should try krakatau volcano southtern lampung is attractive you will like it,and for me sure i love sulawesi,EXACTLY from indonesian central,east, is nicer,i been many places papua,maluku,flores,rinca islands,ambon and much more,i can imagine i fall in love with all islands of indonesia is so beautiful balance life,friendly and welcome then helping hand for eacht other,i try abroad like austalia,thailand,vietnam,laos,greek,france,america,ataly,india,malaysia,singapore,myanmar is so different in my country indonesia is nice communicate and friendly,i will not stay away of my indonesia what ever i abroad i will be back of my sweet indonesia.indonesia the best way i can stay

  8. Paris Metro PassNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    thx for ur suggest…..it is worth for me. I’ll try this trip as you suggest.
    I am a new comer in Jakarta.

  9. vinod manwaniNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Yes, I remember PUNCAK, when we were conceptualising Green Apple Villa gardenia resort. Awesome beauty and environment is full of fresh smell of exotic plants and trees. One should avoid travelling after 5 on week ends as traffic is so chaotic that soon one get irritated.

  10. yatichedetNo Gravatar MALAYSIA Says:

    any suggestion or advise … me and my family will go for jakarta bandung and puncak this end january …. what to do or not…please be advice…
    i should or shouldn’t buy fruits at puncak…how much it wll cost me? worth or not..tq for kind attention

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