Taman Hutan Raya Ir. H. Djuanda (Great Forest Park) is a conservation area, botanical garden, and recreational area that begins in the Dago area of Bandung and stretches nearly 30 km north, past Tangkuban Prahu to the village of Ciater.
In addition to the waterfalls, the mostly pine and bamboo forest has abundant wildlife – weasels, squirrels, monkeys, and many species of birds.
A lot of the trail is lined with warungs (outdoor cafes), and there are ojeks (motorbike taxis) to carry people who don’t want to walk, so on weekends you’ll find it quite unpleasantly crowded if you’re after a peaceful, forest hike. However, I returned during the week and was the only one there – the warungs were closed, and there wasn’t an ojek in sight.
Both the Dutch and the Japanese built an extensive cave network around Bandung. They’re open for trekkers to explore – vendors hang out outside the caves to rent flashlights for Rp.3000.
The trekking trail extends the entire distance. It’s one of West Java’s most accessible treks. One popular option is to go to Maribaya by car and trek back into Dago (6 km). This direction is downhill most of the way.
Another, longer option is to go to Ciater by car and trek the entire distance back to Dago. From Ciater – the first 7 km will be uphill to Tangkuban Prahu Crater, then all downhill to Dago. Of course, walking in the reverse from Dago is possible too, but it will be all uphill.
Whichever way you decide to do it, you’re sure to enjoy it, as I did.
To the south of Bandung, the West Javan countryside is rich with scenic beauty that is well worth the time to go and see.
Kawah Putih is a volcanic crater that has a beautifully colored lake. Usually Turquoise, the lake has a serene atmosphere with the sun reflecting off the gemstone colored surface as the steam drifts idly by.
Leaving Kawah Putih, and heading further south, you’ll pass through Rancabali’s rambling hills covered with lush tea plantations.
Just a little further south, you’ll find Situ Patengan – a pretty mountain lake and the heart of a popular Sundanese legend.
Situ means “lake” in Sundanese, and Patengan means “searching for each other.” So, it’s “the lake of searching for each other.”
There was a prince named Ki Santang who fell in love with a beautiful village girl who was the reincarnation of the Goddess Dewi Rengganis, but they were separated. They had dedicated their lives to searching for each other, and one day, by chance, they were reunited on this spot.
To celebrate their love for each other, Dewi Rengganis asked her prince to build her this lake, to put a heart shaped island in its center, and to build her a boat so she could get to the island.
Today, young lovers come from far and wide to receive a blessing from the “love stone” that marks the spot where Ki Santang and Dewi Rengganis were reunited, then to circle the heart shaped island in a boat, thus ensuring their love will endure forever.
To get to Kawah Putih, Rancabali, and Situ Patengan, you’ll need to hire a car from Bandung. It’s a bit expensive – around Rp.500,000 for the day, but it’s a beautiful day.
There are three craters to see at Tangkuban Prahu. Kawah Ratu is known as the Queen Crater, Kawah Upas is a smaller crater next to it, and Kawah Domas is about an hour’s walk away on a trail that is very easy to follow. It’s something you won’t want to miss when you’re in Bandung. It’s accessible by car, and quite easy to get to.
Kawah Ratu is right next to the car park. From there, a trail leads around the rim to Kawah Upas. It takes about an hour on a very gentle and well marked trail through a beautiful forest of Manarasa trees.
When you return to the car park, there is another trail behind the information booth that leads to Kawah Domas – a crater alive with boiling water, and hissing vents spewing out yellow sulfur gas – a truly impressive sight!
The information booth attendant is likely to tell you that a guide is required, but that’s not the case. They want an exorbitant fee of Rp.250,000 for a very short, easy trek.
Tangkuban Prahu (upside down boat) has its name because of a legend. A long, long time ago, a powerful queen named Dayang Sumbi, disowned her son, Prince Sangkuriang, because he had disobeyed her. As a further punishment, she forced him into exile.
As the years passed, Sangluriang became homesick, and he decided to return to his homeland. Upon his arrival, he met and fell in love with a most beautiful woman, and decided to marry her. The woman’s name was Dayang Sumbi – his mother.
Dayang Sumbi, being the powerful queen she was, had been granted the power of eternal youth by the Gods, so she would forever retain the beauty of her youth.
Blissfully unaware of each other’s true identity, the two courted passionately as they planned their wedding. Then, one day the Queen saw her son’s birthmark and realized who he was.
Realizing she needed a way out of the wedding, Dayang Sumbi challenged Sangkuriang to a task that would prove his manhood, and his worthiness to marry her. He was to build a large boat in a single night. So she could watch his progress, he was to build the boat on top of a nearby volcano.
Unknown to Dayang Sumbi, her son also had the favor of the God’s. He summoned their aid, and they sent an army of giants to help him.
When she saw he would complete the task, she used her power to cover the eastern sky in red silk cloth, making it appear the sun had risen.
Thinking he had failed, Sangkuriang went into a fit of rage, and kicked over his almost completed boat. Over the years, the nameless volcano came to be known as Tangkuban Prahu, or “upside-down boat” in Sundanese.