|Elevation:||3,088 m (10,131 ft)||Prominence:||2,745 m|
|Ribu category:||Sangat Tinggi||Province:||Jawa Timur (East Java)|
|Google Earth:||kml||Other names:||Argapura, Argopura, Argapuro|
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The Argopuro mountain complex offers one of the longest and most isolated treks in Java with incredible scenery to match. Above the agricultural land (corn, cassava, tobacco, coffee, cocoa), at about 1,200m, the track enters tall, often moss/lichen/epiphyte-covered, lower-montane forest. At higher altitudes (above about 1,800m), casuarina (Casuarina junghuhniana) dominates the upper-montane slopes; this specie is especially resistant to fires that are quite common. Extensive “button-grass” meadows occur in depressions. Edelweiss (Anaphalis javanica) occurs in the sub-alpine zone around 2,600m and above. Many local hikers spend 4-6 days making the traverse and the 3-day trip is about a short as you can realistically make it.
The ruins of an ancient Hindu temple on Rengganis peak, named after Princess Rengganis who supposedly built the temple possibly as early as the 12th century, make for a mystical experience. The highest peak is Argopuro (3,088m) adjacent to Rengganis (3,066m). The track passes by the beautiful, secluded Danau Taman Hidup (Living Garden Lake) (2,000m).
The Rengganis/Argopuro peaks can be approached from either the towns of Baderan to the north-east or Bremi to the west. The Baderan ascent is more gradual although longer. This description starts at Baderan and finishes at Bremi. Guides/porters can be arranged and permits obtained from the Forestry Office, Baderan (at the end of the asphalt road), for which copies of passport/ID are essential.
Day 1: The trek from the Baderan Forestry Office (770m) to an old Dutch airstrip (2,190m) is about 14 kms and takes about 8-9 hours. The track climbs steadily through agricultural land, Protected Forest and into the National Park. White, numbered, posts mark the track every one hundred metres, with zero being the edge of the Protected Forest. Villagers ride motorbikes up this track as far as the Protected Forest. Two unreliable water sources are at elevations of 1,830m and 2,165m (at post No. 19) before the trail leads up to a mini ‘puncak’ (near post No. 32 at 2,261m) before descending a hundred metres or so. The first large meadow reached (‘Alun-alun Kecil’ about post No. 40) offers an excellent lunch stop. Not long after this meadow is another, larger meadow known as Alun-alun Besar (at post No. 63). The trail then leads over a small bridge (post N0. 73) before leading for another 45 minutes and descending slightly to Cikasur (2,215m).
The Airstrip at Cikasur (post No. 92 – flowing water) lies on an extensive meadow where deer, pigs, peafowl, pheasants and jungle fowl are always heard and often seen. The Dutch administration apparently built this airstrip around 1919 for the visit of Dutch Royalty to promote conservation and management of the area; another report informs that it served to establish a ranch and meat factory. In 1943, the Dutch sabotaged the air strip to prevent its use by Japanese forces. There is a small shelter on the edge of the meadow and fresh water salad can be collected in the nearby stream (eaten raw or cooked).
Day 2: The trek from the Airstrip to Rengganis peak is about 13 kms and takes about 7-8 hours. The track continues up through casuarina forest interspersed with open meadows with some views eastwards to Gunung Raung, until descending into a valley with a small hut (Cisentor – flowing water, 2,445m) at post No. 142 (about 3 hours). The white markers abruptly end higher up in the forest at no. 150 for no apparent reason! The trail is a little vague at this point at it crosses a dry riverbed (‘sungai kering’, 2,650m) before leading up through Edelweiss. The area was badly affected by forest fires in September/October 2012 but it is hoped the area will have been rejuvenated before long. Water is available again in a small, hidden spring at Rawa Embik (rawa: marsh; embik: bleat of a goat, 2,755m) about 2 hours from Cisentor. From this point, no more sure water is available until Danau Taman Hidup or until reaching Bremi.
The saddle between the Rengganis and Argopuro peaks is reached after about another 2 hours. Here, the track divides into three directions. The “left-hand” track ascends to Rengganis with the ruins of the Hindu temple (good camping – about 20 minutes – no water) and views to the east of the Ijen mountain complex on the eastern tip of Java and Gunung Agung in Bali. The “right-hand” track ascends to Argopuro, the highest peak (just under 30 minutes each way) where there is a cairn/grave but, unfortunately, casuarina trees at the summit obscure the view. Danau Taman Hidup, the north coast of Java and Madura and the Ijen mountain complex can be seen through the trees.
Day 3: the descent (in total, about 2,100m) to Bremi (990m) can be made by two routes. A longer, but steadier, descent is made by returning to Cisentor and circumnavigating Gunung Rengganis to the south and west via Taman Kering (about 8-9 hours). The alternate, more direct but steeper and less often used, descent is via the “middle” track on the saddle between the Rengganis/Argopuro peaks (about 7-8 hours). The two routes meet at a small stream (water not guaranteed even during the rainy season) after about 3 hours via the shorter route. Our preference is the shorter route which, although quite steep in places, offers great views of the mountains and valleys to the south and west including Semeru. Danau Taman Hidup, complete with a dilapidated wooden pier, is reached after another 2 hours at around 2,000m. Bremi is a further 2-3 hours down the track, which is quite steep and badly-eroded in parts. The final track passes through agro-forestry plantations before reaching Bremi (also spelt ‘Bermi’). Irregular angkots run down to the main road at Pajarakan (Rp 15,000, just under one hour) from where you can catch a bus to your next destination.
Bagging information by Nick Hughes, updated by Dan Quinn (January 2013).
|Getting there||The nearest airport is Surabaya from where it takes several hours to reach the trailhead by car. The tiny Banyuwangi airport is an alternative option and may save you an hour or so. Regular buses travel along the northern coast road. Alight at Besuki and take an ojek (Rp 20,000 or 30,000) up to Baderan.|
|Accommodation||Plenty of basic accommodation available in nearby towns – try Hotel Nirawana in the Banyuglugur area just east of Paiton power station.|
|Permits||Guides/porters can be arranged and permits obtained (Rp 6,000 per person) from the Forestry Office, Baderan. Porters cost a reasonable Rp100,000 per day (December 2012)|
|Water sources||In the Baderan-Bremi direction, reliable sources available at Mata Air 1, Mata Air 2, Cikasur, Cisentor, Rawa Embik and Taman Hidup. Note that Mata Air 1 & 2 are not always reliable during the dry season.|
Origins and Meaning
From the Javanese words ‘arga’ meaning ‘hill/mountain’ and ‘pura’ meaning ‘shrine’. The ruins of a Hindu temple are at the top and the mountain is an important pilgrimage site.