|Elevation:||2,240 m (7,349 ft)||Prominence:||1,262 m|
|Ribu category:||Tinggi Sedang||Province:||Jawa Barat (West Java)|
|Google Earth:||kml||Other names:|
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This Ribu is a huge and complex mountain massif consisting of Talaga Bodas lake and Kawah Saat dry crater in the north, Galunggung crater in the south and the highest peak, Gunung Beuticanar, lying inbetween, amongst a long ridge of forested peaks. Galunggung crater is close to the large town of Tasikmalaya and is well signposted. There are two approaches – from Singaparna and from Indihiang (both are south of the volcano). From Singaparna, take the road heading north by a small police station. The road leads to a collection of warungs beneath the 620 cement steps to the edge of the crater. An enormous eruption in 1822 caused many casualities and the last large eruption was in 1982 when a plane was forced to make an emergency landing after its engines filled with ash. Today, however, Galunggung crater seems relatively calm – certainly compared with nearby lively Papandayan. Unfortunately, the cliff walls beyond the crater mean that it is impossible to reach the highest point of the mountain from this southern approach.
The highest point – known as Gunung Beuticanar – is a forested peak that very few people visit. Sometimes local student hiking clubs, such as Napak Rimba from Tasikmalaya, spend a few days hiking across the vast area, but for most ordinary hikers it remains something of an unexplored area. Access to the highest ridges is difficult, requiring either a long hike in from the Tasikmalaya side via the Ci Loseh river or the more recommended, shorter route from Talagabodas (sometimes spelt Telaga Bodas) lake. The Tasik route is rarely used, requires machetes and at least one night camping on the mountain. To reach Talagabodas looks significantly easier on a map than it actually is in reality. The track up to the lake from the eastern side (i.e from Tasikmalaya via Ciawi or Cisayong) is not passable by motor vehicle and even motorbikes will struggle to make it up the narrow, bumpy, rocky path. The route from the western side (i.e Garut via Wanaraja) is only better because you can drive a motor vehicle up it, although it must be a 4WD farm vehicle with high clearance in order to avoid hitting the rocks on the track.
From Wanaraja, there is actually a sign for Talagabodas (12km) as a ‘obyek wisata’ (tourist attraction) though how local authorities expect any normal tourists to get up there without a jeep is somewhat unclear! If the track was repaired it definitely would be a tourist attraction, but for the time being it is only visited by very keen walkers and energetic Indonesian student groups. In an ordinary vehicle you can get about halfway up the bumpy 12 kilometers to a village (1,188m, named Panyingkiran on some maps) after which the track deteriorates significantly. For a small fee you can leave your car there and walk the remaining 6 or 7 km (allow 2 ½ hours) to the entrance to the lake or keep on driving up if you happen to have a vehicle which can handle the terrain (though it doesn’t actually take that much longer on foot!). From this rough farm track there are actually some very pleasant views across the valley to Guntur, Papandayan and Cikuray.
Eventually you will reach a track junction (1,583m) with the route from Tasikmalaya (equally rough – and not passable in a vehicle). A rusty sign for Talaga Bodas lies 30 minutes’ walk further (1,669m) and the hut/entrance to the crater lake (1,768m) is not far beyond. The unofficial entrance fee seems to vary on each visit but is rarely more than Rp 3,000 per person. The lake is a delightful place to wander round – very similar to Gunung Patuha and Kawah Putih. There are sulphur gases rising from the rocks (particularly on the far side of the lake) and if you follow the track to the right there are two excellent hot water pools to bathe in. The peak itself is less than 500 metres higher than Talagabodas but it is more difficult than the average forest trail due to how infrequently it is used.
Actually finding the starting point of the overgrown trail to the top of Beuticanar can be difficult without local help – probably the most difficult thing about this hike is finding the correct path! There are various hunting trails but few continue up the ridge itself. If you haven’t already arranged local help you can ask for assistance at the warung at the entrance to the lake itself – indeed you may be able to arrange a guide to the top from the ‘forest conservation’ hut marked “Opalin”. It is climbed only a handful of times per year so the track is overgrown, often unclear but remarkably free of litter as a result.
In June 2010, Gunung Bagging conducted a small expedition to the summit with help from PPA Napak Rimba and their machetes. The trail from Talagabodas to the summit is now marked with small fluorescent yellow tape and blue string. To find the start of the trail, follow the track along the right (west) side of Talagabodas. Beofe you reach a small river/stream, look for a small white rocky area. Just before that, a narrow path leads gently up the densely vegetated hillside beside the small river – you should be able to hear the river near you on your left. In less than an hour you will come out of the forest and vegetation into a sandy, open area directly below the mountain ridge of Gunung Talagabodas and Gunung Canar (‘Gunung Tadar’ 2,211m, on the Bako map). This is Kawah Saat (1,827m) a dry sandy crater southwest of Talagabodas with burnt tree stumps and sparse vegetation. It is a lovely area to have a break and enjoy the sunshine before entering the forest once again.
From the far edge of Kawah Saat, follow the trail on the left back into forest, across a little stream (the last place for water supplies) and then a small rockface where the path leads right, up towards the shoulder of the ridge between Gunung Canar and Gunung Beuticanar (‘Gunung Batujahar’, 2,240m on the Bako map) further to the south. The path here is often faint but try to follow the blue and yellow tags. You reach a minor ‘summit’ at 1,980m before ascending to the saddle between Canar and Beuticanar. The most difficult part of the hike is a steep section where it is necessary to use tree roots as ropes to pull yourself up. Soon the ridge itself is reached (2,085m). It should have taken you approximately 3 hours to reach this point from the lake. From this point onwards, the route is very obvious as you simply follow the trail south (left) along the ridge towards Gunung Beuticanar.
Views are generally quite limited although there are a couple of places along the ridge where you are allowed a glimpse of Kawah Saat and Talagabodas. The path along the ridge drops down slightly a couple of times before rising gradually to the grassy summit area of Gunung Beuticanar itself. It is a lovely area – there is very little litter due to how seldom it is visited and a real sense of pleasant isolation. There is enough room for about 7 tents on the flat, grassy summit itself. A tree at the top is currently adorned with a ‘Gempala’ sign made by a student hiking group from Tasik on a recent visit. In clear weather, there are some nice views across to Gunung Canar to the north, east towards Tasikmalaya and several surrounding valleys. It becomes clear just how complex a mountain area this really is. The Galunggung crater is not visible from here, but there are some white steps faintly visible in the distance on this northern side of the Galunggung crater area plus a peak further south (Gunung Galunggung – known as ‘Gunung Guntur’ on the Bako map) just above the steep Galunggung crater walls. After the 1982 eruption views were much less limited since lots of vegetation was destroyed but since then tall vegetation has grown back and the area remains fairly undisturbed by both humans and volcanic eruptions! A faint trail is visible leading down along the ridge to the southeast towards Tasikmalaya but this is a much more overgrown route than the short trip from Talagabodas.
It takes strong walkers only 3 hours to descend to Talagabodas and enjoy bathing in the hot water pools but the summit is a great place to camp for the night and enjoy the sunrise through the trees in the morning and most guides will recommend it. It is hoped that if enough people use the trail it will stay well-defined, free from excess vegetation and remain passable without the need for machetes. Once you’ve found the correct path it’s a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding hike.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn
|Getting there||From Jakarta, take the toll road to Bandung and continue beyond to the end of the toll at Cileunyi. Follow signs to Garut and when in the city take a left turn to Wanaraja. From Wanaraja, take a right up an increasingly bumpy road at a sign for Talaga Bodas. The road is not suitable for ordinary cars – a farm vehicle or ojek from Wanaraja would be a better idea. Otherwise it’s a 12km walk-in. Primajasa buses to Garut leave from Jakarta’s Lebak Bulus and Cililitan bus depot frequently during the day.|
|Accommodation||Plenty available at Cipanas near Garut, or in Tasikmalaya.|
|Permits||None required but take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase. You may be asked to pay Rp 3,000 at the entrance to Talaga Bodas.|
|Water sources||The last place for water is a small stream at 1,827m just beyond Kawah Saat – the water at Talaga Bodas is obviously not safe to drink due to the high sulphur content.|
Origins and Meaning
The origin of the word ‘Galunggung’ is unknown. ‘Beuticanar’ comes from two local Sundanese words ‘beuti’ meaning ‘tuber’ and ‘canar’ meaning ‘thorn’. As the name implies, the forest is teeming with thorny vines. (Tifa Asrianti, Jakarta Post, 2010)
Links and References
Tifa Asrianti, The Jakarta Post, 2010. Beuticanar – The Road Less Traveled.
Accessed from http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/07/18/the-road-less-traveled-beuticanar.html