|Elevation:||1,929 m (6,329 ft)||Prominence:||938 m|
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Mount Halimun is surrounded by the largest area of unspoilt rainforest in Java and the summit of the range (Halimun Utara) unsurprisingly lies within Gunung Halimun-Salak National Park. The peak is right on the border of West Java and Banten and it is debatable exactly which side the summit lies. There are lots of waterfalls in the area, and the bumpy tracks around the foothills are popular with trail-bikers at weekends.
The mountain range is incredibly extensive, stretching up from not far north of the south coast of Java near Pelabuhan Ratu all the way north to about 10 kilometres south of the main Bogor-Rangkasbitung road running east-west. Since combining forces with the Gunung Salak National Park, the Halimun-Salak area covers around 400 square kilometres, including an 11-km forest corridor stretching between the two peaks of Halimun and Salak. The Halimun area in particular is home to populations of Javan leopards, Javan lutungs and silvery gibbons.
Perhaps not sururpsingly, there are strict rules about access to parts of this huge conservation area. Whereas there are popular hiking routes on Gunung Salak, Gunung Halimun is harder to access unless you are conducting approved scientific research. Halimun remains quite mysterious, and lives up to its name of ‘misty mountain’, with very few (if any) having reported successful ascents to the highest point of the range. However, there are certainly a few minor treks that are possible on the edges of the park area. Meeting one or two leeches is to be expected.
From south to north, the main peaks of the range are as follows:
Gunung Talaga – 1,631m. One of the most accessible tops in the Halimun area. The trail starts at around 730m in Pangguyangan (within fairly easy reach of Pelabuhan Ratu on the south coast of Java) and it takes under 3 hours to the lesser southern top (approximately 1,600m). A second top 15 minutes further is higher but was overgrown (in 2011). The name Talaga (‘lake’) apparently refers to a small lake at the foot of the mountain.
Gunung Halimun Selatan (South) – 1,758m. A remote peak and one of two that give their name to the range as a whole. Probably best attempted via Gunung Talaga but likely to be very overgrown.
Gunung Kendeng – 1,680m north top (and 1,761m south top). Accessed from Cikaniki Research Station. Supposedly good views and pitcher plants near the north top. Trail quality unknown at present and although this was once open to ordinary folk it is now sadly closed to all except researchers.
Gunung Botol – 1,803m. This eastern top is accessed easily from Pasir Banteng near Nirmala tea plantations in just one hour. Local guides suggest that there is a ‘Gunung Botol 2’ nearby but it is unclear if this is higher or lower than Botol 1.
Gunung Halimun Utara (North) – 1,929m. The obscure highest peak in the Halimun range with unclear access. This is not marked on the Bakosurtanal map but can be found by looking for the name ‘G Bintonggading’ and then moving to the province boundary line. The highest peak is assumed to be the one a couple of hundred metres south-west of the 1,911m elevation spot height. Note that Gunung Sanggabuana (approximately 2 kilometres south-southwest) is perhaps the second highest in the entire range at 1,920m.
Assuming you have permission to hike to Halimun Utara from Park staff, it would appear that a hike to the true summit of Halimun Utara would be best started at one of the following two places:
- At the north of the mountain in the village of Leuwijamang / Lewijamang (at 800m elevation) which lies an hour’s walk from the nearest road at Cisarua. To get there, you have to take the main road which heads west from Bogor towards Rangkasbitung and turn left (south) at Cigudeg or Nanggung. We haven’t been to Leuwijamang, so please leave a comment below if you can add any important information. One source states a return journey from here to the peak takes a minimum of 8 hours. This is probably a gross underestimate unless a group has been up there just prior to your visit.
- At the Nirmala tea plantation at Malasari (‘kebun teh Nirmala’) to the east of the peak. There is a bumpy plantation track up as far as around 1,560m above sea level at Pasir Banteng. Use the Nanggung junction on the Bogor-Rangkasbitung road.
Reaching the Nirmala / Malasari area from Jakarta takes around 4 hours in good traffic conditions, mainly because the track into the tea plantation is very bumpy (especially the second half of the 28km from Curugbitung (CRB on road-side signs) to Nirmala) and should really only be negotiated with a trailbike or a 4WD. Vehciles such as these can make it as far as Pasir Banteng, but you could also leave your vehicle at a wide junction (suitable for turning) next to a sign (1,355m) 2km below the huge greenhouses and village at Nirmala and enjoy the 30 minute walk through the tea plantations. Views from here towards Gunung Salak and Gede-Pangrango are supposed to be excellent in clear weather at first light, though it is often misty here.
It is a surreal location – vast tea plantations with seemingly very few people for many kilometres and then suddenly a large village appearing out of the blue. Between Nirmala greenhouses (where there is a warung) and Pasir Banteng (the end of the track leading up into the hills) is a large training centre owned by the Sinarmas group. There is even a usually-deserted restaurant here, but be warned that the prices are extortionate for the few hikers or tourists who pass by this way.
Finding a local guide here in the morning is not always easy as most are working as tea pickers and will not be free (except, for example, from lunchtime on a Saturday). Even with a local guide, there is seemingly very little local knowledge about Halimun Utara, and although it is only 4 or 5 kilometres away (and less than 400 metres higher) it seems that the only peak that is well-known at Pasir Banteng is Gunung Botol (1,800m). After entering scrub and then forest (at 1,600m), Gunung Botol takes just one hour to reach and offers no views at all. From Gunung Botol, a couple of faint trails continue in two directions, but neither of them seem to head in the direction of Halimun Utara. Therefore you would either need to ask Park staff (and obtain permission which is very difficult indeed) or try asking at the alternative starting point of Leuwijamang.
A little further south of the Malasari / Nirmala tea plantations is Citalahab, a group of small villages. Birdwatchers often stay with local families in this area. 4 kilometres south again is the Cikaniki Research Station (950m). It is possible to stay here, but you need to book well in advance because there are often students and researchers using the accommodation. You will also have to pay the expensive entrance fee if you are not an Indonesian citizen.
Next to Cikaniki is Gunung Kendeng (see above). It used to be possible to hike to the top of this peak and see some pitcher plants on the summit ridge and enjoy the views to distant mountains. In 2018, access to ordinary hikers (as opposed to scientific researchers) is no longer permitted. Cikaniki can still be reached from the road running south of Bogor near Parungkuda via Kapala Nunggal, Kabandungan and Cipeuteuy. It takes anything from 2 to 4 hours to cover the 50km and is best attempted in a 4WD.
|Getting there||For Nirmala/Malasari: Take a train or bus to Bogor and then public transport /taxi to Nanggung (on the road west towards Rangkasbitung). Angkots run part of the way up the hill but stop a long way prior to the National Park entrance arch. Ojeks probably required if you don’t have your own vehicle.|
|Accommodation||There is accommodation available in Citalahab near the Cikaniki Research Station. See the official website for more details. You can also usually stay at simple homestays in the Nirmala tea plantation.|
|Permits||You need a permit to enter the Park. Take a photocopy of your passport photo page. As noted above, it is currently not usually possible to get a permit to climb to the summit at the moment unless you are doing research!|
|Water sources||Take sufficient supplies with you. There is a warung at Nirmala tea plantations and even a restaurant at the Sinarmas training centre but they are expensive and not to be relied upon!|
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Origins and Meaning
Gunung Halimun means ‘mountain of mist’ in Sundanese.