Halimun (North)

Facts

Elevation: 1,929 m (6,329 ft) Prominence: 938 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerSpesial Province: Banten
Google Earth: kml Other names:  
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Bagging It!

 

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:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.

Practicalities

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!
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm): bogor

Location

Origins and Meaning

Gunung Halimun means ‘mountain of mist’ in Sundanese.

Links and References

Wikipedia English
Wikipedia Indonesia

6 thoughts on “Halimun (North)

  1. Just had confirmation that even Gn Kendeng is now closed to ordinary folk. Basically all the peaks are officially closed in Halimun-Salak except Gunung Salak. A shame, as I was hoping to visit Cikaniki from the Parungkuda side (east) and spend a night there before hiking up Kendeng.

    Interesting to note the inclusion of Gn Kendeng as a tourism destination on an old map of the area at the training centre at Nirmala/ Malasari. Access is getting more and more difficult. For further details try Pak Yossi 0812 8192452.

  2. Had another little explore of the Halimun area last weekend – this time from the north. Strange that I hadn’t been up here before, but the bad roads, lack of information and access issues meant I left it for years before investigating. Even after this trip it remains a mysterious range. You rarely get a glimpse of the true highest peak from anywhere. Weirdly, a south-west facing tower block in South Jakarta or Bintaro or BSD may be your best bet first thing in the morning in unusually clear conditions.

    Indeed, it is close as the crow flies from Jakarta, but is a real effort getting down here, except in the middle of the night – at which time navigating the tea plantation tracks would be dangerous and difficult. We cut through a load of estates from Bintaro down to Ciampea and the Batu Roti – bread rock mountain on the usually congested Bogor-Rangkasbitung road. There was a huge storm so we stopped off for food and supplies at Nanggung, the junction for the road up into the hills.

    Blue angkots do run up the hill for several km from Nanggung, but they are typically so frustratingly inefficient that ojeks or walking would probably be better unless you have a particular liking for these hideous vehicles. The roads are narrow (really only suitable for mono-directional traffic but the norm in Indonesia) but the surface is ok to begin with. There is one junction we reached where Google said go left so we went left to save ten minutes or less. This was a big error as we ended up on a steep and stony track a long way before we should have ended up having to use steep and stony tracks. Anyway, we suddenly reached a village after feeling that we were in the middle of nowhere (it was already dark by this time) and better road surfacing.

    We were soon at the junction with the original road where the boundary of the National Park is, with entrance arch and a sign for Malasari wisata (tourism stuff at the tea plantation). A few kilometres beyond this we stopped off to ask at a warung and ended up staying the night with villagers at this tiny hamlet just a couple of km into the Park area. At an elevation of around 1,070m. Didn’t catch the name of the village and the accommodation was basic, but a very friendly family indeed. Two young women lived there with their friendly parents, after having been married at 14 (‘it’s normal in the village, mister’) and then divorced again (‘due to economy reasons’).

    We were up at 5am and continued on the track which deteriorated permanently soon afterwards. Lots of police training goes on in this area, so don’t be alarmed when you see signs with ‘jungle warfare’ on them! Alas, the morning was overcast so there was no great sunrise but still it was lovely to be in the middle of a tea plantation all of a sudden. We left the car at the 2km Nirmala sign junction and walked up to the surreal buildings and village at the very upper reaches of the tea estate. Even weirder to see a Sinarmas training centre up here. Lovely spot, but can’t see it being used very much given the state of the road in.

    We managed to find a couple of local chaps at Pasir Banteng to take us on a wander. We made it up to Gunung Botol in no time, where the guides spotted a cobra! I didn’t see it as it must have slithered off rapidly once the guides starting poking around looking for it! Beyond this top, the terrain was very tough. A few tags on trees and ribbons mark a recent Kopassus training exercise in the forest here and presumably some scientific research of some kind or another. We gave up and headed back down.

    Given that there is a restuarant at the training centre, we decided to have a quick bite to eat there. A huge lounge complete with billiard table, maps and so on. But dirty and appeared as if nobody had been to stay up here for a long time. But there were some locals eager to offer us food so we accepted. Should have checked the price or asked for a menu (didn’t seem to be one) beforehand as for nasi goreng, cassava and 2 teas they asked for a ridiculous Rp200,000. Amazing that even when locals know you have lived in Indonesia for a while, and know the price of things, that they can pluck these outlandish figures out of the air, as if you have just been nodding and accepting being ripped off for all the years you have spent here! Utterly bizarre. Anyway, the price was suddenly reduced to Rp100,000 when they saw our surprise – another price randomly plucked out of nowhere. A shame, as otherwise I would have considered coming back here. When it is a constant battle just to get people to be reasonable with you and not try to rape your wallet every half hour it becomes deeply unenjoyable. No moral compass whatsoever! ‘Ethics, morals, what are they, mister? I’ll take whatever I can!’

    It took us over 4 hours to get back to Jakarta – mainly due to horrendous congestion near Leuwiliang and then on the toll road from Bogor. Chaos. But a decent trip out. Having seen a mention on one of the maps in the training centre of views from the top of Gn Kendeng near Cikaniki Research Station I am quite tempted to come out to Halimun again soon, especially if it can be accessed from the Bogor-Sukabumi side for a change (ideally, would get the train from Bogor Paledang to Parungkuda or Cibadak). I also spotted a photo or two online of a triangulation pillar supposedly on a peak somewhere here that I haven’t yet visited. I guess that it is at the top of Kendeng but am still seeking confirmation……

  3. Just back from a roasting hot Java Lava weekend down near Pelabuhan Ratu. First day was a lengthy coastal hike down to Sawarna via some beautiful, remote beaches, second day an ascent of Gunung Talaga on the southern edge of Halimun National Park. The well-defined trail starts at 730m in Pangguyangan and it takes about 2 and a half hours to the top with some extensive views on the way up – both down to the coast and inland over minor peaks and bumps within the National Park. The more commonly-visited first top is 1600m – a second top 15 minutes further is a higher peak (1630m) although it is much more overgrown. Not much in the way of views from either summit, but 5 minutes beyond the true peak there is a spot where in clear weather you should get some great views east towards Salak etc. According to Google Earth the very highest part of the mountain is even further beyond – perhaps another 30 minutes if the trail was clear – but the trail is very overgrown.
    The name Talaga (‘lake’) apparently refers to a (presumably small) lake at the foot of the mountain.

  4. For several weeks, I have been trying to arrange a hike to both Salak2 and Halimun Utara (North) which is the highest Halimun peak. Sadly, I have gotten nowhere. After finally managing to get in touch with a member of National Park staff, I explained that I wanted to climb to these peaks and that I would be willing to pay for a guide to help me do so. I was informed, politely, that because neither route is considered by Park authorities to be an official hiking route that it is actually ILLEGAL (!) to climb them. Very strange considering that Salak2 was commonly climbed in the past and should be considered a traditional hiking route (and therefore remain open). Salak2 is actually closed because the National Park does not have enough resources to keep it open – perhaps the Park should think about reducing the size of the Park boundaries then? Instead of embracing the opportunities of employing more people to take local and foreign tourists on a wider range of routes they decide to simply deny anyone the legal right to visit these areas.
    The only way that you can officially explore these important places is if you are conducting official scientific research.
    This is a real shame for all hikers in Indonesia, especially as Halimun and Salak are two of the nearest peaks to Jakarta.
    I hope that some Indonesians will help to campaign for a change in the law which recognizes that hikers can be responsible for themselves and that National Parks are not supposed to prevent people from entering them. It is the same in East Java at Ijen-Merapi where climbing Merapi is technically illegal. This problem is likely to grow in size unless something is done to change the law and allow hikers greater access to these places which they deserve to have. Otherwise, bribery or paying a fine is the only way to enjoy visiting these mountain peaks. A ridiculous situation!

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