- Elevation: 1,929 m (6,329 ft)
- Prominence: 938 m
- Ribu category: Spesial
- Province: Banten
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none
Mount Halimun is surrounded by the largest area of unspoilt rainforest in Java and the summit of the range (Halimun Utara – ‘Halimun North’) 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 Gunung Endut (1,296m) which is a significant peak a few kilometres south-west of Cipanas (a different Cipanas to the many others such as the one near Garut but where there is unsurprisingly natural hot water bathing pools), and Gunung Gede (1,012m), a outlying peak about 10 kilometres south of Jasinga on 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 and there are several good ‘days out’ exploring the region even if you don’t bag any peaks. Meeting one or two leeches is to be expected.
From south to north, the main peaks of the range over 1,500m high are as follows:
Gunung Talaga / Telaga – 1,631m. One of the most accessible tops in the Halimun area. The trail starts at around 730m in Pangguyangan, Sirnarasa (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.
The western side of the vast Halimun range is famous for being home to the genuinely unique Baduy (or ‘Badui’) tribes, who generally practice the Sunda Wiwitan animist belief system, shun foreign influences including vehicles, footwear, electronic devices and modern clothing. You sometimes see them on the outskirts of Jakarta, often selling bottles of honey, having walked all the way from their villages in the foothills of Gunung Halimun near Rangkasbitung.
The outer Baduy villages (Baduy Luar) can be visited via Ciboleger about 20 kilometres due south of Rangkasbitung or 20 kilometres south-west of Jasinga. The Inner Baduy (Baduy Dalam) remain off limits to all foreigners and to this day they have only limited contact with a small number of other Indonesians.
The most interesting area for hikers and mountain photographers in this western side of the range is the picturesque enclave Citorek, a traditional upland valley surrounded by the Halimun forests. Getting there is time consuming and reliant on there having been no major landslides or new construction projects underway at the time. You need to get a recent update on the state of the road as the main route in from the north is at the time of writing (March 2020) not usable by cars and we have no recent reliable information on the southern route from the Pelabuhan Ratu area.
In late 2019, the hills near Ciusul about 15 minutes by car or motorbike south of Citorek were popularised as ‘Negeri di Atas Awan’) on Instagram as a great place to see the sunrise and witness the view from ‘the land above the clouds’. There are several spots in Indonesia using a very similar name, but this one is especially popular owing to its relatively close location to Jakarta. The newly-famous viewpoint is just 2 minutes’ walk from the road on Gunung Luhur (the Bakosurtanal map gives the names Gunung Saga – 1,049m and Gunung Luhur – 1,037m – to the north and south tops respectively) with various wooden constructions for posing on or next to. The viewpoint is not actually as either of the peaks on the Bakosurtanal maps, but the northern slopes including one or two spots lower down where you can pull over and avoid the crowds.
It is indeed a great place to see the dawn clouds down in the Citorek valley, with the sun rising behind the highest peaks of the Halimun range many kilometres to the east. But the huge popularity of the place on social media actually means it is advisable to avoid the area on weekends as in September 2019 several thousand visitors arriving, and according to media reports this created a tailback (macet) for 7 kilometres through one of the least populated parts of Java! The site was closed shortly afterwards, to allow for the road to be properly paved and perhaps to allow for some proper thinking about how to best manage it. In Java, both the positive and negative powers of online popularity are highly visible.
In 2020 it appears to be much less popular, ‘thanks’ to a landslide washing a bridge away in Lebak Gedong making access for cars from the north impossible. Even those attempting it with motorbikes will need 4-6 hours from Jakarta (one-way including rests), and a lot of patience! It is a remarkable day out though, passing through about as wide a variety of scenes in one day as is possible.
In Citorek itself, there are lots of traditional wooden buildings, very similar if not exactly the same as the Baduy villages examples further west. With the forested hills, traditional wooden buildings and rice terraces, it is a truly picturesque place. A 2-3 hour trek towards the west will take you to an ancient stone wall terrace ‘pyramid’ of unknown antiquity called Situs Lebak Cibedug (or ‘Cibedug Temple’) and some other ancient megaliths such as upright stones at Situs Punden Berundak Lebak Cibedug. In 2020, these can be accessed on a motorbike, but 1 hour is needed to get there from Citorek.
Other interesting megalithic and ancient sites scattered across the Halimun range include the impressive Situs Tugu Gede monolith (over 3 metres high) way down south in Cengkuk about 30 minutes by car or motorbike from Pelabuhan Ratu on the south coast.
Information by Dan Quinn, March 2020.
- 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. For Citorek, there are two options: from the south near Pelabuhan Ratu via Warung Banten, or from the north via Jasinga, Cipanas, Lebak Gedong and Majasari but note than in early 2020 the vehicle bridge at Lebak Gedong has been destroyed by landslides and only motorbikes can get across using two simple temporary wooden village bridges, with assistance from villagers.
- 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. For the Citorek area there are a small number of homestays. For treks from the southern end of the range, the hotels on the coast west of Pelabuhan Ratu are the obvious choice.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Halimun information pack can be downloaded here.
- 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! No permit is needed to visit Citorek as it is an enclave and accessed using public roads.
- Water sources: Take sufficient supplies with you and be sure to fill up your car or motorbike with fuel at every opportunity. 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!
- Travel insurance: We recommend World Nomads insurance, which is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities including mountain hiking.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):
Origins and Meaning
Gunung Halimun means ‘mountain of mist’ in Sundanese.