// Malabar (Puncak Besar)

Facts

Elevation: 2,343 m (7,687 ft) Prominence: 714 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerSpesial Province: Jawa Barat (West Java)
Google Earth: kml Other names:
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Photos

MalabarNext »
Malabar Government Radio Station (unknown photographer, 1923) Courtesy TropenMuseum ArchivesMalabar Government Radio Station (unknown photographer, 1923) Courtesy TropenMuseum Archives
Malabar Government Radio Station (unknown photographer, 1923) Courtesy TropenMuseum Archives
The remains of Radio Malabar (Daniel Quinn, March 2011)The remains of Radio Malabar (Daniel Quinn, March 2011)
The remains of Radio Malabar (Daniel Quinn, March 2011)
Gunung Gede in the distance as seen from above Cinyiruan, Pangalengan near Malabar (Daniel Quinn, December 2010)Gunung Gede in the distance as seen from above Cinyiruan, Pangalengan near Malabar (Daniel Quinn, December 2010)
Gunung Gede in the distance as seen from above Cinyiruan, Pangalengan near Malabar (Daniel Quinn, December 2010)
The grave of Gerarld Alfred Cup above Cinyiruan near Malabar (Daniel Quinn, December 2010)The grave of Gerarld Alfred Cup above Cinyiruan near Malabar (Daniel Quinn, December 2010)
The grave of Gerarld Alfred Cup above Cinyiruan near Malabar (Daniel Quinn, December 2010)

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Bagging It!

This vast mountain area lies directly south of Bandung in Cisangkuy valley and is surrounded by a huge tea plantation – the largest in West Java. There used to be a Radio Malabar transmitter station here which was world famous in colonial times – all that remains today is a few crumbling stone walls. The name of the mountain is apparently taken from India’s Malabar coast and Hindu tradition and culture remain strong in this area. The highest peak is known as Puncak Besar (‘big peak’) and is actually very easy to reach from Pangalengan (sometimes spelt ‘Pengalengan’) to the south of the range.

For Puncak Besar, take a left at the first fork in the road before the town itself. Pangalengan is over 1,500 metres above sea level and there are plantation trails and farm huts and occasional warungs leading up the hillside towards Puncak Besar as high as 1,900m. From the village of Cinyiruan (1,590m) it takes about three hours to reach this very-rarely visited, unmarked and overgrown highest peak of the range and two hours to descend. There is plenty of room to park vehicles near the sports field. A notable landmark near the beginning of the trail is the grave of Gerarld Alfred Cup, presumably a European with links to the local tea industry. You will inevitably have to ask farm workers for help negotiating the maze of trails or, better still, ask a local to guide you all the way up. Without a guide, a GPS is absolutely necessary. There are some good views on the lower slopes, Gunung Tilu to the west and in the distance you may be able to see Gunung Gede Pangrango and Salak in very clear conditions. Higher up, the views are much more limited though there are a few places where you catch a glimpse of the vastness of the mountain range.

Ultimately, doing a hike to Puncak Besar only would not being doing justice to what is a very wild and very interesting mountain range. There are three notable peaks each of which can be climbed individually – that is definitely the easiest option. At the northern end of the range are two excellent peaks with good views from the tops – Puntang (north east, 2,222m) and Haruman (south west, 2,140m) both accessible from Mekasari and the Gunung Puntang tourist area which includes the Curug Siliwangi (waterfall) and Puntang camping grounds. The entrance is at 1,279m above sea level. Other than the waterfall, Mount Puntang itself is by far the most popular hiking objective here and Haruman, by contrast, is a steep, muddy climb up a sometimes unclear path. They both require about 4 hours to reach the top of.

The summit of Gunung Puntang is free from tall trees and so is by far the best viewpoint in the entire mountain range. In clear weather you can see across the city of Bandung in the Bandung plain across to Burangrang, Tangkuban Parahu and Bukittunggul north of the city, and beyond Gunung Haruman to Gunung Tilu and Gunung Patuha. You may even be able to see Pangrango in the distance. The trail to Gunung Puntang starts at the Puntang carpark area and leads straight up towards a minor first peak, Puncak Mega (1,870m), where there are ruins similar to the ones found on Haruman on the other side of the valley. These are apparently the remains of radio towers for Radio Malabar – the main ruins of which are to be found a 20-minute walk up the valley itself from the car park. It’s best to take a guide for Gunung Puntang as finding the trail at the start can be very confusing due to the number of small trails. There is an information office  at the car park where you can ask for assistance. Once you’re halfway up Gunung Mega it is very obvious as you follow the ridge as it leads up towards Puntang. Allow 7 hours in total to climb Puntang and return to your car.

North-south traverses are possible (from Mekarsari to Pangalengan and vice versa) but they are rarely undertaken and navigating can be very difficult on overgrown and thorny trails. This is definitely one where you need gloves and long trousers to avoid being cut. On the positive side though, this is one of the wildest areas in West Java and you are likely to see some very interesting and rare wildlife. It takes a full day, about 8 hours, to make a traverse.

If doing a north-south traverse it is better to go via Haruman as the western ridge is more easily followed than if hiking from Puntang which would involve negotiating a very large jungle plateau – have a look on Google Earth, an obvious place to get very, very lost. A GPS device is essential in this rarely-visited terrain. From the Haruman peak it is fairly obvious that you must simply follow the ridge south-east towards Puncak Besar, staying on or near the top of the ridge throughout. There are some beautiful views, especially from the top of Haruman, of the vast valley below and Puntang, Mega and the other eastern mountain tops too. This is an area full of waterfalls and landslides so do take care!

One other difficultly in doing a north-south traverse is finding the correct trail to Puncak Besar. The forested peak comes into view about 90 minutes beyond Haruman but finding the trail to the top (a right turn) can be tough. There are several overgrown trails leading south towards Pangalengan but they don’t all go Puncak Besar and, given just how overgrown they are, a lot of people would have difficulty crawling under very sharp, low branches! It would definitely be a good place for army training! If you’re heading south you will inevitably end up on a farm trail before long and then reach the tea plantations north of Pangalengan where you can get an ojek to your accommodation or a bus back round to Bandung if you’re early enough!

Bagging information by Daniel Quinn

Practicalities

Getting there For both Pangalengan and Mekarsari (Puntang) there are angkots or you can take a Pangalengan bus from Bandung’s Leuwipanjang terminal – for Puntang and Haruman get off at Cimaung (5km beyond Banjaran) and take an ojek to Mekarsari (follow signs for ‘Taman Bougenville’). The bus from Bandung to Pangalengan takes 2 hours and is approx. Rp15,000. If travelling by private vehicle, head towards Banjaran and follow signs for Pangalengan.
Accommodation There are a couple of hotels in Pangalengan. The Malabar Guesthouse, originally built in the 1940s, is several km from the centre of Pangalengan but is very nice indeed and is surrounded by Malabar Tea Estate and has some brand new rooms. It isn’t the easiest place to find – ask for ‘Pintu’ and then ‘Malabar Mess’. Advance booking and extra sweaters recommended.
Permits Not required but take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase. Entrance to Gunung Puntang at Mekarsari is a very reasonable Rp5,000 per person and guides are available at a reasonable price.
Water sources There are plenty of streams and rivers in the valleys but take plenty if doing a ridge traverse.
Recommended Hotel:
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm): bandung

Location

Origins and Meaning

‘Malabar’ is allegedly named after the Malabar coast in India, although the evidence for this is thin on the ground. ‘Puncak besar’ simply means ‘big peak’ in Indonesian.

Links and References

Wikipedia English
Wikipedia Indonesia

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Trip Reports and Comments

15 entries for “Malabar (Puncak Besar)”

  1. avatar

    Did a fantastic north-south traverse of the Malabar range on Saturday with Yudi (a bit of an expert on West Java mountains, see http://jangyudi.multiply.com/ ). Started at Gunung Puntang tourist area (most people just come here for a stroll up the river to the waterfall near Gunung Puntang), climbed the steep Haruman peak and followed the incredibly wild ridge south towards Puncak Besar. It took us about 8 hours altogether, including a few stops. We ended up on the wrong trail down to Pangalengan and therefore missed the trail up to the highest point, Puncak Besar. Not enough time to go back and search for the correct trail so I’m just going to climb it from the Pangalengan side sometime.
    We had some amazing views over the extensive mountain range, and didn’t meet a single other hiker. We did, however, meet some interesting animal life – a lovely Cuscus marsupial was hanging around in a tree at the top of Mount Haruman (see the photo gallery) and we saw two snakes – one back and yellow one on the ridge at over 2,100m. All in all, despite the vast number of cuts I have on my arms from all the thorns, a brilliant and wild hike and one I would definitely do again.

    Posted by Dan | November 29, 2010, 00:14
  2. avatar

    some great pics. i wonder how many cuscus there are left in the wild. a black and yellow snake sounds like a mangrove snake. but seems weird to have a mangrove dweller at 2000 meters.

    Posted by chris whiting | November 29, 2010, 02:35
  3. avatar

    Turns out the Cuscus can’t be a Cuscus after all because none live west of the Wallace Line. Still trying to identify it, but for now it can be described as a huge squirrel thing.

    Posted by Dan | December 9, 2010, 02:19
  4. avatar

    Hey Daniel,
    Did u overnight at the peak? Will go there tomorrow and gonna make its itin

    thanks

    Posted by Gita | December 18, 2010, 22:10
  5. avatar

    Hi Gita
    Just got back.
    We did a short day hike to Puncak Besar from Pangelangan (Desa Cinyiruan). 3 hours up, 2 hours down. There are some good views from halfway up the plantation trails (we could see Gede, Salak in the distance) but the overgrown peak itself is very rarely visited and there is not much of a view from it. Haruman and Puntang are definitely more interesting peaks.

    Posted by Dan | December 19, 2010, 19:53
  6. avatar

    oh Daniel! too late,i just back from there..and we did from Puntang. It was terrible, i think we took the wrong path. So, will try again sometimes in dry season from Pangalengan

    Posted by Gita | December 21, 2010, 07:51
  7. avatar

    Had a wonderful hike up to Puntang summit on Saturday – unusually clear weather affording excellent views in all directions. The guides at the Puntang car park and information office will take you up to Gunung Mega for a very reasonable Rp100,000. However, Puntang is a further hour and quite an additional climb so we paid them Rp200,000.
    As usual in this area we saw a variety of wildlife including some bright red and black birds.
    From the summit itself we could make out Curug Siliwangi in the distance and in the opposite direction Pangrango was unusually free of cloud until after midday.
    After we got back to the car park we decided to go and have a look at the ruins of Radio Malabar – a mere 20 minutes along the road into the valley between Haruman and Puntang. Not much remains today – just look at the photos to compare!

    Posted by Dan | March 14, 2011, 13:28
  8. avatar

    dan did you see the squirrel thing

    Posted by chris | March 14, 2011, 13:54
  9. avatar

    Hi Dan,

    Adventurous indeed!

    Wondering if you stayed in Malabar Mess in Dec 2010. Was the place well maintained and clean? Planning to stay there soon. Hard to find a review on the place online, so hope to hear your assessment of the place.

    Thks & rgds

    Posted by BL | June 26, 2011, 00:16
  10. avatar

    Hello Dan,
    I think I have tracked down your ‘giant squirrel thing’. I believe it to be a Malayan Giant Squirrel. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_giant_squirrel.
    Curiously, there is a similar animal in India known as the Malabar Giant Squirrel.
    Cheers, Tony Bird.

    Posted by Tony Bird | July 22, 2012, 18:00
  11. avatar

    We climbed puntang kn the weekend and it had wonderful views. A guide is a very good idea but possible without one.

    We then climbed puncat besar – it is completely overgrown and there are no views once in the hutan. We got terribly lost, even with a guide, and had to start considering spending the night on the mountain. Our guide used a parang the whole way – and the thorns are terrible – even my scratches have scratches. There are no views at all from the top – we had to cut plants just to sit down! If you are training for the sas this is a great trek, otherwise….

    It took 8 hours all up – our guide had said 3….

    Posted by Ali | August 13, 2012, 21:46
  12. avatar

    Oh and our guide said puncat besar and puncat malabar are different mountains – given we couldn’t see anything else, it is unclear where puncat malabar is in relation to puncat besar.

    Posted by Ali | August 13, 2012, 21:47
  13. avatar

    Hi!!
    I’m looking for the email of the guesthouse Malabar Mess.
    Could you give it to me?

    Thank you very much,
    Maddalena

    Posted by Maddalena | April 16, 2014, 00:45

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