|Elevation:||2,675 m (8,776 ft)||Prominence:||1,329 m|
|Ribu category:||Tinggi Sedang||Province:||Jawa Barat (West Java)|
|Google Earth:||kml||Other names:|
|Rating:||Eruptions:||1772, 1923, 1942, 2002|
This Ribu is located about one hour’s drive from the town of Garut and actually has a car park at over 2,000 metres above sea level on the edge of the active craters. There is an alternative route to the mountain from Cileuleuy and Pangalengan but the approach from the main crater is by far the easiest and most popular. The scenery is some of the most spectacular and varied in West Java and the active crater attracts a lot of tourists. From Garut, take the road which leads via Samarang and Bayongbong to Cisurupan. Take a right turn here, or take one of the many ojeks (motorbike taxis, approximately Rp 25,000 each), and follow the very bumpy road 8 kilometres up to the warung-surrounded car park. The entrance fee is Rp 15,000 for foreigners and only Rp 2,500 if you’re Indonesian.
Mount Papandayan has several summit craters and is very much alive, volcanically speaking. The most catastophic eruption was in 1772, but there are fairly regular eruptions, the last major one being in 2002. Apparently the mountain was over 3,000m high before the 18th century eruption. Exploring the active crater is easily done in less than an hour. Further on, there are several peaks of a seemingly similar height, the principal and outer two being named Papandayan and Puntang, with various minor tops between them, one of which is the very rarely visited highest point in the mountain massif called Gunung Malang on Bakosurtanal maps.
From the crater carpark (2,008 metres up the mountainside, known somewhat bizarrely by local trekkers as ‘Camp David’!) it is a fascinating walk through the incredible crater scenery (sulphur clouds, rivers of steaming water and even bubbling hot mud pools at 2,188m). This part of the hike is very popular with tourists but only a small number venture further. Sometimes warnings are in place which prevent you from walking through the crater (most recently in August 2011) but remarkably some local people still use the trail as a villagers’ route to Cileuleuy and the vast tea plantation area south of Pangalengan. Indeed, you may even see one or two motorbikes go past across the crater.
The imposing 2,623m mountain to the south/south-east of the crater that actually forms the crater wall is called ‘Gunung Papandayan’ and is the highest accessible peak in the mountain range. It’s a tough 5 hour trek up there via various fascinating and varied landscapes and you definitely need a guide. The main crater path climbs round to the west, past the bubbling pools of mud (and previously a sign for ‘Balagadama crater’), and up towards the edge of the active crater scenery. From here, there are two routes to choose from, though this junction is vague and not signposted. A left turn following the edge of the crater leads you steeply up towards a small plateau of burnt trees just beyond the camping area of Pondok Salada. It’s the quickest way of getting to the highest areas of the mountain range.
The other option is straight on over the edge of the active crater scenery on a trail that will lead you to a cobbled track through an area of rich vegetation and some excellent camping areas. A huge landslide (which occurred in the eruption of 2002) destroyed one large section of the cobbled track and this means that you have to take a right down and across a river before ascending again back to the cobbled track. When you reach the saddle, there is a grassy area (2,275m) known as ‘Ghober Hut’. There used to be a couple of wooden huts but they were demolished sometime in early 2011. This is a very important crossroads on the mountain and there are three options. Straight on on the wide farm track will lead you all the way down to the vast and beautiful tea plantations near Cileuleuy on the other side of the mountain. This makes an interesting alternative route down after you have finished your hike and if you have lots of time to slowly work your way back to Pangalengan and Bandung by ojek and minibus. The second option is a right turn along a track leading north out to Gunung Puntang, a 2,555 metre high forested peak. Unfortunately there is no trail at present to the top of the densely-forested peak but a 10-minute wander in the direction of Puntang offers wonderful views to Gunung Cikuray. (After that the trail descends into deeper forest, skirting the wild Puntang peak itself. Apparently an aircraft crashed into this remote area c.1992. There is no litter here because of how infrequently the trail is used by hikers. Local farmers and hunters sometimes traverse this incredibly wild area, which is populated with a large number of wild pigs ‘babi hutan’, and descend northwards to a treeless area called Tegal Panjang (c 2,100m) before heading down into local villages. Perhaps local hikers will one day open a route to the Puntang summit but for now most regard it as a rather mysterious peak.)
The third option is a left turn towards the Pondok Salada and beyond to the highest parts of the mountain range. A path on the left of the two wooden huts leads up and then down through forest to the pleasant camping area known as Pondok Salada (2,318m). On the way there you can admire the views back down over the active crater. It’s a beautiful spot but do take note that there are lots of wild animals in the area – wild pigs, wild dogs and a handful of ‘big cats’ – so campers are advised to go in large groups. Continuing further on, on the left of the boggy area and up through a sandy area with dead trees (where the short cut from the active crater meets this trail), and steeply up the mountainside. Less than an hour beyond Pondok Salada is yet even more fabulous scenery called Tegal Alun where swallows swoop and dive. It’s a vast grassy meadow of extinct crater areas and has plenty of large flat open plains (2,520m) ideal for camping (if the prospect of beasts lurking in the bushes doesn’t put you and your group off) and lots of Javanese Edelweiss. In mist it is an incredibly eerie place and there are many dead trees and small clusters of bush. You are unlikely to meet any other hikers here and the majority of camping takes place back in Pondok Salada.
The very highest point of Papandayan (2,665m) is actually an unmarked spot known as Gunung Malang in very dense vegetation 140 metres above to the west of the vast open plains and presumably formed part of an ancient crater wall many centuries ago. It seems unlikely that more than a handful of people have visited this true peak in recent decades as it is densely overgrown and looks impossible to reach. We have yet to find anyone who has been to the true summit, although several have got to within 300 metres or so.
However, there is a trail to the second highest peak known as ‘Gunung Papandayan’ and incorrectly assumed by local guides to be the highest point. It is the mountain you will have admired from the crater carpark and lies beyond Tegal Alun and to the left (east). After skirting along the left side of Tegal Alun, the faint path drops down slightly to a small boggy area. It is very difficult to find the trail without a guide as it then snakes through dense undergrowth growing among dead tree stumps before climbing the ridge of the actual mountain which you will have seen as the active crater’s back wall from back at the carpark. It takes about 90 minutes to reach the peak from Tegal Alun and there are some stunning views back down to Tegal Alun, Pondok Salada, the active craters below and many other distant mountains from the higher sections of the ridge. One landmark that guides will know is ‘Batu Cakup’ (2,545m) which is basically a section of the trail where there are a couple of large boulders. You can sometimes see the south coast of Java from here.
The Papandayan summit (2,623m, second highest after the inaccessible Gunung Malang) is marked with a little flag but offers only limited views to the active craters below. Keep on hiking beyond the highest point for another 200 metres for the best views directly down the cliffs of the crater walls to the new crater (including a small lake). You are likely to see birds of prey in this area.
It takes about 3-4 hours to descend the same way back through Papandayan’s wide array of splendid scenery, although there is a short cut back to the car park which simply continues beyond the highest point and follows the ridge back down. Apparently it takes about 2 hours to climb down from the peak to the car park if using this route. Of course, you could climb up this way to begin with but then you would miss all of the beauty of Pondok Salada and Tegal Alun.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn (updated October 2012)
Origins and Meaning
Mount Smithy’s Forge. Papandyan probably comes from the base-word panday or pande meaning “blacksmith, ironsmith, metal artisan”, and papandeyan is “the place of the ironsmith” i.e. the fire in which the ironsmith forges his metal. So the name papandayan probably refers to the volcanic crater of the mountain. (George Quinn, 2011)
Malang means ‘sinister’, ‘poor’, ‘dismal’ or ‘wretched’.