- 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: none.
- 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 30,000 each), and follow the occasionally bumpy road 8 kilometres up to the warung-surrounded car park. The entrance fee changes according to whether it is a weekday or weekend and is a ridiculous Rp 200,000/300,000 for foreigners and a much more appropriate Rp 20,000/30,000 if you’re Indonesian or have a KITAS/KITAP. Additional parking and camping charges apply.
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 though how this is known is unclear. 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 (2,010 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 2,190m). This part of the hike is very popular with tourists, some of whom do not 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 one of the highest peaks in the mountain range (many will tell you it is THE highest but they are wrong). 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. A left turn on a very pleasant new path (constructed in 2017) between the lovely Pohon Suagi bushes (Vaccinium Valium) with edible berries, following the edge of the crater leads you steeply up towards a small plateau of burnt trees (‘Hutan Mati’ 2,330m), avoiding and just beyond the moderately-popular camping area of Pondok Salada (2,320m). It’s the quickest way of getting to the highest areas of the mountain range known as Tegal Alun (2,520m) – just 2 hours for fit hikers.
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 though may have by now been replaced.
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 large treeless area clearly visible on the satellite view on Google Earth and Google Maps 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.) Tegal Panjang itself was popular with local hikers for a few years (2010-2015) as a place to take photos of a large expanse of meadow surrounded by forest. The area is about one kilometre long (hence the name ‘panjang’) and a couple of hundred metres wide. Sadly, the forestry authorities decided to close this spot (along with tens of others) to all but scientific researchers, but some hikers still visit occasionally from the Pangalengan side.
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 (2,320m). 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 perhaps even some ‘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 (2,675m) is actually an unmarked spot known as Gunung Malang in moderately 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 overgrown, however we know for sure that a group from Bandung visited in June 2015 and we ourselves finally made it to the top in June 2017.
It takes about an hour from Tegal Alun to reach the highest peak (Malang) and you are advised to take a GPS with you and use the tracks available on this very website to be sure you make it to the true summit as there are several bumps of fairly similar height. In short, it is not the broad, flat top with numerous rocks on it which lies in front of you when you first enter Tegal Alun but rather one of the peaks further to the right. If you do manage to reach the top and don’t get lost in the spiky vegetation, you can be back down at the carpark from Malang peak via Hutan Mati in just over 2 hours!
There is also a trail from Tegal Alun 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). In 2017 there was a red sign with ‘Puncak’ written on it at Tegal Alun and with an arrow pointing left. This ‘puncak’ refers to Puncak Papandayan not the higher Puncak Malang. 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 numerous bumps on the Gunung Malang ridge) 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 June 2017)
Gunung Kendang (2,617m)
About 8 kilometres to the north of the Papandayan area, east of the vast tea plantations near Pangalengan, is another high mountain called Gunung Kendang. It is essentially a large extension of the Papandayan range, but feels separate enough in its own right to have been a key target for many keen local hikers in West Java for many years. Sadly, as is the case with many of the mountains in West Java, in the last few years access has been restricted as large areas of forest have been accorded the status of nature reserve (‘cagar alam’) and therefore only accessible to scientists or similar conducting research. Although many local hikers have not always treated mountains with sufficient respect in the past, by leaving rubbish behind and so on, it seems quite drastic to prevent ordinary, responsible people from exploring so many beautiful, wild places of West Java. Anyway, for now, Gunung Kendang is officially shut, but should you be a researcher, or should the status of the trail change yet again in the future, then the following information may be useful.
The trail to Gunung Kendang starts in a small village called Neglawangi (1,790m) which is about one hour by car or motorbike from Pangelangan via the very scenic villages of Santosa, Talum and Sedep, and with good views of Wayang-Windu. The trail initially leads through tea plantations before entering forest (Pos 1, 1,955m, less than one hour). A ridge leads all the way up to the summit and on this ridge are Javan edelwiess plants, cantigi, and a large number of pitcher plants, now sadly a rare sight in Java. The views over to Papandayan and down to the tea plantation are beautiful in clear weather. Pos 2 is at 2,310m and a junction is reached at 2,600m (after about 3 hours in total). Just two minutes to the right is the summit of Kendang, with a lonely, rusting metal sign. There is no view here and no reliable water sources. Down about 15 minutes to the right is a large clearing, allegedly formerly a lake, but most likely to have been a crater in ancient times. This is known as ‘savanna’ (2,560m) and used to be the main camping spot for hikers in recent years, although a day hike is also possible as fast hikers can be back down at Neglawangi in just 2 hours.
From the summit area, a powerful, continuous sound of gas explusion can be heard. This is either an inaccessible crater on the eastern side of the mountain, or more likely the geothermal plant at Darajat Pass – again on the eastern side of Kendang (the Garut side), and apparently with no trail between there and the summit or savanna. The 2,608m figure which is shown on some maps is thought to possibly refer to the height of the seemingly slightly lower northern top which is just to the north of the savanna.
- Getting there: From Jakarta, take the toll road to Bandung and continue beyond to the end of the toll at Cileunyi. Follow signs to Garut and then take a right turn towards Cikajang. The road to the crater is signposted at Cisurupan. Primajasa buses to Garut leave from Jakarta’s Lebak Bulus and Cililitan bus depot frequently during the day (Rp52,000 in 2017). Angkots run from both Bandung and Garut to Cisurupan but you need an ojek (plenty available) up to the crater itself. The alternative approach from Pangalengan requires public transport (and probably ojeks too) from the Bandung side.
- Accommodation: Plenty available at Cipanas near Garut, one or two homestays close-by in the Cisurupan area, or further away in Tasikmalaya.
- Permits: Entrance ticket required. An expensive Rp200,000 / 300,000 for foreigners or Rp20,000 / 30,000 for locals and those with KITAS/KITAP. The higher price is the weekend or public holiday price. You may get a discount for large groups. Additional parking and camping fees apply – and foreign tourists have to yet again pay more than locals for the camping!
- Water sources: Available at Pondok Salada (2,320m).
- 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
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’.