|Elevation:||915 m (3,002 ft)||Prominence:||354 m|
|Ribu category:||Spesial||Province:||Jawa Barat (West Java)|
|Google Earth:||kml||Other names:|
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Gunung Parang is one of the most interesting peaks in Java. Despite being clearly visible as a jagged rocky ridge from the Jakarta-Bandung toll road it remains something of a secret, generally known only to Indonesian rock climbers. From some angles it very closely resembles the famous and unusual Scottish mountain Suilven.
The mountain lies to the east of the large Jatiluhur reservoir near Purwakarta and is best accessed via Plered. From Purwakarta, which is a mere hour by car/bus from Jakarta) there are many angkots leading to Plered (Rp 5,000 per person, 2010). From Plered, the road west towards the mountain deteriorates quickly so you will need either a motorbike (plenty of ojeks available) or – if in a group – a 4WD with high clearance. It is about one hour along farm tracks and through delightful countryside from Plered. Most people in the area will be able to point you in the right direction but if in doubt, ask for Tegalwaru and then Cikakak. As the road gets higher, the views east are stunning.
After Cikakak, the road snakes down between the mountains in a delightful yet utterly confusing manner. The first sight you will get of Parang close-up is pretty astounding – it appears as a huge impenetrable vertical andesite cliff. From this side it certainly is impenetrable and it is only expert rock climbers that attempt to scale the mountain from any route other than the one described below. Interestingly, this area of vertical rocky peaks is very poorly represented in Google Earth – perhaps due to its unusual complexity.
Eventually, you will reach a village (‘Pasangrahan’) on the west of the peak where the trail to the summit begins (at roughly 430m above sea level). Opposite the tiny village shop are a couple of small buildings where you are requested to sign before climbing the mountain. One of the buildings actually has ‘Pos Jaga – Gunung Parang’ written on it so finding the correct starting point should be no problem. Additionally, a neighbouring and equally imposing peak, Gunung Bongkok (sometimes mis-spelt ‘Bangkok’), lies directly ahead (south west) along the village track.
You can probably climb the mountain alone but locals will recommend that you take a guide (for just Rp 50,000 per person). Unsurprisingly, the short hike to the summit ridge is relentlessly steep and incredibly hot. Make sure you take plenty of water. As you quickly gain elevation, the large Jatiluhur reservoir is revealed, with the forested flat top of Gunung Sangga Buana behind to the west and a smaller peak in the foreground, Gunung Lembu.
The trail is in good condition and straightforward other than couple of sections where you will need to use your hands to negotiate some large and slippery rocks. Most people can reach the top of the Parang ridge in just over one and a half hours. There is a small pile of stones and impressive views to a narrow grassy peak on the ridge just a hundred metres to the north. To reach this grassy peak (896m on the Bako map), descend beyond the small pile of stones before ascending steeply up the grassy and bouldery top with sheer drops on either side on the trail. Suddenly, the view opens out all around you. For a mountain in West Java of less than 1000m, few come more impressive than this. The vast reservoir, numerous villages, plus other shapely peaks in all directions – most notably a slightly higher forested peak at the southern end of the ridge and the equally fabulous Gunung Bongkok a mile or so beyond. In clear weather, Gede-Pangrango and Ciremai are both visible.
Gunung Parang is Indonesian for ‘Machete Mountain’ and to reach the absolute highest point (915m, rarely – if ever – visited) you would definitely need a few machetes! The jungle is so dense that it is totally impossible to reach – it is presumed that nobody has been there in many decades. The finest viewpoint, however, is definitely the steep grassy peak to the north so it’s no great loss to not make it to the very highest point.
There are hotels in both Purwakarta and Jatiluhur. It is definitely worth visiting the reservoir for a stroll, to take a few pictures of Parang’s striking shape from a distance and enjoy freshly caught fish. Sadly the over-priced accommodation is in a huge, bland complex set back from the water’s edge and is somewhat lacking in atmosphere. There are frequent angkots heading into both Purwakarta and Cikampek where you can catch a bus back to Jakarta (usually Kampung Rambutan bus terminal).
A fantastic day out from Jakarta – just remember to set out early to beat the mid-day sun!
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn
Origins and Meaning
Literally ‘machete mountain’ in Indonesian. This is obviously due to its appearance – the sheer, vertical andesite cliffs appearing as the blade of a knife.