- Elevation: 930 m (3,051 ft)
- Prominence: 369 m
- Ribu category: Spesial
- Province: Jawa Barat (West Java)
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none.
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, up until recently it was 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. By 2017, things have changed and this fabulous and accessible mountain is finally getting the recognition it deserves.
The mountain lies to the east of the large Jatiluhur reservoir near Purwakarta. From Purwakarta, which is a mere hour or 90 minutes by car/bus from Jakarta) it takes about an hour to travel the 20km or so through delightful countryside and tiny villages. Most people in the area will be able to point you in the right direction but if in doubt, ask for Sukatani, Sukamaju, Tajursindang, Sindanglaya and finally Pasangrahan where the trail starts.
As the road snakes down between the mountains, 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 roped 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. The trailhead is clearly marked with a sign so finding the correct starting point should be no problem. Additionally, a neighbouring and equally imposing peak, Gunung Bongkok (‘the hunchback’), lies directly ahead (south west) along the village track.
You can easily climb the mountain alone as the trail is very well marked but if you haven’t been before locals will recommend that you take a guide (for just Rp 100,000). 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. There are several pleasant huts to take a rest in – Pos 1 (490m), Pos 1 Treehouses (550m), Pos 2 (670m) and Pos 3 (750m). Most impressive of all are the treehouses at 550m. There are two very short side trails leading to boulders near both Pos 2 and 3 with good viewpoints to the villages below.Between Pos 2 and 3 is a view to the right of a vertical cliff with ropes still hanging from it left by a Dutch rock climber.
Most people can reach the Parang ridge (870m) in just over one hour and 15 minues. Here you can turn left for excellent views from ‘Tower 1’, or right into dense undergrowth and the true highpoint of the ridge. 99% of hikers opt for the former, and as such it will be described first below!
There is a small pile of stones (ancient grave, 890m) and impressive views to a narrow grassy peak (Tower 1) on the ridge just a hundred metres to the north (left). To reach this grassy peak (915m), descend beyond the ancient grave before ascending steeply up the grassy and bouldery top with sheer drops on either side on the trail. It only takes 15 minutes and 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 (930m, rarely visited by humans) you may need a machete! From the main junction on the ridge near the grave, head right into the dense undergrowth (preferably with a machete-wielding local guide). It is only 200 metres in distance to reach the true summit but it may take you 20 minutes or more to get there, depending on if the trail is overgrown or not (it probably will be!) The true highpoint offers limited views back to Tower 1 and potentially views over to Sanggabuana and Bongkok. The summit is marked (in 2017) with a small black string on an upright tree next to a fallen tree. Congratulations if you made it here!
The lower Gunung Lembu is also worth visiting in this area – perhaps third most interesting after Parang and Bongkok. It is also definitely worth visiting the Jatiluhur reservoir for a stroll, to take a few pictures of Parang’s striking shape from a distance and enjoy freshly caught fish. From Pasangrahan you will probably need an ojek but from the reservoir there are frequent angkots heading into both Purwakarta and Cikampek where you can catch a bus back to Jakarta (usually to Kampung Rambutan bus terminal).
A fantastic day out from Jakarta – just remember to set out early to beat the mid-day sun!
Information on nearby Gunung Lembu (692m).
One of the more prominent hills you can see from the top of both Parang and Bongkok is Gunung Lembu, the third-most interesting peak in the area. Not surprisingly the views from Lembu to Parang and Bongkok are excellent. It makes a decent half-day out from Jakarta (if you set out early enough to beat the usual traffic issues). Follow directions as below for Parang but instead of turning left to head to Parang and Bongkok continue for a further kilometre to the village of Panyindangan (360m). There is a car-parking place (Rp10,000) opposite the decent basecamp. Entrance ticket is Rp10,000. The hike itself can be completed in a total of about 3 hours, including plenty of time to take photos and rest etc. Fast hikers could reach the summit in under an hour. Guides not necessary as very popular with locals who camp up there in large numbers.
From the basecamp it takes about 15 minutes up to Lapang Kapal (485m) where there are a couple of warungs and a bamboo structure you can climb for great views. Another warung follows at 500m before you reach the ridge at 590m. There is yet another warung at about 625m and an ancient grave before the ridge drops down before rising back up to Pos 3 (655m) after a rock and a view to the right. The summit (692m) is a large boulder to the left of the trail and near a popular camping spot. Be very careful on this boulder! Ignore the signs that say the true height is 792m – this is not the case.
Perhaps the best part of the hike is actually beyond the summit. Drop down about 70m (5 minutes or so) beyond a huge boulder and some bamboo shelters to ‘Batu Lembu’ (620m) – a very large rock offering great views in almost all directions (including over Jatiluhur Reservoir and to Parang and Bongkok). There is a simple metal fence around the rock and a rope to drop down onto the rock but be extremely careful. Watch out for the many monkeys that scavenge here!
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn (last updated June 2017)
- Getting there: From Jakarta, take the toll road from Jakarta to Bandung and exit at Jatiluhur (preferably) or Purwakarta. The are frequent buses to Purwakarta from Jakarta’s Kampung Rambutan bus terminal. If using public transport, either find a willing ojek driver in Purwakarta or take an angkot to Plered and an ojek from Plered to the foot of the mountain. If driving, it is less than 20km from Purwakarta to the mountain – head to Sukatani then turn right near the sign for the quarry and follow the road over the railway line and through Sukamaju, Tajursindang and Sindanglaya, after which you need to turn left (small wooden signpost for Gn Parang and Gn Bongkok) then right to Pasangrahan.
- Accommodation: The nearest normal hotels are in Purwakarta and Jatiluhur. However you can camp on/near Parang (ask at village first) and as of late 2017 a very expensive mini-hotel tethered to the cliff-face itself is to be opened!
- Permits: None required but take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase. Sign the visitor book in Pasangrahan before climbing. Locals are asked to pay Rp10,000 per person and foreign tourists are asked to pay Rp25,000. Local guide – if you need one – costs Rp100,000 (in 2017).
- Water sources: Very limited and weather dependent – so take sufficient supplies with you.
- 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
Literally ‘machete mountain’ in Indonesian. This is obviously due to its appearance – the sheer, vertical andesite cliffs appearing as the blade of a knife.