|Elevation:||1,346 m (4,416 ft)||Prominence:||890 m|
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This peak is the most popular climb in Banten. It is less prominent and less high than nearby Gunung Karang but is far more interesting. It is also a very easy hike – if you start early enough you can be back down in time for lunch and this is definitely a good idea as later in the day it would be unbearably hot. It is perfect as a last-minute day trip from Jakarta and takes just over two hours to get to in good traffic conditions.
The trail starts north of the mountain in Ciletung, 20km beyond Pandeglang on the narrow road leading down to the west coast of Java at Labuan. On the main road, there is a large, modern sign (at 481m) for the Pulosari crater (kawah) and waterfall (curug) pointing the way down a very bumpy track. About one kilometer down this track is a warung (small shop) and the centre of the village of Ciletung. There are more signs for the crater and enough room for about 2 cars next to the warung (you may have to pay about Rp10,000 for parking).
You cannot miss the start of the trail (at 501m), which leads up beyond the village through plantation and there are many signs on the route itself. After less than an hour you should have reached the Curug Putri waterfall (at 750m) where you have to pay Rp4,500 per person at the hut. It is not the most impressive waterfall in Java by any means but certainly an interesting feature on the trail and a place to cool off. The path then leads steeply up to the right and after another 45 minutes you should be close to the impressive rocky crater area (at 1,065m). Beside the white rocks and often dense clouds of sulphur gases there is, once again, a small warung and this area is a very popular place for local students to camp at weekends.
Straight above the crater area is the summit itself, about 300m up at the top of the vegetated crater wall. You may be able to see the transmitter on top. The trail leads up to the right of the crater and there are some very steep drops to the west so take extra care here. Occasional stone markers and the inevitable litter mark the way. There are also monkeys in this area which you might see. After climbing steeply over tree roots the vegetation becomes less dense and you see over the valley to the lesser peak of Aseupan and Java’s west coastline. As you near the top, there is a great spot looking directly west to Labuan and the Sunda Straits from the south-western edge of the narrow summit plateau. In good visibility the Krakatau islands lie directly beyond the power station chimney at Labuan.
Another ten minutes on the trail and you should have reached the peak. The fairly low height of the vegetation means that there are good views in all directions. The summit is crowned with a transmitter and earthquake monitoring equipment. There are a few places where local students like to camp at weekends. At the north-eastern tip of the summit ridge, beyond the transmitter, is a good vantage point for Gunung Karang and an occasional source of water. After enjoying the great views head back down the same way. Fast walkers can be back in Ciletung in two hours. Not bad for a day hike out of Jakarta!
Gunung Aseupan (1,174m)
Gunung Aseupan is the third highest peak in this region and is also a worthwhile day out. It is a complex range with various peaks. The two highest peaks can be hiked from separate starting points. The ridge which is the eastern part of the range can be accessed from the south via Ulun Jaya at Pak Marsem’s warung (455m) or nearby Pandat. The highest point of this long ridge is around 1,098m (but 1,127m according to the Bakosurtanal map) but has no views. (Thanks to John Hargreaves for this information).
However, the true summit is further west and is accessed from the south-west at Desa Sikulan (280m). This peak is clearly seen as a shapely triangle from the villages and main road below and is 1,174m above sea level. The shape of the peak gives the mountain its name. The true summit can be reached via two different ridges, but the more direct one leads to an incredibly overgrown and dangerously steep section just below the summit. Best take the slightly more eastern one that is clear for the most part. A guide will probably be needed as there are numerous junctions on the lower slopes of the mountain. Ask in the village for Bang Handa.
Lower down, the mountain is covered in clove and durian trees and there are also some attractive rice paddies. Higher up, the trail leads along a narrow, slippery forest ridge. There are lots of thorny plants here and also a few leeches. Near the summit are some pitcher plants (the Javan Nepenthes gymnamphora, according to expert Alastair Robinson). The summit itself is a small grassy area with excellent views in clear conditions of lower peaks in the range plus the other Pandeglang mountains and the coastline near Labuan. There is also an ancient grave and a summit sign. Most fit hikers can reach the top in 4-5 hours and be back down in 3-4, meaning this is possible as a daytrip from Jakarta if you set off before light.
Whereas nearby Pulosari now sees many, many visitors every weekend, Gunung Aseupan is still not famous and only sees a handful of hikers each year (in 2018) though this may change in the future.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn
|Getting there||From Jakarta, take the toll road towards Merak, exit at the Pandeglang turn-off and turn right several kilometres beyond the town. For public transport, there are plenty of buses calling at Serang from where you can take an angkot to Pandeglang and then an ojek or further angkot onward to the starting point.|
|Accommodation||There is some basic accommodation in Pandeglang. Anyer and Carita have a wider variety of places to stay.|
|Permits||None required but take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase.|
|Water sources||Available all the way to the crater but probably too much sulphur in it to be safe.|
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Origins and Meaning
(unclear) Pulo usually means “an island” but it also appears in several place names in Java (e.g. around Krawang) that are quite far from the sea. So it is possible that pulo also means something like “an outcrop”, “a prominence”, “something that rises from flat surroundings whether from the sea or from the land” or “an enclosed place”. It is also possible that pulo is a corruption of pala or pahala (pronounced /polo/ in Javanese) = “divinely bestowed reward for good deeds” or “the fruit of one’s deeds”, or simply “fruit”. Pulosari, then, might mean “the essence of divine reward” i.e. harking back to a time when people believed in karmic reward for good deeds, and mountains were venerated as the abode of deities and the source of good things. (George Quinn, 2011)