|Elevation:||2,211 m (7,254 ft)||Prominence:||1,679 m|
|Ribu category:||Tinggi Sedang||Province:||Jawa Barat (West Java)|
|Google Earth:||kml||Other names:|
|Rating:||Eruptions:||1698-99, 1780, 1902-03, 1919, 1935, 1938|
Salak is one of the most accessible volcanoes from Jakarta but has not erupted since 1935. There are various routes on the mountain range and despite being forested and generally lacking in views there is a great deal of variety to be found on its slopes – craters, wildlife, plants and numerous mountain peaks. It is the kind of mountain that cannot be fully explored in a single hike – you need to try various routes to discover the character of the mountain as a whole.
The best starting point for the highest of Salak’s seven summits is from the agriculture station near Cimelati (800m) – there is a signpost where you take the right turn near Cicurug. It takes just over 4 hours to reach the summit, which features a prominent blue sign, a gravestone and a shelter. It is a steep but straightforward hike through forest to Salak 1 (the highest peak), and the forest does thin out a little as you get close to the summit. You may be lucky to spot the elusive Javan Ferret Badger on the upper slopes. Despite being forested on top, you are rewarded with views to Salak’s other lesser summits, the Gede-Pangrango massif, and outlying suburbs of the city of Bogor below.
The second highest, and more northerly peak, Salak II (2,180m) is best approached from Curug Nangka or the Highland Park resort, Ciapus, to the north of the mountain (at approx. 750m and just 40 minutes from the centre of Bogor). This is slightly more challenging than Salak 1 and access is a grey area. It would appear it can be done if you pay for a member of park staff to accompany you on the trek but they are incredibly difficult people to get in touch with. Officially, since 1999, this route was closed to all hikers except if you were conducting scientific research. It was basically because the National Park did not have sufficient resources to enable that the trail was well-maintained and they were worried about people having accidents because they would be responsible. You were not even allowed to sign a waiver to say that you accept full responsibility (which should be expected anyway). Such a restriction represented a sad state of affairs for access to the outdoors in Indonesia and that fact that National Parks often prevent rather than encourage responsible hiking is a serious problem that still needs to be addressed. In September 2011 it was discovered that hiking to Salak 2 from Curug Nangka was possible, but only if you requested permission a minimum of one week in advance from the resort at the base of the mountain near Curug Nangka. Impractical, to say the least, but, if true, it’s a step back in the right direction finally, especially considering that’s it’s the closest significant mountain hike to Jakarta.
The most popular trek on Salak is from the Javana Spa to the active crater Kawah Ratu (Queen’s crater). You can also reach Salak 1 from this approach and – despite being a longer route than from Cimelati – it is increasing in popularity due to the fact there are markers on the trail so it is very hard to get lost. To get there, take a well-signposted right turn for ‘Javana Spa 12km’) off the Bogor-Sukabumi road just beyond Cicurug.
The entrance gates and information centre are 2 kilometres before the end of the road at the Javana Spa and this is where you purchase a National Park ticket. Just before the Javana Spa the road crosses a river and there is a small office building at the start of the trail (1,108m) to Kawah Ratu and Salak summit. This trail is known as the Cangkuang route and if anyone is actually at the office you will be given an excellent information leaflet (in Indonesian) which includes a very helpful map. The trails are dotted with numbered markers shown on the map.
Kawah Ratu is an easy 5km from the office and because there is not much elevation gain fast hikers will be able to get there and back in 3 hours. At a leisurely pace it takes about 2 hours to reach the crater. The first obvious sign on the route (except the frequent markers) is a green sign for Salak summit and Kawah Ratu (1,224m) after which you reach the junction – right for Salak summit, left for the crater. This is a popular camping area and is known as Bajuri (1,364m). On the trail to the crater, the next landmark is a wooden hut with a roof (1,415m) after which the trail descends slightly to a Helipad (1,390m) before descending further to the crater itself (1,372m). Major eruptions occurred here in 1668-1699, 1780, 1902-1903 and February 1935.
The crater area actually consists of three craters – the Queen crater (the largest) plus the Paeh Crater (death crater) and Hurip Crater (life crater). It’s an astounding landscape: a vast hillside of white rocks, steaming sulphur gases, bubbling water and mud pools and rivers of sulphur. In terms of active craters in West Java, it is perhaps second only to Papandayan. The water here is supposed to have cleansing properties but you should not drink it due to the high sulphur content. Indeed, after heavy rainfall the water is thick with sulphur. The forested peak above the crater area is Gunung Sumbul, a subsidiary top in the Salak range.
There are poisonous gases in this area and sadly people have lost their lives, particularly when camping in the area. Therefore, although the trail to the crater makes an adventurous family day out you must be very very careful near the crater. The best thing to do is return the same way to the Javana Spa starting point in 90 minutes or less. However there is another route to the crater from the north at Pasir Reungit and it would probably make a great traverse to start at one side and descend to the other.
Please note: Gunung Salak is part of Mount Halimun Salak National Park which is closed entirely from December to March and August. Oh, and Idul Fitri. Hikers are supposed to register before their hike. Check the National Park website for more information, although rather annoyingly their email mailbox has been full for months and months and the chances of anyone answering the phone are almost zero!
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn and Andy Dean (updated September 2011)
Origins and Meaning
Apparently named after ‘Salaka Domas’, the ancient megalithic monuments which scatter the land surrounding the mountain. (Thanks to Pepep of Bandung, 2012).
Our previous suggestion was: Snakefruit Mountain. Possibly so named because from a distance the mountain has a rough, brown appearance like that of the “scaly-skinned” salak or snakefruit. (George Quinn, 2011)