|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 1938. There are various routes on the mountain range and despite being forested and generally lacking in views (exccept on the Cidahu route to Salak 1) 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 range is well-known for being the site of many aircraft crashes, most famously the Sukhoi Superjet which tragically crashed into Gunung Salak in 2012.
Perhaps the most popular trek on Salak is from the south-southwest at Cidahu to the active crater Kawah Ratu (Queen’s crater). You can also reach Salak 1 (the highest peak) from this approach and – despite being a longer route than from Cimelati (see below) – it is increasing in popularity due to it being the official route to the summit and also due the fact there are markers on the higher parts of the trail so it is not easy to get lost. To get to Cidahu, take a well-signposted right turn for ‘Javana Spa 12km’) off the Bogor-Sukabumi road just beyond Cicurug.
All in all, the best two-day hike exploring much of what the Salak range has to offer would be to start in Cidahu, hike via Bajuri up to Salak 1 and camp on or near the top. On day 2, return to Bajuri and descend via Kawah Ratu to Pasir Reungit. Do be warned it is quite lengthy and challenging! Super-fit hikers could do it in a day, but only if they set off at 6am and barely take a rest.
NOTE: The reverse direction (Pasir Reungit – Bajuri – Salak 1 – Bajuri – Cidahu) would probably take an extra hour or two on the ascent and you would probably have wet feet within the first hour! Essentially, if you are doing a traverse then Cidahu is a better starting point. Quite a lot of hikers just head to Kawah Ratu this way and return the same way to Pasir Reungit, and it is definitely of interest if you have already hiked to Kawah Ratu from Cidahu and want to try another route.
Cidahu to Bajuri
The entrance gates and information centre (895m) are 2 kilometres before the end of the road at the Javana Spa and this is where you purchase a National Park ticket. Ask for a map/leaflet and if they have any they will give you one. It is about 30 minutes on foot up the road to the real starting point. About one kilometre before the Javana Spa the road crosses a river and there is a small but apparently now disused office building (Pos Kancil) at the start of the trail (1,108m) to Kawah Ratu and Salak 1 summit. This trail is known as the Cangkuang route. Back in 2011, the trails were dotted with very useful numbered wooden markers every hundred metres (HM= hectometer), as shown on the official map. Sadly, in 2018, many of these have now disappeared (rotten or stolen for firewood?) except on the section between Bajuri and Salak 1 summit.
Kawah Ratu is a fairly easy 5km from Pos Kancil and because there is not much elevation gain fast hikers will be able to get there and back in 3 or 4 hours. At a reasonable pace it takes about 2 hours to reach the crater. Leisurely hikers might need half a day. The first obvious landmark after around 60-90 minutes from the road is Bajuri (1,375m, less frequently known as Cukang Batu), which consists of several grassy spots clearly used for camping on a regular basis. In 2018, the Bajuri sign was gone (stolen? firewood? rotten?) but essentially what you need to do here is either stay left and follow the stony track towards Kawah Ratu or, if heading to the Salak 1 summit, briefly head right, cross the little stream at Bajuri and then sharp left at an ageing metal sign with “Puncak Salak 1 – 5km” on it.
Bajuri to Salak 1 summit
National Park leaflets suggest a total trekking time of 8 hours from Cidahu to Salak 1 summit. We would say between 6 and 8 hours, depending on your speed, or between 4 and 6 from Bajuri. This section of trail is the most challenging public route on the mountain range, but also the most rewarding as there are good views of Kawah Ratu from above. You will also have fine views of the Kiaraberes-Gagak fumarole plumes in the distance to the west. The hectometer markers are mostly still intact on the higher slopes and there are accompanying metal signs on trees in some places too. The numbering starts from zero at Bajuri and the summit must be about HM50 given that the distance is 5 kilometres in total.
The first section of trail beyond Bajuri is fairly flat and boggy, with sections of deep mud to contend with. Once the trail starts leading upwards, the situation improves. From around 1,500m you should be able to hear the crater below and there are some great narrow sections of trail with views down to the left of the ridge of Kawah Ratu, especially around HM16, 27 and 31. This is probably the best section of trail on the whole of Gunung Salak.
There are countless short sections of trail where simple ropes have been tied around trees to assist with scrambling up steep, muddy or rocky sections. Most of these sections are straightforward, but less confident scramblers may have difficulty in a couple of places and may need assistance. From around 1,920m, there are pitcher plants growing on the ridge. Look out for them (Nepenthes gymnamphora, according to Alastair Robinson).
After around 3 or 4 hours from Bajuri, you should have reached Pos Bayangan (2,000m). This is the spot where many hikers end up camping if they don’t give themselves enough time to get to the summit before dark. There are enough spots for 3 or 4 tents, but somehow local hikers seem to manage to fit at least double that number!
After Pos Bayangan, the trail drops down a little before heading up the toughest, roped section of trail. Take extra care here, especially in poor weather. It takes about one hour to reach the summit from Pos Bayangan. Just before the summit is an area of beautiful old trees, some growing almost horizontally! According to National Park staff these are Vaccinium varingifolium, known locally as Cantigi Gunung. Over to the left (i.e north) is the second highest peak in the range, Salak 2. As you will see, the drop between Salak 1 and Salak 2 is considerable and that perhaps explains why the few expeditions that have hiked both in the same trip required one full day to get from one to the other.
The summit is crowned with a metal sign with the words ‘Puncak Manik’. This is a new sign (or at least a new coat of paint) since we last climbed it a few years ago. Just down to the right (east) is a metal structure and a grave. Locals often make a pilgrimage here to pray. With the increase in the number of hikers camping here regularly, and also due to the recovery expeditions after the Sukhoi crash in 2012, the vegetation is lower than it was in previous years. One of the few benefits of this is that the view of Gede-Pangrango is pretty decent first thing in the morning around sunrise. However, if hiking on a regular weekend, we recommend camping back down near the beautiful old trees so that you are not disturbed by local student hikers chatting and playing music all night.
To descend the following day back to Bajuri should take anything between 2.5 hours and 4 hours.
Bajuri to Pasir Reungit
On the trail to the crater, the next visible (in 2018) HM marker after Bajuri is is HM27. The next main landmark is Helipad (1,390m) which is a large grassy area which in 2018 had no sign on it whatsoever. From here it is a short descent to the southern edge of Kawah Ratu (1,372m) which is HM44 marker. Major eruptions occurred here in 1668-1699, 1780, 1902-1903 and February 1935. It should have taken you just under one hour to get from Bajuri to the crater.
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. You can either return the same way to Cidahu in 2 hours or so, or more adventurously cross the crater and head down northwest to Pasir Reungit (1,010m). From the north side of the crater (HM52 marker) to Pasir Reungit (HM89) takes about 2 hours, but much of the trail is waterlogged so expect to get your feet wet. For those descending from the summit, official Park leaflets suggest it takes 11 hours from Pasir Reungit to the summit (likely a slight exaggeration), but in our experience you can descend in between 5.5 and 7.
Pasir Reungit means ‘mosquito sand’ in Sundanese and although it thankfully does not live up to its name it is a rather troublesome place to find transport back to Bogor from. Ojeks or a pre-arranged pick-up are the best ideas here. Otherwise, walk for 5km down the road (950m) to Gunung Bunder and get onto the first of about 3 different public angkots needed to get back to Bogor. The 4G signal near Pasir Reungit is poor so searching for a Grab driver or similar may not be possible.
One-day hike to the summit of Salak 1 from Cimelati (access remains a grey area and the entrance is currently blocked)
The best starting point for those wanting to reach the highest of Salak’s seven summits in just one day was from the agriculture station near Cimelati (800m) just beyond Portibi Farms (c700m) – there is a signpost where you take the right turn near Cicurug. Cimelati is southeast of the summit. It takes between 4 and 6 hours to reach the summit which, as mentioned above, features a prominent sign, a gravestone and a shelter. It is a steep but straightforward hike through forest to Salak 1, and the forest does thin out a little as you get close to the summit. The last spot for water is Pos 3 at around 1,300m. 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.
Note 1: This is not an official National Park route and access is therefore a grey area. It is shown on various maps of the mountain range, and at least up until recently was frequently used by locals, but in 2018 the starting point was found to be blocked with a fence and shrubs. Therefore you may be discouraged from using the trail which is a shame. With regard to how permanent this is…. nobody knows.
Note 2: In theory, if access is no problem, you could combine this with an ascent/descent to/from Cidahu.
Salak 2 (access remains a grey area)
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, once again, a grey area. It may or may not be open to hikers. It would appear it can be done if you pay for a senior member of park staff to accompany you on the trek but they are 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. 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.
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.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn and Andy Dean (updated May 2018)
|Getting there||Take a train or bus from Jakarta to Bogor. For the Cidahu route to Salak 1 or Kawah Ratu, take the Pangrango train from Bogor Paledang station to Cicurug and then charter an angkot to Cidahu. For Pasir Reungit, it is complicated with numerous angkots required so best use private transport. For Salak 2 from Bogor, take an ojek or angkot (number 03) to Ciapus near Curug Nangka.|
|Accommodation||Lots available in Bogor and a couple of decent places up on the slopes of Salak itself.|
|Permits||Available at Cidahu and Pasir Reungit. Cimelati is an unofficial trailhead. At the information centres at Cidahu and Pasir Reungit, tickets costs Rp5,000 per person per day for Indonesians and KITAS holders plus Rp5,000 camping fee and Rp2,000 insurance (all this is overly-complicated with lots of pointless bit of paper so just assume no more than about Rp25,000 per person for a two day hike), but if you’re a foreigner who doesn’t have a KITAS they will charge you the Rp150,000 per day ‘tourist price’ for those who committed the sin of being born elsewhere. Serious access issues remain for Salak 2 despite it having been a common hiking route for decades before the trail was closed in 1999. A minimum of 3 people in a group is stated on the pamphlets but in 2018 there seemed no problems going as a group of just 2 from Cidahu. The Cidahu office is open from 8am until 4pm. The Pasir Reungit office is open from 7am and they don’t like hikers setting out after 11am, though this may only apply to those going on a one-day trip to Kawah Ratu.|
|Water sources||The last place for water on the Salak 1 Cidahu route is Bajuri (1,375m) so fill up your bottles here. Lots of streams are crossed on the main trail between Cidahu and Bajuri and then Bajuri and Pasir Reungit, but avoid water from too near the crater (Pasir Reungit side of Bajuri). On the Cimelati route, Pos 3 (1,300m ish) is the last spot for water.|
|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.|
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Origins and Meaning
Supposedly named after the Sanskrit word ‘salaka’ meaning ‘silver’. Therefore Gunung Salak means ‘Silver Mountain’.
Previous suggestions: Apparently named after ‘Salaka Domas’, the ancient megalithic monuments which scatter the land surrounding the mountain. (According to Pepep of Bandung, 2012).
Another 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)