- Elevation: 2,084 m (6,837 ft)
- Prominence: 707 m
- Ribu category: Spesial
- Province:Jawa Barat (West Java)
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: Tangkuban Perahu
- Eruptions: 1826, 1829, 1842, 1846, 1896, 1910, 1926, 1929, 1952, 1957, 1961, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1983, 2013, 2019
This volcano consisting of numerous active craters is one of the leading tourist attractions in West Java – mainly because it is an easy day-trip from Bandung and there is a road all the way to the Jaya Giri car park at the edge of Kawah Ratu crater at 1,830m! Stalls line the fences overlooking the craters and the sound of the call to prayer, angkots and ojeks rings in the air. However, it’s an impressive viewpoint, and there is actually some incredibly wild trekking to be done across the mountain massif despite the many masts which crown the long summit ridge. There are many sulphur vents in Kawah Ratu but there hasn’t been a major eruption since 1926. It is thought that several thousand years ago the huge Bandung plain was an immense lake, formed by frequent powerful eruptions in this area.
The name itself ‘upturned boat’ comes from a local Sundanese legend and from the city of Bandung the outline of the mountain does indeed resemble an upside-down vessel. Public transport to the crater is straightforward from Bandung – an angkot to Lembang and another up to the crater – but beware of angkot drivers offering to drive you directly to the top (for a huge sum) or at least make sure you agree on a price beforehand. A taxi should cost no more than Rp150,000 each way but if you want the driver to wait for several hours it’s likely to be Rp 350,00 or Rp 400,000. Sadly, as of March 2019, entrance to the area is an extortionate Rp200,000 for non-Indonesians (Rp300,000 on weekends and public holidays) and this may leave you feeling ripped off especially when you learn that locals pay one tenth of that price.
From the edge of the craters, it takes about 3 and a half hours to make a full circuit of the two summit craters – Kawah Ratu and Kawah Upas – including visiting the highest point which is on the vast, flat forest ridge on the far right-hand side of the further away of the two craters, Kawah Upas. To reach the highest point, an anti-clockwise direction is much shorter, but the best hike with the best views is clockwise, following the wooden fence up the left side of Kawah Ratu and following the occasionally steep and muddy trail up to the first radio mast compound where there is a small warung selling drinks and snacks and sometimes local strawberries. It’s surprising just how wild this area is once you’ve wandered for just 30 minutes from the car park and stalls.
Most hikers take a right turn here at the warung to walk down onto the ridge between the two craters and back round to the Jaya Giri car park. This is a great route in clear weather but take care as there can be a lot of sulphur gas in Kawah Ratu, navigating can be difficult in cloudy conditions and there is some mild scrambling to be done. However, to reach the finest viewpoint, you have to continue straight along the flat top of the mountain (there are black electricity cables in the trees above). You soon reach a lovely viewpoint on the very edge of the crater at the far side of Kawah Upas. This is the best place to sit down and admire the views and have a short rest. From here, there is a small trail down to the west (left if you’re doing a clockwise circuit) which leads all the way to a tea plantation and the Situ Lembang lake valley (see below).
From the viewpoint there is a more overgrown trail continuing along the edge of the Kawah Upas crater rim but it is difficult to reach the highest point of the mountain by following this because there is a shallow, overgrown ravine between the rim and the highest part of the mountain. It is better to follow the previously mentioned trail to the left from the viewpoint and follow the vehicle track round and stay to the right to complete a full circuit back to the carpark.You may be lucky and see some interesting wildlife as the forest near the summit is home to a large number of monkeys. Do take care as it’s easy to get lost in this area.
An easier route from the car park to bag the summit is the anti-clockwise direction, simply involving a short up-down hike with limited views. It takes just 2 hours to make the return trip – follow the trail by the stalls until you reach the sign for Kawah Upas and Air Keramat Cikahuripan (Sacred Water). Continue to Air Keramat where there is a cement monument and a couple of huts where you can bathe in the ‘sacred water’. It only takes 30 minutes to reach this place from the Jaya Giri main car park. Behind the huts, a vague trail leads upwards to the right, over a recent landslide area, before joining a narrow but well-defined trail on the main summit ridge. Take a left here and continue along the trail following the crest of the ridge. There are some great views through the trees to both craters, and other West Java peaks in the distance. Before long you will have reached the unmarked highest point of the Tangkuban Parahu massif. It’s probably best to return the same way.
If you still have good weather and a little energy left once you’ve returned to your vehicle, there is another smaller crater – Kawah Domas – about two kilometres back down the crater road which is worth a visit. If you can arrange to be picked up at the Domas entrance gates, you can actually walk down to Kawah Domas (1,580m) from Jaya Giri car park on a nice trail through the forest. It takes about half an hour to descend to the crater, and a further half an hour from Kawah Domas to Domas entrance gates (1,640m) on the main road up the mountain. Kawah Domas is a large area of hot bubbling pools and small sulphur fumaroles. There are about 5 small pools of warm, grey water in which you can sit around in, relax and wash your legs.
For the more adventurous hikers, or those who are keen on trying a new route, Tangkuban Parahu mountain can be climbed from the west from the much older – and now dormant- outer Tangkuban Parahu crater. The 3km-wide outer crater is actually a popular local tourist attraction in its own right as there is a lovely small lake Situ Lembang in the valley. Unfortunately this area is also used frequently by the military for training purposes so there is a chance it will not be open to the public. The entrance to the valley is known as Pintu Angin but is marked on most maps as Kertawangi. From here you can also climb an outer peak called Gunung Burangrang, a steep and slippy but short hike requiring less than 500 metres elevation gain since the road takes you over 1,500m above sea level. However, this mountain too can be closed on occasion. For the hike to Tangkuban Parahu from this western side, it is best to arrange local guides as there are countless trails through the nearby tea plantation and a river crossing near the start can sometimes be impassable. You can actually even visit the tea factory to see the tea-making process in action and try a cup of what would otherwise have been sold as Lipton’s Tea.
Once through the maze of tea plantation tracks, you reach a wide gravel road which leads all the way to the broad, flat summit of the mountain and its many transmitter masts. When you reach a junction with a small boulder next to it, take the right turn leading north-east to the very edge of the Kawah Upas crater and the fine viewpoint mentioned above. It takes 3-4 leisurely hours to climb to the crater’s edge from the Kertawangi starting point and you can either continue left to ‘bag’ the very highest point (allow an extra hour there and back) before returning the same way or making a traverse by trekking round the edge of both craters and down to the Kawah Ratu tourist car park (Jaya Giri). If you wish to get to the Jaya Giri car park on the edge of Kawah Ratu as quickly as possible (approximately 40 minutes), follow the trail in an anti-clockwise direction to the small warung at the trail junction by the mast compound and straight on down the southern crater edge of Kawah Ratu.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn.
- Getting there: Take an angkot to Lembang and then onward to the volcano. A taxi or car and driver can be hired in Bandung for the whole day. There is also the option of ojek transport. Assume about one hour from Bandung to the entrance gates by car or motorbike. Don’t necessarily follow Google Maps’ fastest route as it may lead you up to the wrong side of the mountain!
- Accommodation: There are many hotels in the area and down in Bandung.
- Permits: Pay for a ticket at the entrance gates which apparently open at 8am. Rp200,000 (Rp300,000 weekends) for ‘foreigners’ and Rp 20,000 (Rp30,000 weekends) for Indonesians and KITAS/KITAP holders. Access in 2019 from the west side at Pintu Angin is not clear but it is probably not possible to buy entrance tickets there.
- Water sources: There are many warungs selling drinks at the carpark and one on the summit ridge.
- 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
‘Upturned boat’ in Sundanese. The mountain gets its name from a local legend which tells of “Dayang Sumbi”, a beauty who lived in West Java. She cast away her son “Sangkuriang” for disobedience, and in her sadness was granted the power of eternal youth by the gods. After many years in exile, Sangkuriang decided to return to his home, long after the two had forgotten and failed to recognize each other. Sangkuriang fell in love with Dayang Sumbi and planned to marry her, only for Dayang Sumbi to recognize his birthmark just as he was about to go hunting. In order to prevent the marriage from taking place, Dayang Sumbi asked Sangkuriang to build a dam on the river Citarum and to build a large boat to cross the river, both before the sunrise. Sangkuriang meditated and summoned mythical ogre-like creatures -buta hejo or green giant(s)- to do his bidding. Dayang Sumbi saw that the tasks were almost completed and called on her workers to spread red silk cloths east of the city, to give the impression of impending sunrise. Sangkuriang was fooled, and upon believing that he had failed, kicked the dam and the unfinished boat, resulting in severe flooding and the creation of Tangkuban Perahu from the hull of the boat. (Wikipedia, 2011)