- Elevation: 2,198 m (7,211 ft)
- Prominence: 389 m
- Ribu category: Spesial
- Province: Jawa Barat (West Java)
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none
Wayang-Windu is a twin volcano that consists of Mount Wayang (2,198m) and Mount Windu (2,147m). They lie just east of the town of Pangalengan which is surrounded by one of the largest tea plantations in Java and is a particularly scenic area. Pangalengan itself is at an elevation of around 1,500 metres above sea level so temperatures are delightful during the day and decidedly chilly at night.
Hot springs dot the region – some outright commercial and some barely known even to local people. The area is an active geothermal project and the Wayang-Windu Geothermal Powerplant belches pure white gas clouds pleasantly into the sky and lends the locality an atmosphere not unlike Dieng plateau in Central Java. Most locals work as tea pickers on the vast expanse of the Malabar tea plantation.
Gunung Wayang is the higher of the two peaks and is the more interesting for three main reasons. Firstly, although Gunung Windu also has a side crater it is Wayang’s that is the largest (750m versus 350m). Secondly, legend has it that an emperor from the ancient Sundanese kingdom of Pajajaran is buried on the middle top of Wayang. Finally the northern ridge of Gunung Wayang offers some of the most demanding hiking terrain (and most fabulous views) in the whole of West Java. Indeed, if you want to reach the top via the northern ridge it certainly isn’t a family day out and only experienced groups should attempt what can be very tricky and exposed scrambling in numerous places.
The starting point for the hike to the active side crater of Wayang is near the Wayang-Windu Geothermal Power Station. You should see the white clouds coming from the power plant but will almost certainly have to ask for directions from local people as the roads are incredibly maze-like. A gravelly road leading through the tea plantation widens at an specific point near two small ponds (1,775m) and offers delightful views back down over Pangalengan. This is just southeast of the power station and you should spot a bit of smoke rising from the Wayang crater further up the hillside, but if in doubt simply ask local people for the starting point for the ‘kawah’ (crater).
A thin muddy farm track leads straight up through fields of tomatoes and other vegetables towards the side crater (1,900m). It is an easy wander which should take no more than 20 minutes. Once at the crater, which apparently has four separate groups of fumaroles, take a look back down towards Pangalengan and beyond to the Patuha mountains near Ciwidey. It is a fabulous sight and you may even be lucky enough to see Gede-Pangrango on the distance if you start your hike early enough and in good weather.
After exploring the huge rocky, steaming gash that is the Wayang crater, head straight up the side of the crater itself (on a faint trail) which leads steeply up the side of the mountain. In another 20 minutes or so you will have reached the rocky ridge (2,036m) and will be able to admire the views eastwards towards Rakutak and northwards to the lesser top of Gunung Bedil (2,086m), Bukit Anjing (‘dog hill’) and beyond to the forests of the Malabar mountain range.
It is here that you have to decide whether to proceed right along the demanding and dangerous ridge up to the summit of simply be content with the stunning views in all directions. The rocky ridge leads southwards up to the most northerly of Gunung Wayang’s three tops. The terrain is very difficult and it would be idiotic to attempt this alone or with anyone who is not experienced in fairly tough scrambling. This is definitely not something to attempt when rain looks likely. It takes perhaps one hour of difficult negotiation to reach the northern top and it involves lots of exposed sections, large shards of rock, unstable earth, deep holes between boulders and mini-summits with huge drops on all sides. If you are confident in that kind of environment then you will love the challenge and enjoy some truly magnificent scenery that very few people know about. Take friends that you trust, for you will probably need to rely on them to literally give you a hand at several points where there is little to hold on to except very loose earth, stones and foliage. You will most likely end up very muddy and quite possibly with a couple of cuts and bruises.
After an hour of adrenalin you should hopefully have made it safely to the northern top (2,170m) of Gunung Wayang. A old, dead tree stands right on the very edge of the cliffs and will probably have collapsed over the edge by the end of the 2012-2013 rainy season. Proceed due south, following a faint trail through fairly dense, and rarely-visited, forest as it drops down before climbing up again to the middle, highest peak (2,198m according to Bakosurtanal) of Gunung Wayang. You will first come upon a collection of large rocks which looks as though it was arranged by humans a long, long time ago.
A minute further along and you will see piles of stones surrounding the base of a collection of trees. It is said that this is the resting place of a very important person, perhaps an emperor, of the ancient Sundanese kingdom of Pajajaran. Pakuan Pajajaran was a capital city of the empire and given that it was destroyed by the Sultanate of Banten in 1579 then if the stories are true then this rarely-visited grave site is very old indeed.
A rather unremarkable top further southwest is slightly lower at 2,190m according to the Bakosurtanal map (although our GPS device suggested this was the highest peak on the ridge back in 2012, with a reading of over 2,200m). It can be difficult to find the trail here, just make sure you stay to the right near the edge of the ridge and it would be advisable to take gloves with you to avoid the many thorny plants blocking the way. From the first top to the third, south-western, top it will take at least an hour, assuming you don’t get lost.
The descent from the southerly top of Gunung Wayang back to the tea plantation tracks is short, but steep, slippery and muddy. In December 2012 local people had recently been up this way and left red ribbons tied to branches but even so the ‘path’ could only barely be described as a proper ‘path’ at all. You’ll have a real fight with the undergrowth. Once again, stay to the right as the trail drops down steeply until you reach a thin white water pipe near the edge of farm fields. Pick your way through the farm fields past one or two huts and drop down to the gravel track (1,790m) just 500 metres south of the starting point. It should have taken between 4 and 5 hours in total.
An often-spectacular, little-known, demanding and at times dangerous hike in West Java. Somewhat unbelievably, this lovely area is also the source of the Citarum River which is one of the world’s most polluted!
If you have time, be sure to visit one of the hot springs in the area – ideal for washing the thorns and mud from your limbs. There is a small, local hot mandi known as ‘cipanas’ just a ten minute drive from the starting point (again, you will need to ask for directions) but most people prefer to visit Cibolang Hot Springs where you can relax in hot water swimming pools at the foot of Gunung Windu (just below the Windu crater, on the southwest side). It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to drive to Cibolang from the Wayang hike starting point.
Bagging information by Dan Quinn (December 2012)
- Getting there: For Pangalengan take a bus from Bandung’s Leuwipanjang terminal. The bus from Bandung to Pangalengan takes 2 hours and is approx. Rp25,000 (in 2018). If travelling by private vehicle, head towards Banjaran and follow signs for Pangalengan from where you have to head eastwards to Pintu and beyond where you will inevitably have to stop and ask for directions from local people (probably tea pickers).
- Accommodation: There are a couple of hotels in Pangalengan itself but noisy due to traffic. The Malabar Guesthouse, originally built in the 1940s, is several km east from the centre of Pangalengan but is very nice indeed and is surrounded by Malabar Tea Estate and has some brand new rooms. It isn’t the easiest place to find – ask for ‘Pintu’ and then ‘Malabar Mess’. Advance booking and extra sweaters recommended.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Wayang-Windu information pack can be downloaded here.
- Permits: Not required but take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase.
- Water sources: None available so take enough 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.
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