The weekend of March 25-27, I was in a suffocating need of traveling and grasping for fresh air. I had a plan to challenge myself to go on a solo trip to Batu Karas Beach in Pangandaran, but as a true contemplating Libra, my thinking too much cost me a full-booked train tickets. And to be honest, am not brave enough to go by bus for hours alone to West Java. The plan was to caption a picture, “Blue Crush brought me here”, to brag about me catching some serious waves. But.. Maybe next time!
Anyway, since I’ve taken the Monday leave off work I thought I should make some adjustments and still travel that weekend. A week before, I stumbled upon a very promising choice of adventure which is hiking to Mount Papandayan! Noted the person’s contacts and start asking about the quota availability. Asked a few friends to join, but of course they’re not as impulsive as I am — where one week notice is just enough to make a decision to gear up a mountain.
Hence, there I was making appointment to climb one of Indonesia’s famous stratovolcano. It is one of a few mountains in Indonesia that is perfect for first time hikers, due to its gentle slopes and non-narrow paths. Elevated up to 2665 meters above sea level, Papandayan caught me mesmerized by its beautiful surroundings. Different than most mountains in Indonesia that are surrounded by rainforests and green sceneries (remember my hike to Mount Cikuray?), Papandayan actually offers surprisingly three different worlds!
I started my way from Kampung Rambutan bus station, where I met the two guides from Setapak Adventure, and a pair of Mother and Son combo! It was such an interesting team, and the 5 of us was definitely the smallest group of travel companion I ever had. Well, especially for an Open Trip to a mountain! By midnight of March 25, we start our way into the ever long traffic up to Garut. Due to the long weekend, the toll road was extremely full and it took us a total of 7 and half hours to enter Garut. Of course I was sleeping the whole way and woke up only for toilet and breakfast break. We started the climb around 12.30 pm and the weather below that mountain was already windy and chill. We wore our jackets, packed our gear and pray for our safety up the hike and back.
The beginning of the way was surprisingly colorless! Meaning, since it’s an active layers of hardened lava, the mountain was surrounded by rocky hills of uncertain shapes and active sulfur clouds. Literally painting a picture of how an inhabited planet in the outer space would look like! It almost feel like I was in a familiar galactical movies that swarmed the cinemas. So that’s the first world of Papandayan that caught my attention.
The second world would be how after trekking for about 2 hours, we were welcomed by hints of greens. It was like we were taken aback to planet Earth, after a few hours in Mars. The track was slowly leading up to high grass and and trees full of leaves, and by the middle of the track, it was split by a small water stream. The water was chilly and the steps were rocky, and yet it still gave us a beautiful panoramic view. There was fruitful plants and flowers growing. One fruit that the guide ask us to try was Cantigi fruit. A small round berry-like fruit that grows on a volcanic bush. The darker the color, the more ripe it is and we can actually eat it. The taste was bitter sweet with a hint of grainy feel. It sure was a new experience to try on a fruit that grows on a volcanic mountain!
That night, we camped at Tegal Alun, where our guide made us a tent underneath some tree branches so we can also hang a hammock! Funny thing was that evening, we had a few uninvited guests near our tents. Boars! They are black furry with strong snouts. It was my first encounter of that (surprisingly) HUGE animals. They were after foods and snacks, running around the campsite, but thankfully they are harmless if you don’t attack them first. Overall experience that night was a total up and down! We were lucky that Papandayan was already so equipped with toilets and fresh running water in the campsite, that we didn’t need to prepare much. The only horrible part was… the WEATHER! Am not a huge fan of the cold, nor living in the US back in the day solved that problem. So the tent — that cramped all 5 of us — became a fridge by midnight! I almost could’t feel my feet though they were wrapped in cotton socks and my sleeping bag just isn’t warm enough. Better pack thicker socks next time!
By morning, we realized that we camped right behind a huge bush of Edelweiss! This is when I saw the third world of Papandayan. Almost looking like a vast savannah, this Edelweiss field was growing so close to each other, it made a large bush with small beautiful flowers on top of it. However, the bushes were scattered here and there, making space to a wide soil (wet) ground, creating a beautiful picture.
As it was the most chill trekking experience I ever had, we descend from the mountain that day in the afternoon. Were unlucky that it rained again when we started going, but thankfully the rain stops as we reached the infamous Hutan Mati or the Dead Forest (does it sound like I’m writing a fantasy novel now?). Hutan Mati brought us back to the first world; an unknown lifeless planet filled with dark tree branches in the middle of white surroundings. Visually, it was spot on! With huge crater view behind and its sulfur clouds, the view took my breath away.
I expect nothing when I signed up to trek Papandayan that weekend, but I end up with a surprising feeling that our world, my INDONESIA has this great sights of different worlds to see. And when everyone is traveling to Iceland or New Zealand these days to get an out of the Earth adventure, I’m definitely good with Mount Papandayan right now 🙂
#FidaTravels Mount Papandayan
March 25-27, 2017
Trip by Setapak Adventure