In the hills about 90 kilometres south of Indonesia's stifling capital, Jakarta, lies the relatively peaceful city of Bogor, famed for its grand botanical gardens which form the centrepiece of the town.
The Bogor area has connections to prehistoric times but was only transformed into a thriving city during the Dutch colonial period when it was the centre for a variety of plantations and used as a hill station by the colonial government. During the mid-19th century a residence was built for the governor-general in what is now the northern end of the botanical gardens.
Kebun Raya Bogor, the Bogor Botanical Gardens, was established in 1817 as a centre for research into botanical specimens from across the Indonesian archipelago. To this day, research continues within the impressive grounds of the 80-hectare gardens and a number of buildings dedicated to this research are visible when strolling through. This is the primary reason many tourists visit Bogor.
Bogor is a great place to escape to after the hectic pace of Jakarta and is much more walkable than its big brother. The air is cooler, with average day time temperatures reaching around 27 degrees Celsius and night-time temperatures dropping below 20 degrees Celsius.
Visible from many parts of Bogor is the imposing Gunung Salak, an active volcano which towers 2221 metres above sea level. Its last eruption occurred in 1938, with previous eruptions having occurred only a handful of times throughout recorded history, making this a relatively safe volcano to be around.
The layout of Bogor is quite simple, with the centre of the city being the square shaped massive botanical gardens. Around the gardens is a road which allows traffic to travel in an anti-clockwise direction. The train station is located to the west of the gardens and the bus station to the south, with a great selection of cafes and restaurants on Jalan Salak to the northeast. Most restaurants, accommodation and activities within Bogor are within walking distance of each other, with even the longest walk being about three kilometres.
Given Bogor's city status, all the usual facilities are readily available such as ATMs and internet access. The tourist information centre is located near the train station on Jalan Dewi Sartika but is more interested in selling tours than providing good information for independent travellers.
By Adam Poskitt.