Waterfalls, historical bunkers and jungle walks
Published/Last edited or updated: 29th May, 2018
In the hills around eight kilometres north of Bandung a long narrow swathe of National Forest, Taman Hutan Raya Ir. H. Djuanda, hugs a serpentine river valley and offers an enjoyable five-kilometre walk with waterfalls and fascinating historical bunkers to explore—a breath of fresh air from Bandung’s congested traffic.
The park (also known as TAHURA or Juanda Forest Park) covers an area of almost 600 hectares from Maribaya just outside of Lembang in the north, to Dago in the south, with a mix of vegetation including pine plantations and secondary natural rainforest. This conservation area is named for Raden Djuanda Kartawidjaja, who was Indonesia’s final Prime Minister before the abolition of the post to allow for greater power to be exercised by the President (his face can also be seen on the 50,000 rupiah note). Within the park a monument and a small museum are dedicated to him.
Entrances at either end of the National Forest are connected by a single path. The easiest hiking option is to start in the north at Maribaya and walk in a southwesterly direction towards Dago. This means your hike will begin at just over 1,100 metres above sea level and descend to around 950 metres presenting you with a gentle downhill slope for most of the walk, of course if you fancy a bit of cardio (or your driver misunderstands, like ours), start at the opposite end. The path is straightforward and easy to follow if you are heading downhill, but in the uphill direction, a couple of unsignposted forks can be confusing (the signage is broken and has not been repaired).
A total of four waterfalls afford short detours off the main path, unfortunately we left too little time to check them all out except to note the distance between them, however the jungle and river views along the path alone are incredibly scenic and you may even see a monkey or ten. The first waterfall, Curug Omas is around one kilometre from the entrance gate so you don’t have to walk far to enjoy a bit of a splash. The path leading to the falls did seem a bit steep and slippery though, so be careful on the way down.
Paths in general throughout the park are well maintained if a bit muddy in sections, but several of the information boards are damaged or missing and we were very disappointed to see piles of rubbish littering the otherwise beautiful natural environment, come on Indonesia, get it together! The southern end of the park attracts the most visitors with picnickers and daytrippers stopping by to see the “caves” and even though we visited on a weekend, the northern part of the walk was most serene. Around halfway along, a deer enclosure is popular with local kids.
The two historical bunkers, referred to as “caves” are well worth checking out, you’ll need a torch (which can be hired locally), but a light from your phone should suffice. “Guides” offer their services outside of each cave, and a few have limited English. The first, Goa Belanda or “Dutch Cave” has signboards with historical overviews in Indonesian, but the two boards give conflicting information—one says the bunker was built in 1906, and the other says 1941. We’ll go with the earlier date, as the information on that board offered a more in depth history and suggested that it was originally constructed as part of a hydroelectricity system, and in 1918 was extended with addition wings added to be used for military purposes including ammunition storage and later, during WWII, a radio communications centre.
The bunker continued to have a military function post independence until the 1970s. Goa Belanda tunnels directly through the hill with entrances at either end but after you explore, it is worth backtracking out of the bunker and continuing along the main path as monkeys reside in the area and with patience and eagle-eyes, one may spot this playful troupe in the trees above. The tunnels within cover a large grid-like area with 15 smaller tunnels connecting the three main entrances and smaller ventilation tunnel. Plenty roomy to stand, the tunnels are over three metres high and around two metres wide, but the smaller side tunnels are pitch black and can be easily disorientating.
Another 800 metres along the path, Goa Jepang was, as the name suggests, built during the time of Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945 using forced labour (granted, but history tells us the Dutch were not much different). At this time Goa Belanda was also commandeered by the Japanese military. Goa Jepang’s tunnel network has four main entrances with two smaller ventilation tunnels and three connecting cross tunnels. It’s the same deal here with guides touting for business.
Around the southern area of the park several small warungs offer grilled barbecued corn on the cob and other simple snacks, but if you are walking from the north, it’s wise to carry plenty of water and perhaps a couple of snacks.
Taman Hutan Raya Ir. H. Djuanda is well worth checking out if you have a spare day in Bandung or if you have time after visiting Gunung Tangkuban Parahu, allow at least two hours to complete the walk and check out the caves, more if you wish to spend time at the waterfalls. From the Dago gate, it’s not too far to the Bamboo Shack Cafe for a refreshing beverage at the end of your walk (we didn’t venture to this bar popular with ex-pats, but it comes recommended by our local friends) or you could always hit the factory outlets here for some bargain hunting.
As with just about every other attraction around Bandung, the park has discriminatory pricing, but is still relatively affordable at 50,000 rupiah for foreigners plus mandatory insurance (even if you already have your own travel insurance) of 3,000 rupiah. For Indonesians the fee is 12,000 rupiah.
Buton Backpackers: 14A Jalan Buton, Bandung; T: (0224) 238 958; (0877) 1474 2756; http://butonbackpackerlodge.com
Pinisi Backpacker: 84 Jalan Pasirkaliki, 92/6A Gang Musaen, Bandung; T: (0228) 686 8610; (0817) 502 0123; http://pinisibackpacker.com
To reach Maribaya from central Bandung, catch a Stasiun Hall–Lembang angkot to Lembang near the train station (10,000 rupiah), the angkot will continue on through Lembang central market. Immediately upon exiting the market, you should disembark and look for a yellow angkot heading to Maribaya. Better still, tell the driver before you reach the market that you want to go to Maribaya and he will stop the angkot in the correct location and point out the connecting angkots.
To reach the Dago entrance, catch a Caringin–Dago angkot or a Ciroyom–Ciburial angkot and tell the driver you want to go to Dago Pakar. You will then have to walk a little up the hill to the entrance (12,000 rupiah).
If travelling by private transport ask your driver to drop you at the Maribaya gate and meet you at the Dago gate or simply get a taxi or Go-Jek to your preferred start point, and call another when you finish. Alternately combined your visit with other attractions in the north of Bandung and make a day of it. Buton Backpackers and Pinisi Backpacker both offer motorbike day trips from Bandung for 250,000 rupiah excluding entrance fees.
Address: 8 kilometres north of Bandung
Coordinates (for GPS): 107º39'6.77" E, 6º49'50.65" S
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: 50,000 rupiah for foreigners, 12,000 rupiah for locals. 3,000 rupiah for compulsory insurance
Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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