Wildlife, caves, ancient temples and beaches
Published/Last edited or updated: 27th January, 2018
A trek trough the dense jungle covered southern peninsula of Pangandaran at Pangandaran Nature Reserve presents a vast array of wildlife spotting, caves to explore, WWII Japanese bunkers, an ancient Hindu temple and pretty beaches.
The park covers 530 hectares with a mix of secondary rainforest, towering teak trees and grasslands for grazing animals with a central elevated plateau about 100 metres above sea level, peaking to about 150 metres, edged with a lacework of tiny jagged limestone bays and sandy beaches. Two entrance gates to the east and west lead to a network of trails around the park which can be easily followed, but you’ll see much more with the help an experienced guide. Unfortunately many of the easily accessible areas are covered in rubbish, but once you get off the well trodden path it’s much more pleasant.
Although the area is compact, the reserve has diverse fauna and was originally designated as a game reserve for banteng (Bos javanicus), an endangered species of wild native nocturnal jungle cattle. We have been lucky to spot these in the past, but believe they have now all died out here. Most commonly sighted are Sunda sambar deer (Rusa timorensis) and long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) both of which can often be seen wandering the nearby streets and beaches outside the reserve, they are not shy. Some of the monkeys can be quite cheeky, so watch your belongings.
You may be lucky to see massive monitor lizards scamper away as you tramp through the forest, or the shy Javan langur or ebony leaf monkey (Trcyphithecus auratus) high in the trees. At dusk you may see Sunda flying lemurs (Galeopterus variegatus) gliding from tree to tree like a flying superhero with their cape spread. The two species of hornbills that inhabit the park, oriental pied hornbill (Anthracoceros convexus) and rhinoceros hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros), are more likely to be heard than seen.
Inside Gua Parat (Parat Cave) you might encounter a family of Sunda porcupines (Hystrix javanica), but you’ll probably need the help of your guide to spot them—bring a torch, it’s pitch black inside. Watch out for holes hidden under the leaf litter, these of home to large scorpions—best to wear enclosed shoes. Gua Panggung is a large open ended cave that leads to a small beach strewn with colourful fishing boats. From here you can see what looks like floating bamboo houses, these are actually posts for fishermen with large bamboo nets that are lowered into the sea.
Each of the caves within the park have local legends attached, and Gua Panggung’s story is associated with Nyai Roro Kidul, the Goddess of the South Sea famous all along the south coast of Java. A magical spring within, Sendang Goa Rengganis is said to be a fountain of youth that has powers to help you meet your perfect match if you wash in it.
The manmade bunker, Gua Jepeng, a war relic is well preserved and interesting for folks into military history.
A site within the park known as Batu Kalde is the remains of an ancient Hindu temple. Batu Kalde translates from Sundanese as “donkey rock” and refers to a statue, not of a donkey, but of Nandi the bull, Shiva’s mount. At the time of research in October 2017, the area was the site of an archeological excavation and the researchers said they had discovered some ancient Chinese ceramics.
A handful of beaches inside the reserve are also worth checking out, the most popular, white-sand Pantai Pasir Putih with good swimming, located along a well-trodden path on the western side of the park. Try to be here around sunset when you can see the spectacular sight of hundreds of large flying foxes (Pteropus vampirus), emerge from the forest silhouetted against the reddening sky.
Guides generally offer tours of three or five hours depending on how much of the park you’d like to see. A three hour guided trek is 350,000 rupiah per person on weekdays and 400,000 rupiah per person weekends and a five hour trek is 400,000 rupiah per person on weekdays and 450,000 rupiah per person weekends. All rates include entrance fee to the nature reserve and a minimum of two people is usually required.
Wear decent footwear and take mosquito repellent, plenty of water, a torch for the caves and swimmers if you want to take advantage of the beaches. During the wet season, it’s better to visit in the morning to avoid the afternoon downpour. While the park officially closes at 17:00 it is possible to stay later if you have a guide.
Coordinates (for GPS): 108º39'31.82" E, 7º42'16.4" S
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Admission: 215,000 rupiah, 315,000 rupiah on weekends. Indonesians 16,000 and 21,000 respectively
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.