Magical river gorge
Published/Last edited or updated: 27th January, 2018
Emerald, jade, turquoise, olive, moss—the profusion of shades of green at lush Green Canyon is off the (paint) charts.
This beautiful verdant river gorge approachable from both Pangandaran and Batu Karas is the area’s top tourist attraction. Small long tail motors boats can be hired for the 20-minute journey, three kilometres up the Cijulang River puttering past wondrous scenery dripping with jungle vines, monitor lizards sunning themselves on the rocks, green tree snakes curled around overhanging branches and colourful jewel-feathered kingfishers flitting across the river.
As the river narrows, the canyon walls tower to an almost cave like entrance draped with stalactites and cascading water. Sunlight streaming through the chasm gives this spectacular natural wonder a Garden of Eden-like quality. Here the boats stop and you can climb over a rock ledge to a stunning rock pool in the canyon where it’s possible to take a dip in the cool turquoise water and swim further up the narrow river. Ropes strung across the river help weaker swimmers pull themselves along against the current.
A little up the canyon a mushroom like rock formation juts out of the cliff face and guides encourage tourists to leap the five metres into the river, but be warmed it sometimes isn’t as deep as they may suggest and accidents have occurred here. If you don’t want to end up a statistic, it’s probably wise not to jump as there are no nearby medical facilities and your travel insurance may not cover you.
Boats take up to five passages and cost is determined by time. For a quick 45-minute return journey without swimming it’s 200,000 rupiah, add another 100,000 rupiah for every 30 minutes you wish to swim. A guide will accompany you and life jackets are supplied.
After rain the currents can be very strong and the water turns from brilliant green to not-so-appealing brown. Occasionally during the wet season the boats don’t operate and the area is closed as it’s too dangerous for swimming, so you may wish to check with tour operators in Pangandaran before you make a wasted trip. Even if you don’t plan on swimming, you’ll probably get wet from the waterfalls, even though you are slightly protected by the roof of the boat.
Change rooms are available in the car park and it’s more culturally appropriate to wear shorts and T-shirts for swimming rather than swimming costumes. We suggest wearing river shoes as in several sections you climb over slippery rocks. Take a drybag for your camera and change of clothes.
Green Canyon is packed with local tourists on weekends and holidays, but come on an off day and it’s possible to have the whole magical place to yourself. If it’s busy, you may have to wait for a boat to become available and solo travellers may wish to sit tight until someone turns up to share the cost.
The car park is surrounded by food stalls and shops selling board shorts and other clothing if you’ve forgotten to bring something to swim in.
Several companies offer body rafting in the canyon that starts a further 30-minute drive up the river, floating downstream for approximately three hours. Helmets, knee and elbow pads, life jackets, transport from Green Canyon to the starting point and accompanying guides are included with a usual minimum of five participants for 1,300,000 rupiah.
Green Canyon is around 26 kilometres from Pangandaran and seven kilometres from Batu Karas. There’s no public transport and the easiest way to visit is to join one of the many day tours offered by local tour companies that usually include a home industry tour and a visit to either Green Valley or Batu Karas.
If you prefer more independence, hire an ojek or taxi or use your own vehicle. Although everyone including locals calls the place Green Canyon, the official local name is Cukang Taneuh if you are searching on maps. The trip from Pangandaran takes around one hour each way.
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.