Like most Indonesian must-see travel destinations, Alun-alun Surya Kencana, nestled in the valley of Mt. Gede, won’t disappoint you.
Part of Gede Pangrango National Park, which spreads over Bogor, Cianjur, and Sukabumi, Alun-alun Surya Kencana dishes up exotic scenery and local lore. If it’s 50 hectares of edelweiss flanked by hills some 2,750 meters above sea level doesn’t fill your heart with songs of thousand years, nothing will.
Edelweiss is a rare find in Indonesia. The Mt. Gede valley has been a favorite among local and foreign tourists eager to see the small white flowers blanket the valley floor.
Soft and white though they are, edelweiss aren’t the only attraction. The clean, cool air is a welcome respite from Jakarta some 94 km away. At night, star gazers can wonder at the heavens and the expanse of the Milky Way overhead, especially during dry season. Be warned. Pack something warm. Night time lows of about 5°C are not uncommon.
Surreal as the surroundings are, it’s fitting that the local area has its fair share of of folklore. Visitors sometimes claim to able to hear the galloping hooves of horses.
According to local myth, that clip-clopping sound marks the arrival of Prince Surya Kencana, the legendary founder of Cianjur whose spirit, locals say, still lives in the hills. To this day some hikers claimed to have seen a palace shrouded in mist on their way to the alun-alun.
Myths aside, Alun-alun Surya Kencana is the real deal. A easy-ish getaway for nature lovers with an adventurous spirit depending on your tolerance for more earthly concerns such as traffic.
The easiest way to Alun-alun Surya Kencana is through Gunung Putri village in Cipanas. From Jakarta, catch a bus heading to Cianjur and get off at Cipanas. By car it’s a three hour drive via the Jagorawi highway.
The hike from the Gunung Putri village gate to Alun-alun Surya Kencana takes between five to seven hours. Be sure to bring lots of water and snacks. There’s one snag though: Bookings of as long as thirty days in advance are mandatory between April-November, when the park is open to the public. Park authorities are eager to limit hiker numbers.
The tariff for foreign tourist is Rp.157,500 (US$12) on weekdays and Rp.232,500 (US$17.5) on weekends. Admission into Alun-alun Surya Kencana itself will set you back Rp. 35,000 (US$2.6). Ticket sales are limited to one per person.
For more information or to make a reservation contact:
Taman Nasional Gunung Gede Pangrango
Address: Jl. Raya Cibodas, Cipanas, Cianjur, West Java – Indonesia (43253)
Phone/fax: +62263 512776; +62263519415 (booking)
E-mail: [email protected] (office); [email protected] (booking)
See: Expats Hoping For A More ‘Livable’ Jakarta
Image credits: IniSukabumi, Himoov Adventure, Panoramio, Corona Borealis