South Sumatera is famous for its tasty local food – “pempek” – and the magnificent Musi River in Palembang. If you’ve been there, you may take a selfie with the background of Ampera Bridge.
But have you visited Pagar Alam regency to see another face of South Sumatera?
Pagar Alam is located in the northern area of South Sumatera and is seven hours away from Palembang by car. To be noted, Pagar Alam is situated in the highlands where it’s flanked by mountains and hills. Consequently, compared to Palembang, the temperature in Pagar Alam is low and will make you feel rather comfortable.
Pagar Alam offers many attractive places to discover ranging from mountains and waterfalls to tea plantations. The beautiful nature is mesmerising and has easy access to visitors. If you need some fresh air away from the city and crowds, Pagar Alam is an awesome alternative destination.
Mount Dempo is the top tourist attraction in Pagar Alam, where you can hike up to the peak and enjoy some beautiful scenery. It gives you a sweeping view of tree lines, green hills, and rivers. Not surprisingly, hiking is very popular in Mount Dempo as it will challenge you to conquer the highest mount in South Sumatera with a summit elevation of 3,173 metres above sea level. For a professional hiker, it takes about five hours or more. A guide isn’t required but you still need to get a permit at the starting point for your safety.
What makes Dempo unique is the tea plantation on its outskirts. You can find the blanket of green stretching along, all the way to the mount. This wonderful tea plantation is spread out as far as you can see – beautiful scenery to the eyes. Almost every day, tea pickers come to the plantations to pick the young tea leaves. They’re very friendly and will welcome you with warm smiles or chitchat if you can speak Bahasa Indonesia.
If you’re unwilling to hike up to the top, visiting the mountainside by car or walking around is a good option. You’ll find various plants around the tea plantation such as guava, cassava, eggplants, chilli, coffee, and many kinds of flowers. At one of the mountainsides, Basecamp Kampung IV is a spot where you can see the spectacular view of the city of Pagar Alam from the top, which is truly amazing. You can also camp in this area to enjoy the sensation of sleeping under the stars and savour the sunrise in the morning.
To reach the foothill of Mount Dempo, visitors can drive for approximately 15 kilometres from the city centre of Pagar Alam.
The waterfalls are one of the attractions that shouldn’t be missed when you visit Pagar Alam. There are three waterfalls worth exploring since they are still natural and beautiful: Embun (Dew), Tujuh Kenangan (Seven Memories), and Mangkok (Bowl). These spots are close to each other so it doesn’t take too much time to explore
Embun Waterfall is a typical plunge or classical waterfall where water drops vertically and has no contact with the bedrock surface. This 100-metre waterfall is the highest in Pagar Alam. The waterfall splits at the top, shaping some beautiful streams on the way down before pouring into a shallow pool. This waterfall uniquely has a small volume of water so that the descending water from the top will turn into dew when it reaches the pool. This is the reason why it is called Embun (Dew) Waterfall. If you dare, you can even try the waterfall shower here.
What about Tujuh Kenangan Waterfall? It’s a typical horsetail waterfall and as the water drops, it maintains contact with the bedrock. Tujuh Kenangan waterfall has pools and slides from natural rocks that are always drained by water. You can also find a small cliff as a spot for jumping off that can add to the excitement of your experience. During your visit to this waterfall, you’ll hear the chirps of birds and see the yellow butterflies around the pools. Tourists usually spend their time playing in the water or just sitting on the big rocks while enjoying nature.
Compared to Embun and Tujuh Kenangan, Mangkok Waterfall looks different because it has a flat contour and is known as a typical bowled waterfall, as it’s named. The water drops and spreads over a wide pool that resembles a bowl. The pool in this waterfall is very deep and the temperature is low. It feels so cold when plunging into the water but many tourists still tend to swim because the pool area is wide. Moreover, during your visit, you’ll see a wide range of bamboo trees.
Besides natural attractions, an interesting activity to do is going back in time and hunting for ancient megalithic sites in Pagar Alam. One of the sites you should visit is Tanjung Aro. At Tanjung Aro, you’ll see megalithic heritages in the form of a human statue wrapped around a snake and also a stone grave. The two objects are close together, only 50 metres away. The human statue is situated in the rice field area while the stone grave is in the middle of a settlement in Tanjung Aro district. Archaeologists agree that these stone statues date back to at least 3,000 years ago.
These two monuments are some of the prehistoric relics from the megalith period that developed in the area of Pagar Alam. The monuments have been maintained and preserved by the local authority. The statue has been protected with an iron fence. In addition, these monuments have been recognised as a cultural heritage site under the Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia. For more information, talk to the people living here, whose knowledge about local wisdom can guide you.