Volcanolovers in Indonesia
The January 22 – 25, 2015 trip to G Argapura by CopiPanas was somewhat different from the 1st trip in May 2009. In January 2015 despite the rain, we came across many trekkers, unlike in the May 2009 trip. At that time we came across with only 2 teams during the 4 days trek despite the drier weather. As the consequence, unfortunately in 2015 G Argapura has been contaminated with so many trashes left over by the trekkers. Campsites, water spring, water stream, river, treks, stone bowls at the Rengganis peak – in all those places you see trashes.
For them who have not been aware of, G Argapura trek from Bremi to the peak and then Baderan or the opposite is 60 km and normally trekked in 4 days. There is a shorter route in the vicinity of the summit area from/ to Bremi direction. We took it and it saves us some 12 km or 6 hours of trekking. The shorter route which is called G Rangkak route is indeed very steep but very safe.
G Argapura is actually a volcano with craters that is less active than the other volcanos in Indonesia. There are 2 craters beyond the trekkers route south of Sikasur giant savanna that have been located by explorers. Near the Rengganis peak we also can see very small volcanic outlets and smell the sulfuric gas. Despite the trashes contamination, fortunately the meadows along the Baderan approach are still as beautiful and serene like they were. The peaks are still magical and eerie. Also the wildlife was still abundant. We saw fireflies, birds, mouse, different kind of monkeys, partridge (ayam hutan), raccoon, peacocks, boar, wild cat, giant earth worms and snake. The snake was spotted on the trail at the lower part of Baderan route.
Leaving Surabaya on January 22, 2015, 10:00 am on a rental car we arrived at Bremi by 15:00 under afternoon shower. Bremi (1000 m) was very quiet, and after a short ojek drive from the basecamp through a muddy trail then at 5:00 pm we started the trek by entering the forest. Steep trek, combined with the rain shower slowed us a little bit. By 6:45 it was already completely dark. Fireflies were flying around us sometimes we took it for trekkers’ headlamps. In the cities fireflies do not exist anymore.
By 7:15 we got to the famous Tamanhidup lake (2000 m) and camped over there a little further from the lakeshore for the lakeshore is indeed a shallow swamp. We checked the spots good for camping by the lake but some students already there with their large tent. The night was bright, the stars were alight and the wind velocity was zero. After a quick dinner and a sip of hot ginger tea we slipped into our tents.
TAMANHIDUP – SUMMIT
The morning was cloudy but Tamanhidup lake was clear and still eerie like years before. The wooden bridge to the mini pier has disappeared and the marsh by the lake was fortunately still clean not like the camping spot we stayed the night before.
January 23, 2015, by 8:00 we left Tamanhidup, crossing a small river nearby then directly marched towards the Cemaralima through the dense bushes and thick vegetation. The ascent was initially steep but then slowly became less and less steep. Some parts, the trek was up and down not always ascending. After an hour and a half the trek became open and weedy. Some rock formation trek, then a confusing area where the porters were also in hesitation where to proceed.
By 10:15 we got to the Cemaralima and halted for a rest. It is actually an uphill slope with large pine trees and a prominent high hill overlooking it. The sky was bright so we dried our clothes and cooked our lunch. By 11:45 we continued to the summit through the steep G Rangkak route. It is a shortcut in the Bremi route that takes us to the summit directly without going through Aengkenik, Sicentor and Rawaembik. The intersection to G Rangkak and to Aengkenik unfortunately was not marked with anything. After a dry creek (sungai kering) take the left turn. Directly the trail becomes very steep. The shortcut was less popular in the previous times due to the steepness although it saves trekkers almost one day to the summit.
G Rangkak is indeed steep but very much manageable as the trek was good with many things to hold and haul your body. The vegetation was quite dense and weeds were thick. By around 14:00 we approached the summit and came across a small water spring. The water was clear and pristine.
By 14:30 we got to a hill foot and at the same time an intersection. To the right was a downward trail to a small meadow and to the left upward to a hill top. We turned left and walked along a meandering stony trek circling a hill. After some minutes we got to the Arca (Statue) Peak. The Arca Peak (3060 m) used to have an ancient statue but it has been gone for some years. After a short break we continued our trek to the Argapura Peak through a stony path then a saddle and finally a very steep short ascent. Then appeared the high altitude square that was familiar to me, the Argapura Peak (3088 m). It was 3:00 pm.
On the Argapura Peak you would not feel like being on a 3088 m peak because it is quite densely vegetated by tall pine trees. The afternoon breeze was not very cold, making the air somewhat like we were on a lower ground. On the other peaks we directly feel the peak atmosphere because most of them are barren. On most of the higher mountains in Indonesia we do not see vegetation at the summit due to volcanic activity.
Quickly we descended to the Lonceng savanna and in 15 minutes we got to the camp site under the rain. The afternoon was rainy until 5:30 pm and then slowly the sky became bright and clear with many stars dotted it. The night was not very cold despite the high summit altitude of around 3000 m.
SUMMIT – SIKASUR
January 23, 2015, the morning after was bright and warm, the sun dried everything from tents to clothes. By 9:00 am we left for Sikasur savanna. In an hour we got to the Rawaembik water spring (2750 m), where we were disgusted by the amount of trashes near and in the water stream. The clean sanctuary has become as dirty as the Lonceng savanna in less than 5 years.
By 11:00 am we arrived at the Sicentor (2450 m) where the wooden shelter still stood in good shape. Again the trashes really made us worry about the future of G Argapura. After a quick lunch and short rest, by 12:00 am we left for the Sikasur. Opposite of the shelter front, the trek to Sikasur begins. After crossing the small water stream the trek ascends steeply for some 10 minutes and then the ascent continues for at more than 30 minutes later. A family of black monkeys complete with the youngsters played at the pine trees to the left of the trek. Beware of the nasty fire leaves in this part of trek. The bushes sometimes hides the fire leaves and a contact with it would make you scream. Not all day pain but nasty enough to cause a very hot sensation. Some people say a contact with fire leaves is good for rheumatism healing …..
Gradually the trek became levelled then slowly descended. After the forested trek with a deep ravine to the right side, the trek turns left towards the plateau and sparse woods. Afterwards appeared a beautiful and eerie savanna, followed by sparse woods. The savanna – sparse woods combination was the trek’s theme. Winds blew slowly, a boar ran away from something and many birds flew around us. After the 5th or 6th savanna, appeared the vast levelled savanna of Sikasur (2200 m). The beautiful meadow is said to have once been an airstrip during 1940’s. Some people say it was to be a secret military airstrip but some people else say a Dutch rich man wanted to breed deer over there.
There are ruins of modern building made of bricks and stones. One of it has a low shelter coming from a wooden shelter nearby. The wooden shelter was intact in May 2009 but not anymore in January 2015. The shelter roof structure was moved to the square ruin. We did not camp under the shelter for fear of structure failure. We chose a large lone tree and camped beneath it.
The Sikasur savanna was frequented by peacocks. Foxes and other birds were also present. The peacocks were playing and possibly mating at the large pine trees across a small river stream down the small valley 200 meters from our camp site. If you are patient and observant you could collect the peacocks’ feathers in the bushes.
Sikasur has at least 2 places to collect clean water from the river. The 2 places are actually small valleys, where we can also collect selada air. Selada air is edible whether raw or boiled. The night in Sikasur was quiet and clear, no rain and wind. The stars and the crescent moon was bright, the snores of the tired trekkers were loud.
SIKASUR – BADERAN
January 25, 2015, 9:00 am after a long breakfast we marched towards Baderan. Had to cross the small knee deep water stream down the route and afterwards the trek was clear and nice. Two more savanna – sparse woods combination, with 1 savanna famous as the Alun-Alun Kecil (Small Town Square) (2150 m). The air was serene over there, and 2 trekkers plus 3 villagers were on their way up. The 3 villagers were attired lightly and did not bring many things like us. They were on their way to Sikasur for collecting the selada air vegetable. One interesting thing about the trek, from Sikasur actually the trek ascends gradually.
The following trek was partially up and down with one particular stretch steeply ascending. The 30 minutes ascent actually was exhausting. By the Mata Air 2 Stop (2150 m) we spotted a wild cat walking gently into the bushes. An hour later we took water from the water stream in Mata Air 1 (1850 m). Unfortunately the foolish trekkers’ trashes already splattered over there. Plastic bottles and wrappings were littered at the originally pristine area.
Then starting 2:00 pm the trek became very inconvenient due to motorbikes deep trench. The trek became difficult to walk on, we fell many times due to the slippery and trenched path. In the trench lied thousands of giant earth worms that we did not want to step on. At one un-trenched path we came across a finger size snake.
After a long trek of bushes and sparse woods by 4:30 we got to the open air where the deep valley to the left of the trek welcomed us. Beyond the valley were series of hills with steep slopes and dense forest. Three waterfalls were spotted on 1 of the hills. Really a beautiful scene, but unfortunately the weather was less than adequate for a decent picture.
Then the macadam stretch which took 1 hour of painful walk due to sharp loose rocks. By 6:00 when the dusk came we arrived at Baderan (800 m). After putting our bags in the BKSDA shelter we drank our deserved hot tea in pak Subari’s warung. And then we continued with our dinner too over there. I was happy to meet pak Subari, who was still as healthy, gentle, hospitable and helpful as he had been 8 years ago. The rain shower wetted and cooled the village but the chat in the warung was hot and the hospitality of the villagers returned our strength for the long journey back to Surabaya and the Jakarta the day after.
From Baderan we rode a rural transport car along the scenic road descending to Besuki. Besuki was reached in 45 minutes and the small kecamatan town was busy and lively, much more than it was in 2009. It was very quiet in a clear afternoon back 8 years ago, I almost did not recognize it when I came back. Shortly afterwards a big aircon bus stopped and took us to Surabaya along the narrow and busy highway of East Java eastern half. The 4 hours ride to Surabaya was very enjoyable within the nice bus, where no one smoked. The sound of the coastal dangdut music from the loud sound system sometimes woke the tired passengers.
In January 2015 the ticket for getting into G Argapura was unusual. Make sure you are informed and prepared.
According to the tariff schedule, a four days trekking would cost Rp. 100,000 for a national and Rp. 1,250,000 for a foreigner. We were charged with the tariff, although we were a little bit puzzled with the rationale.
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