Volcanolovers in Indonesia
Mount Burangrang, located just North of Bandung, is the twin mountain of Mount Tangkuban Perahu. Both mountains are the landmarks for Bandung City. Many routes can be choosen to reach the top of Mount Burangrang, but Situ (Lake) Lembang is the best option. There is a 4×4 road leading to Situ Lembang, makes this place ideal for big group camping site. Spending the night by this lake, we enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere very much.
Already November 2007, but the rain was still infrequent. The afternoon was bright when we left the office on the bus for Bandung. By Cimahi we exited the toll-road, turned left to the north and climbed almost straightly all the way along the narrow street to Cisarua. At Cisarua, 3 Landrovers were ready to transport us to Situlembang. Each car carried 6 or 8 in the back and 2 in the front seats.
We felt like special force soldiers going to an ambush target. Through the unpaved road to Situlembang we split the darkness of the woods. At places the road was so bad the Landrover slanted 45° to the left then to the right. The driver sped the car but slowed down again after realizing he was not alone for his instinct directed him to pass a certain strip as fast as he could. The jungle over there has been the birth place of special force soldiers. Their jungle survival training in the area has been famous for being one of the toughest in the world. Falling soldiers’ ghosts are said to occasionally want to chat with the passing drivers. One might have been sitting with us in the Landrover back for the loads did seem to balance between the right and left rows. Quiet spooky!
Then 30 minutes later, Situlembang Lake was appearing after a steel gate. The tents were ready, with a square roofed dining junction in the middle. After a warm dinner we quickly ceded into our tents. It’s a sleepless night for me again after so many nights in the tents with my CopiPanas lads.
The morning was quick for us who were hungry and cold. After an extended warm breakfast we rode the Landrovers again to the Burangrang entry gate. The 30 minutes ride was interesting, through the same macadam road. By 8:30 we were there waited for by the guides cum porters.
Nine am, the sky was cloudy and the mist was low above Mount Burangrang. A little bit cold already for a late morning. The start was quick for track that was not like a sloped climb. It was a nice walk amongst vegetable farm and soon the 16 climbers found themselves under the shade of pine trees. A tree-house on a tall pine-tree, it must be for boar watching, or maybe boar hunting. Boars come to the farms in the mountain foot for food. The winner of the competition for food is clear but those creatures of the forest do not peacefully surrender. For they have to survive the challenge of the ever evolving earth.
The sky was clear and the warmth of the sun returned our spirit to climb. Very soon the trek became steep amidst the bushes that became taller the higher we hiked. The bushes actually were just a buffer between the farm and the jungle. An hour of climb and the cold gradually came into our t-shirt wrapped skins.
We found no sheltered posts, only leveled plot of ground good enough for a tent or two. There we had our breaks and drinks. Then, we marched again and again towards the peak of mighty Mount Burangrang. The woods became thicker, the higher we climbed. A junction that was ambiguous, I took left for my feeling said so. After a few meters kang Budi confirmed it for he spotted a trash on the trek. Not a pretty sight but thanks they were not many there. The trek was descending a little bit but the left turn was right.
Almost 3 hours, we were still in the jungle. We wondered a little bit why the jungle was still thick on Burangrang, it must be due to the special force training taking place over there. We should have been already close to the peak. Another half an hour would be fine but more than that would be question. Not really because we were exhausted but because we wanted to feel quick and strong.
Suddenly, there’s clear sight in front of us and to the right. Backing the jungle on our left, to the right is the beautiful Situlembang valley. From the distance it was smaller then it used to be for the water was low. The morning sun made the surface glitter in greenish tone. Not really far away but a straight descend to the valley was impossible without ropes. We actually stood on the edge of a deep cliff. The bushes hanging on the long stretching cliff made it looked shallow but it was not. My eyes are not trained to measure the depth of valleys and cliffs but it must be more than 200m. The slopes were stretched away beyond and above Situlembang, and all of them covered with green-bluish thick wooly jungle.
A little further up, then there’s a steep narrow path of wet clay soil. A stretched rope was already tied onto a sturdy bush foot. One by one we negotiated the tricky 60° short climb of 30m trek. Not really shivering but caution was taken not to slip to the right into the deep valley.
A few more minutes and then the peak of mighty Mount Burangrang was reached. Every peak climbed is a majesty for a wise climber. None is worthless no matter what is the altitude, for we are taught to respect the nature. All 16 climbers were merry although the mist started to tease us with the water drops falling on our heads.
It was 12:30 and we cooked our lunch. Friends, spare pak Yanto the sausage and meat-ball please. The cook always eats last, but does not get the best part of the meal. What a lunch, one of the most delicious ever for many of us. Who is not, I don’t believe it.
We barely finished the lunch, when the water began dropping on our heads. This time, it was real rain not mist drops. Albeit the boiled margarine in the frying pan, it hissed when the water drops hit it. Quickly we tidied up the high-altitude-kitchen-set and put on our raincoats. Just a few pictures please, for memory on the peak of Mount Burangrang, and then descending back to the village.
The descent was not easy in the wet. Started with the tricky rope a dope 30m descent. Now to the deep valley to the left, everyone at the rope end must watch and guide the coming down one not to swing to far to the left. Then the steep trek of wet clay soil. It was slippery, I fell several times. One was so fierce I could stand-up. Only after I put aside the pain in my left hip.
Five pm and the dark was already creeping and the mist over the foot of Burangrang hid the village’s lights. Close to the village but the path was not so obvious. The team split as like we unintentionally did in the descents at the other mountains. Pine trees to the left, and vegetable farm to the right. Where’s the tree-house? We were confused. The pine trees with the tree-house finally. A little further meandering down the right, and we were right behind the village by 17:30.
Hot coffee and a first class seat in the small kitchen of Ibu’s warung was the best arrival welcome for the wet and tired climbers. I knew the spot and quietly occupied it until my trousers and my shirt dried a little bit. Then I shared the good news about the spot with the others, while waiting for the less fortunate ones who lost their ways 500 M away from the warung.
All 16 were complete, rode back to Situlembang where we were waited by the kambing-guling on the fire. Another stand-up beside the fire to dry my clothes but I was indeed busy picking the well-done kambing-guling when my friends were still busy changing clothes.
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