Weekend Trip: Puncak
Puncak is a popular weekend getaway for locals who seek peace and quiet and marvelous fresh, chilly, air. The area is teeming with hotels, mountain resorts and homestays. There is only one road leading up to Puncak and one leading out, so this makes for massive traffic jams on weekends. The trick is to go to Puncak during “off-peak” times to avoid traffic. I left on a Friday morning and returned to Jakarta Sunday morning. The town is not foot friendly but there are angkots to take you around.
During my first angkot drive up the mountain I was struck by the number of stalls covered with bright orange carrots, sweet bananas, and green vegetables. As with all micro-economies in Indonesia, I wondered which attraction these vendors were catering to.
Although Puncak doesn’t have a myriad of things to do for the weekend warrior they have a few attractions and they do them very well. The environment forces you to slow down and relax. The Taman Indah Safari, hiking to hot springs, botanical gardens and drinking in views of towering Mount Gede- Pangrango are activities that can be done over a weekend.
This is a drive through safari. If you don’t have a car, buses leave regularly from reception area. I exited the angkot and walked past the line of cars entering the safari. Inside every car I saw bundles of carrots and green bushes dangling from a child’s hand. This was the attraction for the vegetable vendors. The safari is self-guided and people feed animals through their car’s barely cracked windows.
The Taman Safari spreads over hundreds of hectares. The park focuses on animal conservation and visitor enjoyment. It also includes an aviary, cable car ride, train ride throughout the property, elephant and camel rides and my favorite a hot air balloon ride.
Now a warning about the hot air balloon. The advertisements throughout the pay say “ride” so I assumed we were going over the property and around the mountains. However, for Rpi 125,000 the balloon went straight up 50 meters. At first I was bit disappointed, after all this was my first hot air balloon encounter, but even at 50 meters up, the 360 view was spectacular and I was excited to be floating in the air.
How To Get There:
From Jakarta: Take a train from Gambir to Stasiun Bogor about an hour ride. Tickets on an air conditioned train Rpi 14,000. There are no taxis at the Bogor Station, so take the number 2 angkot to Cisarua then transfer to the red angkot going up to Taman Safari. The red angkots have no numbers and they all go the same way. As an alternative you can negotiate to hire an angkot from the Bogor station to Taman Safari for Rpi 120,000 (about US$12.00) one way. The journey is roughly about an hour. You definitely need to speak Indonesian along the way or travel with locals.
Villa Lemboh Safari
Tel: (0251) 825 4609/ 825 5174
Address: JL Taman Safari
West Java, Indonesia
The hotel has private bungalows situated near a babbling river. The rate is Rpi 300,000 (about US $30.00) a night. There was no hot water in my bungalow, but there was a large electric kettle and taking a bucket shower that night inspired this blog post How to Take Bucket Shower in Indonesia. The outside temperature that weekend in Puncak was about 15 degrees Celsius (low 60′s in Fahrenheit) so taking a normal shower was out of the question.