NEAR JAKARTA: BOGOR AND THE THOUSAND ISLANDS

NEAR JAKARTA

The Orchid Garden in Slipi, East Jakarta is one of the largest in Southeast Asia and draws orchid enthusiasts and the casual tourists alike, who come some of the exotic orchids such as the black orchid. The Slipi Orchid Garden is a commercial enterprise but is open to the public. It has collected hundreds of species from around Indonesia and has several impressive gardens A small facility near the gardens sometimes offer classes in orchid cultivation and breeding. [Source: justluxe.com]

The Puncak Hills and the nearby town of Bogor offer a pleasant climate and lush scenery. Bogar Bogor has a famous Botanical Gardens with a 275-acre park with a zoological museum, scientific library, and laboratory. The orchid collection is a special attraction. Puncak Pass, on the road to Bandung, is 5,000 feet high. Jakarta residents often rent cottages in the Puncak on weekends. The Taman Safari Park, where you can drive through and view wild animals, is located here.

Cibodas (30 minute by car from Jakarta) is base for hikes in Mount Gede-Pangrango National Park. Hikers can reach the base camp of 2,800-meter-high Mount Gede and its 3,000-meter-high Mount Pangrango, on a five hour hike through dense rain forests and past waterfalls and hot springs.

BOGOR

Bogor (an hour by car or train from Jakarta) is a former Dutch hill station and now a city with about 1 million people. Perched on Salak mountain, 60 kilometers south of Jakarta and 50 kilometers from southern coast of Java, it has a more colonial feel to it than other large cities in Java. Nicknamed "town without worries," Bogor is where the palace of the Dutch Governor General was built. This palace can be visited today. The official residence of the Dutch governor from 1870 to 1942, it has a huge lawn where spotted sambar deer roam free. In addition to being noticeably cooler than Jakarta, Bogor is also quite wet. By one count it is struck by over 300 thunderstorms a year.

Bogor Palace was built by Governor General van Imhoff and became the residence of Sir Stamford Raffles during his rule over the islands. In December 1954, the Palace was the venue of the historic Bogor Conference attended by the Prime Ministers of Indonesia (Ali Sastroamidjojo), India (Jawaharlal Nehru), Ceylon (Sir John Kotelawala), Pakistan (Mohammed Ali) and Burma (U Nu). It was a warm up event for the First Asian African Conference, held in Bandung in April 1955 and attended by 29 countries became the collective platform of the Third World in the fight against imperialism and for national independence.

Bordering the palace grounds is Kebon Raya, an 87 hectare botanical garden. It is Bogor's main draw and one of the best botanical gardens in the world, with an impressive variety of plants including rare orchids, the Rafflesia and original Brazilian rubber trees. There are over 15,000 species of plant, including 400 different kinds of palms. The orchid house is said to contain over 3,000 varieties. The gardens were established by the British but many of the plants date to the Dutch period. Students on school trips often come to the gardens.

Bogor itself is a pleasant town with Indonesia’s Agricultural University Near the entrance to gardens is a zoological museum with a collection of 300,000 specimens of land and sea creatures from throughout Indonesia. It houses the skeleton of a blue whale, the last rhino found on the Bandung plateau, and the coelacanth “living fossil” fish found in North Sulawesi. Today, Bogor is a popular weekend and short holiday retreat for residents of Jakarta. Bogor is famous for its “asinan”, fresh fruit and vegetables sour salads, and also for its apple pies and baked macaroni.

Ten kilometers from Bogor by car and by foot on the bank of the Ciaruteun River there are some stone tablets (the Ciaruteun inscriptions) inscribed in Sanskrit that where a gift to a 6th century king. Puncak (an hour’s drive south of Bogor) is a nice town reached by roads that wind through tea plantations and pass picturesque mountain resorts. The Taman Safari Park is located on this beautiful but winding route. Past Puncak before Cipanas is the Cibodas Park at the foot of Mount Gede-Pangrango,. It is laid out for the study of temperate plants and is where Java coffee was originally cultivated. At Cipanas is another out-of-town palace that has hot water springs in its gardens. The road to Bandung over Puncak Pass passes through more tea plantations, scenic landscapes and cheesy resorts popular with the Jakarta weekend crowd.

In Jakarta its is fairly easer to arrange a car with a driver to take you to Bogor. Be advised that the traffic on weekends and long holidays is heavy and drive may take much longer than an hour. On the road situation around Bogor, ASIRT reports: Traffic is congested. The road crash rate on the main road linking Jakarta and Bogor is high. The city is part of Jakarta’s metropolitan area. There are a few buses and taxis. Taxi fares are relatively high. Most public transportation is by minivan (Angkot). Angkots run fixed routes. Route is indicated by their colors (blue or green) and numbers. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT): PDF, 2008]

Bogor Botanical Garden

Bogor Botanical Gardens (Kebon Raya Bogor) is one of Indonesia’s greatest treasures. Beautifully situated with the Bogor Presidential Palace in front and Mt. Salak in the background, the 87 hectare garden is regarded as one of the best botanical gardens in the world, with an impressive variety of plants including rare orchids, world's largest flower (Rafflesia Arnoldi) and original Brazilian rubber trees. The orchid house is said to contain over 3,000 varieties. The Gardens are open daily to visitors. There are paved walkways for visitors to stroll at leisure to admire the variety of old, gnarled trees, walk under the canopy of their foliage and listen to the river rushing over large boulders. On Sundays and public holidays the Gardens are usually very crowded.

Bogor Botanical Gardens boasts over 15,000 species of plant, including. over 400 species of palm trees and 5,000 trees gathered from around the tropical world. Records from the 19th show that the Bogor Botanical Gardens contained 3,504 plant species, 1,273 genus in 199 families at that time. The Gardens are said to have been initiated by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the famed founder of Singapore who, between 1811-1816, was Governor General of the East Indies during the bried British over what is now the Indonesian archipelago. With the help of botanists from London’s famed Kew Gardens, Raffles first laid out a small garden. The Botanical Gardens were officially established by the Dutch in 1817 under the directorship of CGC Reinwardt. A memorial to Raffles’ wife still stands in the Gardens.

The Bogor Gardens today function as an ex situ conservation site, a research center for taxonomy and plant utilization. Horticulturists use the gardens to study plant adaptation, the planting and propagation of plants and develop the science of plant growing. The Bogor gardens have several branches on Java, Sumatra and Bali, most important of which is the Cibodas Park located further up Mt. Gede at Cipanas. The gardens are beautifully landscaped, and are perfect for strolling. Here, researchers produced the quinine and coffee for which Java became world famous.

UNESCO Description of the Bogor Botanical Garden

Bogor Botanic Gardens (BBG, Kebun Raya Bogor) was nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 25, 2018. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Bogor Botanic Gardens is a unique in terms of the histories of plant domestication such as palm oil trees, many introduced from tropics around the world as well this Garden as a parent which generated many other scientific institutions following its historic reputation as the world research center of tropical biology. As it is the oldest botanic gardens in Southeast Asia. Bogor Botanic Gardens has inherited the outstanding universal values of the plants, landscapes, buildings, artefacts, botanical sciences, nature and the environments from generation to generation over 200 years becoming a nation identity as well as contributing to the global economical development. Bogor Botanic Gardens is also the research center for tropical botany that resulted in many scientific discoveries in botany contributing to humankind prosperity. [Source: Indonesian National Commission for UNESCO]

“In general, the topography of BBG is relatively flat and slightly bumpy. Located at 260 m above sea level. BBG is located in the heart of Bogor municipality. Bogor Botanic Gardens is one of the plant conservation areas that became important evidence in the historical development of science in Indonesia. There are more than 24 research institutions on natural sciences directly and directly established by Bogor Botanic Gardens located in Buitenzorg/Bogor. In the beginning the establishment of Bogor Botanic Gardens was intended as a place of acclimatization of plant species originating from foreign countries that have high economic value. Now, Bogor Botanic Gardens not only conserve the types of economic value, but also conserve the species of plants that are rare, endemic, scientific value and have the potential to be developed from the entire tropics. Collection of plants arranged in the form of blocks and grouped by taxonomic and thematic classification pattern. As a site that witnessed the history of the development of science in Indonesia, BBG has an important cultural background or historical buildings and landmarks. “The physical characteristics of Bogor Botanical Garden is dominated by space with vegetation cover with some open area in the form of grass field. The buildings are scattered throughout the botanical gardens. The shape and style of historic buildings that exist within the botanical garden area is a colonial architectural style. Road network pattern in BBG is linear and organic network, with pavement asphalt for main road and gico stone for path.

“Bogor Botanic Gardens is an area that has an important role in the development of natural science in Indonesia. Bogor Botanic Gardens is the oldest botanical garden in Southeast Asia, founded by German botanists, Dr. C.G.C. Reinwardt on May 18, 1817. The botanic gardens located in the center of Bogor City and covering an area of 75.4 ha is a conservation center of wet climate tropical lowland plants with a collection of 12,350 specimens included in 213 families, 1,201 genera and 3,172 species.

“Bogor Botanic Gardens will celebrate its bicentenary anniversary on May 18th 2017. It had much experience of ex-situ conservation of plants with its strengths on utilization and basic botanical research during the Dutch Era (1817-1945 and 1948-1952). The “golden era” for research was during Treub's Directorships in the early 1900s with the invention of auxin and mycorrhiza.

“Innovations in economic botany resulted in increasing wealth for the Dutch Government with the development of plantations for agro-industries for exotic species i.e. oil palm, rubber, coffee, tea, quinine and tobacco. Increasing plant collection was followed by many publications including Floras and new species descriptions. Bioprospecting via ethnobotanical research did not result in emergent industry except for ”Jamu”.

During Japanese Era, we experienced status quo (1945-1948). Under Indonesian rule, the management of plant collection and research has gone through several reorganizations and LIPI was founded. In 1990s plant exploration was re-charged and resulted in many new collections and new species discoveries. During this period local government botanic gardens were initiated to face the new challenge of Indonesian plant conservation. To date 30 new local Botanic Gardens have been established. Current research focuses on plant conservation, reintroduction and restoration, domestication, economic botany and plants and climate change.”

Thousand Islands

Thousand Islands (45 kilometers north Jakarta) is a group of islands in Jakarta Bay that are surprisingly accessible and nice. Some of the islands are developed, some of them are quiet. The reefs are pretty good for fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving. The islands are visible from the winds of planes descending into and ascending from Jakarta’s Sukarno-Hatta international airport. There are 76 bona fide coral islands with more islets appearing and disappearing with the tide. The islands are known in Bahasa Indonesian as Pulau Seribu Islands or Kepulauan Seribu (Thousand Islands).

In 2002, the entire area of land and sea of and around the islands was designated by the Ministry of Agriculture as the Marine National Park. Two of these islands prohibit public access and are used for the conservation of sea turtles. The Thousand Island district houses over 300 reef platforms and 700 individual reefs. According to a decree, 36 of the islands may be used for tourism and recreation, but only thirteen of which have until now been developed. The rest are either privately owned or uninhabited.

The Thousand Islands area embraces a coral reef ecosystem, with 144 species of fish, including Betok fish (Anabas Testudineus Bloch) and onamental fish such as the Sargent Major fish as well as two species of giant clam, starfish, sand starfish, sea worms of various colors and 17 species of coastal birds. The conservation area is a hatching site for hawksbill and green turtles. The hawksbill turtle is an endangered species. They primarily bred on the island of Pramuka. Most of the islands are ringed by coconut palms and mangrove forests, where iguanas, golden ring snakes and pythons can be found.

The best time to visit the Thousand Islands is during the dry season from March through August, with March to May being time when the seas are the calmest. From November to February there are often very large waves and rough seas, due to the rainy season, so avoiding that time if you can. Unfavorable weather also frequently occurs from May through August. The Thousand Islands include hundreds of islands that are very closely spaced together, thus causing the waves to sometimes break in unpredictable ways.

The islands of Pramuka, Semak Daun, Kelapa, and Panggang are interesting for turtle breeding, animals observations and marine tours. Pramuka, Opak and Karang Congkak are best for wreck diving and Laga, Kotok, Gosong, and Koja Karang islands best for diving and snorkeling. Each island has its own character. For instance, Puteri Island in the north of this archipelago has soft white sand, an underwater aquarium, and a mini zoological garden. This island is an ideal place for swimming, diving and other activities. Kotok island has natural sites with clean seawater. Beautiful reefs offer a special diving sensation. This island is also known as a site for Elang Bondol (Brahminy Kite) conservation. This bird is symbol of Jakarta province.

Pramuka Island is the site of the Thousand Island National Park. Here can see rare sea biota, and turtle hatchlings at the Hatchery Laboratory for rare sea biota. You may also feed turtles and release hatchlings to the sea. There is a butterfly conservation area where you can observe the butterfly methamorphosis cycle.

Other islands frequently visited by divers include Peniki, Matahari, Gosonglaga, Kotok, Papa Theo, and Sepa islands. These islands have cheap and expensive resorts, hotels and restaurants. On most in the islands, you could enjoy jet skis, banana boats, canoes, and karaoke. A traditional delicacy that you cannot go home without trying is keripik sukun (breadfruit chips with spices).

Accommodation and Getting to the Thousand Islands: To reach the Thousand Islands, you can go to the Jaya Ancol Marina north of Jakarta from Soekarno-Hatta Airport. Boats leave daily from there and the journey takes between one to two hours. There are cottages available on a number of the larger islands, such as on Pulau Putri, Bidadari, Matahari, Pelangi and Bira Besar. Some resorts provide transportation for tourists. In addition, the government also provides speed boats called “Transjakarta Lumba-Lumba“ and “Transjakarta Kerapu“.

Pulau Bidadari

Pulau Bidadari (15 kilometers, or 20 minutes, from the Java coast by speedboat.) is one of the many charming islands in the Thousand Islands Marine National Park in the Bay of Jakarta. Formerly known as Pulau Sakit, this beautiful island lies in the middle of a cluster of small islands, among which are Pulau Onrust, Pulau Khayangan, Pulau Kelor and Pulau Ayer. Pulau Bidadari means “Island of Angels.”

Because of its natural beauty, historic attractions and easy access to Jakarta,Pulau Bidadari is being developed as a major tourist destination. This may present problems as the island is small. You can easily walk from one end to the other in under two hours. The beaches of Pulau Bidadari have beautiful, white, sand, and clear sea water. There are several mangrove forests where you will have the opportunity to see many rare and exotic plants, such as, the tree of peace (Baringtonia exelsa), willows, Pempis acidula, ebony trees (Diospyros maritama), and Glodokan trees Around the forests are also several fruit orchards. Approximately 60 percent of plants on this island are rare, protected species. About half of Pulau Bidadari remains lush, green forest. You can walk along paths and see monitor lizards lurking in the tree branches. Up to 50 monitor lizards inhabit the island, the largest are almost two meters long.

In the 17th-century, the Dutch built a leper colony on the island that is now gone. The island was then known as Pulau Sakit (or Sick Island). To give the island a more positive vibe, the name was changed to its current name, Pulau Bidadari. The Dutch also built a fortress here in 1786 to protect the City of Batavia (today’s Jakarta) from enemy attack. Prior to 1970, the island had never been visited by tourists. During the 1970s, PT Seabreez began to develop the island as a tourist resort. According to the Pulau Bidadari community, the island gained its name because long ago, the Royal Family of Jayakarta used to come to the island for recreation and relaxation. No one was allowed to visit the island unless they were of royal blood.

Sights and Activities on Bidadari Island

Because of its proximity to Jakarta, the sea is not appropriate for snorkeling or diving. The crowd that comes here is more into jetskis, banana boat, canoeing, fishing or simpy soaking up some rays and relaxing with favorite book on one of the island’s wooden lazy chairs. There are umbrellas provided for those that prefer the shade. Families to set up camp under a wide umbrella and enjoy a picnic.

Pulau Bidadari is well known for it dolphins. So you can count on catching a glimpse of a tail or an arching dorsal fin and back waves during your stay there. One of the most popular island attractions is swimming with the dolphins. There is also a facility offering dolphin therapy for autistic children. The price of this therapy is Rp. 150,000 per half hour. Two male dolphins, Yossy and Nia, provide the service.

On the beautiful island you can also see Martello Tower and the cannons of the fort that once dominated it. This is the only fortress in Indonesia whose original structure is still relatively intact. The circular-shape castle was 23 meters in diameter and with a 2.5-meter-thick wall. In the center there is a circular wall that held fresh water for drinking and cooking purposes for the fort’s guards and other inhabitants. Based on research and excavations done by the Department of History and Museums of Jakarta, the tower was a two-storey structure based on holes for the floor support beams. There were seven chambers on the second floor, which served as sleeping rooms as well as for lookout. One room was used as an ammunition storage area. Legend has it that a couple who takes pictures in the fortress will have a long-lasting relationship.

Pulau Bidadari has several ideal spots for watching the sunset. You can capture the amazing colors on camera every afternoon as the sun begins to set over the horizon, so there is rarely an afternoon without a breathtaking show. Pulau Bidadari at sunset has been used for numerous pre-wedding photo shoots.

Accommodation and Restaurants on

Pulau Bidadari

There are 49 cottages in Pulau Bidadari resort that are built over the ocean and land. These consist of three types of room, 23 deluxe cottages, 20 family cottage suites, and 6 single cottages. The 'floating cottages' are in the form of modernized traditional houses on stilts over the water and are built among mangrove trees which provide shady and comfortable lodging, with an amazing view of the vast expanse of ocean. It is is an place for a honeymoon or an extramarital affair.

Every room in the Pulau Bidadari resort comes fully equipped with a bathroom including a shower and hair dryer, TV, telephone, Internet access, and a minibar. They also offer a variety of facilities such as billiards, a karaoke hall, souvenir shop, basket ball and volley ball court, jogging track, and mosque. Available within the resort you can rent jetskis, banana boats, canoes, sight-seeing boats, and fishing equipment.

Not all the islands in the Thousand Islands Marine National Park have 24-hour electrical facilities. Pulau Bidadari is one that has it. There is also a plentiful supply of clean water. During the Holidays, accomodations tend to fill up very fast, so it is suggested that you make your reservations up to a week before your departure to ensure you receive your room of choice. For Reservation: Terminal Pulau Bidadari, Marina Jaya Ancol Jakarta 14430, Indonesia, Tel. : +62 21 64710048, 64713173, 6413679, fax: : +62 21 6413680. Web : bidadariisland.com

The Pulau Bidadari resort has a wonderful seafood restaurant where all the seafood is obtained fresh each day directly from the sea by local fishermen. Among of the menu favorites are soup, blue swimmer crab, green mussels cooked in butter, baby stingray, and a traditional fish head soup. The nightly barbeque party is a most memorable event for visitors.

Getting to Pulau Bidadari:

The main departure point to Pulau Bidadari is at the Ancol Marina, where further infromation on travel arrangements can be found. You can reach Pulau Bidadari in approximately 30-45 minutes from Pier 17 Marina Jaya Ancol, by a small speedboat or ferry. Marina Ancol: 021-6401140

KM Kerapu, is a ferry company very well known and used by most tourists to and from the islands. They have smaller speedboats which can seat up to 25 people, while another option would be to take the traditional boat they offer as well, with a maximum capacity of 100 people. Ticket prices are Rp. 32,000 per person. (This is not including the entrance ticket into the Ancol area.) There are daily departures from Ancol Marina from between 8-9 am. And return, between 1:30-2 pm. KM Kerapu, Operational ManagerIbu Yati : Mobile: 08561636724

Pulau Tidung

Pulau Tidung (in the Thousand Islands, 1½ hours by speedboat from the Java mainland) is a popular weekend get-away people in Jakarta. It is close to the city and relatively easy to get to, just a short boat ride away, and has nice beaches. Pulau Tidung is the largest and one of the most populous of islands in the Thousand Islands is actually divided into two islands: Pulau Tidung Besar, Greater Tidung Island, and Pulau Tidung Kecil, Smaller Tidung Island.

Greater Tidung Island is only about 200 meter wides and five kilometer long, and is home to about 4,000 inhabitants. The slim width of the land gives Tidung an interestingly unique shape. A sliver of an island, split by a single, small road; nothing to your left or right but beautiful stretches of sandy, white beaches and clear blue waters surrounding the entire coast of the island. Tidung waters are quite shallow, often with coral reefs thriving just inches below the surface of the water. The reefs are in excellent condition and are teeming with a colorful tropical fish and exotic sea creatures. It is amazing to think that is barely 30 kilometers off the Java mainland, and is technically part of crowed, polluted Jakarta!

Tidung is not as developed as some of the other islands in the district, meaning that it is less commercial and noticeably cheaper. Tourism on Tidung island in community-based and is operated solely by island locals, giving it a more down-to-earth and laid-back feel. Much of the accommodations is people’s homes that have been decorated and air-conditioned and transformed into comfortable of homestays with simple but clean rooms.

Much of the smaller Tidung Island is covered by mangroves. The mangroves are planted once a year and “mangrove tours” are sometimes offered. Although small, Tidung Kecil has its share of deserted beaches coupled with lush vegetation and exotic flora. Tidung Kecil is best explored on foot as many much of the path is overgrown with shrubs and greenery. Many visitors camp. A bridge connects Tidung Kecil with Tidung Besar.

There are several theories as to where Pulau Tidung got its name. The Indonesian word, tidung means shelter. In the past, the island was often used as a place of refuge from pirates, which is one of the possible origins of its name. The island’s name is also associated with the Tidung-Tidung Tribe, of the ancient Kingdom of Tarakan in East Kalimantan. After suffering a defeat in battle, the Commander of the Tarakan tribe and his family were exiled to the Thousand Islands region, to the island now known as Pulau Tidung. According to local residents, Tidung has been inhabited since around 1920. In 1986, electricity first came to the island. At that time most of the residents were engaged in fishing. Later tourism was developed. Today, Pulau Tidung is the center of the South Thousand Islands sub-district, and is in charge of three other island settlements in the area.

Sights and Activities in

Pulau Tidung

Snorkeling is a popular activity. Equipment is readily available for a closer look into the turquoise waters at the reefs and fish. Life jackets are available for aquatically-challenged visitors. Other activities include banana-boat rides and kayaking. Boats can be hired for short trips to neighbouring islands.

Pantai Tanjongan Timur, East Coast Beach, is the beach on the far-east coast of the island and features gently-sloping land, white beaches, and crystal-clear water. It is popular spot for tourists who spend their time swimming, relaxing and playing beach volleyball. Pantai Tanjong Barat, West Coast beach, is lesser known and requires a short hike through the forest to get to. This beach no less beautiful than Pantai Tanjongan Timur, and is ideal for those who prefer a more private area to relax and appreciate the island’s natural beauty in solitude. As it is located on the western tip of the island, it is a great place to watch the sun set.

Betok Harbor is located in Southern Tidung. The port here can handle large ships and is the arrival point for visitors arriving from the mainland. Betok is also a good location for fishing, without having to go too far out to sea. Visitors to Tidung may use the ships at the pier for fishing, or if you prefer reef-fishing, there is a nearby dam flourishing with Casuarina trees. Locals gather around the benches along the harbour when night falls to play guitar, swap stories, and enjoy the starry night sky.

Tidung has just one main road, and it is only two meters wide and paved with bricks. Alongside the road are lodgings, equipment rental stalls, food stalls, and souvenir stores. This road also passes the island’s police station and local high school. Bicycles can be rented for a dollar a day. Traditional rickshaws are another form of transport. Following the main road, at the east end of Tidung Besar, you will come to Jembatan Cinta, or The Love Bridge.The bridge connects the two Tidung islands. The love bridge is an arched, wooden bridge, over 600 meters long and is a favourite place for lovers and friends to stroll and absorb the beauty of the island, especially at sunrise or sunset. The highest point of the bridge’s arch stands 6 meters above sea level and has become a popular place for the local children to demonstrate their courage by leaping off the top into the ocean below.

Accommodation on and Getting to Pulau Tidung: Lodgings and amenities are found on the main island of Tidung Besar, while the smaller island is almost uninhabited and is mostly mangrove forest. Because all accomodations on Pulau Tidung are homestay, there are no actual hotels and resorts with websites. Here are a few websites that offer various package deals through: http://experiencingtidung.com/gallery/homestay/
http://opiektidung.com/
rakhatidungtour.com/
http://pulau-tidung.com/paket.html
tidung-fantasy.com/
kepulautidung.com/

Tidung is about a 3-hour ride away from Muara Angke, the port in North Jakarta via a slower, wooden boat or ferry. The ferry departs from Muara Angke to Tidung only once a day at 7:00a.m. so make sure you wake up early enough to get there on time! Alternatively, you can catch a speed boat from Ancol Marina Harbor, in which case Tidung is just 1½ hours away.

Pulau Pramuka

Pulau Pramuka (in the Thousand Islands, 2½ hours by speedboat from the Java mainland) is a beautiful island in the middle of the Thousand Islands Marine National Park It acts as central administration center for the whole Thousand Islands District and is a breeding area for endangered Hawksbill Turtles The sea around Pulau Pramuka is ideal for snorkeling or scuba diving because the water is extremely clear and calm and the reefs teem with a large variety of colorful fish. There are also some nice white sand beaches.

The people on Pulau Pramuka are friendly and hospitable people. Most are fishermen or are involved in fishing or tourism in some way. Ethnic groups include the Betawi from Jakarta, the Bugis from South Sulawesi, Banten from West Java, and Madura from East Java. As the central administration for the Thousand Islands, Pulau Pramuka has hotels, restaurants, hospitals, mosques, sports fields, and entertainment centers. Among the activities that visitsnorkeling, diving, fishing, canoeing, or just relaxing while watching the sun set over the pier.

Snorkeling trips can be arranged at the pier. Equipment rental for 6 hours, costs between Rp. 20,000 - Rp 40,000, and Rp300.000, to rent a boat with a tour guide. You can also rent snorkeling or diving equipment at a shop next to the hospital and post office, which will cost approximately Rp. 40,000. There are several diving and snorkeling spots around Pulau Pramuka. One of the most interesting is the APL (Area Perlindungan Laut, literally translated, Sea Protection Area), where you can see various kinds of fish and coral. There is also a narrow spot with a large variety of particularly beautiful coral. You can also enjoy snorkeling around of Pulau Semak Daun and Pulau Air, islands which are located not far from Pulau Pramuka.

Looking for an adrenaline rush? Try the banana boat ride, steered by experienced, fun-loving drivers, whose main purpose (usually) is to make the ride as thrilling as possible. You can even request to be thrown into the sea if you wish. With unexpected turns and catching the waves at just the right angle creating drops, you will be in for a fast and fun ride! For a quieter, more relaxing experience take a canoe or bike ride around the island. Another option offered here is fishing which you can do on the dock of the island which is located directly at the front of the island. You could also hire a fishing boat to take you to a specific location known for having many fish.

Hawksbill turtles never nested on the island but their eggs are hatched here. Pulau Pramuka has become an important breeding place for turtles along with the South Coast of West Java around Pangumbahan, Cikepuh, the South Coast of Bali, Central Kalimantan around the Sungai Cabang, the South Beach of Lombok, and East Java near Alas Purwo. If you are lucky and happen to come at the right time, you may be able to participate in the release of young turtles into the open sea.

Accommodation and Restaurants on Pulau Pramuka

Pulau Pramuka has several places to stay and some locals even open their homes for tourists to stay (homestay). Accommodations on Pulau Pramuka are fairly affordable with a range of facilities and conveniences specifically designed for families and groups. The rates vary from Rp350, 000 - to Rp500, 000. Facilities generally include air conditioning, television, and bathroom.

Villa Delima, located right on the beach with a beautiful panoramic view, offers cozy rooms beginning at Rp. 350,000 per night. Villa Delima, Villa Operational Manager, Mr. Untung 021-54373149, 081319551955

Wisma Dermaga is recommended for its cheap price and high standard of cleanliness. Price per room is Rp. 300,000. The room includes a King sized bed, and you can request an extra bed for an additional Rp. 25,000. The rooms are quite large, able to fit up to 2 extra beds. The facilities include AC, television, and private bathroom. For reservations and information you may contact: wismadermaga@yahoo.com, Wisma Dermaga: 021-70717318 Mr Herman: 021-33095523/ 0818779990 Mr. Ismail : 021-714019553/ 08176405654 Another recommended lodge is Wisma Taman Laut Nasional which offers similar price and facility as Wisma Dermaga

Among the culinary delights found on the island are a variety of fresh fish, squid, shrimp and prawns, all caught by the local fishermen the same day they are eaten. There are also many local foods that you can be sampled at the traditional food stalls where you can look and choose the individual dishes that you would like to try. Homestays and guesthouse off home-cooked meals with starting at around Rp20,000 per person. One amazing food spot is in the floating restaurant not far from Pulau Pramuka. It takes a five minute boat ride to reach and offers traditional foods with a spectacular view of the surrounding seas and islands.

Getting to Pulau Pramuka: Pulau Pramuka can be reached from Marina Ancol or Muara Angke Pier. From Muara Angka Port you can take a traditional motorized, wooden speed boat. The journey takes approximately 2 ½ hours. These boats have a capacity of 50 people, and depart daily at 07:00am from Muara Angke; returning at 1:00pmfrom Pulau Pramuka. The cost per person is Rp35,000. Some boat owners offer complete insurance services as well. Children under three years old are but children 4 years and above have to pay the the normal price. As there is no ticket booth, simply board the boat and ticket fees will be collected onboard. way. During the holiday or weekend, you are advised to come 30 minutes before departure time. Places on the boat are awarded on a first come first serve basis. Another more exclusive option is to go by chartered speedboat from Ancol Marina with departure times flexible to suit the customer’s schedule. You can try the Radja Express, which is known as being the fastest. This ride is approximately 1 to 1½ hours, depending on the weather and the boat. The ship capacity varies from 15 to 20 passengers.

Puncak, Cibodas, Cipanas: Mountain Escapes Near Jakarta

Puncak, Cibodas and Cipanas are the most popular mountain destination near Jakarta. “Puncak” — meaning “the Peak ---- has been a popular spot since Dutch colonial days. It is mountain resort that Jakarta residents escape to for fresh mountain air, lush, green scenery and relatively cool temperatures on weekends and holidays. Among the draws are views of the volcanic peaks Salak, Gede and Pangrango and charming bungalows set atop hills overlooking green rice fields irrigated by gurgling streams.

The winding but scenic Jakarta-Bogor-Puncak road was once the only route to Bandung. The Cipularang toll road cut traveling time between the two cities to two hours from the former four to five hours. Nevertheless, the Bogor-Puncak-Cipanas area remains a favorite destination but over the years the main road unfortunately has become overdeveloped, so much so that many once glorious views are now blocked. Therefore, to truly enjoy the beautiful countryside one has to turn into a side road, visit a resort, a hotel or restaurant to view the full glory of the beautiful scenery.

The first popular resort you come to, nearest Bogor, is Cisarua, the home of the Taman Safari Park where tigers, lions, zebras and giraffes roam around freely staring at people who are safely entrenched in their cars. Further up the ever winding road, nearing its highest point called Puncak Pass, there are panoramic views of mountains and tea plantations that cover hills and valleys. This is a favorite area for paragliding (For information check: flypuncak.com or indonesia-paragliding.com). At the top of the pass is the Puncak Pass Resort, an old Dutch guesthouse that offers a most panoramic view of the mountains and plantations. It still offers a superb Dutch menu with items such as bitterballen, garnalen sla, erwtensoep, Dutch beefsteak, poffertjes and pannekoek.

Four kilometers.down from the Puncak Pass is the large Cibodas Botanical Gardens, an extension of the Bogor Botanical Gardens, specially built to grow subtropical plants. Covering an 85 hectare area and established in 1852 by Johannes Ellias Tijsmann, Cibodas lies at the entrance of the Mt. Gede-Pangrango National Park at an altitude of 1,300 meters to 1,425 meters above sea level. It has a collection of 1,293 species of plants, 144 types of lichens, and 1,826 herbariums. In addition to being a sprawling gardens for tourists, Cibodas is a center for conservation, research and education on the environment. The rhododendron gardens contain varieties from Indonesia, Japan, the Himalayas and China, There also cherry blossom or sakura gardens with trees from Japan. The Best time to see the flowers in bloom are during January and February or in August and September. The Gardens have two guesthouses.

Plantations around Cibodas were the sources of Java’s first coffee as well as quinine exported around world as a malaria preventative. Right next to the Gardens is a road that hikers use to get to Mt. Gede-Pangrango. Away from Cibodas, and further down the road is the town of Cipanas. Here you can find Cipanas Palace, the President’s mountain residence set amidst manicured lawns and refreshing hot springs. Cipanas has grown into a sizable town with a market where tourists come to shop for fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers, decorative plants and souvenirs. All along the Bogor-Cipanas route to Bandung there are a lot of accommodation options: hotels, guest houses, cottages and housing estates, with flower gardens, fruit trees and playgrounds for children. Many Jakarta residents stop in Puncak to look for fresh vegetables to take home. Restaurants along the route offer Indonesian, Chinese, and Western food. One of the most popular West Javan and Sundanese dishes is barbequed or deep fried fish dipped in fresh chillis and sweet soya sauce, eaten with steaming hot rice and fresh vegetables. The meal typically comes with a cup of hot black coffee or a hot ginger drink called “bandrek”.

Travel to the mountain region of Puncak, Cibodas or Cipanas is by private car, taxi or tour bus, which on a weekday takes around one and a half hours from Jakarta via the Bogor toll road, but a lot longer during weekends and holidays. This area is best enjoyed during the week, since the road is normally jam packed on weekends, from Friday afternoons through Sundays, and especially on long weekends and school holidays. At weekends and holidays Police enforce one way traffic hours to ease heavy traffic congestions on these narrow roads, alternating traveling hours for traffic going up or down the mountain to and from Jakarta.

Sukabumi

Sukabumi (south of Bogor and 130 kilometers and four or five hours by car south of Jakarta) is located on the southern slopes of lush Mt. Gede-Mt. Pangrango National Park in West Java and offers activities such as camping, hiking whitewater rafting and caving. During Dutch colonial days, the town of Sukabumi and its surroundings was a favored place for tea plantions because of its beautiful and cool, misty climate.

Popular camping places include Pondok Halimun in the Mt. Gede-Pangrango National Park, Cangkuang camping ground on Mt. Salak, and Buni Ayu camping ground at Nyalindung, Gunung Walat, and on Mt. Halimun. Buni Ayu Adventure drops tourists 45 meters below the earth’s surface for a 1.5 kilometer caving trek that includes an 18 meter.vertical drop by rope, a dome-like cavern room where a cool stream meanders under stalagmites and stalactites and ends at the Cave of Eternal Darkness, inhabited by blind insects that use their long antennae to feel their way in the pitch darkness. Then cavers must crawl and climb up boulders through a mudpool before finally emerging out of the cave on the other side. After that they are drench themselves under waterfall to wash the mud off.

Sukabumi’s unique geomorphology offers countless challenging rivers. The most popular rafting rivers are the Citatih River, in the Warungkiara district, and the Citarik River, near Pelabuhan Ratu. These two have grade III and IV rapids. Trips are organized by several tour operators. Karanghawu beach and Cimaja Beach are the two surfing places within a few hours drive of Sukabumi. Gunung Halimun Salak National Park has one of largest remaining primary lowland forests in Java and home to 23 mammal species, at least two of which are endemic and endangered (the Javan gibbon and the grizzled langur). Indigenous Kasepuhan and other Sundanese communities live in and around the park and depend heavily on its natural resources.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Indonesia Tourism website ( indonesia.travel ), Indonesia government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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