Benowo and Lawe falls
We found these waterfalls on the website of Semarang regency. Both lie close together on the northern slopes of Ungaran mountain in relatively unspoiled forest. The bottom of either fall can be reached only by a tough hike of over an hour. One must cross their downstream several times, wading through when there is no bridge.
The difficult access makes these falls less popular than Sembiran fall. As a result the environment is still clean, there is hardly any litter. However, the area is popular among students: the signs along the footpath have been put there by students doing their “KKN”, (assignment of work in a rural area).
There are two routes to both falls. We followed the route indicated by UNNES students in 2012. At first this follows a plantation road, then a footpath going steeply up and down by broken flights of stairs until a sluice gate diverting water from the river into an irrigation canal. The WALISONGO 2011 route follows the sluice canal to the same gate; it is more level but narrow with a deep ravine alongside it. A short distance beyond the sluice gate one reaches a Y-junction: left for Benowo fall, right for Lawe fall. Both then are then still about 500 m away.
Although the distance from the parking is said to be just 1.5 km, it took us over an hour to reach Lawe fall. It lies at the end of a narrow gully, which ends at a vertical semicircular cliff, from which the water pours down. To approach the foot of the fall one has to negotiate debris of wood and rocks in the river bed. Benowo fall has the wider valley. The approach to the foot of the fall is a steep climb over rocks. See travelogue Approach to Benowo and Lawe falls
The pool beneath both falls is not more than a foot deep, not enough for swimming. We just took a “shower”.
We came early in the day, the rivers and falls still in shadow. For seeing them in sunlight, we guess that one should come by noon - if by then the sun is not hidden by clouds, which it likely is in the rainy season.
Directions: If you don't have own transport you might hire an ojek. From Ungaran bus station go 2.9 km direction Gunungpati to Sumur Rejo. There a green board points you to the left (south) for Curug Lawe. At a crossing 6.1 km from the bus station go straight on, at a Y-junction (6.7 km) take right, Jalan Kuarsa. At 7.4 km you enter PT Zanzibar plantation, and at 8.9 km you reach the parking. There are small signs all the way. At the parking or the gate to the plantation one pays Rp 4,000 admission fee per person; parking is extra.
- Hiking and Walking
The Old Dutch Fort "Benteng Willem II"
Since Semarang regency has been separated from Semarang city, the town of Ungaran some 15 km south of Semarang is the capital of the regency with the same name.
At Ungaran can be seen Benteng Willem II, one of the oldest Dutch forts on Java, erected in 1786 by the VOC (Dutch East India Company). Sometimes it is referred to as Benteng Diponegoro, because the resistance hero against Dutch colonial rule, Prince Diponegoro, was held here in captivity.
The fort must have replaced an older one, because in 1750 an Ungaran fort played a role in a war between the VOC and Prince Mangkubumi of Surakarta, in which war the Dutch governor Van Imhoff died.
Until a few years ago the fort was a sorry sight. From 1950 to 2006 it was used to house the families of the local police force, as legally it was and still is owned by the police department. The parking in front of it was used to store wrecked cars from the busy Semarang-Bawen road. But in 2006 the 16 families living there were bought out, and after it had stood empty for a few years, restauration work was begun.
In 2012 the fort was inaugurated as "a meeting place between the community and the police". That means it is usually closed, but we found a maintenance man ready to let us in through a back door. The parking has been neatly rescaped, and passers-by can take a rest in the shade under the adjacent banyan tree.
Those who value authenticity will regret that they took some liberties with the restauration. Over the entrance door they built a typical Javanese verandah, which the Dutch certainly did not. But one does have a great view of Ungaran mountain from the verandah. Actually the present main entrance, facing west, used to be at the rear of the fort. In the 19th century the road ran on the other side, and the main entrance faced east.
Inside the fort one can admire some historical reliefs, among them one of the original fort and one of governor Van Imhoff. And there is a gallery with mug shots of all police commanders since independence.
Directions: On the main road in Ungaran center, some distance south of the market.
- Historical Travel
Often it happens that one visits far-away attractions sooner that those nearby. Countless times we have passed by the sign in Ungaran showing the turnoff to Curug Sembiran (Sembiran waterfall), when on our way going shopping in Semarang. It took us six years before we finally went there. Ungaran mountain is not high and relatively well forested. It has no big waterfalls, but those it has never run dry.
We arrived at the parking at 7am. After 200 m we reached a ticket booth, but the warden with the tickets had not arrived yet. On our return we paid the Rp 5,000 entrance fee. Beyond the booth the path to the watervall leaves at a sharp turn left. The entrance fee is well deserved by the villagers who paved the path with rocks and built stairs at the steeper parts. It took us - going slowly - almost an hour to cover the distance of 1 km to the fall. The walk itself is interesting, the path shaded most of the way and leading past coffee shrubs and various big trees.
At that early hour we had the place to ourselves. We took a shower, but the pool beneath the fall is not big enough for swimming. If one crosses over to the the other side of the pool, one can climb the cliff to the top of the fall. But we just had our little picnic before going down. Then we met the first other visitors of the day.
Regrettably our enjoyment was somewhat spoiled by the inevitable litter that Indonesian visitors cannot help to leave behind.
Directions: Find the brown sign south of the pedestrian bridge across the main road in southern Ungaran, pointing west to Curug Sembiran. Take this road passing by Ngudi Waluyo nursing academy. At the Y-junction across a bridge choose left. Then at a T-junction left again as indicated by a small green sign “Curug Sembiran". Soon you arrive at Gogik village, where the road make a bend to the right and a sign points right to Gogik. Do NOT follow the sign, but take the narrower road straight on uphill. At the border of the village you arrive at the parking. The distance from the main road is 2.6 km.
- Hiking and Walking
bandungan flower market
not to be missed is bandungan flower market. a local market with unpermanent location, choose your own fave cut flowers and veggies. only available at the weekend, early morning. more description in my bandungan page.
- Road Trip
rawa pening lake
rawa pening, bandungan and ungaran [candi gedung songo] situated nearby. so, you can wake up early to catch the sunrise before hike up to bandungan flower market [900 - 980 m above sea level, more description in my bandungan page] and candi gedung songo at 1,000 m above sea level. not offers much but it's gonna be great for photography hunting.
if your base is in jogjakarta, you should start by 03.00 am to direction magelang and pringsurat to the junction to semarang, passes through ambarawa train museum.
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- Road Trip