Leuweung Sancang Nature Reserve is on the map, but almost ignored. Walking around you share the forest and the coast only with a few locals. The reserve is of interest to botanists (the Kayu Kaboa tree can be found here only) as well as to animal spotters (banteng, gibbons, iguanas, peacocks and more). But as usual you need luck and patience to see the animals. Locals told us that a few foreigners come to Leuweung Sancang beach for surfing.
The closest accommodation is at Pameungpeuk, an hour's drive to the west, see our accommodation tips.
To find the reserve drive east from Pameungpeuk until the road swerves inland to a bridge. Before the bend there is on your right a porch saying "Pantai Cijeruk Indah". Enter the forest through this porch, the road has recently been upgraded. Drive a few hundred meter until you reach the hamlet with the Forest Guard office (pos Polisi Hutan).
We were welcomed by mr Ruskindi, the chief guard. He took several hours to show us around. Except on holidays he is on duty here. But if he is not around, just walk to the river bank where you may cross for Rp 2000. You won't get lost if you do not stray too far from the coast.
Address: Pantia Cijeruk Indah, kecamatan Pameungpeuk, kabupaten Garut.
Unique features of Karang Paranje beach are the rock formation after which it is named, and the estuary of Ci Baregbeg river forming a lake which is safe even for poor swimmers. East and west of the rock there is good sandy beach for more experienced swimmers.
Karang Paranje means something like 'cock cage rock'. The story goes that a certain princess was to marry the winner of a tournament. When the contestant with the ugliest face came out as winner, the princess ran away and hid behind the rock. However, she had taken her favourite cock with her and was eventually found out because of the cock's crowing.
Government data would indicate that the beach attracts about 9000 domestic visitors yearly, but on weekdays you will not find any. We happened to run into a tourism official of Garut regency, who enthousiastically showed us around - admitting that the site needs some investment (there are a sanitary unit needing repairs and the foundations of what may have been a gazebo).
Directions: East of Pameungpeuk find the 10 km post in front of a mosque. At the bend in the road is the access road to the beach - a porch with no name on it. Public transport passes by between 5 am and 5 pm, including bus, ojeg, and angkot.
Hidden in the southern hills of West-Java lies this little village that rejects all amenities of modern life. No electricity here, thus no TV or mobile phone. No houses built of brick and tiles, not even glass. No kitchen utensils of metal or plastic.
Instead the people use natural, organic materials for all their needs. Their philosophy of life is based on the teachings of the sufist Mazhab Imam Syafii, which value harmony in society uppermost. And anything tending to luxury or technological advances is seen as disturbing this harmony.
The village consists of just 40 houses and a mosque within a simple bamboo fence. There are several houses ouside the fence, even one of brick! These are not part of the community.
As may be expected there are no facilities for tourists, but visitors are welcome. You even are invited to stay over and participate in the life of the village. Just report to the kuncen or kepala adat, that is the warden of traditions, whose house is in the centre of Kampung Dukuh.
The village has a rich ritual life, which centers around the kuncen. People will not eat from a newly harvested crop before a sample of it has been blessed by the kuncen. There are special prayers, ritual baths, artistic performances on numerous occasions throughout the muslim year.
Directions: From Pameungpeuk go west about 10 km to Cikelet village. Another km past Cikelet find the signboard pointing to Kampung Dukuh. This road of 7 km is only negotiable by four-wheel-drive; we saw a truck stuck in a mud hole. Best to hire an ojeg for Rp 15,000. The ojeg will bring you to the ridge overlooking Kampung Dukuh. Then walk down the last 500 m by yourself.
Rancabuaya is a remote beach due south of Bandung. It took us almost five hours to get there from Bandung, because the winding mountain road had suffered from the first heavy rain of the season.
The beach is not suitable for swimming. Yet, according to the Garut regency government website, in 2007 Rancabuaya beach attracted 25,000 domestic tourists and 14 (!) foreign tourists. Likely the majority of the domestic tourists come here during Lebaran and Christmas holiday seasons, when the village must be crowded. We were there on a weekday, when no other visitors were in sight (not counting a group of officials who had commandeered all the food in the best warung).
Not a bad place, however, to see life in a fishermen's village. And for us a starting point driving east to Pameungpeuk.
Directions: Approach from Garut via Bungbulang may be blocked in the rainy season due to landslides. We came from Bandung (Mohammad Toha exit) via Baleendah, Cimaung, Pangalengan, Cileunca lake, Telegong and Cisewu, altogether 109 km. Between Cileunca lake and Telegong the road passes Cukul tea estate, at 1528 m altitude, with better views than over-rated Puncak Pass.
You find rocks at much of West-Java's south coast, but near Pameungpeuk there are long stretches of sandy beach, suitable for swimming. Athough you do this at your own risk, as there are no lifeguards.
On of the best beaches is Gunung Geder beach, about 9 km west of Pameungpeuk. The beach is quiet and clean, but exposed so you may want to bring something to provide a little shade.
We found the access road closed by a pole, but a man came running from across the street to open it and collect a voluntary contribution (no paper tickets). Once past the gate a road straight on leads to a lookout on Gunung Geder hill. For the beach it is best to turn right immediately past the gate, although there is also a steep path down the hill to the beach. A small river, Ci Seundeuhan, reaches the sea just east of the hill.
The beach was deserted except for two women gathering driftwood and a lone fisherman with a long line.
7 km east of Sindangkerta beach the coastal road crosses one of the bigger rivers, Ci Langla. It's contributaries have several waterfalls. The easiest to reach of these are the Ci Cadas river falls. There are two of them, Curug Caringin in the minor arm Ci Cadas river and Curug Dengdeng in the major arm.
The water is not clear yet clean to swim in, as there are no upstream settlements to contaminate it. That is, if you are a good swimmer, because the pool below the major fall is said to be 8 m deep!
Directions: To reach the falls take the narrow asphalt road north at 600 m west of the Ci Langla bridge. After 3 km the road is paved only with rocks. At the highest point in the road, about 4 km from the coastal road, you have to leave your vehicle. From there walk about 1 km on the rock-paved road to the right. You reach a hamlet where someone will volunteer to guide you (our guide went by the name of Aba).
The minor or Caringin fall is not very impressive and very close to the hamlet. For the major or Dengdeng fall we had to wade through the minor Ci Cadas river and walk another km. We then arrived at the top of the fall, which has three steps. To get at the pool below the first step, we had to wade carefully over the fall, because only on the other side it is possible to climb down the bank. After that effort, the water was quite refreshing!
Once you got as far as Leuweung Sancang Reserve, another hour's drive takes you to Sindangkerta Beach, 4.5 km east of Cipatujah. Alternatively you may approach the beach from Tasikmalaya, a 75 km or two hours drive to Cipatujah.
Here is a recreational beach for locals, with some simple foodstalls. Ask for pak Yus (short for Yusliana), who is the local entertainer owning a keyboard (HP 081546951503). Early in the morning you can see sea turtles swimming near the rocky shore. We were invited to jump in the water and swim among them, but found the waves a bit too strong.
3 km farther east (on the other side of Karanganyar village) is a walled stretch of beach where the turtles lay their eggs. You have to come on the right day at 8 pm: the turtles appear once in a fortnight. In order to further protect the eggs from human and other predators, they are dug up and then re-buried in a fenced area. Once the eggs hatch, the little turtles are raised in basins for 3 months, when they are deemed big enough to be released into the sea. Locals are permitted to harvest the eggs if the turtles lay them outside the protected beach.
In order to be at the beach early, you may want to stay over. See our accommodation tips.
Camping on the remains of the famous volcano that erupted in 1883 - one of the biggest eruption that ever happened.
Climbing up the growing-still very much active volcano - the "Anak Krakatau" (child of Krakatau). The view from the top is amazing - all tiredness from walking the hot-deserted-sandy trail is dissappeared. it is really worth it doing it!
Swimming/snorkeling around the area is also very amazing. The water is very clear and there are abundant fishes swimming around. You can also see some interesting coral reefs that have just started to grow up with the background of black volcano stones/sand. If you like diving - which unfortunately not yet my experience - my friends said that diving around the Krakatau is one of the most amazing diving trips they have done.
My trip was arranged by Pak Irwan - the package includes the great meals (4 meals - L,D,B,L), tents & other camping equipments, boat and he also takes care all the necessary permit. His price is cheaper than other agents offer but the service is still good and all the crew are very nice.
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