The wildest ride in Indonesia is also the slowest. On Fridays, Jakarta disgorges a significant portion of its 10 million people and thousands upon thousands of tiny cars head toward the weekend destinations around Mount Gede-Pangrango. Locals want to get away from the city’s oppressive crowds and do so en masse, swarming towards the tea plantations and rushing rivers of Puncak.
Only a two-hour drive (on weekdays) from the Big Durian, Puncak is West Java’s answer to both the Hamptons and Boulder. The stately getaway is known for its tea plantations, fresh air and varied terrain. The best way to appreciate the gentle client and the lush surrounds is to head toward Curug Panjang Mega Mendung outdoor park for a river trek through the Curug Panjang River and waterfalls.
River trekking here doesn't require much. Some trekkers even take on Curug Panjang barefoot. The operation here located right on the river’s bank is rustic and small, but the guides are excellent. Visitors get to wade downstream and upstream through the forest, breathing in the outrageously oxygenated air billowing from the trees. The area is as quiet as Jakarta is loud until explorers are asked to jump off two waterfalls, the latter a 15-foot plunge that deserves, at the very least, a whoop.
The trek is pretty mild for sure-footed people, as the hardest part is trying to stay upright on the slippery rocks. The river currents make the trek interesting but there is no fear of real danger. Trekking both sections of the river, plus a lunch break took about five hours, so it was a tidy day trip.
We finished our river adventure in the early afternoon, which left enough time for a drive through Taman Safari, a wildlife sanctuary that is stocked with big cats, on our way to the Gunung Mas Plantation for tea. Tourists arriving on this sprawling, sweet-scented estate are offered cups and saucers as well as the chance to hangglide through the clouds of fog that stream up from the parallel plantings like exhaust.
More Information: Visitors have to drive to Puncak from Jakarta along Indonesia's impressively well-maintained roads.