If you have been traveling around Indonesia, you must be familiar with Bandung or the country’s capital city, Jakarta. At these two places, you can go for a culinary adventure, shopping spree, and all the city life can offer. But do you know that in between these two cities, there is a hidden natural beauty you can explore?
Padalarang is well known for its chalky mountains. Growing up, all I could think of every time I passed through is how arid this place is. If only I dug a little deeper to the story behind it, I would have learned the fascinating history of this place earlier. Thousands of years ago, Padalarang used to be submerged under the ocean. Then, nature came into play and brought this place up to the Earth’s surface. And the proof is here for you to see at the Masigit Mountain Village: Pawon Cave and Stone Garden.
Get your shoes and hiking boots, because you are going to need them for this adventure!
Pawon Cave and Stone Garden offer you a great view of Javanese historical mountains from above. But to get there, you will have to go through an adventurous path. It all begins at the gateway to Pawon Cave. From Jakarta, drive along the Cipularang highway towards Bandung. Then exit via Padalarang. It takes around a one hour drive from the exit to the gateway of Pawon Cave. You can find detailed directions on Google Maps. And if somehow you are unable to access it, go to Jalan Raya Purwakarta towards the Cipatat area and ask around for direction. There is only one main road, so it is highly unlikely for you to get lost. If you are on the right track, you will pass one of the popular sites, Situ Ciburuy, and a huge line of tombstone and marble sellers along the street.
Your adventure begins as soon as you find the gateway to Pawon Cave. It is visible with a big black arch with “Guha Pawon” above. “Guha” means “cave” in Sundanese, which is the local language spoken in this area besides Indonesian. The cave itself is located around 2 kilometers (approximately 1.2 miles) from there. The path is accessible for motorcycles but it can be tricky for inexperienced car drivers because of its twists and turns. Keep in mind that this is a village area.
Along the road, you can see a mountain where you are heading to. Some wild monkeys can be spotted around. They are mostly friendly or nonchalant, but it’s best to leave them alone. Many visitors choose to go on foot to enjoy the surrounding scenery. If you decide to do so, make sure you have enough water, and equip yourself with a hat and proper footwear.
Soon, you will find an entrance booth near the parking lot. There are fees for entrance and parking. Since there is no official sign stating the fees, they may vary. But it should not cost you more than 10,000 IDR (approximately 0.7 USD) each. As a local, I paid 5,000 IDR (approximately 0.35 USD) for car parking and 6,000 IDR (approximately 0.42 USD) for the entrance.
Prepare yourself for a natural encounter
Pawon Cave was once a large piece of coral living in the middle of the ocean. Now, it is a plateau inhabited by wildlife, such as bats. That would be the first thing you notice as soon as you get close to the cave.
After walking through a short path from the entrance booth and up a few narrow staircases, you will find a small ladder leading up to the cave. It is pretty steep and can be dangerous. Therefore, proper footwear is necessary. There is a local officer standing at this entrance to assist people getting up and down.
As you take a closer look inside, you will notice the strong odor from bat droppings. If you think this can bother you, equip yourself with a face mask to help you breathe. Once you get the hang of it, you will be rewarded by a short tour which will take you back in time. Follow another officer acting as a tour guide. They will show you a spot where they found stones dated back to millions of years ago and human skeletons from ten thousand years back.
Hike up to the top of the mountain to enjoy the best view!
You are going to need a bit of a fresh air after being inside the Pawon Cave. And the best place to go is up hill to the Stone Garden. It is literally located above the cave. Hikers should take the challenge to go up the steep path leading to the top. But make sure you are fully hydrated before you go, because the path is quite challenging. However, if the challenge is too much to take, you can always go back to the main road and ride up or walk through an alternative path, which is way easier to access. It is a farther walk, but less steep and not dangerous.
Whichever path you choose to take, local warung or food stalls are ready to welcome you with some drinks and snacks you can buy. They are not fancy, but will do the trick in terms of relieving your thirst. Compared to regular convenience stores, the prices are relatively more expensive, but it is better to buy some sustenance here rather than carrying it from downtown.
Like Pawon Cave, there is no official print out or sign for the entrance fee to Stone Garden. So, the fee may vary but should not go beyond 10,000 IDR (approximately 0.7 USD). As a local, I had to pay 2,000 IDR (approximately 0.15 USD). This place can be crowded during weekends, so it is better to visit on weekdays. Plus, because of its geographical condition, there is a limitation to the number of visitors who can enter the site at the same time. Too many people on the Stone Garden can cause deformation to the Pawon Cave underneath.
Gear up for an adventure back to the prehistoric times!
Who would have thought that such a place exists between two of the biggest and most popular cities in Indonesia? It is not easy to find. But don’t all gems require a bit of effort in finding them?
Pawon Cave and Stone Garden should be on your itinerary if you are into nature, history, hiking, exploration, or all of them. The place is open every day for 24 hours, so you can visit anytime. However, considering how steep and dangerous the path could be, and that you have to pass through the woods for at least 1.5 kilometers (approximately 1 mile), a visit during a sunny day would be best. And don’t forget to gear yourself up with proper equipment and sustenance. Once you are all set, you are good to go for this prehistoric adventure!
Get Trip101 in your inbox
Create an account to bookmark our articles, like local expert tips, receive great stories in your inbox, and follow writers and topics that you love.Log in with Facebook Log in with Twitter Log in with Google ×