East Java, Gunung Argopuro

Written by on July 16, 2012 in Java Mountains with 0 Comments

East Java, Gunung Argopuro



The Argopuro mountain complex offers one of the longest and most isolated treks in Java with incredible scenery to match. Above the agricultural land (corn, cassava, tobacco, coffee, cocoa), at about 1,200m, the track enters tall, often moss/lichen/epiphyte-covered, lower-montane forest. At higher altitudes (above about 1,800m), casuarina (Casuarina junghuhniana) dominates the upper-montane slopes; this specie is especially resistant to fires that are quite common. Extensive “button-grass” meadows occur in depressions. Edelweiss (Anaphalis javanica) occurs in the sub-alpine zone around 2,800m.

The ruins of an ancient Hindu temple on Rengganis peak, named after Princess Rengganis who supposedly built the temple possibly as early as the 12th century, make for a mystical experience. The highest peak is Argopuro (3,088m) adjacent to Rengganis (3,066m). The track passes by the beautiful, secluded Danau Taman Hidup (Living Garden Lake) (2,000m).

The Rengganis/Argopuro peaks can be approached from either the towns of Baderan to the north-east or Bremi to the west. The Baderan ascent is more gradual although longer. This description starts at Baderan and finishes at Bremi. Guides/porters can be arranged and permits obtained from the Forestry Office, Baderan (at the end of the asphalt road), for which copy of passport/ID may be required.

Day 1: The trek from the Baderan Forestry Office (770m) to an old Dutch airstrip (2,190m) is about 14 kms and takes about 8 hours. The track climbs steadily through agricultural land, Protected Forest and into the National Park. White, numbered, posts mark the track every one hundred metres, with zero being the edge of the Protected Forest. Villagers ride motorbikes up this track as far as the Protected Forest. The first large meadow reached (about post No. 40) offers an excellent lunch stop.

The Airstrip (post No. 92 – flowing water) lies on an extensive meadow where deer, pigs, peafowl, pheasants and jungle fowl are often seen. The Dutch administration apparently built this airstrip around 1919 for the visit of Dutch Royalty to promote conservation and management of the area; another report informs that it served to establish a ranch and meat factory. In 1943, the Dutch sabotaged the air strip to prevent its use by Japanese forces.

Day 2: The trek from the Airstrip to Rengganis peak is about 13 kms and takes about 7.5 hours. The track continues up through casuarina forest interspersed with open meadows, until descending into a valley with a small hut (Sicentor – flowing water) at post No. 142 (about 3.5 hours). The white markers abruptly end in the forest at no. 150 for no apparent reason! Water is available again in a small, hidden spring at Rawa Embik (rawa: marsh; embik: bleat of a goat) about 2:00 hours from Sicentor. No more sure water is available until Danau Taman Hidup or until reaching Bremi.

The saddle between the Rengganis and Argopuro peaks is reached after about another 2 hours. Here, the track divides into three directions. The “left-hand” track ascends to Rengganis with the ruins of the Hindu temple (good camping – about 20 minutes – no water) and views to the east of the Ijen mountain complex on the eastern tip of Java and Gunung Agung in Bali. The “right-hand” track ascends to Argopuro, the highest peak (about 30 minutes) where there is a cairn/grave but, unfortunately, casuarina trees at the summit obscure the view. Danau Taman Hidup, the north coast of Java and Madura and the Ijen mountain complex can be seen through the trees.

Day 3: the descent (in total, about 2,100m) to Bremi (990m) can be made by two routes. A longer, but steadier, descent is made by returning to Sicentor and circumnavigating Gunung Rengganis to the south and west (about 8-9 hours). The alternate, more direct but steeper, descent is via the “middle” track on the saddle between the Rengganis/Argopuro peaks (about 7-8 hours). The two routes meet at a small stream (water not guaranteed) after about 3 hours via the shorter route. Our preference is the shorter route which, although quite steep in places, offers great views of the mountains and valleys to the south and west. Danau Taman Hidup, complete with a dilapidated wooden pier, is reached after another 2 hours at around 2,000m. Bremi is a further 2-3 hours down the track, which is quite steep and eroded in parts. The final track passes through agro-forestry plantations before reaching Bremi.

Bagging information by Nick Hughes.


Getting there

The nearest airport is Surabaya from where it takes several hours to reach the trailhead by car.


Plenty of basic accommodation available in nearby towns.


Guides/porters can be arranged and permits obtained from the Forestry Office, Baderan.

Water sources

Take sufficient supplies with you.

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