West Java, Gunung Papandayan

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

West Java, Gunung Papandayan

Papandayan (Malang)


This Ribu is close to the town of Garut and actually has a car park at over 2,000 metres above sea level on the edge of the active craters. There is an alternative route to the mountain from Cileuleuy and Pangalengan but the approach from the main crater is by far the easiest and most popular. The scenery is some of the most spectacular and varied in West Java and the active crater attracts a lot of tourists. From Garut, take the road which leads via Bayongbong to Cisurupan. Take a right turn here, or take one of the many ojeks (motorbike taxis, approximately Rp 25,000 each), and follow the very bumpy road 8 kilometres up to the warung-surrounded car park. The entrance fee is Rp 15,000 for foreigners and only Rp 2,500 if you’re Indonesian.

Mount Papandayan has several summit craters and is very much alive, volcanically speaking. The most catastophic eruption was in 1772, but there are fairly regular eruptions, the last major one being in 2002. Apparently the mountain was over 3,000m high before the 18th century eruption. Exploring the active crater is easily done in less than an hour. Further on, there are several peaks of a seemingly similar height, the principal and outer two being named Papandayan and Puntang, with various minor tops between them, one of which is the very rarely visited highest point in the mountain massif called Gunung Malang on Bakosurtanal maps.

From the crater carpark (2,008 metres up the mountainside) it is a fascinating walk through the incredible crater scenery (sulphur clouds, rivers of steaming water and even bubbling hot mud pools at 2,188m). This part of the hike is very popular with tourists but only a small number venture further. Sometimes warnings are in place which prevent you from walking through the crater (most recently in August 2011) but remarkably some local people quite regardlessly still use the trail as a villagers’ route to Cileuleuy and the vast tea plantation area south of Pangalengan.

The imposing 2,623m mountain to the south/south-east of the crater that actually forms the crater wall is called ‘Gunung Papandayan’ and is the highest accessible peak in the mountain range. It’s a tough 5 hour trek up there via various fascinating and varied landscapes and you definitely need a guide. The main crater path climbs round to the west, past the bubbling pools of mud (and sign for Balagadama crater), and up towards the edge of the active crater scenery. From here, there are two routes to choose from, though this junction is vague and not signposted. A left turn following the edge of the crater leads you steeply up towards a small plateau of burnt trees just beyond the camping area of Pondok Salada. It’s the quickest way of getting to the highest areas of the mountain range.

The other option is straight on over the edge of the active crater scenery on a trail that will lead you to a cobbled track through an area of rich vegetation and some excellent camping areas. A huge landslide (which occurred in the eruption of 2002) destroyed one large section of the cobbled track and this means that you have to take a right down and across a river before ascending again back to the cobbled track. When you reach the saddle, there are a couple of wooden huts (demolished before August 2011) and a small grassy area (2,275m) known as ‘Ghober Hut’. This is a very important crossroads on the mountain and there are three options. Straight on on the wide farm track will lead you all the way down to the vast and beautiful tea plantations near Cileuleuy on the other side of the mountain. This makes an interesting alternative route down after you have finished your hike and if you have lots of time to slowly work your way back to Pangalengan and Bandung by ojek and minibus. The second option is a right turn along a track leading north out to Gunung Puntang, a 2,555 metre high forested peak. It takes about 2 hours to reach the top of Puntang and admire the wonderful views to Gunung Cikuray bu you really need a guide for this as it is a very wild area.

The third option is a left turn towards the Pondok Salada and beyond to the highest parts of the mountain range. A path on the left of the two wooden huts leads up and then down through forest to the pleasant camping area known as Pondok Salada (2,318m). On the way there you can admire the views back down over the active crater. It’s a beautiful spot but do take note that there are lots of wild animals in the area – wild pigs, wild dogs and a handful of ‘big cats’ – so campers are advised to go in large groups. Continuing further on, on the left of the boggy area and up through a sandy area with dead tress (where the short cut from the active crater meets this trail), and steeply up the mountainside. Less than an hour beyond Pondok Salada is yet even more fabulous scenery called Tegal Alun where swallows swoop and dive. It’s a vast grassy meadow of extinct crater areas and has plenty of large flat open plains (2,520m) ideal for camping (if the prosepct of beasts lurking in the bushes doesn’t put you and your group off) and lots of Javanese Edelweiss. In mist it is an incredibly eerie place and there are many dead trees and small clusters of bush. You are unlikely to meet any other hikers here and the majority of camping takes place back in Pondok Salada.

The very highest point of Papandayan (2,665m) is actually an unmarked spot known as Gunung Malang in very dense vegetation 140 metres above to the west of the vast open plains and presumably formed part of an ancient crater wall many centuries ago. It seems unlikely that more than a handful of people have visited this true peak in recent decades as it is densely overgrown and looks impossible to reach. We have yet to find anyone who has been to the true summit.

However, there is a trail to the second highest peak known as ‘Gunung Papandayan’ and incorrectly assumed by local guides to be the highest point. It is the mountain you will have admired from the crater carpark and lies beyond Tegal Alun and to the left (east). After skirting along the left side of Tegal Alun, the faint path drops down slightly to a small boggy area. It is very difficult to find the trail without a guide as it then snakes through dense undergrowth growing among dead tree stumps before climbing the ridge of the actual mountain which you will have seen as the active crater’s back wall from back at the carpark. It takes about 90 minutes to reach the peak from Tegal Alun and there are some stunning views back down to Tegal Alun, Pondok Salada, the active craters below and many other distant mountains from the higher sections of the ridge. One landmark that guides will know is ‘Batu Cakup’ (2,545m) which is basically a section of the trail where there are a couple of large boulders. You can sometimes see the south coast of Java from here.

The Papandayan summit (2,623m, second highest after the inaccessible Gunung Malang) is marked with a little flag but offers only limited views to the active craters below. Keep on hiking beyond the highest point for another 200 metres for the best views directly down the cliffs of the crater walls to the new crater (including a small lake). You are likely to see birds of prey in this area.

It takes about 3-4 hours to descend the same way back through Papandayan’s wide array of splendid scenery, although there is a short cut back to the car park which simply continues beyond the highest point and follows the ridge back down. Apparently it takes about 2 hours to climb down from the peak to the car park if using this route. Of course, you could climb up this way to begin with but then you would miss all of the beauty of Pondok Salada and Tegal Alun.

Bagging information by Daniel Quinn (August 2011)


Getting there

From Jakarta, take the toll road to Bandung and continue beyond to the end of the toll at Cileunyi. Follow signs to Garut and then take a right turn towards Cikajang. The road to the crater is signposted at Cisurupan. Primajasa buses to Garut leave from Jakarta’s Lebak Bulus and Cililitan bus depot frequently during the day. Angkots run from Garut to Cisurupan but you need an ojek (plenty available) up to the crater itself. The alternative approach from Pangalengan requires public transport from Bandung.


Plenty available at Cipanas near Garut, or in Tasikmalaya.


None required but take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase. Rp 15,000 / Rp 2,500 entrance fee to the crater carpark.

Water sources

Available at Pondok Salada (2,318m).


Country: Indonesia

Subregion Name: Java (Indonesia)

Volcano Number: 0603-10=

Volcano Type: Stratovolcanoes

Volcano Status: Historical

Last Known Eruption: 2002 

Summit Elevation: 2665 m 8,743 feet

Latitude: 7.32°S 7°19’0″S

Longitude: 107.73°E 107°44’0″E

Papandayan is a complex stratovolcano with four large summit craters, the youngest of which was breached to the NE by collapse during a brief eruption in 1772 and contains active fumarole fields. The broad 1.1-km-wide, flat-floored Alun-Alun crater truncates the summit of Papandayan, and Gunung Puntang to the north gives the volcano a twin-peaked appearance. Several episodes of collapse have given the volcano an irregular profile and produced debris avalanches that have impacted lowland areas beyond the volcano. A sulfur-encrusted fumarole field occupies historically active Kawah Mas (“Golden Crater”). After its first historical eruption in 1772, in which collapse of the NE flank produced a catastrophic debris avalanche that destroyed 40 villages and killed nearly 3000 persons, only small phreatic eruptions had occurred prior to an explosive eruption that began in November 2002.

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