Wise man said, there is no heaven on Earth, but there is a piece of it. Nglanggeran, a primeval volcano in southeast part of Yogyakarta, is a piece of heaven since it offers exceptional scenery from 700 m above sea level.
Nglanggeran is a primeval volcano that located in Gunungkidul, one of the regencies in southeast part of Yogyakarta. This region is known for its karstic mountain and beautiful beaches. Previously, people did not aware that apart from the beaches, Gunungkidul also has a primeval volcano which is specifically located in Patuk region, around 25 km from Yogyakarta.
But, in the last four years, Nglanggeran is getting more famous as a tourism site. Although it is no longer active since 60 million years ago, Nglanggeran still offers amazing sites including cave, springs, mountains, and views you cannot compare. From the peak of Nglanggeran, views of rice fields, scattered giant stones, and also lakes, are really enjoyable. It simply feels like heaven.
The main attraction in Nglanggeran is trekking. The track is divided into three main stops. Each stop is marked by a small pendopo or marquee. Since the main track is linear not circular, the way to and the way from the peak are same. Consequently, sometimes people need to queue first to get through one way.
The time needed for each stop is various, depends on the speed and the endurance of each person. Normally, it needs around 30 minutes to get to the first stop and allow up to 2,5 hours to get to the top with average speed and enough time for taking pictures during the trekking.
The track is started with Pendopo Kali Song, a Javanese marquee with giant stones as background. This marquee is usually used as a gathering place. The entry fees to Nglanggeran primeval volcano are Rp. 5000 at day and Rp. 7000 at night (insurance included). Guide service is available but you can explore this place by yourself for sure. Don’t worry about getting lost, signs are available along the track and not far from the Pendopo, there is a big map you can read before starting the journey. Around the Pendopo there are also some interesting sites like Kalisong Spring, and the rock climbing spot.
From Pendopo Kali Song, you will find stairs that lead you to Song Gudhel, a cave that is believed as a place where a tiger ate a calf (gudhel) years ago. Then, you will need to climb to get to Lorong Sumpitan, a hedge between two giant stones with 30 meters length. This hedge is very narrow and can only fit one person. Beware of your surrounding because in this location, sometimes there are millipedes walking around on the stones. Their black and orange colours are very pretty but it is better not to touch them.
After passing through Lorong Sumpitan, you will be soon arrived at the first stop that offers the scenery of Gunung Bagong (Bagong Mountain). From this stop, you can also enjoy the scenery of Merbabu and Merapi volcano if the weather permits.
Most visitors end their trekking in this stop due to the harder routes to the second and the third stop (the peak). Besides, the scenery from this spot is enjoyable so some visitors feel that it is enough for them as one of the guides said: “They prefer to just stay in the first stop because the view is good enough there”. However, if you are still able to continue the trekking, push your limit and try to get to the peak because more amazing views awaiting there.
Indeed, the route from first stop to the peak is harder. It is narrower and more difficult. However, you can ignore your exhaustion by enjoying the colourful flowers and native animals you meet on your way to the top.
After approximately half an hour, you will be arrived in the second stop. This stop is not really special, but it is good for taking a short break before continue the journey. On the way to the peak, there is Comberan Spring, a sacred spring which is believed as an everlasting source of water that has healing power. Some people claim that this place has a mystical aura. For that reason, this site is often used as a place for meditations or rituals.
The third or the last spot is the top of Nglanggeran, which is called Gunung Gede (Giant Mountain). From this spot, you can see the crater of Nglanggeran primeval volcano, the beautiful views of Yogyakarta, the scenery of Gunungkidul region and surrounds, including the new weir near Nglanggeran that has just opened officially for tourism since February 19, 2013. The view from here is unobstructed so it is much better than the first stop. It is also the best spot to enjoy sunrise or sunset. If you are lucky, you can even meet local people who foraging grass for their cattle here by standing (literally) on the rock with 45 degrees slope.
The most convenient way to go to Nglanggeran from Yogyakarta is by renting car or motorcycle. The road condition is good and the spot is easy to find since it is very distinctive. Besides, there is no public transportation to this place. Actually there is a public bus service from Yogyakarta to Wonosari (the main town in Gunungkidul region) that you can use. However, if you prefer to take this service, please signal the driver to get you off at Sambipitu crossroad (around 15 km before Wonosari), and then take motorcycle taxi to Nglanggeran entry gate that is located around 5 km from there.
Since the tracks are uphill, slippery and even narrow sometimes, shoes or trekking sandals are most recommended. Some visitors who used slippers and flat shoes ended up barefoot because it is much easier that way.
Small backpacks are also more recommended than handbags or sling bags. It is because in some locations, especially Lorong Sumpitan, the track is very narrow so you will need bag that is well attached and keeps your hands free to hold on the rocks.
Don’t forget to bring some snacks and water with you. They are essential because you can easily get dehydration during the trekking. If you feel hungry after the trekking, there are some food stalls at around 20 metres from the Pendopo that sell various meals such as meatball soup, chicken noodle and nasi rames. There is also a souvenir shop where you can buy T-shirts and other stuffs.
In addition to trekking, Nglanggeran also has camping and outbound areas. Thrill activities like caving, flying fox and rock climbing are available too. Many students come to this place to enjoy the scenery as well as to learn about primeval volcano. Indeed, it is okay to bring children to Nglanggeran. However, for safety reason, the first stop is the maximum track and make sure that you will be able to carry them if necessary.
Nglanggeran is one of few primeval volcanoes in Indonesia. Thus, it offers an exceptional view that hard to compare. Standing on the top of Nglanggeran make you realise that this place was created in a good mood. A really good mood till it feels like heaven up there.*
*this story is a way-too-longer version of my artcile which was published in The Jakarta Post, on May 13, 2013. I upload it here so you can get more information that might be useful for your next travelling plan. Happy reading!