Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tabrik to Gedeh plantation ring route

I agree with Alex that the ring route is dynamic. The route shown on the map has the advantage of including a lot of little-used forest tracks, which are fascinating to explore. The disadvantage is that some seem so little-used that they are difficult to follow or have not been maintained at all.

I recommend everyone using the WIPA guides to explore the delights of Puncak independently to proceed as I have done. Start with the easier circle routes. This will build confidence with the maps and make full use of Alex's clear route descriptions. Then move on to the more difficult circle routes and then the easier ring route sections, which are in the Ciawi sector and the Cisarua sector up to Taman Safari. The ring route there is at lower altitude, meaning the valleys are not as deep. There are plenty of farmers to ensure that the paths are well-used and to offer advice to the disoriented walker!

You will thus have lots of familiarity with the maps and terrain before you get to the ring route in the Cipanas and Cugenang sector, which counts more as an arduous hike than a weekend stroll.

Hopefully, with a few more walks we'll build up enough knowledge to advise on the current preferred routes for everyone exploring this beautiful area of Java.

There is certainly some great walking on the ring route in the Cugenang sector, which is a lovely area scenically, and largely free of the motorcycle noise that you get on the north side of Gunung Gede. The views, southward toward Cianjur, are quite distinct from those close to Puncak itself, and the people are less affected by the Bogor tourist bustle.

The two main difficulties are the steep and difficult valley crossings at the Ci Salande (map square O9, also a part of the E3 circle route) and at the Ci Binong (map square Y17, just before the ring route joins the E2 circle route). As Alex describes, sliding down on your butt is about the only way to make this second descent unless you have a pair of sharp climbing poles to dig into the soil; a simple wooden staff is not secure. Next time, we'll look at the next crossing lower down the valley, or perhaps just stay in the tea plantation zone, where the navigation is easy! With so few farmers or even woodcutters around in this area, it is very easy to get lost in the kaliandra, as seen in the photo!

It was certainly reassuring navigationally to be back in the huge Gedeh tea plantation , where the landscape is all open, with nary a tea shed to obstruct the view! Once safely in the plantation we were able to enjoy the sunset without fear of getting caught out in the forest overnight.

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