Fascinating exoticism of Situgunung, Sukabumi

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of Lake Cantik, Situgunung. The cool weather can bring happiness to visitors. (photo: Pramitha Hendra)

IO – Tourism is a potential sector to be developed in Sukabumi. The strategic location of Sukabumi means there is a diversity of potential objects and tourist attractions, ranging from natural to cultural events, and also special interest tourism. These have the potential to support the local economy. There are 50 tourist destinations which include 34 natural tourist destinations, 8 artificial tourist destinations, and 8 special-interest tourist destinations.

One of these is Situgunung. Natural tourism here is reasonably complete, offering many attractions to travelers. Located in Mount Gede Pangrango National Park area, Situgunung is at an altitude of 850 meters above sea level with cool air and beautiful panoramic views of the mountains.

Not long ago, I and five friends from Jakarta went to Situgunung, Sukabumi, West Java. Venturing outward at 8 PM, I headed from Jakarta to Cisaat, Sukabumi. Equipment for staying overnight in tents had been prepared in advance.

The journey to Sukabumi is not that far anymore because it passes through Jagorawi toll road which is now connecting Jakarta to Sukabumi directly, so my trip was faster than those in previous years. It took me 4 hours only to travel from Jakarta to Sukabumi.

With the help of Situgunung employees, I was immediately provided with a place to set up a tent. Many people were seen singing while making a campfire. I was able to spend the night here for only IDR 35,000 per person.

The camping ground in this area is in the form of flat grassy fields, making it comfortable to set up tents. Not only that, but also the lighting to the camping ground is also quite good. The access road has also been built in such a way that it is comfortable to cross. Part of the roads is in the form of rocks so you don’t get muddy after a rain.

There are several camping grounds available. from the one closest to the exit to the furthest, around Curug Sawer. You are free to choose a location for camping.

Although the area for camping has been built by men, the natural atmosphere is still very powerful. The cold air was unavoidable; despite wearing a jacket that was thick enough, the cold still pierced the skin even to the bones. One friend rushed to get firewood that was already available. It was an extraordinary experience.

Lake Situgunung Cantik
The morning was still dark as I rushed to take sunrise photos around the lake, around 1 kilometer from the camping ground. Seeing my five friends were still lazing about, I took the initiative to go alone. Reckless though I was because I still did not know the position of the beautiful lake. Armed with a bottle of mineral water, I continued to walk south.

While there is a motorcycle service to the lake, I decided to walk. The lush forest and cold air made me a little bit wary that morning. Occasionally the sound of birds intermingled with the sounds of apes. I looked to the left and there was the lake. But my journey has not yet found any signs of arrival and the fog was getting thicker. I had thought of turning back but it was too late. Sometimes I looked back to ensure my safety.

After walking for almost half an hour, I entered the lake area, feeling relieved and happy because I had passed through a lush forest. No regrets for having gone that far, as the panorama was truly extraordinary. Dew and mist had not burnt off; I witnessed the natural beauty of Sukabumi that morning while the sun was still shy to show its beauty from behind the hills.

Waiting for the sun to rise is like waiting for the nod of a girl to accept a proposal. Being convinced that the girl would not refuse, still it made the heart beat faster. It was the same as I felt at that time. Feeling apprehensive that the scenery was not as I expected. This is a rare opportunity because it is hard to find another time to return here.

But when the sunlight appears from behind the trees and welcomes the morning mist, I get a view that will not be forgotten. The journey that I went through that morning was not in vain.

This beautiful lake offers natural beauty and cool mountain air. The green homogeneous forests and waterfalls are the main attractions for tourists. Camp activities in the natural surroundings become a favorite for visitors to escape from the boredom of daily routine.

Panorama on the lake is very exotic, surrounded by pine forests and resin jungle that adds to the beauty of the lake. There is a kind of small islands overgrown with green grass in some parts of the lake. Not only the panorama but also the sound of various birds adds to the sensation. Sometimes I saw a monkey with a long tail in the trees around the lake.

Reportedly, Lake Situgunung was created by a Mataram aristocrat named Rangga Jagad Syahadana, also known as Mbah Jalun. This lake was made as a form of gratitude for the birth of his child. The name Lake Situgunung itself was chosen because it is in the mountains. It was so beautiful, no one would have thought that it is an artificial lake.

Suspension Bridge
After spending the morning on the shore of the lake, I returned to my tent to have breakfast and prepared to cross a bridge that became the icon of Situgunung. It is only 20 minutes from my camping ground.

Before entering the bridge, my friends and I were served coffee and tea as well as steamed banana and boiled cassava. While sipping coffee, I was invited to enjoy a musical performance typical of West Java in the stands made of bamboo.

After walking 600 meters from the bamboo stands, I arrived at the entrance to the bridge. I and other visitors were given a seat belt to be worn around the waist as a safety standard.

Situ Gunung Suspension Bridge is the longest in Indonesia. Some even call it the longest in Asia. This suspension bridge has a length of 243 meters with a width of 1.8 meters and is located at an altitude of 161 meters.

The wood used to build the bridge is special. The contractor and the Ministry of Environment worked together to use ironwood, directly brought from Papua.

Ironwood was chosen because it is resistant to changes wrought by temperature and humidity as well as not easily eaten by termites; the wood is very heavy and hard. Moreover, to make the bridge sturdier it is supported by a series of five slings.

Under predetermined capacity standards, the bridge can only accommodate 40 to 50 people at a time. The guards on duty are ready to accompany and direct the tourists who cross.

Rules must also be obeyed when crossing it, such as not running, jumping, or throwing off any object; we are also expected to always maintain cleanliness. This bridge that does not yet have an official name connects Situgunung to other natural attractions, namely, Curug Sawer which only takes 10 minutes more to arrive at.

As the longest bridge in Indonesia, its 4 billion IDR construction cost is not insignificant. But it is worth it because the bridge will increasingly attract more tourists to keep coming. The tourists can also feel the sensation of crossing it at unusual heights.

A great shock was felt when I crossed this bridge. Bodies swing to the right and left. Crossing it needs extra adrenaline. Not to mention the many visitors who take pictures in the middle of the bridge which made me feel to want to rush to the other side.

But after getting used to it, I could enjoy it all the more. The swinging of the bridge was actually very pleasant. Moreover, views of the mountains lay as far as the eyes could see. Chasing photos with a misty hill in the background became a ‘loyal friend’ while on the bridge.

Curug Sawer
After crossing the bridge, I continued to Curug Sawer. The suspension bridge can shorten the distance to Curug Sawer, a landmark waterfall in this area. Previously the trip to Curug Sawer on foot took 1 hour. Now visitors can make it in 30 minutes only.

I walked the path on neatly arranged rocks. During the trip to Curug Sawer, complete facilities such as a mosque, canteen and toilet are available.

Not long after that, a high climbing rock was seen, water flowing from the Cigunung River descended in a waterfall. It turned out that I had arrived at Curug Sawer. Employees of the resort said its height reached 35 meters.

The scenery exotic scenery here will spoil the eyes. Large stones surrounded by shady trees give an interesting impression. The air so fresh is also able to eliminate fatigue while in the middle of a pile of work. I feel the sound of waterfalls and splashes that hit my face and body. Curug Sawer has a depth of 10 meters, so it is not recommended to swim here.

According to local people, this waterfall was used as a place for rituals during the Dutch era; the naming of the waterfall itself is related to one of the villages in Mount Gede which is famous for the saweran tradition at the Jaipong Dance. So it is called Curug Sawer.

Curug Sawer was created after a powerful person who lived at the foot of Mount Ciremai held a Saweran Ceremony on the Cipada River to get blessings for himself and his descendants. He meditated for years until his death. According to stories passed down from generation to generation, the ascetic’s body was not destroyed, but now it has been transformed into a giant snake that lives in mysterious ways.

However, many say that visitors often see this ascetic hermit if they do not ask permission or do not have a guide. Some say that the hermit often turns into a giant snake. Spooky enough, right?

That is also the reason why residents limit their activities so as not to go beyond the sacred area. Some ventured beyond it to bring offerings to the ascetic, though. 

Nevertheless, visitors need not worry, sexiness and exoticism of Curug Sawer reduce the spooky aura. The most important thing is good intentions and obedience to the rules.

To enjoy this super epic bridge, I only spent IDR 50,000. For children and seniors, a fee of IDR 25,000 is charged. This price includes an entrance ticket to Curug Sawer. (Pramitha Hendra)