The enchantment of Gua Sarang tourism in the western tip of Indonesia

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The seven caves on Weh Island, which have become a place for swallows and bats to live, compliment the tourist spot. (photo: IO/Prive. Doc)

IO – Indonesia as a vast country, incessantly exudes an enchanting natural charm for travelers to come. The diversity of natural tourism is in the territory of Indonesia. One of them is Gua Sarang, Hidden behind the waist of a hill, Gua Sarang transforms into a contemporary tour for those who like adventure. This place is arguably the miniature of Raja Ampat from the western end of the country. Located in Iboih Village, Sukakarya Subdistrict, or precisely in Balik Gunung or flanked by White Sand Beach and Lhong Angen, these tourist attractions actually enter the protected forest area of ​​Pulau Weh which juts into the blue sea. Although it is not like the Cave of Dau Go in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, which can be traced by tourists, the seven caves which are the nesting sites for swiftlets and bats on Weh Island can still be complementary to your tourist destinations. Why not, you will be treated to the streaky charm of stone cave walls that stand firmly at the foot of the cliffs and hills of dense forests and the clear waters of the sea at the westernmost tip of the archipelago, which borders the Indian Ocean. For domestic and foreign tourists who want to go to Sarang Cave, they are advised to rent motorbikes from local residents upon arrival at Balohan Port because the city does not have a public transportation system, such as city transportation and taxis.

When I visited these tourist attractions, both local and foreign tourists generally depend on their mobility while in Sabang on private vehicles, rented cars and motorbikes, tourism buses, or the services of motorized pedicab drivers. Of the five types of transportation modes, motorbike rental is the best choice if you are visiting a city about 15 kilometers from Ulee Lheue Port, Banda Aceh is alone or maximally together. With rent ranging from Rp. 80,000 to Rp. 100,000 per 24-hour usage, you can browse various tourist destinations owned by the city with an area of ​​153 square kilometers, including Gua Sarang, without significant difficulties.

To reach the ticket entry ticket to the visitors of Sarang Cave, it takes about an hour from Balohan Port by motorbike to Iboih Village (Kampung), Sukakarya District. Arriving at a T-junction about three kilometers before the intersection of the two gates of the Iboih Tourism Village, there are directions to the Sarang Cave on the right side of the road that guides tourists to turn left. Along the journey of a dozen kilometers from Sabang City or Balohan Crossing Harbor to Sarang Cave, you are treated to mountainous natural scenery, blue sea expanses, residents’ economic activities, and residential villages.

Fresh mountain air will accompany you along your trip. But high vigilance is needed while driving across paved roads, 99 percent of which are smooth because only a few are hollow and cracked. Despite being equipped with adequate road markings, safety concrete, and directional signs and warning boards, the road conditions towards Gua Sarang and Iboih and the Kilometer Zero Indonesia monument are full of climbing and descending terrain. Sharp turns, deep ravines, and the threat of cliff landslides on one side of the road are the challenges of the riders so that the speed and good conditions of the vehicle brakes are needed.

Upon arrival at the entrance ticket for Rp 5,000, each visitor must descend dozens of stairs to reach the starting point of the trekking path and the departure of the boat to Sarang Cave. On the right side of the starting point of the hiking trail through the rocky trail, there is a red and green painted stage house that says “Boat to Gua Sarang” and “Provides snorkeling equipment”. From there, tourists who visit can choose the trekking path on foot to reach several sides of the cave or rent a motorized boat to witness the charm of seven cave mouths from the sea. If you choose to rent a motorized boat, you will be charged a price of Rp 200,000 to see the seven mouths of the swallow nest and the bats. After walking about five minutes from the starting point of departure, the boat approached the three rows of caves. Above the three mouths of the cave that directly touch the sea, trees and wild plants are protected. Nearby, there are two black-colored rock hills and rock cliffs overgrown with wild plants standing firmly. Tosca green sea waves do not shake the rocky hills and cliffs.

Behind the rocky hills, there seems to be the mouth of the cave where a swallow nest and bat blends with the landscape as if portraying it as one with the sea water. One by one the swallow nest caves and bats were visited. One of them can be entered by the boat, so that the strokes of the stone on the wall of the cave which is partially overgrown with moss seems clear and smells of distinctive smells of swallows. After touring less than half an hour around the seven mouths of the cave and mountain rocks that poke up from the seabed and capture the moments in interesting and beautiful photo spots, the boat returns to anchor to the rocky beach. Traveling to this region can be an enjoyable alternative to your vacation. (Aldo)