Jogja is more than what you see or hear about. This land is filled with surprises. Being the centre for arts and culture of Central Java, Yogyakarta offers nothing less than the best for its outdoor activities too.
In my first article (Part 1)Yogyakarta, Indonesia – The Heart and Soul of Central Java, I have written on the cultural, arts and historical sites that one must visit. Jogja or Yogyakarta is not just about cultures and history, Jogja is the land for adventures.
From caves to volcanos and beaches, Jogja will not disappoint an adventure seeker. It is probably one of the most adventurous cities in Indonesia.
I have done flying fox, bungee jump, zip lining and all sorts of extreme sports but I have never been lowered into a cave with someone tied next to me. Descending 60 meters down into a cave while trying not to be in an awkward position with the person on the line with me. Usually, you will be in a butt next to butt position but I am not too sure how I ended up face to face with the person next to me. Ok, rant over.
It takes about 1.5 hours from Yogyakarta town to reach Jomblang cave and it was worth it all. The beauty of this prehistoric cave is an eye-opener. I sat down on the rocks to just stare at the stalagmites and stalactites while listening to the river flow.
We had to wear rubber boots and hike down a small slippery muddy footpath. It was dark and many of us fell down once or twice. The age requirement would be 5-60 years old with no heart disease. Another requirement would be weight
We paid 140,000 IDR per person as we already had a driver for the day that we paid separately. It is common for drivers or agents to request for you to pay half the price as a deposit. If you would like to have an all-in-one trip to Jomblang cave with driver and the rest of the day, that would be about 450,000 IDR. All packages should include insurance, headlamp, boots, life jacket, harness and packed local lunch with drinks.
There is a daily quota for visitors thus, it is best to make bookings a day or 2 in advance. If my memory did not fail me, my guide informed us that it would be 75 visitors a day. The cave is only “open” from 9am-3pm daily.Best time to see the heavenly light would be from 11.30am-12.00pm.
Kalibiru National Park
Ever wonder how does it feel to sit on top of a tree at 450 meters above sea level? Well, Kalibiru National Park surely offers you the best tree top views in Yogyakarta. This is another place for you to enjoy sunset other than in Ratu Boko and Prambanan.
There are a couple of ways to reach this park. One of the ways would include riding a scooter. However, it is not recommended to do so as the roads are bumpy and steep. There are high chances that your scooter engine will burn out. Other options include bus and train which your hotel or hostel will be able to advise you further.
The safest option would be to rent a taxi which cost about 500,000 IDR for 12 hours. It takes about 45 minutes from city centre during off-peak seasons and up to 1.5 hours during peak season. Thus, I would suggest for you to include Borobudur in your trip if you would like to save time and be kind to your pocket.
It is advisable to spend about 2-3 hours in Kalibiru. The park offers more than just lushes green sceneries but also trekking trails that go as long as 7 km.
Rp5000 / person on weekdays
Rp10.000 / person on weekends
Photo spots up the tree are excluded in the ticket price. There are 4 spots and each is either 10,000 IDR or 15,000 IDR. You will have minimum 5 mins to take your photos at each spot. If there is no queue, you might be lucky enough to have more than 5mins.
Plus, if you are looking for some adventures, you can try out the below adventure package that is offered by the park itself.
Adventure package: Rp35.000 / person
(Climbing + Spyder web + Sling1 + Hanging Bridge + Zip-Line)
Business hours: 6.00 am – 6.00 pm
Get up close to Indonesia’s most active volcano in Jogja which has 68 eruptions since 1548. Mount Merapi stands tall at 2,911 meters above sea level.
My very first tip is to not book a Jeep ride online as it would usually cost a lot more than just going with the jeeps that you can find through your lodging. The cheapest that we have seen was 350,000 IDR tour that includes the driver who will be your tour guide. The more experienced your driver is, the more fun your ride will be.
The off-road Jeep ride will take about 45 minutes to 2 hours from the foothill depending on your Jeep provider. It is best to discuss this with your reception. They would usually have the most accurate information on all the packages.
There are basically 3 stops that are included in the ride by every Jeep provider passing by Stone Age and Lost World. As the Jeep goes one way, you will need to inform your driver if you are interested to stop at either one of them. On the other hand, the 3 stops include an old house that was impacted by the eruption back in 2010, mini-museums and the bunker that saves villages from the eruption.
Secondly, do not visit Merapi when it is cloudy or miss the scenery. Remember that the monsoon season all over Asia starts from October till January. It may still be slightly cloudy in February. So, the best dates to visit Merapi would probably be from May-September.
If you would like to avoid the bumpy and dusty Jeep ride, you can choose to hike up Mount Merapi. However, you will still need to hire a tour guide to hike and camp on the mountain. It will be about 225,000 IDR per pax or 300,000 IDR per group for a 1-day hike on the weekend.
I have never heard of Mount Bromo till I met a Singaporean backpacker on my trip to Myanmar last December. Mount Bromo is apparently the most hiked mountain in Indonesia. And, I wonder why did I not know this till recently as I have been quite an avid hiker for years.
Also, it is currently still one of the most active volcanos in the world (last eruption in 2016). This majestic mountain stands at 2, 329 meters above sea levels. The top of it has been blown off and constantly spews white sulphurous smoke. That is one of the reasons for it to be the most iconic mountain in Indonesia.
Mount Bromo sits inside the massive Tengger massif in East Java, which is a volcanic crater with a diameter approximately 10km. This mountain is surrounded by the Laut Pasir (sea of sand) of fine volcanic sand. Other reasons for it to be famous is the surreal scenery that it offers.
Hikers are allowed to hike up the rim of the volcano and look at its surroundings that will have your jaw-dropping. As what I was told by my fellow backpacker friend, Mount Bromo’s sunrise is definitely something you will not want to miss. I would say that it is probably more worth it to hike Mount Bromo than Mount Merapi.
Cemoro Lawang or Cemara Indah are the best locations for hikers to stay in. The latter would be better for independent hikers. Stay ranges from 8 USD onwards for hostels.
On your way to the top, you will be passing by the village of Tenggerese people who are one of a kind. Next will be their small Hindu temple that may seem a little creepy called The Poten.
It is a relatively easy and wonderful hike up Mount Bromo depending on your health. If you prefer to spend a little more, the locals do offer horseback rides. A round-trip on horseback costs 100,000 IDR ($10 USD) while a single trip back costs 30,000 IDR ($3 USD).
Another good choice is to hike up Mount Penanjakan to have a sunrise view overlooking Mount Bromo. As sunrise is at 5.30am and it takes approximately 1-2 hours hike to reach the first vantage point. All restaurants open at 3 am to accommodate the sunrise hike schedule but nearly every accommodation will provide you with food too.
Weather up in Mount Bromo is very different from Mount Merapi. It can be very cold especially at 3 am. Thus, do bring enough jackets and gloves for your hike.
Secrets of Mount Kidul
No, Mount Kidul is not a mountain. However, it is a mountainous range of almost 60 beaches. Some of its famous beaches include Timang Beach which I am sure you have heard of at least.
During my trip, we visited about 3 beaches and I would say Timang Beach is overhyped out and so is the so-called adrenaline gondola. Having to say so, if you are still wanting to visit Timang Beach, I would suggest for you to go on the hanging bridge instead of their overpriced Gondola (200, 000 IDR for a roundtrip of 3 mins ride max). The hanging bridge is priced at 100, 000 IDR and you can take your own sweet time to cross it. In fact, we were splashed with waves as we crossed the hanging bridge so that was more exciting for nutcases like me. Please do wear a waterproof jacket and ensure your phone or bag is waterproof too.
Parangtritis Beach is another famous beach located on Gunung Kidul. It is one of the most popular beaches but, I am not a fan of it. Parangtritis is crowded and the water is not as clean as Wedi Ombo Beach. If you are looking to do paragliding, Parangtritis could be an OK location to do it for the first time though I know there are better places in the SEA to do it.
Wediombo Beach is probably one of the most well-hidden secrets of Gunung Kidul along with Nglambor Beach and Jogan Beach. I have not been to these 3 beaches but I will definitely try to visit these beaches the next time I visit Jogja.