It had been supposed to be a usual lazy weekend for me if it wasn’t for a plan to go along on a family trip to Cibodas, West Java. Leaving Jakarta at 7 am, the morning weather was surprisingly sunny despite a heavy downpour inundating the capital through out the prior week.
The traffic was also miraculously friendly as we drove up on Jagorawi toll highway which connects the neighboring cities of Jakarta, Bogor and Ciawi. Exiting at Ciawi toll gate, our car hiked up passing through Puncak area which has been a popular weekend respite for Jakartans ever since I was a little child.
Situated in Cianjur area Bogor, the Cibodas Botanical Garden sits at the elevation between 1,300 – 1,425 meters above sea level as well as on the foothill of Gede and Pangrango mountains. Locally renowned as Taman Cibodas, the botanical garden is easily accessible by private and public transportations which makes it both popular and packed over the weekend.
With a vast area covering 84,99 hectares, Cibodas Botanical Garden was initially established by a Dutch botanical curator, Johannes Ellias Teijsmann, on 11th of April 1852 with the name Bergtuin te Tjibodas, literally means the mountain garden of Cibodas.
Originally used as an acclimatization area for highland vegetations originating from abroad, now it is officially managed by Indonesian Institute of Sciences and functions as a research, conservation, education as well as tourism purposes.
Finally arriving at the Cibodas Botanical Garden’s entrance gate, we were required to pay an entrance fee of Rp 9,500 per visitor. Vehicles are also charged for a fee of Rp 5,000 for a motorcycle and Rp 16,000 for a car. Cars are allowed to enter the botanical garden area, but motorcycles must be parked outside the botanical garden on the weekend.
Lush green tropical trees greeted me as I was entering the botanical garden area, a stark contrast to the bustling street outside of it. Previously planned to spend a night inside the Botanical Garden, we drove straight to the guest house located at the back area of the garden.
Having passed the Jalan Air (water way), Taman Lumut (moss garden) and Cibogo waterfall, from a far I could see two old Bavarian styled houses perched on top of a hill surrounded by flower plants and tropical trees.
The smaller guest house called Sakura on the left was where I spent my weekend at. The two story establishment consists of five bedrooms with two queen-sized beds occupying each room. Two bathrooms with hot-water shower are located outside at the balcony on the second floor.
Later in the afternoon, I took a leisure stroll around the botanical garden. Occupying an area that vast, I didn’t intend to explore all of its areas since it is impossible to do it on foot in such a short time.
But I did have the chance to saunter around some areas not so distant from the guest house. A stony path sheltered by rows of Aracauria trees in front of the guest house instantly stole my attention.
Walking a few minutes through the pathway, I came up to one of the prominent landmarks of Cibodas Botanical Garden, a water fountain at the center of a small pond encompassed by green grass expanse. There were children running around by the pond while a few adults were seen sitting on a picnic mat keeping an eye on them.
Another attraction not to be missed is the Jalan Air (water way) which resembles a small stream with its top cascade overflowing onto the asphalt way. My three little nieces and nephew were immediately running into the stream as they first spotted the crystal clear stream from a distance.
As the sky was darkening and the nightfall was approaching, we hadn’t really got time left to explore other areas and decided to save the plan until tomorrow morning.
A heavy downpour had been deluging Cibodas all night long, but fortunately it stopped as soon as the sun started peeking through the branches of trees. It was such a perfect time to go trekking to Ciismun waterfall.
A green signage directing us to Ciismun waterfall’s location is easily spotted nearby, so is the narrow cobbled trail which leads to the waterfall. It had taken us about 30 minutes trekking passes through lush greenery before we were finally able to take a glimpse of the Ciismun waterfall.
Going there early in the morning on weekend is advisable since the waterfall is usually flooded by tourists during the day. The Ciismun waterfall is a 25 meters fall that emerges from a crack between the Cibodas and Agropolitan hills.
The rushing water plunging into the river instantly dampened my skin as well as created a foggy look to my surrounding. No one was there yet other than my group so we had plenty of time to enjoy the scenic beauty of the fall and took a lot of pictures.
On the way back to the guest house, I stopped by to see a glasshouse full of various species of cacti and another glasshouse inhabited by 71 species of succulent plants. The Rhododendron and Sakura gardens are also two of Cibodas Botanical Garden’s tourist magnets, but unfortunately time was scarce and I had to keep them on the list for a future visit here.
When to go?
Visiting the botanical garden during and after the monsoon season is advisable for its fresh air and brighter colored plants. The sakura flowers at the sakura garden usually bloom twice a year around January-February and July-August. You can also opt to go there around those time of the year.
What can US$5 buy:
Plants and flowers. A plentiful of it. An ornamental plants gallery can be found inside the botanical garden near the main entrance. There are also vendors selling plants and flowers right outside the main gate.
Who to follow:
most of the important information on Cibodas Botanical Garden can be found in its official website at http://www.krcibodas.lipi.go.id