update: This is an old article, and the hotel, entrance tickets to the conservation area, four wheel drive etc may have changed.
Try going to Puncak on a weekend from Jakarta, and you will most probably spend 3-4 hours in bumper to bumper traffic in your quest for fresh air, greenery and cooler temperatures. A more adventurous and rewarding alternative is to turn right from the Ciawi toll exit towards Sukabumi and drive to Lido Lakes district.
Here you can do a range of activities from leisurely walks, forest walks, canopy walk, boating, ATV rides, Trike rides, White water rafting, golf, paintball and even water tracking. You can combine more than one on each trip or do a different one on every visit.
Last weekend it was the Canopy Walk with my brother, who was visiting us from India. Lido lakes was an easy drive on the toll road and after the exit at Ciawi, we crossed the famous Rancamaya golf course. On the way, fruit stalls laden with all types of Indonesian fruit lined the road as well as those selling pickles and snacks in a row of large glass jars filled with colorful pickled fruits and vegetables. Different types of krupuk and snacks are also available if you give into the temptation to step into these colorful stalls.
Tantalizing glimpses of a lake on your left crowded with bamboo fishery pens are the first signs of the Lido Lake district. Take the turn to your left leading to the Lido Lakes resort. LIDO LAKES RESORT & CONFERENCE( Jl. Raya Bogor, Sukabumi KM 21, Bogor 16740 Tel. (0251) 220922 Fax. (0251) 22093)
This is a great hotel to spend a couple of days with great views, friendly service and good food. However if this just a day out for a picnic or weekend outing, its always a good idea to call ahead and book a four wheel drive vehicle from the hotel, else it needs incredibly sturdy boots and stamina to get you to the canopy walk. We once took friends with 2 small kids to the canopy walk and could not get a four wheel drive. The van kept skidding and getting stuck in the dirt on the path between the vegetable fields. My friend screamed her head off and was so scared that we had to turn back. It is a 7 km drive between fields on steep hilly sides on a dirt road followed by an incredibly rough road in the middle of the jungle.
The 4-wheel jeep costs Rp 250,000/- and seats 4. The friendly driver was waiting at the hotel. The front passenger seat is the most comfortable and the people at the back have to hold tightly to avoid being flung around. The road which soon turns into a dirt path, is a very scenic drive. You are driven from civilization to the middle of a rainforest crossing fields with corn, beans, chillies and other vegetables on hillsides to a seemingly distant forested mountains. As the jeep enters the rainforest, the whole environment changes. It is suddenly quiet and the world seems to slow down. Dappled sunlight and clean air with forest sounds is very soothing and invigorating at the same time.
The drive ends at the Pusat Pendidikan Konsevasi Alam Bodogol, which is part of the National protected park of Gunung Gede Pangrango. It is a small study camp with 2 rooms with bunk beds and an open kitchen where campers can prepare their meals.
Tickets of Rp 35.000/ each, are required to get to the canopy walk which is approx 2 km from the camp. A park guide accompanied us to show us the way and familiarize us with the fauna and flora along the way. The path to the canopy walk is a mountain trail with cemented stairs along the steepest parts of the trail. There are a couple of lookout points and one can see across the dense forest. The trail is green and slippery as it rains almost every afternoon. It is definitely a good idea to visit before 2pm. The hidden forest insects and birds create a buzz which seems to vibrate in the air.
Various plants and their uses are pointed out by the forest guide as well as spoor of animals that may have crossed the trail. Vines hang all around and the way is quite steep at the end and the rough fence on the side provides welcome handholds.
The first glimpse of the ropeway bridge is not very impressive. It is only when you first step on the beauty and ingenuity of the bridge. It is held up by steel cables tied to tall tropical hardwood trees approximately 30 feet above the ground, linking five trees to form the complete ropeway. However, only part of it is now usable and the rest has fallen into disrepair due to lack of funds. It is amazing to stand suspended in the midst of the forest and it is a fantastic experience.
The return is mostly uphill and tests the physical fitness and stamina in the extreme heat and humidity. Our clothes were soaked with sweat and the water came in very handy.
Knees turned to jelly with all the uphill steps.
The drive back was uneventful with the delicious lunch at the Lido Lake Hotel a big plus. Need any further details email to me.
by Poonam Sagar