This travelogue covers some of the touristic areas south of Bogor, into the mountains toward Bandung. The region of Puncak is the set of villages stretched along the extremely steep mountain road that stretch for ten miles up the mountainside, with the prime destination being a combination wildlife conversation park and amusement park called Taman Safari, tucked in thick jungle high on the ridge line.
The Puncak region was absolutely wonderful. Everywhere were dense jungles clinging to the steep hillsides with rice paddies below! The villages in between were small and friendly, and the weather much more palatable -- usually ten to twenty cooler and not nearly as sticky as the coastal region.
The first photograph shows the interior of the restaurant where we had lunch. Restaurants of this style -- where individual huts containing a single sit-down table are arrayed -- are fairly common. There were no chairs, people sat on the floor of the hut upon a straw mat, removing their sandals as they went in, and the table was set only a few inches above. The pool you see in the photo was a carp pond, and as we ate the carp came up to us looking for our scraps. I wondered if some of the carp were not pulled from the pool and served as main courses! (This restaurant had its own small fishery around an adjacent pool.)
After lunch, we continued the climb up the mountain to the grounds of the Taman Safari, whose entrance is in the second photograph. The Taman Safari is a combination outdoor safari and amusement park, complete with rides and shows. As we are animal lovers, we were interested in the safari. Since this was a Friday, not a weekend, there were few cars on it -- apparently on weekends it is very crowded and therefore not as much fun.
The safari drive was probably a good three or four miles long, snaking through the jungle from one group of animals to another. Some of them were free to approach vehicles, like the zebras just inside the safari gates. These zebras saw our car and came up to us very quickly, baring their teeth to the window as to say, "Feed me! Feed me!" Other smaller and gentler animals like the gazelles, ostriches, and oryx were also allowed to approach, but most didn't.
Unlike safaris I went on in the states, animals such as hippos, elephants, and rhinos were set off from the road by a fence or moat to keep them away from the cars to prevent damage (and/or to keep them from creating a traffic jam). At least they appeared to have plenty of roaming room inside their areas. They were also kind enough to stay as close to the road as they could get so we could see them!
The carnivores were given one section of the safari, separated from the herbivores and each other by cliffs and double cages. When we drove into the lion's den, we passed into a quarantine area in between two automatic cages bearing all sorts of signs warning of the dangers of getting out of the vehicle. I shuddered at the thought of who might be stupid enough to get out of the vehicle in a lion's den, but...
Among the carnivores were lions, several varieties of Asian tigers (all endangered), tree leopards, and bears. As it was midday and getting hot, these animals were all enjoying a very good rest, especially the three lionnesses shown in the third photo who made great use of a tall wooden platform. But the huge male lion across the road saw our car and started growling at us, so we didn't stay long! The Sumateran Tigers were very beautiful with their bright orange and black stripes.
Later in the tour, we came upon the orangutan exhibit. Orangutans (meaning "man of the forest" in Bahasa) were apes from the island of Borneo (the Indonesian part of which is the province of Kalimantan) that lived both in the trees and on the ground. Highly intelligent and playful, the orangutans were fun to watch, but they'd be even more fun to watch later.
Exiting the safari, we went to the amusement park area. Greeting us, and a whole host of kids, at the parking lot were a trio of circus elephants who were providing kiddie rides. The two elephants on break were very friendly and all too happy to pose for pictures with humans (like the one shown in the fourth photo with me, who was reaching for my hand).
We were lucky to catch the last round of shows before the park closed. The two we watched were a trick show and a sea lion exhibition. In the former one, bears, poodles, cockatiels, and orangutans showed off their skills -- balancing on large balls, jumping or flying through hoops, using elaborate contraptions. The orangutans were the most fun as they played a slapstick comedy routine with the trainer, and each of the three orangutans played a different role: one straight, one troublemaker, and one ham. The sea lion show was similar to sea lion shows I'd seen elsewhere with lots of tricks, leaping, and occasional humor. I was proud of the fifth photograph where I caught the sea lion in full flight.
The Puncak region and the Taman Safari were definitely among the highlights of my most recent trip to Indonesia. It's a great place to take the family, both for the safari part and for the entertainment -- easily a full day affair.
Trip taken 22 August 2003 -- Page last updated 28 October 2006 -- (C) 2003 Tom Galvin