A week after getting back from Flores, we grabbed our chance to bag Gede and Pangrango, two volcanoes that are located close to Bogor. We had intended to climb during the fasting month of Ramadan when the paths and campgrounds would be quiet, but the whole park was closed for “restoration” work. We hoped the park would be quieter after Ramadan as it was getting late in the season.
Having spent the last year on the organizing committee of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation 2010 meeting (and doing very little else in the last 3 months!), we took advantage of the pre-conference trip to Gunung Palung National Park in West Kalimantan. The Research Station in the park is usually off limits to everyone apart from researchers so this was a very special opportunity to visit the Station and view wild orangutans, populations of monkeys, gibbons, birds, fabulous primary lowland rainforest and pristine rivers. The park is famous for its variety of habitats, including lowland peat and fresh swamp forest with huge trees, riparian forest, lower montane forest, and montane forest near the summits of Gunung Palung and Gunung Ponti. The folklore character Pontianak (which gives her name to the town of Pontianak) is a female vampire who comes at night and drinks the blood of her victims; the Malay believe that women who die in childbirth will rise again as Pontianak.
For the long weekend at the end of May we decided to head to central Java to climb Gunung Merbabu and to take in the sights of Solo. We flew into Semarang on Thursday night and took a taxi directly to the hill village of Kopeng, where we met our trip organiser Pak Totok. It was straight to bed as we arrived late and we were aiming for a 5 am start the next morning. We dragged ourselves out of bed at 4.30 am and forced some fried rice down our necks before setting off for the trailhead in an angkot with our two porters. By 5.45 we were already on the trail. After about 15 minutes the porters stopped for breakfast; we knew then it wouldn’t be a record breaking climb in terms of speed. Andy and I hiked on ahead and waited at several points for the porters to catch up, including a 1.5 hour break with a nap at lunchtime! We learned our lesson on Tambora – don’t get too far ahead of the porters, especially if it looks like rain, as they might decide to stop for the day without bringing your tent to where you are waiting! The forest was pretty along the way, not too dense and as we got higher it turned into grassland with sparse trees. We got some good views of Gunung Sumbing and Gunung Sindoro to the west.
[simage=627,200,n,left,]Over the Lebraran (Idul Fitri) holidays Andy and I spent 10 days in North Sulawesi. The first 4 days were spent in Bunaken National Park, which is a marine park just off the coast of Manado. Our aim was to learn to dive and get our Padi Open Water certifications; I have dived before but … [Read more…]