Pangrango: Breathtaking views of West Java

Pangrango National Park is only three hours from Jakarta. To say the views are breathtaking is an understatement. I tried my best to capture the stunning sense of perspective in the two dimensional world of my camera. It will never be the same as seeing it with the naked eye.

The relatively short journey from Jakarta to Pangrango makes it the most popular place to visit for us city dwellers. Most of the trip is by highway. Not long after leaving the city, the mountains loom large, which is surprising considering you rarely get a glimpse from the city. Jakarta pollution reminds me of LA.

After exiting the highway, we began the ascent up a long winding two-laned road which eventually became switch-backs. Traffic is so congested that special rules apply. In the morning, both lanes are for ascent. After 1:00, both lanes are used for descent. The scooter traffic is particularly heavy and of course, every rider is Valentino Rossi.

In spite of the traffic, I was stunned by the scenery. Green fields of tea growing on the side of nearby hills contrasted with terraced rice patties and rain forest. It was a perfect example of aerial perspective—when objects viewed from a distance appear duller and more blue.

Mom and pop stores line both sides of the road all the the way to the top. As it is in Indonesia, to make ends meet, many families put a storefront on their homes to make it a market or restaurant. Not a square inch is wasted. The cobbled-together buildings are sometimes so close to one another that you can’t walk between them.

Most structures are built into the hill with the lower floor exposed in the rear, like a walk-out basement. They live in the lower level and at street level, sell anything from from fruit and veggies to shoes and clothing. Most are good places to eat and catch a grand view.

This little roadside restaurant was the perfect place to relax and wait for downhill traffic
This was the view as we sipped on a hot cup of cappuccino. Below, you can see the lower portion where proprietors live

Our destination was a villa nestled high up a hill. Christina’s brother Tom rented it and invited us to stay. It is a time I will remember forever. The Villa itself is a large home with 6 bedrooms and a large living and dining area.

The two photos below show the stunning view from the front yard

The construction is typical Javanese with lots of hand carved wood and plenty of character. I was surprised at first to see a fireplace but learned why quickly. At a mere 2,000 ft, there is no need for air conditioning. At night, my feet got cold on the tile floor.

It’s the view of the mountainside that that makes this villa so special. Upon waking in the morning, I looked out the window and saw what I can only describe as something out of a fairy tale. «

This fairytale view from our bedroom window greeted or morning

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