Tag Archives: Indonesia

Mt. Gede-Pangrango National Park

(written by Tom Brightman, photographs by Martin Smit and Tom Brightman)

Today was a study in contrasts—between the stark reminders of the burgeoning Indonesian population (now 14 million strong in the Jakarta area), the steep slope deforestation for tea plantations, and the lush beauty and biodiversity of the sub-montane rainforest on the slopes of volcanic Mount Pangrango.

Tea plantations

Our driver skillfully maneuvered us up the narrow, serpentine, lorry and motorbike-choked road from the city of Bogor, through a profusion of roadside vegetable and fruit stands (life is not complete without enjoying the sweet and sour nirvana of a fresh-picked mangosteen) and satay purveyors. We drove past the lower slopes of Mount Pangrango that are covered in thousands of hectares of tea plantations, orderly and lovely, but devoid of their virgin rainforest cover.  As we approached the Cibodas Botanic Garden, our point of embarkation for our rainforest trek, both sides of the road were filled with small, local plant nurseries boasting healthy inventories of every tropical plant imaginable.  We met Eka Iskandar, a researcher from Cibodas, who turned us over to our guide for the hike, Ken.

Typical fruit stand

Gede Pangrango Park consists of a landscape dominated by twin volcanoes: Mt. Gede at 9,704 ft above sea level and Mt. Pangrango topping out at 9,904 ft. above sea level.  The mountains’ slopes are very steep and are cut into by rapidly flowing streams that carve long ridges and deep valleys.  To quote the official park guide, “Pangrango evokes esthetic feelings of what a graceful volcanic cone should look like and, reflecting its tranquil appearance, is classed as extinct.  On the other hand, Gede is a very active volcano. Currently deceptively quiet, viewed over time Mt. Gede is one of the most active volcanoes on the island of Java.”  Given the recent earthquake activity in Indonesia, we were glad that both were quiet this day!

Mushrooms

Our hike took us on a steep, rocky trail through thick sub-montane rainforest to our destination of the Cibeureum waterfall. Not one, but three waterfalls are formed by the confluence of the Cibeureum, Cidendeng, and Cikundel rivers.  At over 90 feet tall, the falls crash into the lush surroundings, thrusting a cool mist into the forest below.

Cibeureum waterfall

The forest is full of plants competing for light. The large canopy trees host their own ecology of ferns, orchids, and climbing vines and provide a home to Ebony leaf monkeys, false cajoles lizards (pictured), and many spectacularly gilded butterflies.  Plants of note included Rattan (Plectomia elongate), Arisaema filiforme, and numerous orchids.

Tree fern covered in moss and epiphytes

This level of biodiversity has not gone unnoticed.  The park is one of seven World Biosphere Reserves in Indonesia, as designated by UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere program.  Although just a remnant of the large rainforests that once dominated this part of the world, the Gede-Pandrango forest is impressive nonetheless.

False cajoles lizard

Arrival in Bali

(written by Sara Levin, photographs by Martin Smit)

We made it to Bali on Friday evening accompanied by Wendy and Tom who joined us for the second leg of our trip.  Bali is fresh and fragrant with bright flowers found everywhere from the Plumeria strands handed to us as we left the airport to the small colorful Hindu offerings set out each morning.

Hindu offering

We started our first full day in Bali with a visit to the IDEP Foundation, an NGO that strives to “help people help themselves by cultivating resilient and sustainable communities.” IDEP uses permaculture education to help the community in a variety of ways.  They offer workshops on natural disaster preparedness and recovery by teaching earthquake-resistant building techniques and educating communities on how to sustainably rebuild after a natural disaster.

IDEP Demonstratioin Garden

They work with school groups to teach organic horticulture techniques and have an outreach program with prisons to teach prisoners how to grow vegetables and save seeds.  The IDEP farm consists of a small demonstration garden featuring permaculture practices to help teach the community about organic gardening.  They have sites all around Indonesia and a few neighboring islands.  We were incredibly impressed with their work.  More information on the IDEP Foundation can be found at www.idepfoundation.org.

Nelumbo nucifera

We ended our first day in Bali with a trip to Taman Tirtagannga, the water temple.  This beautiful temple was once a retreat for the royal family.  Today it is a pubic oasis, tucked away among the rice fields in eastern Bali.

Rice fields close to Tirtagannga

Taman Tirtagannga

Travel to Singapore and Indonesia: follow us

This January the first year fellows will be traveling to Singapore and Indonesia for what promises to be an amazing International Experience 2012. Longwood staff members, Shawn Kister and Sharon Loving, will be joining for the Singapore leg of the journey while Tom Brightman and Wendy Gentry will be traveling with the fellows to Indonesia.

Inside one of the new conservatories at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. (Photo, courtesy of Chris Dalzell)

This travel opportunity will be the culmination of months of preparation in which all fellows were working diligently to make contact with and plan visits to various institutions. We will kick off our International Experience when we arrive in Singapore on the 8th of January. From Singapore we will be traveling on to the island of Bali and then on to Bogor, located on West-Java, before returning on the 21st of January. Some of the diverse sites that we will be visiting include the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Gardens by the Bay, Pulau Ubin, Bali Botanic Garden, Bogor Botanic Garden, Cibodas Botanic Garden, Taman Bunga Nusantara and the Gede-Pangrango National Park to name but a few.

We invite you all to follow us on our Blog and share in this unique experience.