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Today is our first week of VanLife and already wondering where to go next, after our last destination in Kawah Putih (White Crater) and Rancabuaya Beach. After a long discussion and heated argumentation (believe me, it was a lot) we decided to go to one of the Natural Conservation areas in the south of Garut.
For your information, Jessica found this place by looking at Java map and pointed out the “green part” that looked like a forest which I doubted that there would be access to it. I’ve got to admit, I’ve never heard of this place before, but out of curiosity, she insisted that we should stop by and have a look of it. And it turned out it becomes to be the best decision we’ve made that day.
Forget about Mount Bromo national park for a while. Now we will take you to one of the biggest Javan Gibbons conservation in Indonesia and swim in the beautiful white sandy beach in the southern part of Java. Prepare your boots, bikini and don’t forget your mosquito spray!
THE ROAD TO LEUWENG SANCANG
Adventurous and an off beaten path, that the first thing came to our mind when we saw the road. Located around 118km or 5 hours drive from Garut, or the other alternative is 6-7 hours drive and 176 km from Bandung, we clearly wouldn’t recommend for you to come here without proper preparation. We had preparation (We literally bring our house), and we still faced a pretty much trouble along the way.
The choice is on you, but for us, we took the alternative route from Bandung as we stopped on several beautiful destinations along our way (link to van life full Artikel). Apart from the outrageous journey, the road condition was surprisingly good compared to the main provincial road and view along the way were just fantastic!
BY CAR OR SCOOTER
Here is what we did, first we started our journey from Ranca Buaya beach (Link to white Rancabuaya) then we continued our way along the coast to the east. We just followed the direction to Pamengpeuk and as soon as there’s big intersection in Pamengpeuk city centre we took the right direction to the Bangbajang. From here we just followed the way to the Cijeruk Indah beach, and we continued until we saw white tiger statue on the right, and that was the entrance to the Sancang village (last village in Conservation area). Before entering the village, a man might come to you for a small participation of the road construction. Turn right to follow the path (this one is not in good condition), and after some 2-3 km, you’ll arrive at the entrance of the Conservation.
TIP: Be prepared to bring enough gas as there were not so many petrol stations within the area and make sure your car (scooter) is in the best condition as it’s a quite hard to find service station along the way.
We recommend to use your own transportation or rent a car or scooter from Garut or Bandung as the bus to reach this place is not frequent. But for those of you who enjoy some extra adventure, here is some of the info that might help your journey by public transportation.
To reach Leuweung Sancang, you can find an angkot (link to transportation) from Garut bus station to Pamengpeuk for Rp 13,000 (0.90 €). Then, change to another one that goes to rubber plantation of Mira-Mare and makes sure to let the driver know that you want to stop in Leuweung Sancang Conservation. They will drop you exactly at the entrance of the village. One thing you need to be aware of is that there are only 3 angkot daily that will take this route, so don’t be late. From here you can use Ojek for Rp 10,000-15,000 (0.90 €) to the entrance of the conservation.
For more updated info on the Angkot price, you can Click HERE
ENTERING LEUWEUNG SANCANG
Legally there’s no entrance fee in this Conservation, but as part of the locals agreement, they decided to build the so called “entrance” fee (for the road maintenance) before we entered the Sancang village. They charged us with 10,000IDR (0.7 €) per car or scooter and they also help us to find a place to park or sleep for the night.
Don’t be surprised if as soon as you enter the village, there will be lots of teenager with scooters follow you along the way. We’ve got to admit that was intimidating but as soon as we met the “chief of the community” and we had the change to introduce us, everything was fine. Keep in mind that these teenagers don’t have the chance to see strangers in their village every day, and second, they want to get extra money as most of the people here are a fisherman and during monsoons, they can’t go to the sea every day. So as soon as they see an opportunity, they will jump on it. What we’ve done, it’s we gave 50.000IDR to the elderly so they could buy snacks or often cigarettes for them. Of course, all of it is up to you, but just don’t forget that you arrive in their village in the middle of nowhere, so if 3€ can make things easier and more comfortable during your stay, we would say, do not hesitate!
Most of the locals will offer you to take their service as an Ojek and take you cross the forest right to the beach. At first, maybe it will look a bit intimidating but feel free to reject their services nicely and mentioned that you want to walk through the forest instead.
WHERE TO SLEEP
From our experience, an ideal scenario is to find a place in Bandung for the night and prepare all the things you need then continue your trip in the early morning to Leuweung Sancang.
IN BANDUNG: Airy Rooms
Do you know that looking for a hotel in Bandung sometimes can be very tricky? If you want a nice and clean room, then you have to be ready to pay more. Very cheap room? You’d better wish the chamber is clean. Well here is the good thing, we searched for you fellow budget travellers!
Indeed there are lots of accommodation in this big city, but how to choose the best and most affordable one?
We’ve got to admit, at first we are a bit overwhelmed by all of the choices we had, but after some time of searching, we found that there is one affordable guest house that we recommend called Airy Rooms.
For us as a budget traveller, the most important is the best value of money. So how come AiryRooms become our best choice?
Is it Cheap? Check. Clean room? Just have a look at the picture below. Clean white bedding with all the facilities you need from AC, Flat screen TV, Hot shower, Wifi and much more will make your stay as comfortable as you can get. Easy to find? Well, this is the biggest hotel and guest house network in Indonesia, and they also have the mobile apps and online payment (bank transfer & Credit Card) to make your booking experience even easier. So what do you think? Now searching for a hotel is not a nightmare anymore right?!
LEUWEUNG SANCANG: Locals’ house
As this place is still considered as off-beaten path even for domestic tourists, up to now, there is no accommodation available in this area.
So you might wonder where do you suppose to sleep? Well, so far as we know, there is a guy named Sandi (we put his contact at the end of article) whose house is exactly at the end of the village and offered his part of his house for rent. They will not mention the fixed price per night, but we think Rp 75,000 (4,50€)/person would be considered as a fair amount. Remember, this is probably the only accommodation you’ll get around the area so be wise.
Nothing fancy but he can provide a place to stay and breakfast before you enter the forest the next morning. Don’t expect European or American breakfast, here you’ve got to adapt to Indonesian style breakfast. You can ask him before for the price of the entire meals but don’t worry, most of the time it will be very affordable. From our experienced, we paid Rp 150,000 (9,60€) for 3 times meals of 4 people. And in our opinion, the foods was delicious as well.
WHAT TO DO
As we previously mentioned, Leuweung Sancang is a Natural Conservation Area which encompasses the 2,157 Hectares of land with its unique ecosystem. Although it is officially designated as a nature reserve and therefore legally inaccessible without a permit, many local spirituals come because of its sacred nature to Sundanese (West Javan) people.
- Observing the endangered animals and plants
Our primary purpose when we decided to get here was to see Javan Gibbons (Hylobates moloch) which we didn’t know if it would be possible or not. But as soon as we arrived, Sandi (the host where we stayed) explained to us it is possible as long as we use the guide. At first, it sounded a bit sketchy, but we quickly understood that without his help it would have been difficult to get the permission to access the Conservation. Once the officer in charge gave us his agreement, and after we had paid a small participation of 5,000IDR (0.30 €) per person, we organised our departure for the next day at dawn.
Be aware that the community here wants the best for the village and also for the forest. That’s why they created some organisation called KOMPAK (Komunitas Peduli Alam Kita), which translated into “The Community That Cared for our Nature”, for guiding all the tourists that visit this place so that they can help monitored all unwanted activities within this nature reserve.
As they are locals that live and grew within the area, we’ve got to admit they are very well informed especially about the ecosystem and history of the forest. Sandi (accompanied by one of his friends) who was our guide, took us to discover the forest in the early morning around 5 am (best time to see the Gibbons). They even took us to 5 different Gibbons observation spots along the forests and some spots where they knew there’s an Amorphophallus titanium (carrion flower). Unfortunately for us, after the whole morning wandering the forest, we couldn’t find any Gibbons or the flower. But, we could see a cute flying squirrel, macaques and a lot of Hermit crab! We’ve got to admit that we love the trekking!
Again they never mentioned the fixed price, but for all of the guiding services they’ve done, we gave Rp 150,000 (9,60€). Of course feel free to give more. You have to know that Sandi is a very kind young man and he is really passionate about what he is doing. To promote the tourism of his village and area. He did give us a lot during our stay without really expecting anything in return.
- Beach! Swimming, sunbathing or whatever you want.
At the end of the day, they took us to the beach. Yes, the nature reserve was adjacent with Sancang beach. It was one of the cleanest beaches we’ve ever seen in Java island so far, with white sand and a creek that flows directly to the beach, it was just magnificent! We spent the rest of the day just swam, talked and had our lunch there.
At the end of the day, from our conversation with the head of the guiding organisation of KOMPAK (Sandi), we understood that although illegal logging already happened within approximately more than 400 Hectares of the forest, this natural reserve still considered well preserved with the help of the locals. The status as a sacred forest also plays an important part in protecting this nature conservation.
So far we can also see that the local youngsters are starting to embrace the elderly by creating an organisation which will guide all the spiritual tourism or nature tourism activities within the conservation. They also helped the state not only by conserving the biodiversity but also provide responsibly sustainable income to the people living near them. So in our point of view, it would be wise to take their services if you ever visit Leuweung Sancang natural reserve in the future. So are you ready to see some Gibbons?
*Do you need the contact of KOMPAK guiding organisation? Send us a message, and we’ll help you out as soon as we can.
English is not our native tongue, so we are sorry for all of the grammatical error in this article. Thanks for your understanding.
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