Bogor is a big city (around one million inhabitants) located close to Jakarta. Bogor is on the route from Jakarta to Bandung and is best known for its botanical gardens. Due to its location, 300 meters above sea level, Bogor is on average cooler than for example, Jakarta.
In 1744, Governor General Baron van Imhoff had his country house built in Bogor (then called Buitenzorg). At the beginning of the 19th century, Governor Thomas Stanford Raffles, who briefly controlled the Dutch Indies on behalf of the English government, designed and planted an English-style botanical garden behind this country house. The wife of Raffles died in Bogor in 1814 and in her memory a monument was erected in the gardens. The botanical garden was opened in 1817. The old country retreat is now one of the five presidential palaces and is called Istana Bogor.
Deer in the gardens surrounding the palace descend from six deer that were transferred from Europe 200 years ago. More than 15,000 plant species can be found in the botanical gardens of Bogor. The gardens are visited by many local tourists, especially in the weekend.
The gardens are large and the signes to show you the way are not always clear. Hiring a local guide is therefore advisable. Also to ensure you do not miss the stories that make the gardens interesting.
There are too many beautiful and special places to discover.
Two large trees, both planted in 1866, are called “happy couple trees”. They have been standing side by side for over 150 years, their roots connected to each other. This created the myth that when two lovers sit under these trees, their love will last forever.
Not all myths have such a happy end: If you come to the Botanical Gardens with your partner, make sure that you do not cross the most Southern bridge together. This bridge is called “the broken heart bridge”. According to the myth, relationships do not survive if you walk this bridge together.
At the bamboo gardens you will find an old Dutch cemetery, with the oldest grave originating from 1784. The orchid garden is beautiful, various orchid species from all over Indonesia are brought together. The pond with the enormous water lilies is also impressive. The floating leaves of the water lily can get a diameter of up to 3 meters and the flowers can reach a height of 40 cm. The first day the lilies bloom, they are white, the next day pink.
If you have the time, this gamelan workshop is definitely worth a short stop. Here you see real craftsmen at work. The family you visit have been a gong and gamelan makers for six generations (more than 370 years). In the heat the metal (iron, brass and copper) is processed into beautiful gongs and gamelans. There is no obligation or pressure to buy anything, they are proud to show you their craftsmanship. A voluntary tip will be appreciated.
If you like Wayang dolls and beautiful stories, this workshop is highly recommended. The current owner learned the trade from his grandfather and since 1976 he has also been making the most beautiful Wayang dolls himself. His son learned the craft an now is also an experienced Wayang maker. In Indonesia there are different types of Wayang dolls. The typical West Javanese dolls are made in this workshop (in the shape of real dolls). Father and son are working on one doll for a few days. The doll is cut out of light white wood by hand. The dolls’ clothing is in beautiful traditional style. Father and son can tell fascinating stories about their work. The workshop is located in a residential area, which makes the visit extra special.
When you leave Bogor and head for Bandung, the road climbes in the mountains to the Puncak pass at an altitude of around 1500 meters. Especially on the weekends it is very busy with local tourists looking for fresh air in the mountains, which can lead to traffic jams. At the highest point you have a beautiful view, although this is more and more hindered by the construction of new shops and eateries along the road.
From the Puncak pass you can take a short walk to the volcanic lake Telaga Warna. This lake is known because of the book “Oeroeg” by Hella S. Haasse. In the book this little lake is called “Telaga Hideung”. The father of Oeroeg drowns in this lake when he gets entangled in the water plants. In reality, according to many, the real lake is less impressive than the way Hella Haase describes it in her book.
Gardens of Cibodas
After the Puncak, the road descends again. There are many tea fields in this area. You will pass another botanical garden. The garden of Cibodas. These gardens are less known and are even higher up hill than the gardens of Bogor and are therefore even cooler (on average 18-20 degrees). These gardens were established in 1852 as an annex to the gardens in Bogor. You can also enjoy hiking here. Along the way with a little luck you will see some monkeys