Lots of forest at mid to high elevations. Some good site options for some of the mid-altitude birds that are hard elsewhere.
Key bird species:
Javan Hawk Eagle; Chestnut-bellied Partridge; Javan Frogmouth; Javan Trogon; Javan Cochoa; Blue-winged Leafbird; Sunda Bulbul; Javan Whistling Thrush; Blue Whistling Thrush; Sunda Forktail; White-crowned Forktail; White-chested Babbler; White-bellied Fantail; Hosfield’s Babbler; Temminck’s Babbler; White-bibbed Babbler; Crescent-chested Babbler; Javan Fulvetta; Spotted Crocias; Short-tailed Green Magpie; Javan Sunbird; Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch; Pin-tailed Parrotfinch.
Gunung Halimun and Gunung Salak used to be two national parks, but have now been combined to become one. They lie in the same approximate area, south-west of Bogor, but the access to them is quite different. Gunung Salak is probably the easiest site to get to, but the birding is probably better at Gunung Halimun. Both sites are notable for holding several mid-altitude species that can be hard to get at Gunung Gede, and it is for this reason that many people opt to visit them.
The Gunung Halimun part of the national park covers around 100,000 ha, reaching the summit of Gunung Halimun itself at 1,929 m but otherwise generally around 500-1,000m. The forest area has several enclaves within it where very traditional villages of indigenous west Javanese can still be found. Generally the access is very poor, and birder tend to focus on one small area only; a 6 km stretch of track from the eastern boundary of the park to a research station at Cikaniki on the edge of a tea plantation, not far from the village of Citalahab. The track passes through primary forest at around 1000 m and is a great place to see all the birds on offer.
Other options for birding nearby include a trail that begins from the village of Citalahab and runs down through the forest, reaching Cikiniki Research Station at the bottom of the valley. The trail is approximately 2 km long and is worth a full morning or afternoon as it is a good area for Javan Cochoa, Chestnut-bellied Partridge, Javan Trogon and both wren babblers, while the feeding flocks here usually have White-bellied Fantail and White-breasted Babbler.
The tea estate between Cikaniki and Citalahab is also worth a look in, as it is one of the best places in Java to search for Javan Hawk-Eagle. They occupy a few territories around the perimeter and can often be seen flying over the distant hillsides and occasionally flying right over the tea estate.
Birds aside, Gunung Halimun is also one of the best places to view mammals in Java due to its healthy population of many rare species. It has the highest density of Javan Gibbon and they can occasionally be seen along the entrance track. Leopard is also present though rarely seen. At night-time the fruiting trees around the research station often have Common Palm Civet and the little-known Javan Small-toothed Palm Civet at its only known location. Also look out for Red Giant Flying Squirrel, Yellow-throated Marten and Stink-Badger.
For those with more time, and interested to see more of the park, the best option would be to hook up with one of the domestic travel agents offering trekking tours within the park, or ask at the park office for details
The Gunung Salak part of the park covers around 15,000 ha, centrered around the impressive jagged peaks of Gunung Salak at 2,211 m which forms the backdrop to Bogor (on a clear day!). There are many access points to Salak along its northern and eastern sides, but they are not so easy to find. One of the simplest options however lies on the south-eastern side of the park, where a clear trail heads up through forest for around 5-6 km to the crater of Gunung Salak (‘Kawah Ratu’). This trail starts at around 1,100 m and ends at around 1,300 m (the crater of Salak is much lower than the jagged summit peaks to the north). The trail-head lies near the well signposted Javana Spa resort and passes through nice condition forest all the way. The birding doesn’t seem quite so good along here as at Halimun, but then far fewer birders actually visit here, so its not so easy to compare. Certainly this is a pretty reliable site for things like White-bibbed Babbler, Crescent-chested Babbler and White-bellied Fantail. Around Javana Spa is also a good place to scan about for Javan Hawk-Eagle.
Access and Accommodation:
To visit Halimun you will either need to arrange your visit through one of the domestic agents that can fix up birding trips in west java (see listings below), or get yourself to the village of Kabandungan where the head office of the national park is. By hire car you take the ‘Sukabumi Road’ south from Bogor/Ciawi and turn off in the town of Parangkuda. By public transport take a bus or minibus from Bogor/Ciawi towards Sukabumi, and get off in Parangkuda and then go by Ojek (motorbike taxi) or minibus to Kabandungan (1-2 hours from the main road, ask a local for the right minibus).
When at the park office you can enquire about the latest accommodation options. These seem very random at the moment. Formerly it has been possible to stay either in the Cikaniki Research Station itself, or in a basic homestay in the village of Citalahab, but it is currently not clear if either of these options are still possible. While we’d love to be able to confirm either way, and give phone numbers or email addresses etc, Halimun doesn’t really work like that! The best bet if you really wanted to be able to check in advance would be to call the park office itself and ask (probably in Indonesian…) or contact one of the domestic guides listed below to enquire. The address and contact details for the park are: Jl. Raya Cipanas – Kecamatan Kabandungan, PO. Box 2 Parungkuda – Sukabumi 43157, Jawa Barat – Indonesia. Tel: +62-266-621256 / 621257; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The park also has a nice looking website, although the section on ‘accommodation’ currently seems mysteriously blank! www.tnhalimun.go.id.
If the accommodation options mentioned above are open (or if there is some new equivalent) then go by car or ojek to the forest edge and onwards to your accommodation. Alternatively, if you end up having to stay outside the forest near Kabandungan, or even Parangkuda, then you could arrange to get into the forest each day by car/motorbike. From Kabandungan to the forest edge is around 1-2 hours on a very rough track. Either way you will need to pay your entrance fee to the park and negotiate whether you want/need a guide or not (in common with almost all Indonesian parks!). A guide is not really necessary if you just plan to stay on the main track, and you probably wont be obliged to take one.
For Gunung Salak (the Javana Spa area) you could stay in Javana Spa itself (very nice, very expensive! www.javanaspa.co.id) or it may be possible to stay in the basic self-catering accommodation just across the valley at Cangkuang Resort. If neither of these seems viable then you could stay in Cicurug, or Bogor even. The access to Javana Spa is also off the Sukabumi Road, just beyond the town of Cicurug (famous for its traffic jams..). By car just take the signposted road to Javana Spa (about 1 hr) or by public transport get a minibus or ojek from the same turn-off.
The trail-head is off the road to Javana Spa, just before the turn off to the Cangkuang Resort. If you miss it, you can enter the Cangkuang Resort itself and head into the forest from the very top, near the water tower, where a small side trail meets the main trail after about 50m (check with the guards at the resort that they are happy for you to access the trail through their grounds). There is a small national park post near the trail-head where you should purchase an entrance ticket and can ask about guides if you wanted one. You don’t really need a guide once you’ve found the trail; just keep heading up. For more information on Gunung Salak, including specific directions on the access from Javana Spa and for alternative access points, check out the excellent website www.gunungbagging.com/salak
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