Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 22 January 2014 • Destination
The trip to Harau Valley was traveled in January, 2013.
Located in the regency of Lima Puluh Kota, a few kilometers from Payakumbuh town, lies a captivating natural view of Harau Valley. A lot less touristy than the other wonders of West Sumatra, this area has kept a secret beauty all along. I was so amazed, I didn’t realize I was keeping it a secret for a whole year from you guys! Secret no more, here are the things I found most awesome about Harau Valley:
Entering the Harau Valley in the drizzling rain at dusk by motorbike, I remember my jaw dropped at the sight of the super tall wall of rock! Shrubs and palm trees cover some parts of the wall, adding a raw feel to the ambiance. It was like entering a lost world, a mysterious zone I’ve never encountered before, not even something remotely like it.
The whole valley is said to occupy a 270 hectares area. When we rode around with a rented motorbike the next day, we could see more clearly the vastness of the valley, walled in between the expanding rocks. It felt even more majestic when we saw the scenery from up high above the Aka Berayun waterfall. Looking at something so naturally extensive made me feel so small. Like, I will never brag about anything anymore.
If you’re into rock climbing, there are some spots where you can do it in Harau Valley. Just ask the local guys, preferably the ones from your homestay, to arrange the climb.
A fracture that happened to the hills long time ago has been a blessing to Harau for it caused the many tumbling waterfalls. From small to the big gushing waterfalls, they have it in Harau, with variety heights from 80 to 300 meters.
We went to the Aka Berayun resort, which was about 1 km to the left from the Lima Puluh Kota regency’s resorts entrance. It was almost dry when we were there, unfortunately. They’ve cemented the edges of the pool at the bottom of the waterfall, where little kids – and perhaps grown-ups, too – could play in the shallow water. I saw junks like plastic wraps were afloat in the pool. It’s sad to see such a blessing being taken for granted 🙁
The Sarasah Bunta (‘sarasah’ translates to waterfall) is a more natural attraction. There’s no cement blocking the pool at the bottom and it’s cleaner. Perhaps less people go there compared to the Aka Berayun, since it’s located further from the village (and to the opposite direction). I would’ve played in the pool longer, even though the water was quite cold, if only it didn’t rain quite hard!
We also hiked a little deep in the forest, passing the Aka Barayun, to a cascaded waterfall called Sarasah Gantiang. To me, a city brat that didn’t exercise much, the hike was really something. I thought I’ve achieved something great, until Diyan, who had been to Harau Valley the previous year, told me that it was nothing compared to Aie Malancah waterfall, which he and his local friends reached after camping and walking for two days in the forest. Um,… yeah, I’m fine with Sarasah Gantiang, thank you very much.
This is my favorite! There’s a marked spot on the extensive wall of granite rock, where you could yell and hear the universe answer you back several times. It kind of took me back to the annoying echo game I played with my siblings, but this time it was fun although I was still the one being echoed! It’s said to have the perfect echo, which means your shouting is echoed 7 times. *shrugging*
Perfect or not, I had fun shouting meaningless words on the side of the street, and hearing the sky and forest repeat whatever I shouted.. Tee hee!
It took me a bit getting used to, shouting at nothing when people were passing by. But I thought, people in Harau Valley must have been over their astonishment to curious – or simply silly – people wanting to be answered back by the universe right in that spot! So…so…so… I…I…I… shouted…shouted…shouted… away…away…away… anyway…anyway…anyway…
Honestly, rice field is a sight I’m used to since I was little. I used to see acres of it on my way between Jakarta and Bandung from the train’s window, and I’ve seen lots of it in Bali and Yogyakarta. But walking passed by a vast rice field actually gave a different sensation, especially with a the granite wall backdrop that goes on forever. It looked more beautiful and felt more serene from up-close. The feeling was enhanced with the fact that Harau is a quiet village with sparse population and a lot of ducks in the paddies. I don’t think optic shops make good business in Harau because the people should have healthy eyes from looking at the greens so much!
The nearest hub that connects Harau Valley to the rest of the world is Payakumbuh. Payakumbuh is smacked in the middle between Padang (the capital city of West Sumatra province) and Pekanbaru (the capital city of Riau province).
To get to Payakumbuh, you can fly to Minangkabau International Airport, which is in Ketaping, northwest to Padang, and then take a bus or shuttle car. Or, fly to Pekanbaru, and take a shuttle car to Payakumbuh. Either way takes about 3 hours to Payakumbuh. Shuttle cars are also available between Bukittinggi (the most famous highland city in West Sumatra) and Payakumbuh, that takes only about 1 hour drive.
From Payakumbuh, the most convenient way is to have your homestay host get you by motorbike. If you haven’t made a reservation, then an ojek ride can be your option. It took us about half an hour to get from Payakumbuh to Harau Valley. Try to get there in daylight, so you’ll be welcomed by the sight of lovely paddies…