Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 24 July 2013 • Blog
Waterfalls are everywhere in Indonesia. With chains of mountains covered that are covered by tropical forests, you’re bound to find water spurting out somewhere, somehow. I’ve seen a bunch of waterfalls while traveling. Most of them are pretty nice, which are great for water fights, getting your feet wet, and to cool down your sights with a lush view. As much as I’ve seen them, as a water sign, I never really can say no to them (or anything else for that matter, thanks to my healthy curiosity). Although rare, I’ll never know where I’ll find some impressive ones like the multi-layered Saluopa Waterfall in Central Sulawesi and the humongous Curug Malela in West Java. Considering the odds of finding a ‘wow’ waterfall, I didn’t expect much heading out to the Madakaripura Waterfall, which was predetermined on the itinerary. I should have never underestimated Explore Solo’s recommendations.
The Madakaripura Waterfall is located in the Sapih Village, Lombang, and is the biggest waterfall in East Java. Honestly, hearing this info didn’t really impress me much. The biggest doesn’t mean it’s the best. So, I kept my expectations light and followed the group scattering upstream a small stream for about 30 minutes into a gorge that closed in towards the end. We had to cross creeks and slightly struggle keeping balance passing slippery rocks. We had casualties but nothing serious; just a few pouts of regret underestimating the importance of appropriate feet apparel and cautions on where to step.
Colorful prayer cloths hanged across the gorge coming into our destination; a sign of sacred grounds. I keep my utmost respect for areas like this and remind myself not to swear and have bad thoughts. (Things happen in the wild, you know?!) Madakaripura is said to be the last place of Gajah Mada, a legendary military leader and prime minister of the ancient Majapahit Empire. Hence the name Madakaripura, which means Mada’s final residence. I had interests to see where his life ended. As locals tell it, Gajah Mada chose this waterfall to spend his final days meditating. It’s also said that he disappeared here into a state of moksha. Freaky!
Dude! Considering things weren’t as exposed as they are now, that Gajah Mada must have been some awesome traveler to find a spot as hidden as this. He was so off the beaten path. But then again, he had to find somewhere epic to die.
The walls of the gorge were covered with moss and crawling greens. Excess water spilled over it forming a thin curtain of mist. That’s when I could feel my clothes getting damp. Being elevated at 620 meters above sea level could only mean one thing. C. O. L. D. B. R. R. R. Brrr… Things started to get exciting as we walked through this misty gate and started to hear the rumbling water. By the end of the walk, I dropped my jaw.
Madakaripura Waterfall is located at the end of the gorge, within a tubular shape cliff. It wasn’t gushingly huge, but by-golly was it tall! The estimated 200 meter fall caused the water to gather within the tube creating a very wet space. The fall was contained in a pool-like rock. We were pretty fortunate to visit during clear water, creating a mysterious dark blue pool. During wet season, the water turns brown. Parts of the secluding wall were covered in moss, while other parts exposed the bare and smooth cut rock. The mist created a black surface making the room feel tight. There is a ledge about 10 meters up that is said to be Gajah Mada’s meditating spot. In his days of magical martial arts, it would be a no brainer to get up there without any tools. In modern technological days like these, it’s a brain puller.
Pretty much soaked by freezing mist, I look up to the sky through the rock tunnel. By just looking up, I could easily ignore the sound of my chuckling travel mates as they dissolved easily by the roar of the splattering water. I thought, ‘How could I have missed this little piece grand nature for so long?!’
Aside to the colorful cloth we saw earlier, we also so some offerings on the side of the pool. The Madakaripura is a sacred place for the Tengger people, especially during our visit of the Yadnya Kasada festival. The water from this waterfall is used in the ceremonies. Since I was already soaking from the cold mist, I though I might as well jump in the water. And yet again, I was wrong! It was pins-and-needles cold. Habrrrr… And I peed in the pool. It was too hard not too. Don’t worry! I peed responsibly. The people had already collected the water they needed earlier that day. So I still held my utmost respect for the place. And so you know, I changed my entire attire before heading to the next destination. I’m still a lady, you know.
Here are pratical information that might help your trip:
– You need private transportation to get there. There aren’t any public transport. You might get away with not having a guide with you. You can try your luck.
– Ticket fares for international visitors are IDR 50,000 (August 2012) which already included a guide. Be aware there are a lot of miscommunications about guides here. Make sure you only have one guide with you when traveling to the fall. If there’s a second, make it clear that you do not need him.
– Wear shoes or sandals that won’t slip easily on wet surfaces.
– You will get wet. If not, get wet! It’s a great sensation. Wear your suim suit underneath your clothes and bring extra clothes to change in. Please be aware that you can not swim just with your bikini on as this is a sacred spot for the locals.
Have fun, you guys! Brrrr…