Curug Malela, West Java – Indonesia’s Niagara
Traveled in February, 2012
The darnest thing about this waterfall is that you can’t swim in it. Super gushing water falling off its wall will tease you to get wet, but the fact is it’s a bit too dangerous to do so. Ironically, you will get wet leaving it. The climb back up the hill to where your off-road rental motorcycle is parked will leave you slightly drenched. Another irony for me was I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere when in fact, I was in one of the densest province of Indonesia. Go figure! However, the view was nothing ironic. It was spectacular! Every step and every turn was picture perfect. Although I went on an organized trip, which isn’t my cup of tea, I’m so glad I got to see the beautiful Curug (waterfall) Malela, the Niagara Falls of Indonesia!
After entering the heart of West Java, a little down hill walk, a little daydreaming at the waterfall, a little hike back is what you will do on this trip.
How to get there
Join an organized trip as I did with @tukang_jalan or go public. From Ciroyom-Bandung take the public bus to Bunijaya. Once in the village, ask for an off road ojeg to the waterfall which will cost you about IDR 50,000 – 75,000 /pax.
There isn’t much to do when you’re on an organized trip except to follow the schedule that has been made for you. I’m no fan of organized trips but when @tukang_jalan happened to mention that they were visiting the Curug Malela, I signed up without thinking twice. Yes, I’ve been eying this destination for that long. It was a bargain price and it was doable in less than a weekend. More time for Sunday snooze woohoo!
Now just for the record, Curug Malela is well known as the Niagara of Indonesia because if its size. Not that it comes close to the real thing but it’s just huge, I guess. It’s also an unpopular destination. So you’re the very few to see it, guys. Lucky you! *poke
So after a Friday’s worth of work, I headed out to meet with fellow participants of the trip. We eventually gathered and I made a few friends. I also met Gumi, a college friend whom I will force to read this (you are reading this, right Gum?). The time came when we finally jumped on the rental bus. I had a great chat with a new friend and ended up dozing off as we entered the highway.
About 5 hours later, I found myself looking out to the dead of the early morning. There was nothing to see except the grass at the edge of the rocky road we were passing on. I felt a few bumps on my head from bumping in to the glass window during my sleep. Behind my dopey sleepy eyes, I could see we had to walk a little bit to get to a small house with a big living room ready to take us in. Half awake, I curled myself in a corner underneath a provided blanket, not knowing… and not caring who was beside me 😀
The morning came, and I woke up cold with a runny nose. The air was crisp and beside me was a girl that I hadn’t met before. We chatted up as we strolled to eat breakfast prepared by the lady of the house. After breakfast I was ready with my shorts on. I was the only one in shorts as opposed to the others that had more fabric on that day. Well, I was preparing for a wet day.
The view outside the house already was a jaw-dropper. We were definitely on high ground and overlooking some valleys plunging in the distance. I strolled around the nearby market to kill the short time before we headed out. No one was selling chicken or meat. They did, however, sell fish that were marinated in newspaper. I don’t know what nutrients were on the menu. Ikh! But I guess this was what they could afford to do. I hope tourism will help out in the future.
We were then paired with off-road ‘ojeg’s. I was paired with a young lad that had a remains of a mohawk. He was young, fearless, and called Omoh. Perfect!
After a 20-minute off-road ride through the mountains and pass spectacular views, we finally came to the parking lot. There wasn’t much to see except a stairway down the hills. After 15 minutes of walking down, we came to the post where we finally saw the small waterfall in the far distance. Coming closer, it hit me. Man, it was huge!
Happily and anxiously the bunch trotted down the path. It was a beautiful scenery, not to mention we had to pass a neat rice paddy, which was green and fresh that lovely morning. In total we had to walk about more than half an hour from the post down to the fall.
There it was, the majestic Curug Malela. It’s the biggest waterfall I’ve seen to date. I would guess there was a 10 m fall of water. Looking at how high and bold the waterfall was, I understood why we weren’t allowed to swim close to it. It would down right hurt! There was also danger of sudden floods. The past New Year’s Eve, a visitor died within the falls because he went too close just when a sudden flood came pouring in. He couldn’t escape in time. The locals had warned him but he didn’t listen, which cost him his life.
A few pictures and a few melancholic moments later, we were ready to leave the grand waterfall. We weren’t looking forward to walking back, since it was a hike back. Oh the sweat dripping down my back wasn’t pleasant! Especially knowing there was only one bathroom for 30 people. Another day without a bath. Oh well!
Staying awake on bus on the way home, I realized that we were high up in the mountains, somewhere with tea plantation surrounding it. It was one of those places that you don’t know where you are exactly, a place where you can see from the sky but can’t really see how to get to. Boy, did we get to it! I’ve been traveling a bit, but I can tell you those half-sized buses are not for long distance trips. Their seats will kill your ass, as it did mine. I had a sore ass for a whole working week! Ouch! I’m sure glad that waterfall was worth it!
Well, naturally I had to just hop on some bus at the mall and got to the place. But I did ask around for direction should anyone want to visit it independently.
The main access is from Bandung. Head down to the Ciroyom terminal and get a mini bus to Buni Jaya. This might take 3-4 hours. It’s about IDR 12,000 / pax for locals but I think it would cost foreigners a bit higher than that.
Once you arrive at Buni Jaya village, you can then take an off-road ojeg to the waterfall. You might have to pay between IDR 50,000 – 75,000 / pax if you’re traveling all the way to the waterfall. Or, we can help you organize a pick up with Omoh, since he doesn’t speak English. Just contact us!