Ujung Genteng, West Java – Turtles Live On
It’s not any day nor anywhere do turtles lay their hundred eggs. Pangumbahan beach at Ujung Genteng, West Java, is one of the special places in the world where they like to lay their offspring which, God knows, probably will still be living in hundreds years from now. Not only that, Ujung Genteng also provide places for you to lay too… and do other activities of course. Unless you lay eggs that is… anyhow… Ready for another travel in Indonesia? Here we go..
CURUG CIKASO – dry waterfalls in the wrong season
“Curug” in Sundanese (a language spoken widely in West Java) means ‘waterfall’. Departing from Jakarta at 11 PM, we got to the Cikaso area at about 6 PM (about an hour stop included).
This huge waterfall is supposed to be consisted of three swift waterfalls. Unfortunately, we were there in early July which is the dry season, so the water didn’t fall, the cliff was dehydrated. Lots of stones, huge ones, were seen at the bottom where we were busy taking pictures, which probably would be drowned in the rainy season. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful scenery in any season.
UJUNG GENTENG BEACH – hot weather, cool water
It’s another collection of beautiful natural beaches in Indonesia that you just won’t get enough of. After a week full of chaos at work, a blue open water and sky view is just what I deserve and need. My itchy gills were exited. So when our car tires touched the sand, we couldn’t wait to go crazy and swim no matter how hot and sunny the day was.
Hurriedly we put our bags in the bungalows, yanked on our bathing suits and blotted sun lotion, we loped right out to the beach.
Warning: small corals scatter along the whole beach, so I recommend you look out and wear sandals before getting in to the water or wear water boots.
Now, the shore is only slightly sloped. Snorkeling here is not the best idea. What we did was just swimming, enjoying the very nice cool water, and of course taking lots of pictures.
There aren’t a lot of sea urchins here, but just be careful stepping your feet at the bottom because there are quite a lot of sharp-edged corals. Some of us even saw some kind of sea snakes or something that shapes much like snakes. A’ight, freaked out, then called it quits. No more swimming in the area. Suddenly the land was our best friend.
PLAYING IN SUNSET
When it came close to sunset, the scenery was.. wow! It was beautiful. Postcard beautiful. The seawater subsided, you can see the half setting sun on the horizon with colorful sky around it – from yellow to purple shades, contrasting with the dark blue ocean.
While it lasted, we had fun taking pictures of our own silhouettes, forming funny shapes and compositions.
OMBAK TUJUH BEACH – SERVE THE SURFERS
Rumor has it there is a heaven for surfers, about an hour of motorcycle ride from Ujung Genteng beach. A few people in our group went there by ojek. This is a commercial motorcycle ride with the rider. It’s basically private, so how to spot it? You can’t! Just ask around to those you trust such as lodge staff, police, or you probably can spot a sign. It cost them each Rp 120,000 for the trip back and forth.
The owner of the Pondok Hexa lodge in Ujung Genteng, where we stayed, said that surfers, who are mostly foreigners, used to stay at Pondok Hexa. But hey, lucky you surfers! Now, there is a lodge owned by an Australian at the Ombak Tujuh beach. So, if it’s surf that you want, then surf that you get, right at the spot. And according to http://www.ombaktujuh.net, the beach can be reached only 3 hours drive from Jakarta through the town of Pelabuhan Ratu.
TURTLES – TIME TO LAY EGGS
Around midnight, we were woken up by Ocon and Ari, our trip organizers, for the main event: TADAAA! Watching the sea turtles lay eggs at Pangumbahan beach. It’s special because turtles are on the verge of extinction. That’s why the government made a turtle hatchery near the beach.
From our lodge, all 30 of us took the ojeks, so there were 30 motorcycles riding in the middle of the night, about 20 minutes long. Talk about a convoy! From the motorcycle parking area, we had to walk about 15 minutes to the beach. No lights allowed, and no talking whatsoever. Why? Because turtles, especially the mothers-to-be, are very sensitive to light and noise. If they feel threatened by foreign senses, it’s likely that they postpone the egg-laying and go back to the sea. We didn’t want that, ‘cos that would be a pity for the turtles and we would be wasting sleeping time. Thus, we turned off all our flashlights and only whispered when necessary.
Sleeping and walking should not be done together unless you’re looking for a laboring turtle. So when we happened to do so, we caught mommy turtle pass just coming on shore, apparently she’s going back to the sea after giving birth.
We were allowed to take pictures with flash lights, as long as we didn’t light it from the front side of the turtle. Have we missed the action?
Three cheers for luck. We were informed that another turtle is preparing to lay eggs at the upper side of the beach among the bushes. While she was digging up a hole for the eggs, we waited lying on the beach, looking at thousands of beautiful stars at the sky. Lucky me, I saw two shooting stars! And of course I made a wish. (Yup, only one same wish for both falling stars ? )
After about half an hour lying on the beach, we started to suffer from the cold wind. The hatchery officers told us that it was okay to walk up and see the turtle. We gathered round a big hole (except at the front side of the turtle) that Mommy Turtle dug, and another officer was removing the eggs from beneath her to a bucket. There were about 80 eggs. It turns out that the bigger the turtle, the more eggs she’d produce.
A WALK BY THE PIER – discover the hidden treasures
After taking a good late night sleep, we were all fresh the next day. At about 10 AM we went for a ride to a pier nearby. Parked the cars near the dock, then we went walking in the preserved forest.
A footpath is laid out and it got us to a hidden beach.
Then another walk along the footpath, again it took us to another beach parallel to the pier. Walking alongside the beach, the closer it got to the pier, the more people were seen having a picnic. I just hope they don’t litter at the clean and lovely beach..
If you like fishing, there are some stores near the pier that sell fishing rods and baits. You can fish away immediately!
PONDOK HEXA – LOVELY STAY
This is an already well-known lodge in Ujung Genteng. It’s consisted of bungalows, and ours contain 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in each bungalow. There are also bungalows with 2 bedrooms, 1 bedroom, and individual rooms with AC or ceiling fan.
The prices range from Rp 115.000,00 to Rp 690.000,00 (July 2008). If you wanna have a go, here’s the contact number they gave me: +62 21 750 9271, +62 815 9372 999.
What I loved about Pondok Hexa (“pondok” literally means ‘hut’) other than the cleanliness was the sea view, only a short distance walk from the sea, and also the open-air dining area.
Some extra features of the Pondok are also available for people to relax. A swinging seat for two (or three if you’re really little), a swimming pool and wooden lazy chairs to tan or whatever, and a kind of watch tower near the gate.
Our way of transporting ourselves to Ujung Genteng was by 2 minibuses plus 1 light vehicle, for the whole 30 people. A bigger vehicle wouldn’t be a good idea because the roads are too small and curvy. A note to those that plan to travel in big groups.
Public transportations are also available. If you’re departing from Jakarta, get on a bus from Kampung Rambutan terminal to Pelabuhan Ratu. From there, hop on an angkot (minibus) to Surade town. And then hop on an ojeg to Ujung Genteng.
Ujung Genteng is located at the southern coast of Sukabumi regency, West Java. It’s about 200 km south and a bumpy 6-7 hours drive from Jakarta. Along the way, you’ll pass a couple of small towns such as Cicurug and Cibadak which are quite crowded, winding road, and finally a small town called Surade just before you reach Ujung Genteng.
My trip was organized by Mata Indonesia group.
For the 30 people who participated, each person was charged Rp 650,000 include one night accommodation, transportation, and two meals. (We started the trip on Friday night, had a night sleep in the cars, and then went back to Jakarta on Sunday afternoon.)
At the time, 1 $ = about Rp 9,500. Alright, you do the math, I’m planning on my next trip.