If someone says visit Gunung Pancar Hot Springs, tell them maybe…
A few days after visiting Kuntum Farmfields, we decided to visit Gunung Pancar Hot Springs. It was the New Year Holiday. Gunung Pancar is a mountain located south of Jakarta, at the back of the Sentul hills. This place had been on my hit list because it’s easily visible from a cycle route that I do in that area. If you search on Instagram for Gunung Pancar, it looks lovely, with pine trees and solitude and misty mountain walks.
It’s about 40kms from my house to the area and the roads were pretty busy. When we got to the turnoff up narrow roads to the mountain, the traffic was absolutely solid. People had come from all over to relax in the fresh air, ironically turning the narrow road into a fume filled, stress inducing traffic jam, and playing a form of vehicular Tetris to pass by each other with millimetres to spare.
Short cuts to hot water
At one of the junctions, I asked one of the junction attendants which was the best way to go. He indicated right and said, “Short cut!” That was enough for me and I took it, climbing a new concrete road until it finished at a high earth bank. I’d watched a car climb this, but there were a couple of others blocking the way. I bravely picked my way round the stationary cars and accelerated up the earth bank.
There was a loud bang as the centre of my car, between the wheels, hit the road and for one terrifying moment, we were beached on the banking, and judging by the cries of alarm from my passengers and the other people gathered watching at the roadside this was not unusual. Luckily the speed carried us over with minor scraping and we landed on a higher road where a bunch of locals helped us turn the car and continue on our journey.
Gunung Pancar Recreation Area
We entered the Gunung Pancar recreation area and the road got steeper and steeper, but no less busy, until, after a few improbably steep sections, and accompanied by the smell of burning clutch and dense clouds of cigarette smoke, we passed a bunch of warungs in some pine trees and came to ‘the top’ – another paid entry to some hot springs.
Lots of people had decided to visit Gunung Pancar hot springs, but we got parked. Zafira was extremely excited to ‘go swimming’ at the hot springs, but Mama was less so because Nabila was still sick and struggling to breathe properly.
I took Zafira and Nana, and went for a look. The hot springs turned out to be a set of small pools, covered by roofs. I am enchanted by this sort of thing, and I rushed excitedly back up the steps to the car to bring the others so we could all have a dip in the pool. My excitement was met by some apathy, but I managed to get everyone out of the car and down to the pool area.
The magic is broken
Unfortunately, the enchantment wasn’t working any more, the spring pools looked like wallows, each one complete with an ‘alpha male.’ We were told there were at least 10 groups ahead of us waiting for their turn.
If you want to, you can take a special treatment, where you go into a small tiled room, and a young man sprays hot water over your lower regions and back, but I couldn’t persuade any of our group to try this.
I was persuaded that the bathing was more for local people than foreign visitors. Instead, we headed up to the restaurant and had a lunch. I had rice with fried anchovies and peanuts, with sambal, which was actually pretty good. Nana had fried bananas. At last, we could sit and relax and chat for a while.
Visit Gunung Pancar Hot Springs overall
I guess that this visit to Gunung Pancar hot springs was not as I expected. It was stupid to go on the New Years Day public holiday and expect to find tranquility. I thought the hot springs would be more natural.
I had hoped the beautiful images I’d seen on Instagram were pure nature. Instead it was just some trees behind a whole bunch of trash strewn, smoky, temporary restaurants.
If you are Indonesian who wants a hot spring experience with your family, or perhaps a destination for your motorcycle or car club buddies, this is a good location. I intend to return when it’s less busy, midweek maybe and look again. The hot springs and the people there are very friendly, and perhaps it would be more appealing when it is quieter.
Have you been to visit Gunung Pancar Hot Springs? What did you think? Do you like hot springs? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.
- Gunung Pancar is a recreation area and hot springs complex near Sentul.
- It has camping and hot springs.
- Entry fees – 10,000 for locals, 100,000 for foreigners.