Situated in between a mountain and the seaside, Yogyakarta has the best of both worlds when it comes to natural wealth. Here is our selection of the natural treasures of Yogyakarta, from the serene Parang Endog Hill to the adventurous Pindul Cave and Mount Merapi.
gumuk pasir parangkusumo
For as far as the eye can see, there is just one sand dune after another in Gumuk Pasir Parangkusumo. Located in the southern part of Yogyakarta, a 40-minute drive away from the city, the sand hills run all the way to Parangtritis Beach at the edge of the Indian Ocean. The sand dune stretches about 15.7 km from the inlet of Sungai Opak to the beach. Beside sand-boarding, visitors enjoy a tranquil time here witnessing the scenic sunrise and sunset.
Tubing can be a relaxing, adventurous recreation. Those who love this particular activity would be delighted to cruise the route near Gunung Kidul, going through a cave named Goa Pindul. The cave takes its name from the legend of Joko Singlulung, which tells a story about a boy who had an accident when he was trying to find his father. He hit his cheek on a stone in one of the caves; the incident is called pipi gebendul in Javanese. Goa Pindul is one of the seven caves in the area. Its interior is naturally decorated with stalactite and stalagmite which are formed by the precipitation of minerals from water dripping through the cave ceiling. The rock formation and the wind sometimes produce the sound of a gong. There is a hole inside the cave – an oculus – allowing a picturesque ray of daylight into the cave. Tubing might get water on your clothes and sunburn marks on your skin, but it will also put a smile on your face.
The top of Mount Merapi is the highest point of the Special Region of Yogyakarta. It’s an active stratovolcano located about 25 km from the city. Its name literally translates to ‘Fire Mountain’ as it is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. It has been labeled as one of the 17 “Decade Volcanoes” by a UN-sponsored initiative, for its past activities have proved to be especially hazardous and therefore worthy of close monitoring. Since 1548, it has been recorded that the mountain has erupted regularly. Regardless, it has remained as one of the most popular hiking sites both in Java and Indonesia. It might be hard to believe, until you inhale the cold fresh air and see the hiking trails and the breathtaking sceneries they offer.
parang endog hill
Though a daily phenomenon, sunset is still a mesmerizing moment. There are some ideal spots to sunset-watch, and lately, Yogyakartans have been doing it from a new vantage point – Bukit Parang Endog. The hill faces the west and overlooks the Indian Ocean and is located in the east of Parangtritis Beach, so the golden sand of the beach and dots of humans are illuminated by the setting sun. This sky-high level is ideal for hand-gliding and paragliding activities.
sri gethuk waterfall
Gunungkidul is known as a relatively dry area, with the exception of the Oya River that runs through it. Three waterfalls called Kedungpoh, Ngandong and Ngumbul are located beside the river. Their waters fall through Karst stones and eventually meet at a single endpoint. Reputedly, people can hear the sound of gamelan from the waterfalls. Hidden amongst cajuputi and teak fields, people must embark on a short adventure to reach the site. From the parking lot, there are two options to reach the waterfall: either by walking through a wide rice field or rafting along the Oya River. The sound of the waterfall is audible from quite a distance, giving a serene ambience within the surrounding dryness.
mangunan pine forest
While the television series Wayward Pines is stealing worldwide attention, there is the other pine ‘region’ that is also gaining exposure. It is none other than the Mangunan Pine Forest, filled with peace-inducing pine trees. The track inside the forest is infamous among bikers due to its steep pathways. The roads may be challenging but the amazing scenery is worth every mile. Not to mention the rustling sound of leaves and chirping of birds that will be the soundtrack of your day. The locals’ favourite spot to end the forest trip is at Becici Peak where people can watch the green fields of Yogyakarta from the hill top.
The beach area in Parangtritis is divided into three parts: the cliff top hills at the west, the vibrant middle beach and the peaceful east beach. While there are many beaches in the middle part, the east beach has only one beach, the Sadeng Beach. Located at the border of the Special Region of Yogyakarta and Central Java, the Sadeng Beach is a common place for underwater limestone to surface to sea level. As well, water from the legendary Bengawan Solo river flows into this beach. Sadeng Beach also makes an ultimate location to savour some delicious seafood dishes served fresh from the sea.