Indonesia has been home for almost 4 years after a very unexpected move. This place never ever figured in my wildest dreams or my craziest travel fantasies, yet I can only say that fate put us here and the last 4 years have been truly magical. This country is a paradise for the traveler, just when you think you have seen it all a new location is revealed to you.
At the beginning of the term my 9 year old declares, “I want to go to Oman!” “My teacher went to Oman to see turtles nesting and she said it was an amazing experience”. I explained that “Surely, one need not go all the way to Oman to see turtles, there must be other places closer where we can watch turtles, I know of beaches in India where we can see them.” Secretly I wished we all could go to Oman ( have heard from others also about how great Oman is as travel destination). Not long after and totally by chance a friend tells us of a trip he made to a Turtle nesting beach near Jakarta. The next long weekend found us heading towards the beach in Ujung Genting.
Ujung Genting is only 230 km from Jakarta but it took us 8 hours to get to the coast (some deviations, few bad patches and quite a bit of traffic). To anyone else wishing to go I would suggest starting very early in the morning to avoid traffic in the Bogor – Sukabhumi road. The hotel that was suggested to us (some bamboo shacks in the thicket) was luckily full. We found a decent hotel called Pondok Hexa.
The restaurant at Pondok Hexa.
One can sit for hours in the restaurant soaking in the panoramic view of the ocean and the frenzy of activity among the fishermen who stood in waist deep water trying their luck. During low tide the water receded exposing sculptured rocks teeming with little crabs appearing to play hide and seek and clear puddles filled with all kinds of life forms. kids had a grand time poking around and observing brittle stars, urchins, slugs and even a jellyfish!
After checking into the room and filling ourselves with packed Biriani, we reached the nesting beach in time to watch 2 bucketful of hatchlings being released into the sea. The conservation post was setup to protect the turtles and the eggs which till recently were under threat from being collected for sale outside. Construction of offices were still going on. Ujung Genteng has always been a popular beach with surfers and is only recently being explored by other tourists.
At night we were quietly led to the beach by a guide to watch as a monster green turtle struggled for over 2 hours to cover her freshly laid eggs. While waiting in the dark feasted on by mosquitoes we were lucky to see 2 more turtles crawling in from the sea searching for a place to lay eggs.
The turtle spends a long time and obviously immense energy spraying sand around a rather large area to throw off predators, It seems a little ironic that the eggs are carried away the moment she is out of the pit, albeit to a safe house.
We stayed in Ujung Genteng just one night as there was nothing else to do. Morning found us heading back to Jakarta. About 25 km from the turtle beach is the Curug Cikaso or Cikaso waterfall. From the car park all we saw was a muddy river, a few shops and plenty of touts trying to get us to take a boat up to the falls… We decided to take the short walk though the paddy fields. None of the pictures that I had seen online prepared me for the magnificence of this waterfall! It was a scene right out of National Geographic, the kind of place that I always thought only photographers got to.
There were just some school kids playing hookey when were reached the falls, they soon returned, leaving paradise all to ourselves. We all had a nice swim, working up our apatite in anticipation of the Ikan Goreng rica rica that we would have in Pelabuhan Ratu. Nearly blind with hunger by the time we had lunch, we plunged right in as soon as the food was laid on our table, so no pictures of that amazing spread. Slept in our own beds that night tired but with a smile after having another dream come true.
Pelabuhan Ratu has a row of restaurants by the roadside and overlooking the sea that serves excellent food at any time of the day. We have taken many of our guests there and not once been disappointed.
Pondok Hexa facts: Very basic but clean room, cheap,friendly staff, far (2.5 km) from nesting beach.