Weekend bike trip outside Jakarta: Riding off-the-beaten-track and exploring the hills east of Bogor

Day 1: Jakarta – Goa Tawanan - Cipamingkis River at Dayeuh - The Green Villas - Nirvana Valley Resort (Wargajaya)

I haven’t been on a solo scooter tour for a while and woke up on a Saturday with an intense need to get out of the city and be surrounded by nature. I didn’t have a specific place in mind, so, as I often do, I opened Google Maps in search of a new place to explore.

I packed my bag with a few things in case I would stay somewhere overnight and left Jakarta towards the southeast.

I live in South Jakarta and it always takes a long time for me to get out of the urban area. Jakarta and its surrounding cities have merged. This, and the very dense traffic everywhere make it seems like you’re still in Jakarta, even after driving for over an hour when you’re actually already passing through other cities.

My first stop was a nice little coffeeshop “Littlewood Coffee” which is just a short detour away from the main road. As the name gives away, it’s in the middle of a little forest and the perfect spot to relax and have a coffee before braving the traffic again.


While enjoying a cup of coffee I decided to change my initial plan to explore the area east of Purwakarta. The road I was on turned out to be a busy main road full of trucks, instead of a small and fun to drive village road as I expected.

This has often been a challenge for me when traveling around Indonesia. It’s not clear when planning routes using Google Maps what kind of roads you are looking at. Large main roads, little roads through villages and mountains, and even unpaved roads are often marked the same way. So, you never really know what roads or dirt tracks you will end up on. This has taken me into several challenging but also some very fun situations throughout the year. That’s however a story for some other time. If anyone reading this has figured out a way to plan your routes in a more reliable way, please do let me know.

And here is what my new route looked like.

Goa Tawanan (Goa = cave)

Not too long after leaving the coffee shop I finally felt like I have managed to leave the city. The ro ad to Goa Tawanan leads through little villages and fields. Google Maps was pretty accurate when guiding me there. Just follow the suggested route and keep your eyes open for road signs once you get close to the place, so you don’t miss the main access road. You can park your vehicle next to the little wooden Warung (food stall) and then climb up around 250 stairs to reach the cave. It’s a cool small cave with some stalactites and I found it quite impressive, especially since I had it all to myself.  


Just outside the cave, you can enjoy a nice view over the surrounding hills. There is also the option to continue the path all the way up to the top of the hill.


Entrance fee: Donation 


After a short break at the Warung and a little chat with some locals, I continued my ride up into the hills. It was a fun and beautiful ride.

The road is in great condition and with very little traffic. It has a lot of bends that take you higher up into the hills and it passes through a lot of villages and valleys covered in rice fields. Even after years of living in Indonesia, I am still in awe of rice fields and love walking or driving through them. 

Up in the hills it started pouring down and it quickly got dark. Luckily, I found a little Losmen (homestay or hostel) where I could spend the night. It was in pretty bad condition and way overpriced, but I was thankful to have found a dry place to spend the night.

Day 2: Nirvana Valley Resort - Sukawangi Highland Park Bogor - Kopi Puri Batulawang – Cipanas – Bogor/Jakarta

The next morning, I found out that this area is a weekend hang-out spot for local tourists as there were two Tempat Wisata (tourist spots) with many not-so-natural photo spots nearby.

Kolam Renang Curug Ciherang with its giant soccer ball and a UFO overlooking the mountains is the first one. The other one is the Nirvana Valley Resort. I had a look at both from the outside as I do not like those kinds of places. I do however still find them quite amusing to look at as it amazes me that some people feel the need to “beautify” nature to make it look “better” and more interesting. A lot of locals do however love places like this, so to each their own.

This view is the reason why I come to places like this.

And these are the reasons why most other people came to this place.

I continued to ride uphill towards Cipanas. After just a few kilometers I was very thankful that I did not continue my ride last night. The paved road ended, and it turned into a muddy dirt road with a lot of potholes. The mud made it slippery and quite challenging to ride even without rain and in broad daylight. However, road construction was going on so I am sure it will be much better soon. The stunning views over the hills and riding through many colorful mountain villages made the challenging ride well worth it.


I was surprised when I suddenly saw an amazing bamboo building on the side of the road. It was Kopi Puri Batulawang where I was offered a delicious kopi jahe (coffee with ginger) by the owner even though the place was still closed due to the pandemic. He told me about his coffee plantation and explained that he roasts his own beans here. Of course we also had to take some pictures with his friends who were all excited about meeting a Bule (term used for Westerners) woman riding around the hills alone on her scooter.

A short ride later I reached Cipanas. If you have more time, it’s possible to continue to ride towards Bandung or Sukabumi. However, I needed to be back in Jakarta the next day so I rode back to the city via the Puncak Pass road and Bogor.

It’s a fun road to drive, but the insane traffic caused by people looking for a break from the city on weekends can make it stressful and frustrating. I highly recommend avoiding this road on weekends or riding it early in the morning or late at night if you must.  


Do you prefer exploring by car? This route can be done by car, just make sure you’re comfortable driving on steep mountain roads before heading there.  (Julie)

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