Just 60 km south, or a mere one hour by road from Jakarta lies the town of Bogor, once known as “Buitenzorg” meaning “free of care”, located at the foothills of Mt. Salak. It has a high, year-round rainfall and a much cooler climate compared to metropolitan Jakarta. Here are spread out the 87 hectares world famous Bogor Botanical Gardens (Kebon Raya Bogor), with the impressive out-of-town Bogor Presidential Palace fronting it and soaring Mt. Salak at its background.
Today the garden contains more than 15,000 species of trees and plants. Bogor Botanical Gardens boasts over 400 species of palm trees, 5,000 trees gathered from around the tropical world, and an orchid house containing 3,000 varieties. Records show that the Bogor Botanical Gardens harbours 3,504 plant species, 1,273 genus in 199 families.
The Gardens are said to have been initiated by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, who between 1811-1816, became Governor General of the East Indies during the interim reign of the British over the archipelago. With the help of botanists from London’s famed Kew Gardens, Raffles first laid out a small garden. However, the Gardens were officially established by the Dutch in 1817 under the directorship of CGC Reinwardt. A memorial to Raffles’ wife still stands in the Gardens.
Bogor itself is a pleasant town that has grown around the Gardens. Here are Indonesia’s Agricultural University and the Zoological Museum, where is displayed the last stuffed rhino found in the Bandung plateau. From Bogor the road climbs up passing picturesque mountain resorts all the way to the Puncak, or the Peak. The Safari Park is located on this beautiful but winding route. Further beyond Puncak before reaching Cipanas is the Cibodas Park just at the foot of Mount Gede-Pangrango, laid out for the study of temperate plants, where Java coffee was originally cultivated. At Cipanas is another out-of-town palace that has hot water springs in its gardens.