On the way down from Bromo, we made a stop at Madakaripura Waterfall, which lies at the end of a secluded valley in the foothills of the Tengger range. The tallest waterfall in Java and second tallest waterfall in Indonesia, Madakaripura Waterfall is the product of seven waterfalls. The locals consider this waterfall sacred since its waters are believed to pour blessings on those who walk underneath it.
On arriving at the carpark, we went into a wooden hut and tucked into a simple meal of nasi goreng while our Guide went to make arrangements for a local guide to take us to the Waterfall. In the past, visitors could just pay the entrance fee and explore the place on their own but now, it is mandatory for every visitor to engage the services of a local guide to accompany them.
We each got on an ojek and rode for 4 kilometres before arriving at an archway where tickets were being sold. I thought that we had finally arrived at the Waterfall but it turned out that the arch marked the starting point of a 2-kilometre hike to Madakaripura Waterfall! We kept walking on a gravel track until we arrived at a gate with a statue of Gajah Mada in meditation.
Madakaripura translates to “the last residence of Gajah Mada“. This waterfall is believed to be the final meditation place of military Commander-in-Chief and Prime Minister, Gajah Mada, of the Majapahit kingdom in East Java that thrived between 1293AD to 1500AD. It is believed that the source of his overwhelming power and abilities came from within the cave of Madakaripura Waterfall, where Gajah Mada frequently went to meditate. According to legend, the 60-year-old prime minister vanished spiritually and physically (moksa) while meditating. His body has never been recovered.
We followed a concrete path that led into the dense forest, cutting across tall cliffs and streams. The all-round lush, green landscape, giant palms swaying in the wind and soothing sound of rapids moving downstream gave the whole surrounds a peaceful, tranquil feel. It is not difficult to imagine why Gajah Mada came here whenever he wanted some alone time.
The deeper in we trekked, the more beautiful the views became. Just outside the entrance to a huge cave, two local men offered to sell ponchos, umbrellas and plastic bags to us. We declined politely since we already brought along our own raincoats, sandals and a change of clothing.
Inside the cave, I could see sheets of water flowing down the rock walls, forming puddles and rivulets on the cavern floor. The walls were covered with moss and crawling greens. The sound of gushing water above our heads, water dripping from the roof of the cave, being hit by mist and spray – it felt rather surreal!
While we did our best to stay dry, it soon became apparent that we would have to walk in water to move forward. Fortunately, our experienced local guide showed us the way to wade safely across the sharp and slippery underwater rocks. The water reached up to the knees for most part and I was glad to be wearing sandals instead of flip flops as their grip minimised the possibility of getting cut.
Things brightened up when we reached the other end of the cavern. We could see water cascading down a steep, semi-circular opening. In order to get to the plunge pool in the main chamber, we had to climb, squeeze and inch our way between the rocks…but the risk and effort was well worth it. Once we made it past the boulders into the tabular chamber, we were rewarded with a spectacular and breathtaking view of Madakaripura Waterfall!
The images here do not do this Waterfall any justice. It was impossible to capture the scenery in its entirety, given the limited space and towering walls encircling this 200-metre drop cascade. You’ve got to be there in person to appreciate its awesomeness.
An hour later, it was time to get out of the forest and make our way back to the carpark.
What a special morning it turned out to be! Coming to this majestic Waterfall as our last stop was a fitting way to wrap up a most memorable visit to the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park.