Address : Jetis Wetan, Semanu , Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta
Jomblang Cave is just one of 500 caves in Gunungkidul karst. Jomblang Cave is a vertical cave whose depths vary with the deepest is around 80 meters. Therefore, to get into the cave, Single Rope Technique (SRT) ability is required. SRT is a technique used to enter a vertical cave with a single string of rope as means to go up and down vertical passages.
To get into the bottom of Jomblang Cave, cavers can choose one of four passages. The first is the easiest and often called as “VIP” passage. The first 15 meters of the VIP track is a sheer course yet can be gone through on foot. However, as the track is quite difficult, SRT equipment must always be employed for safety. After the course, using SRT technique with a rope, there is still 20 meters to go until the bottom of the cave. The other three passages are harder than the VIP. This is because cavers must use SRT technique from 80 m (track A), 60 m (track B), and 40 m (track C) above the bottom. For first-timers, it is recommended for them to take the VIP course. But for those with a lot of vertical cave experience, the length of vertical courses is certainly a good challenge, although they still have to think so much about their safety.
The cave, which diametrically is 50 m wide, was first explored in 1984 by Acintyanyutata Speleological Club (ASC), a caver club from Yogyakarta. The cave has a quite dark history. In 1970-1980s, the cave was made a location for massacre of PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) members. According to estimation, hundreds of PKI members were killed in this cave. They, in groups, were lined up at the brink of the cave with their hands tied to one another. When one of them was shot and fell into the cave, the others would go down too. The cave horrible history indeed scares the local people. Many eerie stories come along with it, for instance, the story of the lost cavers. In the 1990s, local people held a benediction at the cave. Since then, there has not been any more caver lost in the dark cave of Jomblang.
The courses to get to the bottom of Jomblang Cave are indeed exhausting, especially for first-timers. Cavers will likely feel a bit of fear before entering, let alone with the eerie stories told by those who have been into the cave. However, exhaustion and fear will change into amazement about the beauty of Jomblang Cave.
At the bottom, some trees grow exuberantly and on the karst wall grow shrubs. There at the bed of the cave, cavers can take a rest for a while in a natural-formed chamber. After a short rest, cavers can continue their exploration by going through a tunnel connecting Jomblang Cave with another vertical cave called Grubug. The tunnel is quite spacious and 500 m long. It is not difficult to pass the tunnel because there is a stone passageway. Yet, cavers must be careful all the time because the cave humidity makes the passageway slippery.
At the end of the tunnel, which is the bottom of Grubug Cave, cavers can see an extraordinary beauty of nature. There are two huge brownish green stalagmites stand upright in the center of the bed. If cavers can get there by 13.00 West Indonesian Standard Time, the sun beam that goes through the darkness of Grubug Cave will add up to their astonishment. The beam will touch the stalactites and stalagmites that are formed in thousands of years by water drops.
At north of the huge stalagmites, a stream flows from Suci River. In dry season, cavers can use a rubber raft to sail in the stream, which is not so strong. The river links the bed of Grubug Cave to those of other caves in the karstic mountains. However, in rainy season, the stream is stronger and deeper as well. It is suggested that cavers should avoid sailing in rainy season because it will be too dangerous.
Jomblang Cave is situated 50 km southeast of Yogyakarta downtown or about 10 km from Wonosari, the capital of Gunungkidul Regency, precisely in Jetis Wetan Village, Semanu District, Gunungkidul, DI Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
To get to Jomblang Cave, cavers can take public transports. From Giwangan Bus Station, Yogyakarta, cavers can go to Wonosari by bus, which charges around Rp 5.000,00 and stop at Simpang Lima Wonosari. From there, cavers must take a minibus heading for Semanu District, which charges around Rp 3.000,00 (November 2008).
In Semanu, it is recommended for cavers to drop by the house of Jetis Wetan Village Chief first to leave their belongings which will not be used in the exploration. From there, cavers must walk 3 km more to the brink of the cave.
It is probably a little bit of inconvenience to have to use public transports. For easier trip, cavers can rent transportations, either motorcycles or cars. From downtown Yogyakarta, by rental transportation, it takes around 2 hours to get to the cave. Because the streets in Semanu Vilage are rocky, for safety, it is suggested for cavers to check the condition of their cars or motorcycles, especially the tires.
There is no charge to enter Jomblang Cave.
F. Accommodations and Other Facilities
The house of Jetis Wetan Village Chief, aside from being a storage place, is usually used also as a stopover by cavers before or after exploring the cave. Sometimes, the host serves water or hot tea for cavers. Besides, here cavers are allowed to use the bathroom to clean their body from mud. For this service, cavers usually give the village chief some money.
To get to Jomblang Cave until the bottom is not an easy task for most tourists. They unfamiliar with vertical caves are suggested to hire an experienced guide to enjoy the beauty as well as mystery of the cave. Moreover, full caving equipment are required for safety. For those who do not have the equipment, caving clubs in Yogyakarta can rent their international standard safety kits for them. Some club members may as well be willing to guide tourists. One of the clubs is Acintyacunyata Speleological Club (ASC) whose home base is on Kusumanegara Street 278, Yogyakarta.
Text: Des Christy
Photo: Collection of Jogjatrip.com
Translation: Reza Daffi
(Primary data and various sources)