As we finish our coffee and pile back into the Land Rovers our guide shouts out ‘put your cameras away for the next part’. I laugh at this suggestion and keep it in my lap. Later, as the truck turns on a 45 degree angle and slides at speed through a mud lined crevice I realize my mistake. Luckily I manage to keep hold of camera, and all my limbs. This just went up a notch.
Bandung is the capital of West Java, Indonesia. Not too many tourists pass through here, so you’ll be forgiven if you’ve never heard of it, but it’s totally worth a visit. A bustling city sat in between brooding volcanoes and luscious tea fields, it is just itching to be explored and I figured a fun way to do this would be from the back of a 4×4 truck.
Beginning The Adventure in Bandung
I teamed up with the guys at Bandung Offroad who picked the group up from a rather beautiful scenic lunch spot. The drive upwards was pleasant, passing through smaller towns waving at every excitable child until we arrived at our first checkpoint.
Jumping out here for a coffee break we were already pretty high up, the air was clear but we could still see the slightly smoggy city peering through the gaps in the eerily tall trees. This was quite clearly the calm before the storm. The road up until this point was a little bumpy, but we stayed firmly in our seats for the majority of the ride. For the next part the affable guides told us to keep our cameras in our bags and our arms inside the truck.
We sped away and almost immediately hit a huge mud filled ditch. Our Land Rover made a kind of of comical bounce into the hole, heading into it with an attitude that didn’t care if it got stuck or flipped or whatever. I gripped tight onto my camera as dirty water leaped up onto us. I fumbled for my bag just as the truck started tilting to the right, falling backwards into my seat as I felt the ditch wall brush my back through the open sides. As a typical traveller, I probably cared more about my camera than my body, but both were at risk here until we reached more level ground.
The truck bounced around in this chasm for a little longer until we got stuck. The wheel nearest me started spinning furiously caking everyone inside our vehicle and the one behind, in heavy mud. I was delighted at our predicament however, we had stopped long enough that I could secure my precious DSLR safely back in my bag. I did this, smiled, and then realized ‘oh crap, now we’re stuck’.
We didn’t stay there for long though. Our Land Rover, or at least the driver, held onto the attitude of being bigger and better than the land, and after another minute or so of intense wheel spins, we had broken free.
Off-road and Out of My Seat
The trek continued further up into the mountains, a filthy convoy of trucks full of bruised and battered backpackers followed in our wake. The bumps and turns and tilts took everyone by surprise each and every time. Just when you thought it was safe to relax and enjoy the scenery you were on the floor, or grabbing onto the person next to you for safety. This was an exhilarating, adrenaline fuelled ride and there was a real sense of thrill that came from being a passenger, not knowing what the land, the truck or the driver would do next.
Once we reached the high point, we all jumped out and compared war wounds. There were no serious injuries but the stark reality dawned on us all, what goes up definitely has to come down, and if you thought these things went fast uphill, wait until they also have gravity on their side! We careered back down the broken path, flinging from side to side, laughing as we smashed into each other.
Just How Powerful are These 4×4 Trucks?
In the battle of land vs machine though, eventually there will only be one winner. Our little beast was putting up a good fight, but we’d been getting stuck more and more as smoke started billowing out from under the bonnet during every over-revved charge. Despite having absolutely no control over this, it still felt shameful having to ask one of the other trucks for a tow down the hill, the other passengers seemed to mock us with their disapproving eyes.
This didn’t last for long anyway, our poor baby had clearly given up for the day. Eventually we jumped out, split up and piled into the back of the other trucks to continue our descent back down into town.
Related: Top 5 Adventures in Indonesia
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What You Need to Know About Bandung Off-Road
- The tour takes around 1-3 hours depending on group size/conditions and takes passengers up through the Sukawana tea plantation and the forests of Gunung Putri and Jayagiri.
- Prices start at 195000IDR ($15USD) vary depending on group size. Tours can also be combined with rafting and paintballing for further savings.
- All safety gear is supplied, you should wear closed shoes though. And don’t wear anything you don’t mind being covered in mud. Be careful with your belongings, and if told to put your camera away then do so! GoPros are great for this type of activity and you can affix them to the front/back of the trucks…but remember you do so at your own risk!
For more information on Bandung Offroad, check out their website below.
This article was written in partnership between Adventure in You and the Indonesian Tourism board as part of the 2016 Trip of Wonders Tour.
Looking for more inspiration to travel around Indonesia? Check out our other articles below
- Best Places to Stay in Bali Indonesia
- Best Indonesia Mountain Treks That You Have to Do
- What to Eat in Indonesia: Dishes You Need to Try
- Trekking to See the Blue Flames in Kawah Ijen
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