I recently took up a little photo assignment for a local publication but it was a location that was already on my hit list and had been for a long time so I was happy to give up a planned trip in another location of Sumatra to tackle this magnificent location in North Bengkulu.
A waterfall named Curug 9 just north of the city of Arga Makmur in north Bengkulu. This location is a 3.5 hour hike from the nearest village and it is finished off in the last hour by a very extreme descent, which is not for the faint hearted and those lacking fitness. Time for me to work on that a bit.
I decided in order to get the shot it required me to stay overnight on location to get the morning shot and the afternoon shot just in case of issues with weather and lighting. My guides and I located a small cottage (pondok) about an hour hike from the main waterfall and this little pondok was owned by husband and wife coffee farmers who had just recently cut down a small portion of forest to plant more trees. It just so happens this location has the most amazing view of the Curug 9 waterfall and even though it is 1km you can still feel and hear the spectacular power from the waterfall.
We setup camp in the afternoon and took the opportunity to see a smaller waterfall called Air Itik and planned to capture the main Curug 9 waterfall in the morning. The traverse to Air Itik is actually more dangerous than the main falls of Curug 9. It is nearly vertical and there are no ropes but just tree branches and rocks to hold onto.
The second day morning broke and we finished breakfast and spent a good hour descending into the main Curug 9 waterfalls. With the occasional rudimentary steps and stairs made from the surrounding trees the descent is slow and methodical and once at the river level it is another 20 minutes to reach the destination.
It was a truly magical couple of days camping out in the jungles of Sumatra and sleeping in my hammock in full view of the powerful Curug 9. This is not a hike for those that have issues with fitness, getting in and out of these waterfall locations requires a good level of strength and health. But boy is it worth the effort for the reward.