In the last decade, Yogyakarta saw the emergence and the subsequent popularity of caving tourism. Jogja, especially the southern part of the province, has lots of underground caves, many with a streaming river too. It’s just so recently that people tried to use that for tourism activity, and it worked really well.
One of the pioneer of cave exploration tourism in Jogja is located in Goa Pindul. Instead of exploring the cave on foot, you can just simply lay your back on a tube that will float you along the river that flows within the cave. If that wasn’t enough, you can carry on tubing in the lovely River Oya nearby.
The history of the cave
So, Pindul is not a common name in Javanese, it’s not even a word that means anything. Locals believe that the term ‘pindul’ is a portmanteau of pipi (cheek) and kebendul (bumped).
The story goes that panembahan Senopati, the king of Mataram, ordered his two trusted aides to kill a baby. Ki Juru Mertani and Ki Ageng Pemanahan, the aides, didn’t have the heart to do so.
They took the baby to the east but the baby didn’t stop crying along the way. Both men decided to wash the baby’s face in a cave. Unfortunately, the baby’s cheek was bumped into the cave wall. They then called the cave Pindul.
The tourism activity
Locals used the river in Pindul for traditional use like washing clothes and bathing. Besides, they also believe that Pindul is a sacred place so not many people ventured there anyway. The initiative to develop the river and the cave for tourism emerged in 2010. The idea is simple; provide a tourist with a tube and let them float through the cave. That simple idea works like a charm.
You will be provided with safety gear like helmet, buoy vest, and inflated tube. The stream is quite tame and there is actually very low risk that you will hit anything violently. The cave is dark, though. However, at the center of the cave, there is a hole in the roof, providing a spectacular lighting.
Basically, Oya River offers a similar experience to Pindul Cave where you can float on a tube on a river. The difference is the setting. Oye provide an open tubing setting with beautiful cliffs, low hanging bridges, and green scenery along the way. In a way, Oya River feels like the continuation of Pindul, especially if you go there directly from Pindul.
The success of Pindul and Oya inspire many other people to develop their interesting area into a tourist destination. In the same area as these two destinations, you can also find Gelatik Cave, Pindul Offroad Experience, and Goa Tanding. All three offering different experience and many tour agencies often offer a complete package to enjoy them all.
Pindul has become standard in caving tourism in Jogja. It was the one which make people believe that tourism is a great source of income if done properly and professionally.