Photo: Cloves, coffee, rubber and more.


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Kalibaru, a mere blip on the map, clings to the cool foothills of Gunung Raung in rural East Java, encircled by plantations of coffee, rubber and cocoa and makes an ideal spot for a bit of R and R between climbing Java’s Gunung Bromo and Kawah Ijen.

Kalibaru lies on the main Bayuwangi–Jember road connecting through to Probolinggo, Surabaya, Malang and Yogyakarta, also linked to the aforementioned cities via a well-serviced train line. This little town doesn’t see a lot of action, but is a good base for exploring the nearby plantations and its rural setting offers one of Java’s most scenic landscapes. With an elevation of around 400 metres, the town enjoys year round fresh temperatures that can get downright cold some evenings—pack a light jacket.

Sugar boiling down at Lonsum plantation. Photo taken in or around Kalibaru, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Sugar boiling down at Lonsum plantation. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Kalibaru offers a surprisingly decent selection of midrange accommodation most with swimming pools and lovely gardens, but is a little bereft in the backpacker market. The town fills up with European tourists, often on package tours, during the high season months between June and September otherwise it continues merrily on its sleepy way for most of the year.

Other than kicking back by the hotel pool, be sure to visit the Glenmore Plantation in the neighbouring village of the same name where along with seeing where your coffee and chocolate start out in life, you can visit a rubber processing factory that though it seems like a life-size Dickensian museum diorama, is a fully functioning plant that has been click clacking along since the colonial days. Fascinating.

Cottages and ricefields. Photo taken in or around Kalibaru, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Cottages and ricefields. Photo: Stuart McDonald

On the way to or from Glenmore, you’ll notice rows of shops flanking the highway selling aluminium cookware produced by hand in the back of the outlets. This village is inhabited by immigrants from Madura to Java’s northeast and makes an interesting short stop to see them bang and bash the metal into woks and cake moulds. We think the Garuda shaped Indonesian coat-of-arms cake tin would make an excellent souvenir.

Other home industries you may come across in your wanderings around the area include small plywood factories and palm sugar producers. Kalibaru’s wet market is worth a wander though the gloomy labyrinth if you’ve not visited a local market in Indonesia. Make sure you try some sticky cakes here as the ladies here are famous for their sweet treats.

Friendly locals. Photo taken in or around Kalibaru, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Friendly locals. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Local warungs offer cheap eats with fancier restaurants attached to most hotels, however don’t expect much in the way of gourmet fare, Kalibaru is not a town known for its gastronomy. For folks in search of a refreshing brewed beverage, several mini-markets have cold beer on sale, sometimes discreetly hiding in the back of the fridge (particularly during Ramadan), and you may have to ask.

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You won’t get lost in Kalibaru. One main road runs east to west parallel to the railway line, lined with shops and services—be careful crossing this busy thoroughfare as large trucks often speed past. Residential areas sit to the north and south of this major road.

For a small town, many services a traveller may require are available: ATMs are located near the train station and inside the Indomaret to the east of the town.

Most hotels offer laundry services, but for a better value deal head to the small laundry, just through the archway off the highway on the eastern end of town, operated by a deaf couple. They will write down the price and pick up time for you.

A small Puskesmas (local health clinic) and post office are located on the main road heading west and the police station is on the other side of railway line, also to the west of town.


What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Kalibaru.
 Read up on where to eat on Kalibaru.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Kalibaru.
 Read up on how to get to Kalibaru.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Kalibaru? Please read this.
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