The literal translation of Kawah Putih is “white crater”.
While the colour of the stunning lake situated deep within the large volcanic crater is more of a light turquoise, it is nonetheless a surreal sight. Depending on the weather, visitors will either be greeted by a blindingly bright body of water surrounded by massive tree-covered cliffs or an eerie lake shrouded in mist. This is largely due to the fact that Kawah Putih is situated above 2,200 metres above sea level, meaning weather is variable and sometimes downright cold. For this reason, we recommend packing some long-sleeved garments in case the weather turns nasty.
Kawah Putih is an incredibly popular destination with domestic tourists arriving in coaches and private vehicles throughout the day. On weekends in particular, the crowds can spoil the serenity of this otherwise magical location.
How to get there
The lack of direct transport from Bandung is the biggest difficulty in seeing Kawah Putih as public transport requires six different buses to get from Bandung Stasiun Hall to the summit. For those with loads of time and patience, the following is an explanation of how it is done:
Starting early in the morning -- 07:00 or 08:00 -- catch any angkot heading south from Stasiun Hall and tell the driver you are heading to Leuwi Panjang. This is important because no angkots go directly to Leuwi Panjang from Stasiun Hall and the driver will need to drop you off at a location that connects to a Leuwi Panjang angkot. This should be 2,000 rupiah.
Catch the connecting angkot to Leuwi Pangjang. 2,000 rupiah
From Leuwi Panjang, catch a Ciwidey bus and get off at the bus terminal in Ciwidey. 6,000 rupiah, 1 hour.
At Ciwidey, many angkots are not labelled accurately. Ask local people for an angkot that heads to Kawah Putih. Make sure you specify to the angkot driver that you do not want to charter the angkot. 7,500 rupiah -- this fare may be inflated for tourists.
After arriving at the entrance to Kawah Putih, you will be greeted by a fleet of open-air angkots. These cost 15,000 rupiah each way per person and only depart when they are full. On weekdays, there are often not enough people to fill the angkot and you will be required to charter it for 100,000 rupiah.
The entire journey one way takes approximately three hours, costs 32,500 rupiah, is uncomfortable and leaves little time to enjoy the volcano or travel further along to Situ Patengan.
An alternative to this method is to charter an ojek (50,000 rupiah) or an angkot (100,000 rupiah) from Ciwidey to Kawah Putih return and add 20% if you wish to include Situ Patengan in this journey. This is a definite time-saving strategy and may well even save you money if you are forced to charter an angkot at the entrance to Kawah Putih anyway.
That said, we recommend a different approach to this if you are confident riding a motorbike in Asia (and have a license, and are insured, and so on) because of the time taken to make the journey by public transport. Riding a motorbike to Kawah Putih is a relatively easy option and should save you both time and money -- ask your guesthouse for a rental motorbike for 50,000 rupiah. If you aren't confident with this approach, seek out an ojek who will drive you to and from Kawah Putih for about 100,000 rupiah per person.
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