Bandung is one of those cities that people visiting Java tend to skip through rather quickly, mainly because the surrounding activities all seem like too much of a hassle to get to. Kawah Putih to the south of Bandung is a case in point, but those with persistence will find a crater lake of staggering beauty.
Kawah Putih is located near the dusty market town of Ciwidey about 35 kilometres south of Bandung. Meaning “white crater” in Indonesian, the main attraction of Kawah Putih is the surreal turquoise coloured lake which fills this vast dormant volcanic crater. On sunny days, the colour of the lake is stark and bright and on cloudy days, the entire crater can be shrouded in mist making for an utterly eerie experience. The tree-clad cliffs surrounding the crater reach around 2,500 metres above sea level and make for a stunning backdrop, especially when those clouds start rolling in. Similarly, the altitude here brings with it chilly temperatures and a light sweater is a must, a thicker jacket preferable.
Kawah Putih is incredibly popular with local daytrippers and this will impact on when is best to visit. Sunday is by far the busiest day of the week, closely followed by Saturday. The rest of the week proves to be nigh-on dead and chartering vehicles will inevitably enter the mix of transport used that day.
The easiest way to get to Kawah Putih from Bandung is with your own transport. Hiring a motorbike from your guesthouse should cost around 50,000 rupiah for the day and hiring motorcycle taxi should cost about 100,000 rupiah plus lunch for the driver. Private tours in cars may also be possible, but these tend to cost in the region of 400,000 rupiah for the day.
By public transport, travellers must get to the Leuwi Panjang bus terminal in the south of Bandung. It’s possible to get to Leuwi Panjang with two angkots from the train station by asking drivers for the best option (2,000 rupiah per angkot). From Leuwi Panjang, catch a Ciwidey bus for 6,000 rupiah for the hour journey south. At Ciwidey, it is possible to catch an angkot to the front gate of Kawah Putih for 7,500 rupiah, but you will be offered a charter which when all things are considered, may well be the best option depending on the day of the week and the sort of deal you can get.
Once at the Kawah Putih entrance, it is a long haul up hill to the crater and you won’t see anyone attempting to walk it. Instead, a fleet of open-air angkots ferry groups to the top for 15,000 rupiah per person. Generally, the angkots wait until they are full, but this can sometimes be a problem when visitor numbers are low. Chartering one will cost 100,000 rupiah for the round trip which might make the charter option from Ciwidey seem more sensible.
The entire journey by public transport takes three hours from Bandung, but it is a day worth spending, particularly when you consider that you can add on a side trip to Situ Patengan and some stunning tea plantations just around the corner.
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