River valley hot springs
If soaking in a wild river warmed by natural hot sprigs surrounded with tropical rainforest sounds idyllic (and perhaps cliched), hightail it to Kawah Rengganis, just over 50 kilometres south of central Bandung, or ten kilometres from popular Kawah Putih.
This narrow river valley steams and bubbles with volcanic activity and within the natural flowing river, locals have created artificial ponds near thermal springs of varying temperatures, some with bamboo pipes for a hot “shower”. The newest and largest of these pools (and also the most accessible) is heart-shaped, which we’re sure will please the Instagram crowd. Pools of warm mud offer the opportunity for a mud spa too, touted to have medicinal benefits for your skin although we don’t know if it’s true, it certainly looks fun.
The area wafts with a slight sulphuric smell, intensified near steaming vents. Paths meander along the river’s edge and a damaged bamboo bridge makes it possible to cross the river a little upstream, but we don’t know how long it will last. Be careful wandering around as some of the pools and vents are extremely hot, and in the wet the rocky paths are slippery.
The access to Kawah Rengganis is via a 800 metre long narrow steep rocky track off the main road, accessible by motorbike or waking but not by car, and as a motorbike passenger we had to walk some sections anyway as the road was too steep. Once at the top, there’s a motorbike parking area and a handful of warungs along with the ticket booth. A steep paved stairway leads down to the river where there are a couple of change rooms and a small mosque. Don’t forget to pack something to bathe in and a towel. Shorts and T-shirt (or boardies and a rashie) are more appropriate than a swimming costume in this conservative local area.
Kawah Rengganis attracts a few visitors but not nearly the numbers of nearby attractions perhaps due to the limited road access, making it all the more inviting. We love the idea of soaking in hot springs for hours, particularly one in a locale as beautiful as Kawah Rengganis, and would happily make the journey from Bundung to visit this sight alone, but to make the most of the long and often traffic choked trip, combine with an excursion to the stunning volcanic lake Kawah Putih and the picturesque Situ Patenggang both nearby.
On the road back to Bandung we were intrigued by a waterfall we could glimpse from the road, Curiug Tilu Rancabali, but after paying the 35,000 rupiah entry fee what we found was a park amid a tea plantation with what looked like a small landscaped artificial waterfall and a fishing pond. Although a pretty spot for a picnic was not really worth the entry fee as just as beautiful views can be had from the roadside. Buton Backpackers and Pinisi Backpacker both offer motorbike day trips from Bandung which include Kawah Rengganis for 250,000 rupiah excluding entrance fees.
Buton Backpackers: 14A Jalan Buton, Bandung; T: (0224) 238 958; (0877) 1474 2756; http://butonbackpackerlodge.com
Pinisi Backpacker: 84 Jalan Pasirkaliki, 92/6A Gang Musaen, Bandung; T: (0228) 686 8610; (0817) 502 0123; http://pinisibackpacker.com
Address: 50 kilometres south of Bandung
Coordinates (for GPS): 107º22'34.12" E, 7º10'19.87" S
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: 30,000 rupiah weekdays; 35,000 rupiah weekends
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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