A month before I went to Bandung, Indonesia, I just came from Jordan.
I have seen the wonders of Petra, rode camels in the desert of Wadi Rum, floated in the Dead Sea, and stood in Jerash, a city that had been established centuries ago and (relatively) recently excavated and painstakingly restored.
I thought it would be a long time before I would feel awe at any tourist attraction again.
I was wrong. I went to Indonesia and saw Kawah Putih, West Java’s white crater, and my jaw dropped. Seeing the surreal, whitish green lake reminded me once again why I travel: it’s to arrive at destinations like this and think: the world is so beautiful!
Kawah Putih, which means “white crater,” is located in Ciwidey in West Java, around 2 hours from Bandung. There is no hiking involved in order to go there, making it one of the top tourist destinations in the region.
From the second level parking lot, you just walk a hundred meters or so, and you will immediately see the lake. (It’s not like our own Mt. Pinatubo where you have to trek for hours).
One of the two craters of the dormant Mt. Patuha, Kawah Putih’s waters turns milky white to white green, depending on the amount of sunlight present. The high sulfur content of the lake has leeched the color off the soil around it, making for a very picturesque view.
Add the mist that sometimes cloaks the lake, the bare trees growing in the waters, and the cliffs all around the crater, and you have all the ingredients for making a surreal photograph. Too bad I’m not good at photography! (My fellow Filipino bloggers are really good though. Envious.)
However, the sulfur that makes Kawah Putih a must-visit destination makes it really hard to stay longer there. The smell can make you queasy, especially if it’s your first time to visit. Everyone wears a mask — there are disposable masks being sold in the area — but even wearing it isn’t enough. I had to put a hanky in the mask as a second layer.
Plus, of course, you have to remove the mask when you have your picture taken, right? What we wouldn’t do just to get a good photo!
Bottom line: Kawah Putih is best enjoyed quickly. Get in, take lots of pictures, and then get out. Expect to get hungry afterwards. It must be the air, but after we left the crater, we were so hungry we devoured all the food given to us, despite having had breakfast only an hour earlier.
Facts You Should Know
Entrance fee to Kawah Putih is Rp 15,000 (roughly US$1) each for locals, Rp 30,000 (just a bit over $2) for foreigners. Add Rp 150,000 ($12) if you bring your own car up to the second level parking area (just a few meters from the crater lake).
If you don’t want to pay the hefty fee for cars, just park at the first level parking area, where there are many food and souvenir stalls. You can have breakfast there and shop for souvenirs before making your way to Kawah Putih on an Ontang-Anting, a vehicle specially made for the long and winding road to the crater lake. We took one from Patuha Resort; from the parking area, the return trip will cost you Rp 10,000 (roughly US$1).
Where to Stay in Ciwidey, West Java
If you don’t want to travel for hours just to see Kawah Putih, it’s best if you stay in the area. We stayed at Patuha Resort, a highland property just around 20 minutes from Kawah Putih. Rooms are wooden and the whole resort is surrounded by trees, giving the place a rustic feel.
It can get cold there at night (remember, as a tropical girl, 15 deg C or lower is very cold for me already!), so bring a jacket, especially since rooms are not heated. There’s a really good hot shower though, and the sheets are thick enough to give you a good night’s sleep.
Kawah Putih is definitely a must-see when you’re in Indonesia. Do visit when you have the chance!
Disclaimer: My trip to Bandung and West Java, Indonesia was made possible by Wonderful Indonesia. As always, opinions are my own.