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Kawah Putih, the white crater

The local villagers were talking about a forest on a hill where birds refused to fly near and if they did, they would end up dead. The locals had declared it as eerie and mysterious forest. This was in 1837. These stories prompted a German botanist Dr Franz W. Junghuhn to investigate, and in turn, he discovered Kawah Putih.

Kawah (water) Putih (white) which actually means white crater, is one of the two craters that adorn the summit of Mount Patuha Volcano in west Java, Indonesia. The other crater is dry. Unlike other craters where a bit of hiking is required, there is none to reach Kawah Putih and that makes it one of the top tourist destinations in the region.

I could smell it from a distance… even before I reached it. It smelt like hundreds of rotten eggs. The moment you go near it, it leaves you breathless. Literally. The steaming Sulphur fumes are so strong that you need to wear a mask ! 😀

I have seen many volcanic craters and lakes in several countries, including in New Zealand and Philippines. I knew Indonesia also has some wonderful volcanic craters.

It’s very picturesque with surreal white green water. Unlike other volcanic craters, I could go right up to the water level and in fact could touch it as well.
The color of the water changes from pale blue-green to turquoise, depending on the amount of Sulphur and sunlight present. On sunny days, the color of the lake is stark and bright and on cloudy days, the crater is blanketed in mist making it utterly eerie place.

The mist, the Sulphur fumes, the bare trees, the surreal water and the cliffs … I wonder if any film is shot here.

Having said that, it is really hard to spend more time there. The smell can make you breathless and queasy. As I mentioned before, you need to put on a mask.

We wear our masks, but while getting photographed, we remove them for a few seconds. 🙂

When water level recedes on some days, you can see this boulder standing on dry land.

Tips before you head there:-

1. The lake is 2,500 meters above sea level, which means it can get chilly. Carry a light jacket if you think you’d need one.
2. Remember masks! The masks are available for sale at the entrance of the crater.
3. If you enjoy hiking, there are several walking trails in the area. The trails are around the lake and also take you up Mount Patuha, for you to view Kawah Putih from above.
4. Entrance fee is Rupiah 30,000 (just over $2) for foreigners. For locals it is Rupiah 15,000.
5. There is a parking area if you are bringing your own car or motorcycle, the parking charges are extra.
6. There are shops for souvenirs and snacks before you enter Kawah Putih.
7. Kawah Putih is open daily from 7am-5pm.

Ontang-Anting, an orange colored vehicle specially made for the long & winding road to the Crater Lake.

Getting there:- Kawah Putih is located near a small town called Ciwidey in West Java and is about two hours’ drive from Bandung.
You can either bring your own vehicle, hire a vehicle or take a public transport which is the cheapest mode. Besides this, if you are staying in a resort nearby then you get to use one Ontang-Anting, an orange colored vehicle specially made for the long and winding road to the Crater Lake. The return trip on this will cost you Rupiah 10,000 (approx. US$1).

Where to stay:- We didn’t want to travel all the way from Bandung. So we stayed at Patuha Resort, a highland property just around 15 minutes from Kawah Putih.

Disclaimer: My visit to Bandung was courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism, Indonesia but as always, opinions are mine.

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29 thoughts on “Kawah Putih, the white crater”

  1. This is one of the best post/photo on your blog. I personally find the reading journey very interesting and something very different.
    Keep traveling..keep writing.

  2. Nice pictures! (I had to search the whole blog and guess it is in Indonesia.)

    Will share photos from our Boy Scouts of America overnight camp-out inside the volcanic crater at Mount Pinatubo which was formed when the volcano erupted in 1991. The boys enjoyed swimming in the lake. It doesn’t smell at all unlike Kawah Putih.

  3. Shikha,

    Oops, I thought since I am writing about Indonesia, people would know.

    Didn’t realize there are people who do not belong to regular readers category.


    Thanks for pointing it out. Updated it.

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