If you are tired of the polution and noise in Bandung, then Kawah Putih in southern Jawa in Indonesia is a worth visit. I had a very nice trip to a place that almost no one from “western” countries have seen. This area which is in the Mount Patuha, is one of the two craters that is supposed to have way colder temps around 10C, but I had around 20C. Read on for my experience with this acid greenish lake that is so deadly beautiful.
The easiest way is to get from Bandung to Mount Patuha where Kawah Putih is with minibusses or with tourist guides. The minibusses is called Ankot and you cannot miss them when you are in Bandung area. They are everywhere, but which one that goes to the entrance is a bigger task. For me, I went with my family there.
When you are on the main road to the area, after 2 hours of driving. You will notice large signs telling you to turn left of the main road. The entry is not for free and because of this, the facilities and the crater location are well-managed by staff from the state-owned forestry firm Perhutani. You can either take another special minibuss up which is the cheapest or you can have a driver but that is way more expensive. Also be aware that locals and tourists pay different!
For Indonesian citizens:
Entry costs Rp 15,000 + Rp 5,000 for the return minibus ride (total of Rp 20,000)
For foreign visitors:
Entry costs Rp 65,000 + Rp 5,000 for the return minibus ride (total of Rp 70,000)
*Charges for foreign visitors are slightly higher. Visitors who prefer to drive in their own vehicles up to the crater must pay Rp 150,000, or $US 17 per vehicle plus tickets for passengers.
– The tickets are issued by Perhutani staff and includes insurance while at the location.
Be aware of Sellers
When you finally get up to the parking that is just beside the Kawah Putih lake, you will see sellers that tries to sell you masks. The acid smoke from the lake is not really clean air to breath, but we went there without masks and we survived. No one there uses masks really. There are also toilets there, but as with many toilets in Indonesia the locals have ways to trick tourists into paying for services that is free for locals. On one side this feels a bit lame, but on the other hand Indonesian incomes is very low, so just paying is doing more for them.
Beside all the tourism effect of getting there. The lake is really amazing. The lake is 2,430 meters above sea level, so the temp should have been around 10C, but when we visited the temps were t-shirt and shorts weather for sure. I think the temp was around 20C when I was there.
The colour of the lake is really strong and beautiful. This amazing lake just makes you want to stay there for a long time, but it is as deadly as it is amazing. Soon after just 15 minutes, your throat start to feel the acid twitching. Also your eyes starts to feel like they burn a little. Try to not breath so much and you will manage to stay there for longer. There are signs there saying that staying there for more than 15 minutes is dangerous, but for me it seemed like most of the people that I saw there had been there for hours.
You can walk around the lake on nice paths or if you wish to walk down to the water edge, it is possible. Just don’t jump into the water. It is toxic! There was someone there that went into the water, but they used boots to protect their feets. You really want to jump into the water…! But simply don’t do it! Just notice all of the trees and stones that are affected of the toxic. Only the top of the small bushes have leafs. Rest is white. The acid is at pH 0.5 to 1.3, which changes colour from clear green to clear blue or to brown, depending on the concentration of sulfur and the temperature of the oxidation state.
As written, the colour of the lake changes when the temperature of the oxidation state changes. The air temperature and the light from the sun also affects its colour. I wonder really how it looks when it is clear blue. The people I came there with, told me it’s even more beautiful when it got more clear blue colour to it.
Even with 20C, this temperature and the air surrounding the area is much better to breath. In Bandung, it is really troubeling seeing all the traffic and waste filling up the air. So getting up to Kawah Putih is really refreshing. I just hope that this area stays as it is.
Where is the Western Tourists!?
This area of Indonesia must be one of the least explored places by people from western as the Indonesian’s calls us. In my two weeks trip in Bandung area, I only saw 2 other people like me there. When coming from our sides of the globe, you will feel quite special in Bandung area. Everyone will look at you and everyone wants to talk with you. The people are so warm and you should just go with it. It is so rare for people in Bandung to see western people that for some this can be an issue. However! This stratovolcano area south of Bandung should be seen by anyone.
I really need to come back someday. Mount Patuha, Kawah Putih and its toxic lake is a worth visit. In fact, this is a place you should go to if you have a list of important places in the world that you plan to visit. As a foreign, you pay a lot more but most of the foreigners coming to Indonesia have way more income than Indonesians. The prices and almost everything is getting more expensive over there, so if you want to visit these places while it is still relative cheap, you should go now!