Banyuwangi

Banyuwangi is a city at the eastern tip of East Java in Indonesia.

Understand

Banyuwangi is at the easternmost tip of Java, and is best known for its ferry connection at Ketapang to Gilimanuk in Bali. This area has a lot more to offer though and it is becoming better known as a visitor destination in its own right. Banyuwangi is also the gateway to some stunning volcanic scenery on the Ijen Plateau as well as the main access point for the Baluran National Park, world renowned surfing at G-Land (Grajagan), and the remote Alas Purwo National Park.

Tourist information

email : banyuwangibagus@gmail.com

Get in

By plane

Banyuwangi is served by Blimbingsari Airport. Wings Air has one daily flight to Surabaya. Starting 1 May 2014, Garuda Indonesia started flying between Denpasar, Bali to Banyuwangi, and from Banyuwangi to Surabaya. Passenger traffic has tripled in the last two years, and the daily occupation rate is more than 80 percent and sometimes reaches 100 percent as of 2015, so it is essential to book in advance.

By train

Banyuwangi Train station, ☎ +62 333 510396, is close to Ketapang ferry port, about 300 m to the northwest.

By bus

The main bus terminal is Sri Tanjung, ☎ +62 333 510635, 2 km south of Ketapang port. Surabaya is 285 km away by road, and buses take about 6 hours.

By ferry

Ferries run from Gilimanuk in Bali to Ketapang every 30 min, operated 24 hours a day. The journey takes about 45 minutes, although loading and unloading can take much longer. Price is Rp 7,500 for foot passengers, the tickets are bought from a ticket office and sold by uniformed employees. The ferry operator is ASDP, ☎ +62 333 413730.

From Ketapang blue bemos are available 9:00 to 15:00. Prices to downtown area or nearby are Rp 5,000 - 10,000 per person, but they will ask for 2 or 3 times that, the price will go down as you walk away. Another option is to take a metered taxi. The company Bosowa Taxi (dark blue looking taxis) operates the area, and if you don't see one nearby, you can call one at (+62) 0333 414141. Price to downtown Banyuwangi is around Rp. 51,000 (Aug 2015). Watch the meter as you arrive at your destination as the driver may switch it off the second you arrive.

Get around

The main bus station in Banyuwangi is at Ketapang ferry terminal. From there, regular yellow coloured bemos and shuttle buses run into the city (Sri Tanjung bus terminal/Brawijaya bus terminal), and elsewhere in the vicinity. Becaks (horse-cart/pedicabs) are widely available in town.

Most surfers heading for G-Land are doing so from Bali, and transportation to the camps is part of their surf package. You can however reach G-Land independently with a bus from Sri Tanjung terminal to Benculuk (about 1 hour), where you change and catch another bus to Grajagan (about 30 minutes).

You can hire private jeeps with a driver in Banyuwangi. Vital for independent trips up to the Ijen Crater or for exploring the remote parts of the south eastern coastal National parks.

See

Alas Purwo National Park

Banteng at Alas Purwo National Park

This is one of the more remote and least populated parks areas of Java, and one which is relatively under-visited due to both the difficulties of getting there and the lack of developed accommodation options. It is also an area of great mystical significance to the Javanese - local legend has it that this was the first area of the whole world to emerge from the ocean.

The park is largely flat with highest peak only 320 m and covers some 43,000 hectares. There are some beautiful, deserted beaches here as well as large swatches of lowland tropical forest. The world famous G-land surf camp is on the park borders.

The key access point to the park is the village of Triangulasi which is about 80 km south east of Banyuwangi. Before visiting you should make contact with the national park office in Banyuwangi at Alas Purwo National Park Head Office, Jl A Yani 108, ☎ +62 333 428675. There is some very basic self-catering hut accommodation at Triangulasi, as well as a camping ground and the park office will be able to advise you on this.

Mammals to be seen inside the park include banteng (the buffalo of Java), asiatic wild dog, leopard cat, muntjac deer and ebony leaf monkey. The park's western beaches are noted turtle hatching areas with olive ridley, hawksbill, green and leatherback turtles all occurring.

Ijen Crater

The Ijen Plateau

Near Banyuwangi and Bondowoso, this is a spectacular area of volcanic activity. The Ijen Plateau is the centrepoint of the large mountain range west of Banyuwangi, and which abuts the Baluran National Park to the north.

The Ijen Crater (Kawah Ijen) can be approached from Bondowoso in the west or Banyuwangi in the east. Both come together at the parking, from where you can go up to the crater. Neither road is good, but the Bondowoso route is easier. The trip can be done during the day or night (departing around 1 AM). The later is the popular choice as that's the only time the "blue fire" can be seen.

From Bondowoso you are best off finding a guide with a car (preferably a 4x4) who will drive you through the village of Wonosari and eastwards up a very basic potholed road which winds its way up the mountain. You will pass through native casuarina forest and extensive coffee plantations before the road ends at the village of Jampit where there is some shelter available (Pos Paltuding). If you are travelling late in the day, you could actually bed down with a sleeping bag or camp here as you could in the disused vulcanology station huts slightly further up the mountain.

From Banyuwangi to the parking lot takes about 1,5 hours by car. Most tourists will have a tour that includes transport on a 4x4, but the road is made of asphalt, and any car in good shape will be able to make it to the parking lot. However the road is narrow, curvy and very steep in some parts, and driving at night can be dangerous.

The crater is a 90 minute hike further on from the parking lot. And an additional 45 minute hike down to the bottom of the caldera. When you arrive the colour of the water in the lake is scarcely believable being an extraordinary vivid aqua blue. Evidence of volcanic activity is everywhere with steaming water and brilliant yellow crystaline sulphur deposits. Collecting the latter is an industry here and one with extremely harsh working conditions. You will see many workers trudging up and down the mountain carrying sacks of sulphur. At night, when the proper conditions are met, the famous "blue fire" (ignited sulphuric gas) can be seen from the top of the caldera and throughout the way down to the bottom.

Safety is not up to western standards, or anywhere near it, and some people decide not to go down the caldera and instead wait on the top. This is especially true when hiking at night, and that's the major reason why a guide may be a good idea. The otherwise obvious path can be very challenging at night. The hike up to the crater is sandy and slippery, and it can be very cold, around 5° Celsius. Proper hiking gear or at least sport shoes and a flash light are very important. Once the caldera is reached, the trail to the bottom of it is the hardest part, with a rocky, steep, single-person trail, where only a few meters have a hand rail. This is where proper gas masks are needed, as the sulfur gets thicker as you go down. The wind also plays an important role here. Once at the bottom, the exposure to white smoke coming out of the sulfur pipes can be irritating on the eyes and it's impossible to breath without a gas mask.

Tours to Kawa Ijen vary in price depending on the travel agency/hotel where it is booked, but all of them offer the same services, which are broken down as follows:

This is only of interest to independent travelers that may only want transport and masks but will not use guides, or similar.

Some of the places that offer this and other tours are (prices from August 2015):

Discounts for the transport part are offered to groups of people that get into the same car.

Many other post-caldera cones and craters are located within the caldera or along its rim. The largest concentration of post-caldera cones forms an E-W-trending zone across the southern side of the caldera. Coffee plantations cover much of the Ijen caldera floor, and tourists are drawn to its waterfalls, hot springs, and dramatic volcanic scenery. The Ijen Crater is certainly one of the great natural wonders of Indonesia.

Gandrung Dance.

This is a highly-regarded art form in Banyuwangi, and one of the nicknames for the city is Gandrung. In Javanese, gandrung means hopelessly in love. The love in this case is directed to Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice. The performance is an homage to Dewi Sri in gratitude for the rice harvest. The performance is a very special cultural event with unique orchestration. Check at the Tourist Information Centre for scheduled performances.

Do

Buy

Eat

A hawker with fresh onde-onde (sesame balls) in the ferry harbour

Street stall and simple warung food is the go in Banyuwangi and you will find lots of it. At night, many warungs can be found on the north-west side of Taman Blambangan park and also at the smaller park nearby, next to the Masjid Agung Baiturrahman mosque.

Sleep

There is a lot of fairly identical budget accommodation in Banyuwangi and there are often several well-meaning and well-mannered touts at the Ketapang ferry terminal eager to take you to their option. Not such a bad thing to play along - it will cost you little if any, extra.

Budget

Near the ferry

In Banywangi

Mid-range

Splurge

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 09, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.