Ciwidey – A Weekend of Camping, Volcanic Lakes, Biking & Hot Springs

Ciwidey is another hot spot I discovered while living in Bandung, Indonesia for an year.

This short weekend backpacking trip pretty much popped out of nowhere. I saw a “couchsurfing event” being hosted and since I was new in the country and eager to make friends, I jumped at the chance to join a fun group of peeps and explore Ciwidey with locals.

It was a good decision. 

As someone who has never setup a tent (though I have camped extensively) or carried it along with my backpack while pillioning on a rickety bike – this was challenging to say the least.

However, aren’t the best trip the ones which are full of adventures and misadventures? This was one of those trips 🙂

I was very excited about our itinerary – camping, hot springs, biking around and visiting the mesmerizing white crater lake of Kawah PutihOn paper, this was the perfect plan. In reality, it was a tad hard to achieve..


Ideally we would be chilling drinking beer and having corn in Ciwidey – that was the plan

The Misadventure Begins…

So around 12 people RSVP’d yes for the trip and it ended up to be me and 3 local guys – okay, I prefer small groups so that wasn’t so bad.

We met at a pre-designated location and the guys had their own two bikes. So instead of riding, as I would prefer, I was a pillion.

Well, again not a big deal.

Next, we proceeded to arrange tents and sleeping bags. We rented them out from a small local shop – since I was with locals, bargaining for a cheap rate was a breeze. We had our tents and bags – We were all set for our big adventure.

That’s when we realized our big mistake – How do we carry those tents/bags and our backpacks?

Umm.. okay then, since we didn’t have a car and no way to hire one at the last minute, we all decided to make some small adjustments…and carry it all on our two tiny bikes (mind you, these are scooties and not full fledged bikes).

Camping gear

Yes look at all that camping gear we had to carry… on a bike!!! OMG

This turned out to be the downside of our trip, but like everything I take all misadventures in my stride and with our breaking backs and heavy gear, we headed out to Ciwidey.

After a back breaking, hot and slow (due to traffic in some parts) ride, we finally arrived reached Ciwidey!

Fun Things to do in Ciwidey Bandung For Outdoor Enthusiasts

Ciwidey is amazing if you love the outdoors. There’s SO much to see, do and explore but I am only talking about the adventures/ activities I have personally tried during my weekend trip to Ciwidey.

Ride around on a Bike

things to do in ciwidey

Winding, green and clean roads leading up to Kawah Putih

That feeling of the wind in your face and hair is always a plus for me. I prefer open spaces to enclosures and buildings. Riding along the cool wide roads of Ciwidey has its own charm too.

Even though it took us 5 hours (with all the heavy gear, finding the rental store, getting stuck in traffic etc), it was all worth it as soon as the roads became greener and wider.

It felt absolutely amazing to get away from the city madness and I felt closer to nature.

Tip – It usually takes around 1.5 hours to reach Ciwidey from Bandung but it took us three times longer so be prepared for anything.

Take a Dip at Cimanggu Hot Spring to Revitalize

ciwidey cimanggu hotspring

After our long tiring ride, our first thought was – We need a hot tub.

Since hot tub wasn’t an option, we did something better and went to experience the natural hot springs.

We chose Cimanggu Hot Spring, paid a nominal entry and relaxed with a beer as we took a leisurely cleansing dip in the healing minerals of the natural spring water.

I could feel the tiredness blow up with the smoke from the spring water – it was soooo relaxing.

hot spring ciwidey

Next best thing to a hot tub, actually – even better for the health benefits

After replenishing ourselves at the spring, we booked our own personally sauna and bath – they have separate cottages for that at Cimanggu at an extra fee – and we needed the pampering.

Pitch a tent at a Ciwidey Camping Ground

Next we had to find a place to pitch our tents.

My plan was to find a lovely tree while exploring on our own at some remote part of the jungles.

However, I was voted down on that idea and the guys wanted a more “secure” environment.

Oh well, I tried!

Okay so Ciwidey has plenty of camping grounds all around. We actually visited a few but I wasn’t getting the real outdoorsy vibe – they were basically just patches of secure green grass filled with several other tents – NOT my idea of camping.

Eventually, we settled on a camping group as I saw a water body and thought it would be cool to camp by the lake.

ciwidey camping

Lake type waterbody at the campsite we picked

To this date, I don’t know the name of this camping ground – Sorry but you can find it easily coz I think its the only one with a lake in it.

So we unpacked the tents which we faithfully lugged all the way from Bandung and were excited to set ’em up.

But alas.. none of us knew how to pitch a tent!

Six pairs of eyes were on the guy who had organized this event as we were assuming he would know how to, hence, has planned a camping trip.

Assumption is not something we should rely on, is what we learnt on this trip. 

Trying and failing for an hour, all four of us sat down staring at our awkward looking bag of canvas, wondering how we will survive the cold night.

trying to pitch a tent

Trying to pitch a tent..and failing miserably

Finally the family who were comfortably camped next door offered us their freshly cooked BBQ satay sticks. We were grateful and accepted greedily.

One look at our disaster effort at pitching a tent, the head of this family – a lovely, helpful, gentleman, came to our rescue.

Within 15 mins, we were all set.

pitching tent camping

Finally… we had help – Someone who knew what he was doing!

As luck would have it , during our trip of misadventures, a big bus of boy scouts arrived just then.

Can you believe it? After two hours, we finally have a tent and now our serene spot by the lake was taken over by over 200 boy scouts with loudspeakers – No way!

Our entire night turned out to be more chaotic than the city and the dream of getting away from it all, was ,well just a dream.

However, our camping neighbors were lovely, entertaining and very generous with their food – so, we still ended up having a lovely experience, even though the odds were certainly not in our favor.

indonesia cuisine camping

Awesome local Indonesia cuisine , “not” cooked by us.

TipCiwidey can get cold so be sure to carry a good jacket, leg warmers and thermals. 

Pay a Visit to the Stunning Ciwidey Kawah Putih Crater Lake

kawah putih ciwidey bandung

One of my all time favorite travel postcard at Kawah Putih

Finally, after a not-so-peaceful night’s sleep, the highlight of our trip was next on the charts.

I was so excited to finally visit the glamorous, stunning white crater lake of Kawah Putih.

Again since our trip was not exactly going so well, we happened to reach a tad late (yeah who knows how to pack a tent?) and got stuck in the crowd.

The idea was to stay overnight at Ciwidey so we could be the first to enter Kawah Putih and escape the rush – we were lucky enough to enjoy the lake with no people around.

However, I found a great spot away from the crowds which made the backdrop of most of our pictures from the white crater lake.

kawah putih pictures

Lovely hues and bare branched trees at the lake- our isolated spot

I would say this is a  must visit if you are ever in Bandung, but make sure to arrive early to enjoy the beauty of Kawah Putih.

After spending a few hours taking pictures here, we embarked our back breaking journey back to Bandung.

Note – Don’t get discouraged by my misadventures, they are all part and parcel of traveling. Just plan your trip better than I did and you will have a blast.

kawah putih crater

With fellow Couchsurfers – Don’t we look like the misfits?

Ciwidey Map

Just 35 kms off Bandung, Ciwidey can be easily accessed by road. I would say hire a bike as roads are extremely narrow in some smaller intersections and can crowded too.

All in all, I would say Ciwidey is an excellent destination with lots more to do and many other adventures/activities which you can try.

It is recommended to spend a weekend to enjoy all the fun things to do in Ciwidey and then head to Bandung for lovely hikes and other major attractions.

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