Road Trip Jakarta to Banyuwangi

Overview

October 2022, together with my family, I went to Banyuwangi, East Java, to visit Ijen crater. We drive around 1000 km there, one way trip, where the first 863 km covered by toll road, and the rest 170 km is using old road called “Pantura”. It take us 3 days to go there, with transit in Cirebon, Surabaya, and Banyuwangi, similarly with the way back, but instead of go through Surabaya, we go through Malang. In total, it take us 7 days for the round trip 🙂. In this article, I share my experience during this road trip, includes the restaurant, point of interests in some area that located along the way, and the last but not least, Ijen trekking.

Preparation

I estimate the maximum driving duration to 7 hours, then, find the good city where we can stay to take a rest each days. For this trip, I choose to stay at Cirebon, Semarang, Surabaya and Banyuwangi, Malang, Umbul Sidomukti, Cirebon, and finally back to Jakarta. This trip will go through isolated mountain path, so ensure that your vehicle is ready, especially the brakes.

Day 1, Jakarta – Cirebon

Distance: 200 km, 3 hours

Cirebon is a big city, located at north side of Java Island, it has some historical buildings, beautiful landscape in south area near Kuningan, and most importantly, a lot traditional culinary places! I stayed 1 night in Metland hotel, and explore the city. Some of my favorite food are:

  1. Empal gentong (meat soup)
  2. Sate kambing (Lamb satay)
  3. Nasi lengko (rice and vegetable, with sweet sauce)
  4. Nasi jamblang (rice and side dishes)
  5. Seafood at Sentosa

On the next day, I continue the trip to Surabaya, 7 hours distance 🙂.

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Day 2, Cirebon – Surabaya

Distance: 570 km, 7 hours

From Cirebon, go to Palimanan – Kanci toll road, and go to the east. The toll road is not very good, it is very bumpy, and it is pretty crowded, so be careful there. To refuel, there’s a lot rest area available in this toll segment, you can find one every ~40 km to go to rest room, buy snacks, and refill your fuel. Between Semarang and Surakarta, the toll is go through mountains range, there’s a lot of stunning scenery along the way.

Building in Salatiga rest area

In Surabaya, you may go to Madura island via Suramadu bridge, Madura is famous with its fried duck culinary, personally, I don’t see it as a very unique food, but it is nice to know! Another famous food in Surabaya is “nasi rawon” which is a black colored meat soup with salt egg.

  1. Bebek Sinjay, good looking, clean restaurant.
  2. Bebek Songkem Pak Salim, traditional, different style of fried duck.
  3. Nasi rawon Setan

Here’s some pictures of the Salatiga rest area and some food stall in Madura and Surabaya

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Day 3, Surabaya – Banyuwangi

Distance: 300 km, 6+ hours

Savana Bekol, Baluran

From Surabaya, go south east to Probolinggo exit, there’s supposed to toll access from Surabaya to Banyuwangi, but it still under construction with 70% completion. There’s no formal timeline, but from the locals, the toll to Banyuwangi should be finished by the end of 2023. Without toll, the trip become very challenging, because the main road to Banyuwangi is also used by containers that want to bring goods to Bali island to the east via Banyuwangi port.

Baluran National Park

On the way to Banyuwangi, you can visit Baluran National Park where you can find animals such as monkey and deer, it is located in the hill of Baluran mountain and it has savanna biome which exotic landscape. To go there, you must pay IDR 15K for local tourist and IDR 150K for foreigner. The entrance of Baluran National Park open between 7AM – 4PM, but you still allowed to play inside it before dark. Generally, you can see a vast savanna and a beach with mangrove at the end of the savanna. 3PM – 4PM is the best time to go there because otherwise it is too hot, said the local guide. Expect that you spend around 1-1.5 hours here before continue the trip.

Continue the trip to Banyuwangi, it is 45km away and require about 1.5 hours due to the traffic. Banyuwangi is a small city located in the most east of Java Island, I didn’t find any famous local food, personally, I ate at Sariwangi, a Chinese seafood restuarant. I went to Grand Harvest Hotel, which located at the hill of Ijen mountain, and it takes ~30 mins from Banyuwangi city. Take some rest and get ready for the trekking 😀.

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Day 4, Ijen Trekking

Ijen craters at dawn

Ijen is the most significant destination in this trip. Ijen is name of a mountain in Banyuwangi region, which famous for its blue fire phenomenon on its crater. Grand Harvest Resort is located 1 hour from the Ijen entrance point. I gathered information regarding the details about Ijen trekking, turned out that the hotel affiliates with some local tour guide who can organize the whole trip. Overview of the trip:

  1. Distance from the entrance is ~3 km, it takes around 2 hours with normal walks and without any stop.
  2. The slope varies between 20° to 45°, where ~1.5 km of the trip have 45° slope.
  3. The path to the peak (first 2 km) is well developed, with combination of gravel and mud, and there are some security fence.
  4. The path to the crater is a rocky path, the path is available, but the slope is very steep and have no security fence.
  5. The temperature may dropped to 5-10°C at the peak, and it is very windy

From the information above, I make a plan, with goals to see the blue fire. To see the blue fire, you must arrived in the craters before 4:30AM local time, the blue fire is always there 24 hours a day, but you only able to see it before the sun rises. The challenge is, the gate of the trekking opened only at 2:00AM, and obviously there’s time constrain to catch the blue fire. Because the blue fire is only visible before the sun arise, you must able to reach the craters within 2 hours, which are very challenging for majority of the people.

To overcome the time constraint, the local people provides transportation service, called “gerobak” or cart. In short, you will ride the “gerobak” and the worker will pull you towards the peak in very short time. At the beginning I tried by walking, but the local guide warn me that we won’t be able to reach the craters on time, so after 15 minutes of walking, I decided to take the “gerobak” and let 3 people pull me to the top, it takes me only 1 hours to get there by using “gerobak”.

the blue fire

Facts: “gerobak” cost us IDR 800K – 900K for a round trip. You can purchase it for 1 way trip for a slightly cheaper price, IDR 600K to climb up, and IDR 300K to go down. During the climbing, 3 people pull you, and during the downhill, only 1 person hold you, hence the price for going back is cheaper.

Once I arrived at the summit, there’s 2 options, first you can go down to the craters ~800 m, ~30 mins for common people, or do a bit more, ~15 mins climb to the sunrise point. You have to select either one, unless you arrived at the peak at 3AM, see the blue fire, go back, and arrived at the sunrise point before 5AM.

In short, some preparation that you should bring before go to Ijen:

  1. Have a good physics, from what I experienced, the the climbing is harder than Bromo (mountain in East Java), Batur (mountain in Bali), and Padar island (small hills in an island in Labuan Bajo) because the slope is much more steep.
  2. Utilities such as head lamp, it is the best if you can leave your hand free and warm cloth because the temperature at the top is at 5-10°C with a strong wind.
  3. Good camera for low light, for the blue fire, it is very bright (much brighter compared to catch the milky way), flagship smartphone still able to catch it with decent qualities.
    1. to use tripod, you need to pay extra IDR 250K at the entrance.
  4. Good drone that capable to stand a strong gust
    1. to use drone, you need to pay extra IDR 750K at the entrance.
  5. Some cash ~IDR 1,000K to pay unexpected service such as the “gerobak” and unique souvenir.
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the steep climbing from the crater

Ijen – Batu

Distance: 300 km, 6.5 hours

Ijen – Batu can be accessed via the “Pantura” which I used to Banyuwangi from Surabaya, but to see a different view, I chose the path via Bondowoso, which is at west side of Ijen mountain. The road is well developed, but it is very narrow, yet empty. From the traffic point of view, this road is very much preferable, but in case you concerned with the emergency facilities such as gas station, toilet, and difficult slope, then you should not take this path.

In Batu, I stayed at Golden Tulip Holland Resort, it is a five star hotel, it is suitable to take all the rest after a long journey 🙂. Personally I didn’t find any interesting place there, anyway, I went to:

  1. Bakso Malang, Malang is famous for its “bakso”, meatball mixed by some toppings such as mushroom or chopped beef.
  2. Warung Wareg, there’s a lot of warung wareg in this area. Warung wareg serve Sundanese style food such as fried fish and fried chicken
  3. Golden Tulip Holland Resort
  4. Batu Love Garden, Baloga, it is a art museum, for flower exhibition.
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Day 5, Batu – Umbul Sidomukti

Distance: 330 km, 5.5 hours

Instead of go via Surabaya, I choose to go there via Jombang, which is shorter in kilometers and it allow us to see some mountains view. To get there, take Bawen exit, and go to the west, to the highland. Umbul Sidomukti is a resort on the hill of a mountain with a complete facilities for family gathering such as children playground, pool, coffee gardens, cafe, etc. It has cool climate at 20°C.

Nearby this city, there’s a famous Maria cave, in Ambarawa, it is located only 5 km from the center of Bawen district.

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Day 6, Umbul Sidomukti – Cirebon

Distance: 260 km, 3.5 hours

Within the journey, we stopped at historical building, a sugar cane factory built at 1908. Now this building is transformed into a rest area where some of the old part of it is still preserved.

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Day 7, Cirebon – Jakarta

As I said before that Cirebon has a lot of traditional culinary, I brought a lot of food from there, such as

  1. Ketan bumbu
  2. Nasi kuning (yellow rice)
  3. Es cincau (Green grass jelly)
  4. Ronde
  5. Kopyor

It wrapped the whole trip, glad that everything went well, hope this article help you to do a similar one! Thanks for reading! 🙂

lamb satay at Guci, south part of Tegal

Gears that accompanying me during the trip

  1. Camera: Sony A7C – Sigma 24-70 F2.8, Samsung Galaxy Fold 3
  2. Drone: DJI mini pro 3
  3. Tripod: Fotopro X3C
  4. Car: Inova 2015
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