IO – In recent years Banyuwangi has become a byword as a major attraction throughout the tourism industry. Anyone can easily reach appealing sites on the eastern tip of Java. The procurement of supporting facilities and tourism management makes it easier for travelers who want to vacation in Banyuwangi.
Names such as Baluran National Park, Ijen Crater, and Pulau Merah have become famed attractions that are on the rise and must be visited. They are exposed so much in social media that travelers from abroad and Indonesia are curious and want to see them.
Baluran National Park
Nature-lovers who want to enjoy original savannah do not need to go all the way to Africa because Indonesia has it too. They can directly visit Banyuwangi, the city at the tip of East Java. Savannah in Banyuwangi is located in two places: the first one in Alas Purwo National Park and the second in Baluran National Park.
Baluran National Park (TNB) is located in Wonorejo Village, Banyuputih, Situbondo. Perhaps the wider community knows that Baluran is located in Banyuwangi, as Baluran National Park is located on the border between Banyuwangi and Situbondo but is nearer Banyuwangi.
Baluran earned the nickname “Africa van Java” or “Little Africa”, indeed appropriate because in TNB there is a vast savannah with many wild animals. Bulls, deer, snakes, buffalo, long-tailed monkeys, as well as buffaloes and beautiful peacocks all can be found in Baluran. This wildlife characterizes the Baluran National Park conservation area.
“Baluran” is taken from the name of a mountain located in this area: Mount Baluran. Baluran National Park covers 25 thousand hectares, with several types of forests, animals, plants, and savannah vegetation. Baluran is also referred to as a miniature of Indonesia’s forests because almost all types of forests are found there: savannah vegetation, mangrove forests, seasonal forests, coastal forests, lower mountain forests, and forests that are always green throughout the year.
A total of 44 types of plants grow in Baluran, including typical plants such as Widoro Bukol, Mimba and Pilang. There are 26 types of mammals, including bulls, buffalo, ajax, deer, and mangrove cats. 155 types of bird are to be found in Baluran.
After passing through the gate of Baluran National Park, visitors will enter the evergreen forest area for about 5 kilometers. The evergreen forests are in a basin with underground rivers. We feel like we are passing through a green tunnel because the trees overhead look tight and the leaves grow thick.
After passing through the evergreen forest, visitors will arrive in an area that is no less amazing, the Bekol Savannah. Bekol is a vast and beautiful savannah with views of Mount Baluran. It has an area of about 300 hectares out of a total of 10,000 hectares of savannah in Baluran which is also the largest savannah in Java.
During the rainy season, Bekol will present a green and cool expanse. But during the dry season, Bekol will look dry and change its color to brown – not only Bekol but also all types of forest in Baluran, which are also prone to fires. This phenomenon makes Bekol similar to scenery in the African desert. Hence, the nickname Africa van Java for Baluran.
Visitors will also be met with wild animals that often appear. Usually, a herd of wild deer will pass in the vehicle lane; long-tailed monkeys abound everywhere.
Monkeys are wild animals that like to disturb visitors and will beg for food. In addition to monkeys and deer, a herd of bulls will also appear. The most rarely encountered is a peacock, but if visitors are lucky they will be able to see one spreading its beautiful tail.
Exotic Bama Beach
After crossing the lengthy savannah, visitors will find a beach called Bama, located approximately 4 kilometers beyond the Baluran savannah.
Baluran Beach is covered in black sand, white sand, small black rocks and coral slopes, depending on the part of the beach. Growing coastal vegetation (a Baringtonia formation) are found in Labuan Merak, Pandanus tectorius in Tanjung Bendi, Pemphis acidula in Air Karang, etc.
Entering the Bama Beach area, visitors will be greeted by troops of wild monkeys. Bama Beach has complete facilities: there are offices, warehouses, prayer rooms, and public bathrooms. There are also two hotels, a canteen and outbound game areas.
Bama Beach is the best place to see the sunrise, because it is located on the Strait of Bali and faces east. There is a mangrove forest there. Visitors can engage in many activities, such as walking around the beach, going to see a tree house, exploring the mangrove forest, and visiting the pier. Also, visitors can canoe and go snorkeling.
Mount Ijen, better known as Ijen Crater, is one of the mountains that is still active today. It has a height of 2,443 meters above sea level, caldera walls as high as 300-500 meters, and has erupted 4 times: in 1796, 1817, 1913 and 1936.
Ijen is a volcano complex consisting of the crater of Mount Ijen and its highlands. This area is located in three districts: Situbondo, Bondowoso, and Banyuwangi.
In this volcanic area, there is sulfur mining, which indicates that the mountain is still active. While in the Ijen Crater area, visitors can watch the miners who are busy carrying sulfur piles on their backs down steep roads filled with poison gas.
With an area of around 5,466 hectares, Ijen is the largest crater lake in the world; it can produce 36 million cubic meters of sulfur and hydrogen chloride. This dangerous crater has extraordinary beauty with its turquoise-green lake. With a depth of 200 meters, its strong acidity can dissolve clothes and human flesh.
Mount Ijen can be accessed from the north and the south. From the north, it can be reached via Situbondo to Sempol in Bondowoso, from there via Wonosari and Paltuding. The distance from Situbondo to Paltuding is about 93 Km and can be traveled in around 2.5 hours.
From the south, one can pass from Banyuwangi to Licin, which is 15 kilometers away. From Licin to Paltuding another 18 kilometers. We continue using a Jeep or other 4 wheeled-drive car for about 6 kilometers before Paltuding, as the road is winding and uphill.
Pulau Merah Beach is the second-favorite destination for domestic and foreign tourists, considering the cleanliness and charm of the beach, and also the waves that are said to be great for surfing.
Banyuwangi is indeed very rich in beaches. Nearly half of the area is surrounded by beaches, one of which is Pulau Merah, located at the southern tip.
Pulau Merah Beach has white sand that stretches across 3 kilometers. Not far from the shoreline, there is a very beautiful small hill 200 meters high. In the east, tourists can view the mountains, while in the west, a beautiful sunset can be viewed. In addition to the charming scenery, Pulau Merah has very robust waves 2 meters high, for approximately 300 meters. There is a 5-meter high tower that is used by lifeguards to monitor and ensure the safety of the visitors.
The attraction of Pulau Merah Beach is primarily its waves – a splendid opportunity for those who like to surf. This beach is filled with foreign surfers every day, many sticking around for days and some even for weeks. The Banyuwangi Regency government holds a surfing event every year, involving participants from 20 countries around the world. (Pramitha Hendra)