It had taken me more than 20 minutes to reach the bottom of the canyon, climbing down bamboo ladders lashed onto the edge of the cliff, but I had made it. Turning the final corner of the canyon I got my first proper look at Coban Sewu waterfall.
The waterfall must have been at least 30 meters wide and cascaded over the edge of the cliff in thin streams 60 meters down into the canyon. At the bottom of the canyon the water gathered in a pool that turned into a fast flowing stream. The temperature was cool and vegetation covered the cliffs. It was quiet, calm and incredibly beautiful.
I was the only person in the canyon. I was lucky. Coban Sewu Waterfall is quickly becoming a popular tourist attraction for people visiting Malang and it gets very busy on the weekends. Sitting down looking at the waterfall it was easy to understand why. The waterfall was amazing, but it was more than that! Part of the attraction of Coban Sewu Waterfall was getting there.
How to Get to Coban Sewu
Coban Sewu Waterfall is a two-hour drive Southeast of Malang. The waterfall is located on the outskirts of the village of Sidorenggo (and/or Sidomulyo), Lumajang Regency, in the highlands of East Java. Although it takes a long time to get to the waterfall the route is simple. Here are the GPS coordinates for the waterfall.
There’s not really much to see as you leave Malang. The road is long and straight with houses and shops on both sides of the road. Once you enter the highlands you need to slow down. The road snakes in gentle s-bends and the landscape is covered in thick forests. It’s a nice drive and you pass through small villages and busy towns. Traffic can be a pain though as there are a lot of trucks on the road.
Once you reach the outskirts of Sidorenggo village you will see signs for Coban Sewu waterfall. To get to the waterfall we had to turn off the main road and follow a small bumpy track for 200 meters that opened up into a car park. Then came the fun bit.
Reaching the Waterfall
Coban Sewu has always been difficult to get to. The waterfall is located in a deep ravine. Previously the only way to get here was to follow a path along the bottom of the ravine to the waterfall from Tetes Cave (Gua Tetes). In July of 2015 that all changed. As part of a local tourism initiative, five people spent 40 days building a path straight down the cliff to the bottom of the ravine.
The path to the bottom of Coban Sewu Waterfall feels like something out of an Indiana Jones film. From the car park you follow a thin path cut through the jungle. As it nears the edge of the cliff the path becomes steeper and zig-zags down the slope and then the path drops down a series of steep bamboo stairs and then the cliff becomes so steep that the only way down is a ladder (and then another ladder and another…).
By the time you reach the bottom of the ravine you will be hot and sticky. I was sweating a lot and felt like I wanted to dive straight into the river (even though I didn’t). Thankfully it’s not hot at the bottom of the ravine and you cool down very quickly.
To reach the waterfall you need to follow the river up the canyon. There’s a kind of path that you can follow up and over the rocks towards the top of the ravine. At one point you will need to cross the river to reach Coban Sewu Waterfall. I’d recommend taking off your shoes to cross the river. The water is not too deep, but it is fast.
I spent 30 minutes at the bottom of the ravine taking photos of Coban Sewu Waterfall and just enjoying the beautiful surroundings. After taking so long to get there it was nice to just sit surrounded by nature and relax before the climb back up to the car park and the return journey to Malang.
Like one of my friends would say, Coban Sewu is ‘Instagrammable.‘ While I really enjoyed visiting the waterfall (and the drive to the waterfall), the path to the bottom is dangerous so please be careful. I’d also advise visiting Coban Sewu on a weekday so you can have the waterfall (almost) to yourself.
If the path to the bottom of the ravine ever becomes safer you can guarantee a lot more people will visit the waterfall. For the moment though Coban Sewu is only for tourists who are looking for an adventure, which is the way I like it.
Have you ever visited Coban Sewu Waterfall? What did you think of the path? Share your thoughts in the comments below.