Hiking in Ijen Crater

Stunning blue flames and the World’s largest acidic lake

By Polly, November 09, 2017

It was around 9 am after hiking. We had a light breakfast and got ready for our 7-hour long road trip. We arrived at our guesthouse located at the foot of Ijen Crater around 5 pm. The temperature was apparently lower at that time.

There is a splendid waterfall hidden in the jungle near the guesthouse. As all of us were too tired after a long drive, we didn’t spend a lot of time there. After a few photoshoots, we went back to the guesthouse and prepared for our Ijen tour at midnight.

Recently, due to the active volcano, the risk of poisonous gases in Ijen is relatively higher. Ijen National Park postponed the opening hour from 1 am to 3 am, which meant we had to pick up the pace to ensure the conditions are dark enough to see the blue flames when we arrived.

The Ijen volcano complex is a group of composite volcanoes in East Java, Indonesia. Ijen is inside a larger caldera Ljen, which is about 20 kilometres wide. It also famous for its one-kilometre-wide turquoise-coloured acidic crater lake. To see the whole landscape of the Crater Lake may need some luck because it depends on weather conditions.

Most of the trek is on relatively flat but cannot be underestimated as well. It may take 1.5-2 hours to reach the top. To see the stunning blue flames, my friend and I climb as fast as we can. It took us around an hour to reach the top.

European tourists are the majority here, there are only very few tourists at the top of the mountain at that time, beside the sulphur miners. The work of the miner is dangerous and gruelling. They are exposed to the poisonous gases, day in and day out, without any necessary equipment. The miners need to break off sulphur and carry the backbreaking loads on their shoulders to the nearby refinery.

Look down from the rim of the carter lake, we still can see the clear smoke even it was very dark. Thanks to the wind direction, the irritating smells was not that strong. We didn’t wear respirator as well. Go along the steep path, tourist will reach the location where the flammable gas come from.Text

With the beautiful landscape, Ijen was called “Hell on Earth” by the local. Because there are around 200 miners living nearby the mountain and their job was one of the most dangerous works in world. They need to break off sulphur from the active volcano with the most primitive method.

The miners have to carry around 50 kg of sulphur every day to the nearby refinery. They are living a very tough life and earn only $ 7 SGD a day. Sometimes, there are miners sell souvenirs of sulphur. We actually bought some sulphurs from the miners, but unfortunately they were forfeited by the airport security as it cannot be on aboard by law.

IJEN Cafe was the only one store in Ijen, you can grab some drinks and snacks from it.

After the sunrise, we saw the stunning landscape around the mountain which we didn’t see when hiking. If you are exhausted, you also can go down by rickshaw.

After hiking, we had breakfast and drove to the coach terminal at around 10am. We went to Bali Island by coach and start our journey in the northern Bali Island.

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