The challenge of exploring a volcano was the driving force behind my decision to visit Indonesia. Faced with the choice between Mount Bromo and Mount Ijen, we ultimately opted for Mount Ijen due to its proximity to Bali, where we spent most of our holiday. The time was limited. Despite being lesser-known compared to its counterpart, Mount Ijen is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Situated above Banyuwangi, Mount Ijen is famous for its sulfur mining operations. The volcano is home to a crater lake that experts have described the “largest acid barrel in the world.” Its vivid turquoise waters and dramatic landscape make for an unforgettable experience as we venture deep into the heart of Indonesia’s natural wonders.
We began our trip in Summer 2017 by car on Bali Island. First, we drove from Kuta (Bali) to Gilimanuk. We took the ferry to Banyuwangi, which is located on the eastern coast of Java island. To cross the bay with the ferry takes about one hour. It’s not far, but there is a strong current between the two islands. Early morning is the best time to cross the sea.
The next night, we slept somewhere between Banyuwangi and Mount Ijen, in one of the so-called “home stays” nearby. The next day we woke up shortly after midnight. After a short car ride, we finished with a 90-minute long and a pretty exhausting climb to the peak.
I have to admit: I was amazed. And probably not only me. Towards the peak, exhausted tourists lay on the partly very steep path and were forced to take a short break. At two o’clock in the morning, the climb also became more difficult because of the poor visibility. The mountain was covered in dense fog, and due to the darkness, we hardly ever had more than two metres of visibility.
About Kawah Ijen
In total, we walked more than 11 km — before 9 am in the morning. But, we were rewarded with the Blue Fire (the volcano is well known for its blue fire at night) and with a brilliant sunrise shortly after 5 am.
After that, with the daylight, the view became simply spectacular. I was, and still am, impressed. In the light of the morning sun, the green lake in the crater of the volcano appeared. The mountains around Ijen are magnificent and gorgeous.
No doubt, the hike was worth it. I would climb Kawah Ijen again in a heartbeat. If you want to check out the volcano, here are a few tips for you. I recommend you keep these things in mind.
- Bring warm clothes. The wind on the peak makes it feel ice-cold.
- Start your hike no later than 2 o’clock (in the morning). This gives you time to see the blue fire (until about 5 am) and the sunrise.
- Take a guide and bring a torch. You may also need a spare shirt. You will most probably sweat during the climb. And as mentioned, it’s cold on the top.
- If you want to go into the crater, you need to get a face mask. You can rent one with the guide in the valley below.
- To enjoy the sunrise, you should climb a little further, above the crater. The guides know where the best place is for the sunrise. This climb takes another maybe 30 minutes. But it is worth it.
- Enjoy every minute on Ijen!
Side note: all photos are unedited and were taken with an iPhone 7 Plus. Unfortunately, at this time, I did not yet create movies about my holidays. But I found this video by Lost Le Blanc. It shows this unique place.