One of the most breathtaking hiking that you can do throughout Indonesia, it’s to get to the ‘’heart‘’ of Ijen Volcano in East Java Island. The 200 meters deep crater, that lies at an altitude of 2300 meters, is breathtaking and inside it there is the most acid lake in the world with an extraordinary color that really contrasts with the landscape itself. It ‘s also famous because inside the Crater, during the night (till 5 am), it’s possible to see a natural phenomenon known as ‘’Blue Fire’’, blue flames spewing out of the ground of sulfur mining area caused by activities sulfur gases coming out of the crater.
Every day there are many “sulfur extractors” that come and go back between the crater and the village doing mining operation with over 70 kg of minerals carried on their backs. The sunrise from the top of the volcano is a magical moment absolutely no to be missed. When the wind push away the smoke of the sulfur gases and the clouds, the sun illuminates the crater showing up the stunning acid lake with its bright and beaming turquoise water color and the steep rim of the volcano, getting the impression to be at the origins of the world.
About the trekking: the hike departs from the parking lot (Paltuding gate) and it is around 3 km long (plus the descent into the crater). Since it’s mostly done to see the blue fire and the sunrise over-looking the crater, it starts in the dark of the night around 1.30/2 a.m. (usually the gate open at this time) and takes about 2 hrs to reach the rim of the crater that lies at 2799 meters above sea level. The path is safe and easy to follow (you need a headlamp) but it is challenging because is steep and you’d better be a bit fit. Once got the rim, the trail descents into the steep rocky crevices of the crater. It is basically a pile of loose rocks and stones that you must carefully hike down since is not so safe and you don’t have any protections, above all during the night surrounded by the dark when you have to calculate every step to avoid tripping or sliding down. Another thing you should consider is that you need a gas mask once reached the top because it is hard to breathe due to the toxic sulfur fumes that blow over you (you can rent your mask at the parking lot – Paltuding entrance gate). At the parking lot you’ll find many local guides (if you need) that for a fee, can lead you until to the top and inside the crater (also providing the gas mask).
What to bring: (i had my hike in august 2017) warm clothes (during the night is very cold), good hike shoes, headlamp or flashlight (in case you can buy at the car park) and remember the gas mask. Bring some snacks and water ( along the trail there is a small house selling tea, coffe, water and some snacks).
How to arrange the hike: the base for all the activities around the area si the city of Banjuwangi (you can also stay in Bondowoso). Since the hike is ‘’the must’’ of the area, the tour is offered everywhere you look through town. You can look at the local tour operators or through your accommodation (usually a local guide is included). You can also book in advance online as many tour operators offer this trip and it’s worth combining it with the other Majestic Bromo Volcano. If you want to arrange by yourself asking just for a taxi or a car with driver, the road from Banyuwangi to Mount Ijen takes approximately 1 hour. At the car park there is the ticket office ( ticket fee 12$ ). Usually the tour starts around midnight from your accommodation.
Where to sleep: in Banyuwangi you’ll find a wide range of accommodations, from homestay (around 6$-10$) to guest houses and expensive hotels. I slept a Hotel Blambangan (around 30$) and i arranged the trip with them.
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How to get there: If traveling from Bali, take the Gilimanuk ferry from West Bali to Ketapang in East Java, and from there hired a taxi to the hotel in Banyuwangi (only 10 min). If traveling from West or Central Java, it depends on your tour. You can get there by bus (locally buy the ticket at the bus terminal or travel agencies) or by train from Yogyakarta or Surabaya (https://en.tiket.com/?twh=23401896)