Tips for Ijen Volcano tour
One of the most breathtaking hiking trails that you can do throughout Indonesia is to reach the “heart” of the 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 a fantastic colour that 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, many “sulfur extractors” 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 not to be missed. When the wind pushes 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 watercolour and the steep rim of the volcano, getting the impression to be at the origins of the world.
About the trekking of Ijen Volcano
The hike departs from the parking lot at Paltuding gate, a 1-hour drive from the town of Banyuwangi. The length is around 3 km long (one-way) plus the short descent into the crater.
Since it’s mostly done to see the blue fire and the sunrise overlooking the crater, it starts in the dark of the night around 1/1.30 am (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 it is steep, and you’d better be a bit fit. Once got the rim, the trail descends into the steep rocky crevices of the crater.
The crevice is a dangerous pile of loose rocks and stones without any protections that you must very carefully hike down. Above all, during the night surrounded by the dark, 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 you reached the top because it is hard to breathe due to the toxic sulfur fumes that blow over you (you can rent your gas mask at the parking lot – Paltuding Entrance Gate).
At the parking lot, you’ll find many local guides (if you need them) that, for a fee, can lead you to the top and inside the crater (also providing the gas mask).
What to bring
Warm clothes (we went there in August, and during the night, it was cold), good hike shoes, headlamp or flashlight (in case you can buy it at the car park) and remember the gas mask at the parking lot.
Bring some snacks and water (along the trail, there is a small house selling tea, coffee, water, and some snacks).
How to arrange the hike
The base for all the activities around the area is the city of Banjuwangi (you can also stay in Bondowoso). Since the hike is “the must-do” of the area, the tour is offered everywhere you look through the 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 a driver, the road from Banyuwangi to Mount Ijen takes approximately 1 hour. At the car park, there is the ticket office (ticket fee 12$). Usually, the tour starts from your accommodation around midnight.
Where to sleep
In Banyuwangi, you’ll find a wide range of accommodations, from homestay (around 6$-10$) to guest houses and expensive hotels. We slept at Hotel Blambangan (about 30USD x night), and we arranged the trip with them.
How to get there
If you are travelling 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 you are travelling 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. The best website where you can find local transports and book your ticket is 12Go.Asia.com.
What are the best taxi and on-demand transportation smart apps in Indonesia?
There are some top-rated smart app for transportation in Indonesia that you can use to move around so, once there, check with your mobile if someone is available:
- Blue Bird Taxi;
- Go-Jek (motorcycle taxi).
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