An unearthly experience at Kawah Ijen

After Mount Bromo we immediatly took the (mini)bus to Sempol to get ready for another hike up a volcano: Kawah Ijen. This time we left at 2 am in the morning to start the 1 hour motorbike ride to the base. And then the walking began… or should I say: one step forward and sliding two steps backwards. The sandy underground wasn’t that ideal and at times I truly felt like a little turtle not moving forward. Ironically enough the works who where already carring big chunks of sulfur down from the volcano where also selling small shaped turtles along the way (made from the sulfur)… it drew a smile on my face and I couldn’t but buy one as a souvenir.

Once up we needed to go down again, down the crater. Everywhere it’s adviced you take a guide but we followed the long line of people already going down. It was quite a scary walk to be honest, and you really needed to watch out where to walk in the dark: one bad move and you could be falling all the way down. Once down we saw the blue flames (burning sulfur) and we stayed at the crater until the sun came up. We didn’t have a mask or anything so when the changing wind blew another cloud of gas our way our throats and eyes were stinging like crazy. But honestly, it was all worth it.

We also had a short talk with one of the workers who gather all the sulfur and carry it up and down the crater and mountain. It’s crazy how they manage to carry so much weight! They get a good pay (according to Indonesian norms) they say, and they do it to get their kids through school. Or at least the guy we talked to did. On the way down we also enountered the weigh station where all the sulfur is gathered.

All-in-all it was an almost unearthly experience. We were almost the last people leaving the crater (also a plus side of goig alone: you’re not bound to the schedule of the group) and we were back at the hotel around noon, completely exhausted but content.

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Kawah Ijen travel information

  • Transport: Directly from Cemoro Lawang by mini bus. Afterwards we took the bus to Bondowoso and from there the bus to Surabaya to take the plane to Flores the next morning.
  • Stay: The basic Arabica Guesthouse was just fine for a night. They helped us find a motorcycle to drive to Ijen ourselves.
  • Things to do: Hike & see Kawah Ijen!
  • Food: The food at the hotel was good enough, there’s really nothing else around (except for a small shop we found in the nearby “village” (read: a couple of houses together) where we bought some crackers etc for the hike).


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