Climbing Mount Ijen is a great experience while in Indonesia. Kawah Ijen is a strato volcano in the east of Java. It is known for the sulphur around the crater and the hard and dangerous work that comes with it. The lake it self, is famous for the ‘blue fire’, which we unfortunately have not seen. The lake inside the volcano is one of the most acid lakes in the world.
When on holiday in Indonesia, and you want to visit Mount Ijen, the easiest way to do so is with a tour. There are many tours available, that combine visiting Mount Bromo with visiting Ijen. Especially, when your Indonesia trip consist out of visiting Java & Bali, such a tour is perfect to do on your way from Java to Bali and you even have tours that will start on Java and end in Bali.
We however, visited Mount Ijen by hiring a driver that took us there. We left in the middle of the night from Surabaya, to climb Mount Ijen in the morning / early afternoon, after which we headed back to Surabaya.
Let’s start climbing Mount Ijen! The walk to the top of the vulcano, where you will see the crater, will take around 1/1,5 hour. On the way, you will run into many sulphur workers. Most of the workers make the trip from the crater up and down twice a day, while carrying around 100kg of sulphur with them. Per kilo they earn around 0,05 euros. The pictures show the weighting moment.
When the weather is good and the clouds above the lake disappear, the views are stunning. Because of the high acidity of the lake, the blue color of the lake is very intens. Take a moment to enjoy the view. When you want to experience the blue fire, make sure to book a night tour and climb the volcano while it is still dark. This is the only way to discover the blue fire when you are lucky.
It is also possible to get down to the crater. Gas masks are very important, so make sure you have a guide or join one of the workers on their way down. They won’t always hand you a mask before hand, but when the sulphur damps get too much, they are at least right next to you to provide you with a mask. Don’t underestimate the danger, as this lake is one of the most dangerous working places in the world because of the sulphur damps and the acid lake.
Climbing Mount Ijen is a great experience, however, it will also make a big impression, realizing in what circumstances these people work.