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Kawah Ijen (“Ijen Crater”), East Java, Indonesia

Along the East Java tourist circuit, the most oft visited volcanic site is Mount Bromo.

The tourist facilities near the volcano and the ease of reaching the site are the main reasons why it is the most popular volcanic site of East Java. This popularity goes to the detriment of another beautiful volcanic site in the region: Ijen.

Bromo at Dawn
Bromo at Dawn

Ijen plays second fiddle to Bromo, and if you have to choose one volcanic site, why not choose the most practical one? Ijen is harder to reach, for one it takes an hour and a half to hike the rim of Ijen, which is three times more than that of Mount Bromo!

The Blue Fire of Ijen
The Blue Fire of Ijen

In recent years though, one could argue that practicality shouldn’t weigh as much as to choose Bromo over the other. The Ijen trek is evolving, instead of just seeing the crater from Ijen’s rim to see the emerald acid lake from afar, more and more people go down the crater to see a beautiful phenomenon dubbed “The Blue fire of Ijen”.

The Blue Fire of Ijen. Deep down the crater of Ijen, is the largest blue flame area in the world. The fire could be seen on midnight treks or treks after sunset. The Blue Fire emanates from Sulphur burning at very high temperatures. 

As a result most tours dedicated for this starts the trek from the Ijen  car park at 2 am. This means you leave your hotel at 11 pm or midnight.

View of the crater rim, the stars, the rime and the blue fire  from the bottom of the crater
View of the crater rim, the stars, the rime and the blue fire from the bottom of the crater

There are always people going to the the crater. Miners are here 24/7 to get sulphur for their livelihood. Conditions are hard as they have to carry on average 70 kilos of Sulphur on a very steep slope to to get out of the Caldera.

At dawn it is nauseating to vividly see the work conditions of the Sulphur miners.

Miners and Tourists at Ijen
Miners and Tourists at Ijen

 

After Dawn, the hike back to the camp is really rewarding, the view can be spectacular especially with the emerald coloured lake down the crater.

Sulphur loads with the Kawajh Ijen Lake as backdrop
Sulphur loads with the Kawajh Ijen Lake as backdrop

 

On the rim of the crater as you head down away from the crater you may even get a view of Bali if the weather is nice. In any case the neighbouring volcanos are quite a view already

The Hike back to camp after a daw visit of Ijen Crater
The Hike back to camp after a dawn visit of Ijen Crater

If you are in East Java the option of going to Kawah Ijen is definitely worth it.