Hiking up the Ijen Volcano: Experiences & Tips

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What a natural spectacle! The turquoise-blue crater lake, the yellow sulfur deposits and the impressive view of the crater rim and the volcanic landscape – the Ijen can hardly be surpassed in imposingness. As impressive as the Ijen volcano is, it is unfortunately also highly toxic. Sulfur is still mined by hand in the crater.

During your hike up the Ijen volcano, you will not only be accompanied by a fascinating natural backdrop, but above all by the sulfur workers. It is unimaginable what suffering they have to endure for their work.

The hike up the Ijen volcano counts in our opinion one of the absolute highlights of a trip to Indonesia. In this article we will show you what awaits you on the Ijen. In addition, we will of course tell you our personally tested tips for the ascent. Let’s go!

1. The Ijen volcano on the island of Java: First information & FAQs No other country there are as many volcanoes in this world as there are in Indonesia. And we dare to say: No other volcano is as imposing and impressive as the Ijen volcano. It is located on the eastern tip of the island of Java and can therefore also be easily reached from Bali.

The Ijen volcano is for the Sulfur mining known and notorious. It is said that the workers in the crater’s sulfur mine (Kawah Ijen) have the most toxic job in the world. They hack into the yellow rocks with an iron bar and transport the filled baskets back down to the valley on foot.

The poisonous vapors the workers are there with often completely unprotected. It is the sulfur that keeps the workers and their families alive and at the same time kills them, very slowly. They earn a pittance for the backbreaking job: 500 IDR per kilogram, sometimes maybe a little more, but in fact none of the workers go home with more than 8 euros a day.

That one the hard Being able to follow the work of the miners so closely makes the hike up the Ijen volcano even more impressive. The surreal moon landscape, the radiant turquoise blue crater lake and all the effort – the few hours we spent at the Ijen volcano were the most intense, most beautiful and at the same time saddest of our trip to Indonesia.

Where is the Ijen volcano and how do I get there? The Ijen volcano is located in the east of the island of Java. The nearest major town is Banyuwangi – the coastal town where ferries leave for Bali. In our opinion, Banyuwangi is a great starting point for the hike to the Ijen volcano: On the one hand, you have a good tourist infrastructure here (a few hotels and restaurants), on the other hand, you can easily travel on from Banyuwangi (e.g. by train to the west of Java or by ferry to Bali.)

The trek to Ijen Volcano starts at the parking lot in the tiny paltuding village. From Banyuwangi you need almost exactly one hour to the starting point of the trek by car. The track is extremely curvy and the road conditions are not the best. You could cover the distance with a rented scooter, but we definitely recommend a driver.

How much does a tour to the Ijen volcano cost ? The entrance fee to the Ijen volcano costs 150.04 IDR per person on weekends or . IDR under the Week. This price does not include transport to the starting point of the hike or a guide.

Important information: You do not need a guide for the hike, but you do need a driver to take you to the starting point. We ourselves stayed in Banyuwangi and had a driver take us to the starting point of the hike, who was waiting for us there. A driver costs approximately 50. until 500. IDR per person. (This is where the entrance fee comes in.) Many drivers also provide gas masks. Otherwise you can usually borrow them at the entrance (approx. 90. IDR).

Because of the Ijen -Vulkan is no longer an insider tip, you only have to follow the crowds on the hike. It is virtually impossible to get lost and the trail itself is not difficult to master either. (But the fumes make it exhausting – more on that in a moment.)

If you still prefer to be accompanied by a guide, then you have to do it approximately with 600. Calculate IDR per person – depending on which organization you get to and of course also depending on where you are traveling from. Prices vary quite a bit depending on the provider.

You can pre-book your guided tour to Ijen Volcano here: Sunrise Tour to Ijen Volcano

Which season is best for Ijen? There are two in Indonesia Seasons: The dry season and the rainy season. During the dry season (roughly between April and October) the weather is more stable and it rains less. So if possible we would recommend you to plan your trip to the Ijen volcano during this period.

However: Remember that you are in the tropics and it rains even in the dry season. For example, during our visit (July) it also rained briefly.

What time and day would you recommend for a hike? The official opening hours for tourists are from around 1 a.m. (often midnight is also mentioned) until about 10/13 o’clock at noon. In the afternoon and evening, the Ijen volcano is therefore closed for hiking. It’s significantly busier on weekends when even more locals do the trek. We therefore recommend a weekday if possible.

Personally, we got there pretty early as we were dying to see the blue fire (more on that in a moment). We started our hike at 2 in the morning from the parking lot. You shouldn’t start later if you want to see the fire – depending on the season, a little earlier. At this time, a surprising number of people are out and about! You should definitely not expect a lonely nature experience.

By the way, the scenery only gets really beautiful shortly before sunrise, when it slowly gets light and you can see something. We would not have liked to miss these early hours of the morning, hence our conclusion: We would do it this way again at any time and start early!

Is the Ijen -Volcano sometimes also closed? Yes, depending on volcanic activity the Ijen volcano can also sometimes be closed for tourists. There is no official website with updates – the best source of information is the local people.

What is the blue fire & how can I see it ? The famous blue fire at Ijen volcano is created by sulphur vapor igniting in air. This chemical reaction is visible as a blue flicker. However, the blue fire is only visible in the dark. As soon as it begins to get dark (after about 4 o’clock) it goes out – at least to the eye.

The blue fire burns down in the crater’s mouth. From the crater rim, which you reach first on your hike, you can only see it from afar. If you really want to see the blue fire, you have to tackle the path down into the crater. This takes about 13 until 30 minutes and is much more demanding than the actual hiking trail. The good news: Halfway there you have a good view of the fire. In our opinion, it is not absolutely necessary to go all the way down.

The closer you get to the fire and thus also to the sulfur mine, the more corrosive the air becomes and the harder it is To breathe. Caution: A single gust of wind is enough to suddenly be surrounded by toxic fumes. If you have a gas mask with you, you should wear it now at the latest.

2. The hike to the Ijen volcano: itinerary & our personal experience report After all the “dry “ Of course we would also like to write tips for hiking from our personal experiences on the Ijen volcano. Our adventure started at 0: 15 o’clock in Banyuwangi with our iPhone alarm clock ringing.

We reached the parking lot around 2 o’clock in the morning. And then it started right away: The ascent. Hardly slept, physically exhausted and yet full of energy, we wound our way up to the edge of the crater. The way to the rim of the crater is about three kilometers long – sounds little, but the circumstances make the hike quite exhausting.

The higher you get, the more the smell of sulfur becomes more acrid. In combination with the lack of sleep, the whole thing becomes quite an arduous undertaking. Steadily uphill, step by step. Exhausting, that describes the hike best.

During our ascent, one of the sulphur workers attached himself ) at our heels. First inconspicuously, then he walked beside us and didn’t leave our side. Because the wages of the workers are a joke, some try to earn some extra money as guides for tourists.

Admittedly: We were glad that he was there. He motivated us, illuminated bumps in the ground for us and kept us informed about the further condition of the path. Only 200 meters steeply uphill, then we would have survived the worst. Then we would see the blue fire. Overall, the hike from the parking lot to the crater rim takes about 90 Minutes – depending on fitness also a little shorter or longer. We reached the rim of the crater around 3: 13 h.

Descent to the crater throat of the Ijen volcano: Kawah Ijen From the rim of the crater you can only see the blue fire blazing far in the distance. If you want to see it up close, you have to tackle the path down to the crater maw (Kawah). “Wanna go down?” the sulfur worker asked us. For a brief moment we weren’t sure whether we wanted to take on the descent. Important to know: Officially it is not allowed to go this way! There is no beaten path, you have to find the ideal route over the rock yourself.

Slowly, very slowly, we made our way down. First very carefully, step by step towards the blue fire. We often found no footing on the slippery rocks, kicked aside scree that immediately fell down into the valley. With every step the air became more corrosive, my lungs burned more. Steady down, the blue fire, the goal, always in sight.

The Atm en was now almost impossible. Despite the protective mask, we tasted the toxic vapors with every breath we took. Again and again a white cloud of smoke made us lose our orientation for a short time. The eyes, they watered. Without us noticing it right away, the man had already started with the core of his work: he hacked into the yellow rocks with an iron bar until his basket was loaded.

We watched him always on the lookout for the white steam. And then, with a strong gust of wind, came this one cloud of smoke, that made us all panic. We didn’t see each other anymore, just called our names, couldn’t orient ourselves, couldn’t breathe, wanted to flee but didn’t know in which direction. The fear we felt in that brief moment, those few seconds, it was so intense.

So if you wish to go down to the sulfur mine, be aware that the smoke is unpredictable! After a short time we decided to watch the natural spectacle of the blue fire from a safe distance.

Return to the crater rim of the Ijen volcano & sunrise The man had now collected enough sulfur. His baskets were so full that gravity bent the bamboo pole on his shoulder sharply downwards. After all the effort, he now had to carry the load back up to the edge of the crater.

So together we made our way up the stony path again, past Rocks, past workers forced to rest by their heavy load. Breathing became easier and slower, slowly it got light. At dawn we reached the edge of the crater. We said goodbye to our companion and gave him some money for his arduous journey.

From the rim of the crater we watched the sun gradually illuminate the landscape. The path we had walked downhill earlier – only now we could see it in daylight. If you really want to see the sun rise, you have to walk a bit along the crater rim. The landscape is so surreal, so unreal, so beautiful. It’s one of those moments – you know, bliss. And even more: gratitude. About what we are allowed to experience and not have to.

We said goodbye to the Ijen volcano with a heavy heart. Another photo, a last look at the crater lake – we could hardly part. The way back to the valley seemed endless to us. Only now did we realize how long we had been walking uphill early in the morning. Curve by curve, step by step, we got closer to the starting point of our hike. We were slowly tired, which had given way to euphoria up to this point. Our legs, very heavy, just carried us the last few steps to the jeep.

One last well-intentioned tip: Don’t plan any major activities for the rest of the day, but give your body and mind a break. This is really necessary after all the effort.

3. Equipment & Packing List for the Ijen Volcano Hike Warm clothes: Note that the crater rim of the Ijen volcano extends to over 2.000 meters above sea level. The hike itself will make you sweat a bit, but once you get to the top, you freeze very quickly. Usually the temperature fluctuates between 5 and 09 Centigrade. We would have liked to have had an extra sweater with us. Important to know: Our clothes stunk of sulfur from the fumes for days – even after washing! So it’s best not to wear your best clothes. Good shoes: Above all, non-slip soles are important – especially if you hike down to the crater of the Ijen volcano. Ankle-high shoes are not necessary. We trusted in our beloved Scarpa shoes – best decision! Respiratory protection: The vapors at the Ijen volcano are highly toxic! The closer you get to the crater, the more corrosive the air becomes. Some therefore borrow gas masks, some go with classic disposable breathing masks, some just tie a cloth around them. Eat Drink: Be sure to take enough drinking water with you! We also stocked up on some snacks and were very happy about it at the summit. Flashlight or headlamp: Of course, one is the most practical Headlamp because then you have your arms free. If necessary, a flashlight or the flashlight function of your smartphone will do.

4. Overnight stay: Our tip We decided to stay overnight in Banyuwangi , in the next larger city and would do it again anytime. Our choice fell on the Ketapang Indah Hotel, which we can highly recommend.

The Ketapang Indah Hotel is one of the most comfortable in Banyuwangi. It is located in a surprisingly spacious tropical garden and consists of several buildings. Although the hotel is located by the sea, the beach is not suitable for swimming. The sea breeze is still wonderful and there is a large pool for cooling off – a real treat, especially after the strenuous hike up the Ijen volcano.

We recommend a room of Category Superior to book – they cost just a bit more than the standard rooms, but are a lot more welcoming. We felt very comfortable in the room. The breakfast is offered as a buffet and is very extensive.

Our conclusion: The hotel may seem a bit impersonal (since it is so big and is spacious), but we still find it ideal as a starting point for a hike on the Ijen volcano. The price-performance ratio is great and you can spend the night here very comfortably.

You can book the hotel here: Ketapang Indah Hotel

Transparency: Affiliate Links 2020 This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

Have you already done the hike to the Ijen volcano? How was your experience? Do you have any other tips? Or would you also like to see the Ijen volcano and still have questions? We look forward to your comment!