Ijen Crater, or known to Indonesians as Kawah Ijen, is one of the top recommended volcano in Indonesia to be visited. This active crater of 134 sq km has a landscape of volcanic cones of both Mount Ijen and Mount Merapi (not to be confused with the famous Mount Merapi in Central Java).
This group of stratovolcanoes lies in East Java. Inside the crater, you will see a magnificent turquoise sulphur lake that exudes flames, blue fire at night and smoky white in the day.
Here you will also find many sulphur collectors that hike up here to mine the minerals of Kawah Ijen but this had been highlighted badly recently in the media due to the fumes being harmful to human and its extremely harsh working conditions.
Where is it
Come to Ijen Crater for the largest acidic lake in the world and for the mesmerizing blue flames in the night. Besides, it is one of the best volcanic mountains of Indonesia with this one brimming with the rare sulphurs.
Besides it is less touristy and crowded than it’s sister Mount Bromo.
When is the best time to go
June – August where there is less rain but more tourist
But that being said, Indonesia being a fairly mild weather of just rain and shine, most of the time is a good to go to Ijen Crater, just check for local weather as you head there.
Also try to avoid weekends if you do not want the crowd.
What to see
World’s largest acidic lake, which is in the brilliant turquoise color that captures not only the sunlight but every traveler’s heart.
Catch the miners hard at work, carrying a heavily laden basket of sulphur though you may be disturbed by it and feel sorry for them. Note in mind that the sulphur fumes are poisonous and these miners are subjected to it daily for extended hard-laboured hours.
There are coffee plantations cover the Ijen caldera floor where many travelers head there to visit the waterfalls, hot springs or just enjoy the dramatic volcanic scenery.
What to do
Hiking up to Ijen Crater at night
There are few options for visiting Ijen crater, you can either start at 2 am or 4 am to arrive at the top of the crater by daylight. Many travelers recommend to do the night hiking up to Ijen Crater to catch the magical blue flames or also known as blue fire. To get this, you have to arrive at the top before sunrise of 6 am. The hike up takes 1.5-2 hours averagely and can be quite steep The good thing is at this time there are not many other tourists around as well. After being mesmerized by the blue flames enough, you can sit back at the summit and wait for sunrise which offers another spectacular view.
Walk around the Ijen crater rim
You can take a walk around the rim of Ijen crater or approach the lake which will take about 40 minutes walk.
Where to stay
Most travelers will choose to stay at Banyuwangi *and then head out to Ijen Crater at night or early morning depending on which adventure you choose. You can also choose to stay at the foothills of Ijen mountain range among the coffee plantations.
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How to get thereIf you need to fly in, the nearest airport would be Surabaya. From Surabaya airport to Banyuwangi, it would take another 10 hours by bus. You can also take the train from Surabaya to Banyuwangi which will take about 7 hours.
Via Banyuwangi, you can choose from all kinds of vehicles such as 4WD (costs 55,000 Rp) or motorbike or car to get to the starting point of the hike up to Ijen Crater.
You can also get to Ijen Crater via Bondowoso from either the northern or southern coast. This way is closer but much steeper and in bad condition, therefore, 4WD is essential here though costly. After that, most travelers will walk the last 8 km along the road to Pos Paltuding which is the starting point of the trek to Ijen Crater. The Ijen Crater’s lake is around another 90 minutes hike from here.
How to get around
You can get around in most preferred choice a 4WD and for more budget if via Banyuwangi you may take the motorbike or car. After that it is all on foot to hike up Mount Ijen to get to the crater and to walk around the crater rim.
Where to go nearby
Mount Bromo which is another volcano, about 6 hours away. Many travelers go there to catch the sunrise over Mount Bromo, which is a scene that promises to take your breath away.
Remember to bring a mask to cover your nose as the pungent odour of sulphur may burn.
Also bring warm jacket as the trek at night is cold and temperature may drop to 5C.
Lastly, and insider tip says to climb to the right (anticlockwise) at the crater rim as the view from that side of the sulphur lake and entire area is spectacular.