15. December 2019

Java: Sunrise hike to Ijen Crater

We woke up at 2 am and our driver drove us to the parking lot at Ijen Crater. It took us about 2 hours to hike up the steep hill. The view from above was stunning and this spot out of this world.

We woke up at 2 am and met our driver who drove us to the parking lot at Ijen Crater. He told us that the hike to the sunrise viewpoint is easy and it should take us about 45 minutes. But don’t believe locals when you ask about hiking up mountains! It took us about 2 hours. 

The hike was exhausting and led us higher and higher up the mountain. It was pitch dark and we only had our head lamps to light our way. Of course we were not the only ones on the way to the crater rim and so there were quite a lot of people on the way in some places. At one point some paths shared and some tourists made their way down the mountain. Here we went to the bottom of Ijen Crater and to the blue fire.

We have heard little good from the blue Fire tours. It’s supposed to be a tourist rip-off and we found it strange to watch the hard working sulfur miners in this poisonous environment. The miners are carrying heavily load baskets of sulphur (it’s not uncommon to see miners carrying 40-50kg of sulphur at once) and knowing how poisonous those working conditions are you feel sorry for them. Our driver told us that most of them work at night at Kawah Ijen in addition to the actual job on the day, knowing that they probably won’t live long.

We had our rented gas masks with us, but made our way to the crater plateau. Slowly even small queues formed during the ascent and there were quite a lot of people on the way.

Everyone was already looking for a good vantage point to watch the sunrise in peace. We also found a place a little off the beaten track and waited in the cold. The view was fantastic as the sun slowly shifted over the horizon. 

After a while we made our way back and arrived much faster at the foot of the crater. There our driver waited for us and brought us back to our accommodation the Bamboo & B. We were incredibly tired and went back to sleep for a short while until we packed our things at 12 noon and from a driver to the harbour in Banyuwangi. From there we took the ferry back to Bali.

When we arrived in Bali looking for a driver to take us to Ubud we met other travelers who had to go to Denpasar as well and so we shared a taxi. It took about 4 hours to get to Denpasar and it felt like eternity. It was incredibly crowded on the streets, because national holidays were celebrated and at this time many locals from the neighboring islands come to Bali – of course with their own car.  From Denspasar to Ubud it took another 2 hours due to the traffic jam in the city centre. When we arrived at our accommodation in the evening we were incredibly tired and just fell into bed.