Have you ever hiked up Ijen crater in East Java in the middle of the night to stare at its blue flames? Read this to avoid the most common mistakes and get blown away by this nightly spectacle.
HOW TO GET THERE?
You can book a night tour to Java from basically anywhere in Bali, which includes hotel pickup, ferry ticket, entry ticket to the volcano, a guide and breakfast in the morning. Someone picks you up at around 11pm and you will return to Bali the following day between 11am and 2pm (depending on where you stay).
TOUR Prices vary between 700000 and 1000000 Rupiah.
Ijen crater is located in eastern Java and if you’ve got a scooter, you can actually go there on your own and save a lot money. I’d recommend to head north and spend a night in Pemuteran.
From there you’ll drive to Gilimanuk (30 minutes drive) and take the ferry (1,5 hrs) at around 11pm.
(The latest ferry leaves at 12am) Once in Java, you head to the Ijen crater and park your scooter somewhere. You cannot miss the entrance, as it is a paved road a lot of people hike on!
WHAT’S THE HIKE LIKE?
I would lie if I said it was an easy hike!
It takes around 45 minutes to head to the first base, where you can buy coffee, fruit and some warm eggs. The hike is very (!) steep, but the roads are paved. It’s those kind of roads you would love to pace down with inline skates as a kid and the ones your knees hurt when you walk down as an adult.
If your extremely lazy, someone can even carry you up on a cart. Three guys will do this for … wait for it … 800000 Rupiah! Shame on you if you do so, but it’s an option.
After the first base it’s about another 45 minutes to the top. The road is a little bit less steep then and you’re done with the worst. Once you’re up on the top you can see the workers carrying around yellow sulfur. They started to work at 9pm and work the whole night until 6am to change their shifts.
Once you’re up Ijen crater, you’ve done 4 kilometers already, but it doesn’t not stop there. Now it’s time to climb down the crater and put your gas masks on! The hike is steep and stony and you can’t see shit, because it’s the middle of the night. While you (and a lot of other people) walk down the tiny paths, workers will pass you with heavy stones in their baskets. It’s about another 1000 meters to head down to see the blue fire.
MISTAKES TO AVOID!
When we hiked up this horribly exhausting mountain we hadn’t even considered that there could not be any blue fire. Pictures on google looked so beautiful and that’s what the trip was about: see some massive surreal blue flames inside a volcano, right?
Well, we actually did not. The picture you’re seeing here are the ones of my friend Tiberio, who hiked up there a month before us. The weather was dry and the flames were high.
When we went, it had been raining the days before, meaning we had about 20 ridiculous centimeters of blue flames. Nope. Not something to look forward to!
Make sure to check the weather before you go, to avoid this kind of disappointment!
But Ijen crater is not just about blue fire. This crater is drop dead gorgeous at sunrise and this is what you’ll watch, once you’ve climbed out of the crater again. Head to the top and walk along the rift until you reach the sunrise spot. Light up a little fire and watch the sun rise. The landscape is just surreal and you’ll be mesmerized by how beautiful that spot is.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE HIKE?
BRING GAS MASKS
DRESS IN LAYERS
WEAR PROPER SHOES
BRING SOME SNACKS AND WATER
PACK A RAIN CAPE
USE A HEADLAMP
PREPARE TO GET SWEATY
CHECK THE WEATHER IF THERE’S BLUE FIRE
Now enjoy the hike and get blown away by the beauty of Java’s nature!
Let me know in the comments how much blue fire you saw and how much you’ve enjoyed the scenery!