Conquering Mount Ijen
Upon receiving our itinerary for the Indonesia trip, I immediately reviewed the places we were visiting. One of the activities listed was "Midnight Hike to Ijen". Obviously, I wasn't really excited about it because I'm not the type who enjoys hiking up (and down) a mountain. I can still remember my friend laughing at me when I told them we were hiking up a mountain. All my friend was able to say was "Good luck." -- pretty much what I needed.
Fast forward a few days later and I find myself boarding a ferry at 5 in the morning to Denpasar, Bali. After the (not so fun) ferry ride to Bali, we headed straight to the airport to hop on a plane to Banyuwangi. We got in our hotel at around 3-4 PM and suddenly it occurred to me that at 12MN we start our climb to Kawah Ijen. I tried my best to force myself to sleep at 5 PM so that I wouldn't be so restless when we start our ascend to Ijen at 12MN. Unfortunately, I ended up sleeping at 9PM. Woke up at 11:30PM to prepare my stuff and get ready for the climb. We all met up at the hotel lobby, got oriented, and boarded the jeeps that will take up to the starting point of the climb. Luckily the drive was about an hour from our hotel so we were still able to catch so more sleep.
Note that the reason we wanted to climb up Ijen at 12 MN is because we wanted to catch the blue flames. You will only be able to see it in the dark so better if you leave at midnight if you also want to see this.
We arrived at the starting point at around 1AM. It gets a bit chilly here (well for me at least) since the temperature plays around 10-15 degrees C. Better bring clothes for the cold if you're like me and you easily get cold. Gloves are available to be purchased (10,000 IDR) at the starting point too just in case you forget to bring a pair. Also make sure to have hiking boots on (or anything that helps you get a grip on the floor) since the trail can get pretty slippery. For other equipment, make sure you have a gas mask with you even if you don't plan on going down the crater lake since the smoke usually goes up and reaches the trail.
The hike up is okay. It's not hard but it's not easy either. It took us about 2 (or was it 3) hours to reach the top mainly because we kept on stopping every now and then. There are benches strategically placed (mostly in steep areas) where you can sit down, rest your legs, and catch your breath.
I wasn't really planning on creating a separate post for Mt. Ijen but after reaching the summit and seeing how beautiful this place is, I felt that it deserved to have its own post.
We reached the summit at around 4 in the morning and we were debating if we should go down (700m hike down) to see the blue flames. Unfortunately, due to the lack of time considering how slow we were going, if we went down, we won't be able to see anything anymore since the sun was about to rise. What we did was just to continue on the trail to a higher point to catch the sunrise. It was unfortunate that we were unable to see the blue flames in person but the sunrise from the summit was also a treat. Everything looked so dreamy and obviously, I went crazy and took a ton of photos. Ha!
Being up in the summit and watching the sun rise was just magical.
Gorgeous mixture of light and fog (or sulfur smoke?) covering the landscape of Ijen.
We found a pretty spot to take photos and obviously, we all wanted a photo on that same spot. Haha!
We were hoping to see the lake from above but the fog was pretty thick and we weren't really able to see it clearly.
Probably the best photo I can get of the lake with the fog covering it. The Kawah Ijen lake lies at 2148m above sea level and is surrounded by the volcano's crater walls. The vent is a source of sulfur and collectors actually go up and down the mountain everyday.
A bit of trivia for everyone: Ijen is actually a quiet buy active volcano.
View of the trail from the summit. Look at how small those people are!
For people who get tired during the hike, there are people who go around with these carts (usually used for carrying sulfur around) who offer taxi services. You can ride these up (or down) the mountain for 500,000 IDR (around 40 USD)
I initially thought that I would dread this trip to Ijen but I was wrong. It was actually one of the highlights of my trip to Indonesia. The hike was definitely worth the view. If you ever find yourself in Banyuwangi, maybe you can try and book a trip going up Mt. Ijen. Just make sure that you are in top shape and have the correct gear with you. Better to research the stuff you're going to need before climbing up!
Disclosure: I was invited by the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia to be part of their blogger tour #TripOfWonders