Mount Ijen: Hiking the Blue Flame Volcano in Indonesia

After a long 18-hour bumpy train ride across Indonesia, I finally arrived at my next destination:  Banyuwang.

I traveled to this city for one purpose, and for one purpose only, and that was to hike the all famous Mount Ijen. If you are wanting to visit Mount Igen, there are a few different options to get there. The two options I debated between were renting a scooter and driving 2 hours to the mountain in the night or going with an organized tour group that took care of all of the transportation.

For my one night stay, I used Hotel Permata Indah Permai as my accommodation, for the simple fact that they offered the best and cheapest tour/ transportation to Mount Ijen.  End the end, I was SO thankful that I did not convince myself to take a scooter, because the road was incredibly dark, bumpy and long.

After a full day traveling by train, I arrived to my hotel at 2230 and just shortly after we departed (it was an all nighter for me). At 0200, we arrived at the starting point and our tour group of 8 started on our adventure. After just 20 minutes of hiking, I realized it was going to be a little bit more difficult and longer than I originally thought.

We hiked for hours up hill in the dark, with nothing more than a weak flashlight to light our path.

After hours hiking into the darkness, we finally arrived to the crater. However, that was just the beginning of the hard part. We slowly descended down into the crater, carefully watching our steps on the rugged, rocky path. I confidently made my way down towards the blue flames and felt proud of my ability to maintain balance and walk with ease.

All of the confidence I was feeling quickly went to my head, and before I knew it I found myself on the ground with a pounding sensation in my left ankle.

Falling and getting injured on the path to and from Mount Igen is something I do not wish upon anyone. Descending to the crater is hard enough by yourself, so if you find yourself injured, your pretty much on your own. As I laid there thinking about my options, I realized that I had no other option than to least get up and attempt to walk. I knew that unless they would of brought in a helicopter to pick me up off the ground, that there would be no way that someone would of been able to carry me back up the mountain.  I had to find my own strength.

I slowly picked myself up and took a few little painful steps.

My guide did the best he could to give me some walking support, but it made it even more difficult to maintain balance, so I took a deep breath, and put one foot in front of the other.

We finally made it to the blue flames. These blue flames are famous throughout the world, because there is no other place in the world you can find something like this. These blue flames appear from the combustion of sulphuric gases, so in order to walk near it you absolutely need a gas mask.

The blue flames can be reached more that 16 feet tall and is a perfect place take some unique pictures.

Given the time of the year that one decides to go, it can get pretty crowded. I went in low season and it was very crowded, so I can’t even imagine what it’s like in the high season. With the amount of people, its very important to stay close to your tour group. With the combination of people, smoke and darkness, it can be almost impossible to find your group when you lose them (trust me, I have personal experience on that one).

As we were hiking uphill out of the crater, we passed by multiple local men carrying a large pole with two large baskets full of amount of sulfur on each side to be taken to the city for selling purposes. From them I learned more about the high demand for sulfur in today’s market.

Cosmetic companies from around the world use sulfur for different skin conditions (dermatitis, rosacea, eczema, acne) and dandruff, so they are constantly at work transferring the sulfur into the city.

Given that sulfur is plentiful at Mount Ijen, it some of the purest and most demanded for products.

We successfully made it out of the crater and by that time it was around 0600, just in time for sunrise. I was pleasantly surprised by the amazing panoramic views and the stillness that filled the air.

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After it was all said and done, I successfully made it to the end, despite having a twisted ankle. The view on the way back down the mountain was absolutely perfect and seeing it was worth the difficult climb up and the twisted ankle.

Sometimes in life we get knocked down in our path and it can be very painful. However, sometimes the best thing we can do is pick ourself up, despite the pain, and just put one foot in front of the other.

Many times we will find that some of the most difficult and painful paths we take, leads to the most beautiful destination.

 

Travel Information: 

  • Location: Easily reachable from Banyuwangi in the east or Bondowoso in the west.
  • Cost: 250,000 IDR each + 100,000 IDR entrance fee. (Less than $20)
  • Time: Best time is arriving by 0200, allowing you to see the sunrise around 0600-0630
  • What to bring: gas mask provided with tour group, jacket, flashlight, hiking shoes, camera

 

 

 

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Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comMount Ijen: Hiking the Blue Flame Volcano in Indonesia