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Mount Ijen is one of those magical places you shouldn’t miss when traveling to Java or Bali. It’s famous for the turquoise color of the world’s largest acid lake placed in the crater of the volcano, as well as the striking blue fire that can be observed only at night on one side of the lake.
The unique volcano is on the bucket list of many travelers as it is so magnificent and looks great in the travel photos.
Mount Ijen tour is quite simple to arrange if you are staying in Bali. In this post, let’s check out what is so impressive about Mount Ijen and what a tour of it might look like for you.
What is Mount Ijen and why should you go there
The Ijen volcano complex is located in East Java. The highest point in the complex is the Gunung Merapi volcano. The meaning of its name is ‘mountain of fire’, which is impressive on its own.
Ijen volcano is on the West of the highest peak in the complex and it has a one-kilometer wide acidic lake in its crater. The lake has a distinct turquoise color that has a mystical glow during a sunrise.
It’s possible to climb in the crater
When going on a hike to Mount Ijen, prepare that it will be a bit hard, but really spectacular. The tour usually starts with a hike to the top of the volcano which takes around 2 hours. The climb is steep but doable for a fairly fit person.
Then comes the exciting part. You get to climb into the crater.
It takes around 45 minutes to descend into the crater. Your guides will provide face masks so that the Sulphur gases coming from the volcano would be easier to endure. The gases are rising from the crater and change the direction with the wind. You might get lucky and encounter just a minor flow, or there could be a few minutes worth of gases surrounding you.
Just remember that you should follow the directions of the guides and not be afraid. Sooner or later the flow of the gases will change and you will get to breathe fresher air.
But why would you want to descend into the crater?
On Mount Ijen there are actually two reasons: the lake in the middle of the crater and the famous blue fire.
World’s biggest acid lake in Mount Ijen’s crater
The crater is filled with a liquid that looks quite magical in the photos, but in reality, is quite deadly. If you put your hand into the lake your skin would start to decompose just after 15 seconds.
It’s possible to climb down in the crater and some guides even offer to touch the highly acidic water. Just remember to do that for no longer than a few seconds and not to touch your eyes afterward.
Blue fire on Mount Ijen and the sulfur mining
The electric-blue fire is actually ignited sulfuric gas which comes through the cracks in the volcano on one side of the lake. It can be observed best during the night. That’s the reason why nighttime tours have become popular.
Nearby the blue fire sulfur mining is happening. Miners go up the volcano and down in the crater in the same way as tourists, but they bring up 70-90 kilogram loads of sulfur. Miners earn an average of five dollars per trip.
The work conditions for the minors are quite terrible – many are carrying the heavy loads of sulfur with bare hands and without shirts or masks. Usually they are doing the climb twice a day.
To prevent objectification of people working in these conditions it’s recommended not to take photos of the miners or at least to ask a permission before taking a photo.
The striking view of sunrise from the top of Mount Ijen
After getting a glimpse of the blue fire in the crater it’s time to climb up the crater to wait for a sunrise. It happens around 5:30 and looks quite incredible.
If previously the colors of the surrounding volcanos and the lake in the crater were muted by the night, not they become increasingly bright and contrasted.
It’s possible to walk quite far around the crater if you follow the path on the top of the volcano. So while waiting for a sunrise you may go and look for a more private location than the one just where the path in the crater begins.
If you want to get amazing pictures from this experience, you might want to consider wearing bright clothes for the sunrise part. Something orange or red will be very noticeable with the background of turquoise lake and brown volcanoes in the background. Just remember that the nights and mornings can get quite cold so high above the sea level so take some warmer clothes as well.
What does a tour to Mount Ijen from Bali look like?
I had a tour like this, and it was great! Getting to the volcano and back was an adventure on its own.
The impressive volcano is located in the eastern part of Java, so it’s a bit away from other famous tourist attractions. That might be one of its perks, as you won’t be in a crowd when going there.
The closest big city with an airport to Ijen is Surabaya. However, if you are staying in Bali, you may ask for a tour in your hotel’s reception or any tour organization, and they can provide you with the whole package – picking you up from your accommodation, transferring you to the ferry connecting Bali and Java, and then to the volcano. The locals have guides that will ensure a safe climb up and the best viewing spots. And then it’s just going back to your accommodation.
What to bring with you when going to Mount Ijen?
Water is necessary to stay hydrated during the hike. It will be physically demanding.
Snacks to regain some energy spent on the hike.
Warm clothes. When you are moving up or down the volcano it doesn’t feel that cold, but waiting for the sunrise at the top of a volcano while standing quite still for many minutes will be cold. Even in Indonesia.
Running shoes or some other kind of closed boots. Don’t go in flip-flops, as the volcano rocks are hard and might scratch your feet on the long way up or down.
Sunscreen is important when the sun comes up. There aren’t many trees to give shadow. And, after the sun rises it will become hot and sunny.
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