We had a pretty epic sunrise experience during our Mt. Bromo Tour. Most companies then transfer you back to Bali and that's that. If you missed reading about our experience on Bromo, you can do so here. But after Mt. Bromo, we did not turn back; instead, we then embarked on a Mt. Ijen Tour!
From Mt. Bromo…
Following our Mt. Bromo Tour, we had a quick breakfast, packed our things, and made our way to the Kawah Ijen region about 3.5-4 hours away with a break for a traditional Javanese lunch. We arrived at our hotel near Mt. Ijen around 3pm – 12 hours after we had already been up – and were told to get some rest because we were to leave for the ascent of our Mt. Ijen Tour at 11pm. Yes, you heard me right, 11pm on the same day as the Bromo Sunrise.
I desperately tried to sleep from 3pm to 10pm because I was quite tired, but my body definitely didn’t like the idea of sleeping midday; I just found myself tossing and turning in anticipation of climbing Mt. Ijen.
At 11pm we were as awake as one could be at that time, and ready to get moving. It took us about an hour and a half to reach the start point of the climb. It was 12:30am — I think they may have taken the “exercise first thing in the morning is good for you” fact a little too seriously 😉
But anyway, we were given instructions on how to use our gas masks and began our ascent with our guide Pour.
…Rewind. You have to wear a gas mask?!
Mt. Ijen actually doubles as a sulfur mine. Within the crater you will find two things:
- The world’s largest acidic lake, and
- A sulfur mine where workers extract the sulfur throughout the night
The respirator is used to protect you from the sulfuric vapors, but unfortunately cannot protect your clothes from the stench of it (I promise you, you will want them to go straight into the wash after this)!
While you do not have to wear a gas mask for the entire climb, it is necessary to put on once the sulfur smell becomes a bit intense. Don’t worry, your body (and guide) will know exactly when you need them. Pour was actually a former miner turned tour guide and was informative while keeping us at a steady pace.
Beginning Your Mt. Ijen Tour.
It takes about an hour and a half of climbing straight uphill in the dark to reach the crater of Mt. Ijen. It is a very challenging ascent and I urge you to consider your level of fitness before beginning the climb. Should you not feel in shape enough, there are “taxis” where two men will carry you up the volcano. I was surprised to see so many people use those services. As always though, go at your own pace and take your time; while we ascended quite quickly, there’s plenty of time and no need to rush.
Mt. Ijen's Blue Flames.
Upon reaching the top of Mt. Ijen, we decided to descend into the crater of the volcano in hopes of seeing the blue flames! Flames so hot that, you guessed it, they were blue. It was a challenging hike down in the dark with loose rocks and narrow pathways. You will encounter miners along the route carrying the sulfur up and out of the volcano; whenever you see them, be sure to give them the right of way, as their baskets can weigh as much as 90kgs. I cannot comprehend how these men have the ability not only to carry that weight up and down the volcano a few times a night, but also work in such sulfuric conditions. I have more respect for them than I can express, as it’s certainly not an easy job by any means.
For a while it was looking like we weren’t going to see any blue flames, which was a bit of a disappointment; but, before we knew it, some massive blue flames began to dance for us. In order to best capture the flames and witness their vibrancy, be sure that your headlamps and flashlights are completely turned off. It was quite the site to behold!
A Quick Ascent…
We then made a quick ascent to the top of the crater of Mt. Ijen to catch sunrise, while the rest of our group watched sunrise from within the crater itself. Like that of Mt. Bromo, the sunrise was spectacular. The sky filled with bright pinks and the color burst through the clouds below us.
As the sky began to light up, the sheer size of Mt. Ijen began to show itself as the bright blue acidic lake below became noticeable. It simply beautiful. It was a constant motion of putting the gas masks on and taking them off depending on the way the wind was blowing the sulfur, but it was absolutely beautiful. We spend quite a bit of time taking in the views before beginning our descent.
One of the most interesting parts about climbing at night is that, on the way down, we were actually able to see what we walked through on our way up! The climb itself offers stunning vistas of the surrounding areas and volcanoes, so we went down very slowly, stopping for photos along the way.
And that was that! One Javanese brunch later, and we were on our way back to Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak! Indotravelteam provided us with a truly spectacular tour and we are so grateful to have been able to witness both Mt. Bromo and Mt. Ijen in all their glory. Despite the crazy hiking hours and lack of sleep, every single moment of our Bromo-Ijen Tour was worth it and I hope to experience other tours to active volcanoes in Indonesia alongside Indotravelteam next time I visit. I could do this over and over and over again 🙂