First of all; a big thank you to Mava Holidays Indonesia for organizing this trip and making the entire experience go as smooth as silk!

A visit to an active volcano had been on my bucket list forever. The Ijen Volcano with mind-blowing sulfur mines is definitely worth a side trip from Bali and is actually pretty close.

Ijen Volcano Blue Fire at night

Our adventure started on an early Friday morning when we were met by the Mava Holiday driver at 6 AM in Sanur.

Our day started with a drive to the harbour in Gilimanuk, West-Bali, where ferries do the daily 30 minute crossing to Banyuwangi harbour in East Java. From Banyuwangi followed a scenic 2 hour drive to the Kaliklatak Plantation and homestay. This was was going to be our homebase for the weekend.

The Kaliklatak Plantation is worth the trip alone. This plantation is managed privately and is a whopping 1,000 hectare in size (2,470 acre).

We stayed at a guest house on the plantation and had the entire place to ourselves. Other than the guest house, there’s also an entire village for the workers, including staff houses, kindergarten, school, sport facilities, etc … .

The plantation is pretty impressive and has about 115 hectares of cocoa, 550 hectares of coffee, 130 hectares of rubber trees, 80 hectares of cloves, plus an assortment of nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, vanilla and all varieties of fruits and vegetables.

We got our own private tour with car, driver and guide where we went to see the entire process of harvesting, processing, and packaging the coffee and rubber at their factory.

The plantation tour ended at the highest point where they have a tower that overlooks the plantation. We got to taste some home-grown and -brewed coffee and pisang goreng (fried bananas).

We returned to the guest house where a home-cooked meal was waiting for us. We hit bed early to get ready for our midnight (!) start of the volcano trip.

We were met by our guide and driver who took us on a steep one hour drive by four-wheel drive car up the flank of the volcano. We arrived at the main parking lot where trucks come to pick-up the mined sulphur that was carried down the volcano by the local workers. We each got our own light and face-mask which was going to come of good use later on in the crater.

We switched on our head lights and started our 2 hour hike (3km / 1.85mi) which was first through dense forest and then turned into a kind of moonscape when we reached the summit. From the summit we got our first glimpse of the crater and the blue flames from the burning sulphur gases.

To get an idea, this is a picture taken at sunrise after we finished the crater visit.

Indonesia Ijen Volcano with crater and lake

The crater with a 40° Celsius acid lake and the toxic fumes of the sulfur mine on the left.

An active vent at the edge of the Ijen Volcano lake (left on the picture) is a source of elemental sulfur, and supports a mining operation. Escaping volcanic gasses are channeled through a network of ceramic pipes, resulting in condensation of molten sulfur.

The sulfur, which is deep red in color when molten, pours slowly from the ends of these pipes and pools on the ground, turning bright yellow as it cools. The miners break the cooled material into large pieces and carry it away in baskets.

Raw Sulfur. After purification, this sulfur is used for whitening sugar in Surabaya. Lower quality sulfur is also used for matches and fireworks.

Raw Sulfur. After purification, this sulfur is used for whitening sugar in Surabaya. Lower quality sulfur is also used for matches and fireworks.

Miners must carry loads, which range from 75 kilograms to 90 kilograms, up 300 metres to the crater rim, with a gradient of 45 to 60 degrees and then 3 kilometers down the mountain for weighing. Most miners make this journey twice a day.

A nearby sugar refinery pays the miners by the weight of sulfur transported; the typical daily earning is Rp 150,000.

The miners often use insufficient protection while working around the volcano and complain of numerous respiratory afflictions. There are 200 miners, who extract 14 tons per day or only 20 percent of the continuous daily deposit.”

After spending as much time as we wanted at the crater, we climbed back up to the ridge and enjoyed watching sunrise and getting our first good view of the area we were in.

Sunrise at Ijen Volcano

View after sunrise on the way down.

Our Kawah Ijen Volcano trip was amazing and if you’d ask me to go again tomorrow I’d do it in a heartbeat. So, what are you waiting for?

If you’re starting your Kawah Ijen Volcano journey from Bali, feel free to contact our Bali Store Luggage team who will safely store your luggage while you visit East Java.

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