2 Days Mount Bromo & Ijen Crater: Day 2| Blue Flames of Ijen Crater
This post is a continuation from our 2 Days Mount Bromo & Ijen Crater: Day 1 – Mount Bromo & Madakaripura Waterfall. If you have yet to read day 1, be sure to do so!
As mentioned at the end of our Day 1 post, we arrived at Palm Hotel in Bondowoso at around 7pm, where we had a quick rest before we set off from the hotel at 12 midnight. Yes, you heard that right – 5 hours of rest even though we woke up really early the previous day to explore Mount Bromo and Madakaripura Waterfall. Perhaps the sleep we managed during the long car rides somehow gave us enough strength to drag ourselves out of bed, or perhaps we just couldn’t wait to witness the blue flames of Ijen. The drive from the hotel to the start of Ijen crater trek took around 2 hours. If you were to ask me how bumpy the car ride was, I’m sorry to say I’ve no recollection as I slept through the entire thing.
We eagerly started our trek to the top after arriving at the entrance, not knowing what lay ahead of us. Though there were proper dirt paths and concrete roads, it was no easy hike. It was physically demanding as the elevation of the slopes were steep, and the closest comparison I could think of is Singapore’s Bukit Timah Hill. We had to take a short rest every 20 minutes just to catch our breath. With the lack of streetlights and only a torchlight given to us by the tour guide to shine the way, there wasn’t really any visual sights to catch on our way up.
After an approximately 2-hour trek to the top of the crater, we thought that the trek had finally ended. But, alas, we could never have been so wrong. The 30 minutes of trekking down to the blue flame was even more demanding. The descend was not easy – we had to trek through narrow dirt paths and a misstep would mean a one-way trip down to the rocky bottom. Calling it a trek would be an understatement, rock-climbing seemed more justifiable. Having to balance ourselves and shining our torches in the pitch-black darkness made it much worse.
The descend route from the top of the crater, photo taken after sunrise.
The blue flames are not lava of the volcano (which a lot of people thought so), but the light produced from the combustion of sulphuric gases. And yes, the fumes are highly toxic, so we were provided gas masks from our tour guide to protect ourselves. While I was near the blue flame, I tried taking some photos, but failed so badly as I wasn’t properly equipped. Some tourists were getting so close to the blue flame just for the perfect photo that even observing them made me feel uncomfortable. I would strongly not recommend getting too near as the fumes are not only toxic, but also very pungent.
We sat and observed sulphur miners harvest chunks of yellow mineral from the bottom of the crater and carrying loads as heavy as 80KG up to the top. Walking down without a load was already hard enough, imagine having to carry a load of 80KG. The miners do not earn a lot from this physically demanding job, and the hazardous environment they work in also takes a toll on their body. Some of them do not even have proper gas masks and simply use a cloth to protect themselves from the toxic fumes.
As the sun started to appear, we hiked back to the midway point of the crater, getting our cameras ready to catch the sunrise. It was absolutely breathtaking. The sun light revealed the huge turquoise lake that we failed to notice in the dark, and with the rocky crater as the backdrop, the photos turned out wonderful. If I were to compare Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater, I wouldn’t be able to decide which was better as both were beautiful and had their own appeal.
After an hour of photo taking and admiring the beautiful landscape, we started our trek back down to the entrance around 5.30am. The view along the way was nothing short of amazing. Along the walk, we could see nearby mountains like Mount Raung, and we stopped for a good 20 minutes just to snap the perfect Instagram photo.
With the sun shining brightly, the trek down was so much easier compared to the trek up. We arrived safely(Thankfully!) at the entrance of the Ijen trek and had a simple breakfast at our transport. As we were headed towards Bali next, our driver drove us to Ketapang ferry port, where we then boarded our ferry towards Bali! That’s all for our 2 Days Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater Tour, do give our day 1 a read if you have yet to done so!
- There is an entrance fee to Ijen, which can be bought at the entrance of the trek. Price of the ticket is IDR 150,000 (USD11 or S$15).
- Bring along sufficient water, as the trek is a long one and physically demanding.
- Wear shoes with a proper grip, the descend from the top of the crater to the blue flame is very dangerous.
- Bring along a torch light or head lamp as it is pitch black due to the lack of street lights
- Try not to wear contact lens as the fumes will irritate your eyes easily. (which happened to a friend of mine)
- Do not wear accessories made of silver as they will turn black due to the sulphur fumes.
- If you do not have a gas mask, there are people at the top of the crater renting them for IDR 50,000 (USD3.80 or S$5).
Hope these tips help! Happy travelling!