My truck to Kawah Ijen left around 12.30am, it was an hour journey to the base. The driver was absolutely mental and sped the entire way, I was thrown around a lot so no rest for me!
At the base it was cold, like UK winter cold, luckily I had a jumper and jacket. I thought I’d brought a thin long sleeve too but it was just a tshirt… Either way, I put on my layers, went to the toilet and headed on up.
There are a lot of people heading up to the top, way more than I expected. We were all spaced out though so it wasn’t annoying, if anything seeing the trail of lights was pretty cool. My group were 10 people, and we had two guides one at the front and one behind. The first part of the hike was really straight forward, yes it was uphill and quite steep at that but it wasn’t difficult.
Taxis were available to take you up if you were’t able to walk up, these taxis were carts pulled by locals. Was quite hilarious seeing people in the them. Some people also used walking sticks as aid. The walk it steep for most, but then for the last km to the top it was really easy and wound up the side with little incline. It was here where we were told to put on our gas mask, which was so exciting to do as I’d never worn one before.
Once at the top of the crater, you can see the blue flames in the distance. This was the main reason why I wanted to see this volcano, that and the sulphur mining. I was so happy that the flames were there, and couldn’t wait to get closer but had 1km of walking into the crater first. This was difficult, I had no torch and luckily had the guide near me who helped me down. We had to stop now and then as the miners came past with their load of sulpher crystal.
Finally down it was the most awsome view of the flame, I tried to get a lot closer but the smoke was really choking and my eyes were watering. Amazing though to see the locals work without gas masks and in these conditions, I really wonder how much they get from mining! They apparently climb at least twice during the night with a full load on their back.
I spent quite some time down near the blue flame, just watching and being impressed. When the sun started to rise, we started to climb back up and saw the lake, which was completely engulfed by the darkness, begin to appear. It was just amazing and such a elated feeling to be in the middle of a volcano crater watching the sulphur smoke rise up and see the blue acid lake sitting there.
By 7am I had walked all the way back to the base, there were some stunning views from the top of Kawah Ijen and the whole walk was so pleasant during the day. Outside the sulphur cloud there was lovely fresh air, and birds singing. By 8am I was back at the hostel in time for breakfast.