Some Australian tourist mentioned “Do not die before you see Kawah Ijen!”.
It was almost 20 years ago when I heard the sentences for the first time, back when I was in Junior high school in Bali. Technically Ijen is the third nearest Volcano from the place where I lived; Bali. We have two highly active volcano; mount Batur and mount Agung.
So, what makes this crater is so special?
Kawah in Bahasa Indonesia means crater, so technically this is the crater sits above the volcano named Mount Ijen. Kawah Ijen is the world's largest acidic volcanic crater Lake famous for its turquoise color (blue to green) known for its rich sulphur deposits which are being quarried by local miner for sugar industries. Eruptions from Ijen are very hazardous because of the risk of the lake draining to form catastrophic lahars contained Sulfide acids (H2SO4).
The Size of Kawah Ijen
The active crater at Kawah Ijen has a diameter of 722 meters and a surface area of 0.41 square kilometers. It is 200 meters deep and has a volume of 36 cubic hectometers or 36.000.000.000 liter. Wow, that is lot amount of Sulfide Acids (H2SO4). Especially when the acidic level reach pH < 0.5, the same pH as the car battery (Accu).
Altitude, this is the most important part about size. The edge/peak of the crater is 2.443 meters asl high and about 3 hours hiking from the nearest parking area named Paltuding (around 1.700 asl).
Technically speaking, every day this volcano is erupting. But only erupting small amount of Sulfur Dioxide gas (SO2). The larger eruption recorded on the following year 1796, 1817, 1913 and 1936. As a result of the eruption, a wide-gaping crater lake with the magic of sulfur (sulfur) in it.
Is it safe to go to Kawah Ijen for foreign tourist?
This is a very interesting questions, some TV out there mentioning about terror and criminality in Indonesia. There are thousands of white expats live in the country peacefully, and they are probably the best witness about the peace life in Indonesia. What about Kawah Ijen? Kawah Ijen is located in the regency of Banyuwangi and Bondowoso (easier to get here from Banyuwangi). And Banyuwangi is a peacefull city, clean and the people are helpful. Even though to foreign tourist. Just be nice and everyone will be nice to you back.
How to get to Kawah Ijen from Bali
Refer to the maps, Bali probably the easiest entrance to get to Kawah Ijen. Banyuwangi itself has its own airport, but the flight is rare (once a week) and not so convenient way to get here.
There are several option to get here; first rental vehicle (either car or motorbike); Bali vehicle rental is quite cheap compare to other island in the country, since so many rental provider operating in the area. The cost for car rental in Bali approximately Rp. 200.000 per day without driver and gasoline. If you had your own vehicle, just follow the map. You well get to Paltuding quite fast.
Second option is using public transportation. This start to get tricky and need some effort. Depends where you are starting; get yourself to Ubung bus terminal Denpasar. Here’s the wrap up.
Step #1 - Go to Ubung bus Terminal
Step #2 - Find bus to Gilimanuk. Gilimanuk is the only harbor to go to Java Island in the west (Approximate cost Rp. 30.000 with total trip of 120 km for 2-3 hours).
Step #3 – After arrive in Gilimanuk bus terminal, step down from the bus and just walk to the harbor, walk around 200 meters. You will need buy Ferry ticket over here – approximate cost Rp. 15.000,-
Step #4 – Board the Ferry. The Trip will take about an hour, depends on the weather on the Bali strait.
Step #5 – Our destination is Ketapang harbor, after get off the Ferry. Again, just walk to the exit point of the harbor and find local mini bus called angkot (stands for angkutan kota which means city transportation), also the government called it LIN. Find the destination to the city of Banyuwangi in south side of the harbor, Brawijaya bus terminal also known for its old name Karangente bus Terminal. Cost estimation is Rp. 5.000 per person (normally in Banyuwangi all LIN are cost Rp. 2.000). 10 km trip for approximately 30 minutes.
Step #6 – After reach Karangente (or Brawijaya) bus terminal, take a break find some refreshment. Our next destination is to find the Sasak Perot terminal (not a big terminal actually, but we have go via this terminal to reach Ijen). Find LIN Lin 8 or LIN 11 both goes to terminal Sasak Perot. For safety, ask the driver is he going to the terminal. Cost estimation Rp. 2.000,- for 20 minutes ride.
Step #7 – Actually Banyuwangi is a nice and historical city, you can spend one night over here just for sightseeing.
Step #8 – Terminal Sasak Perot is not a big terminal, some of the LIN need to be full before it depart. Our next destination is Licin or Jambu (I don’t know why this place has two different name). This place is the last place where there are official public transportation exist (the LIN). Sasak Perot – Licin cost approximately Rp. 10.000,- (official cost). 10 km trip for about 30-40 minutes.
Step #9 – From Licin/Jambu, we need to do something crazy (just kidding), we are going to take a ride on sulfur transporting truck. Our destination is Paltuding, the foot of mount Ijen (1.700 meters asl). Actually there is no fixed price for this ride, but you need to pay good will money to the driver approximately Rp. 5.000 to 10.000,-. The trip took approximately 1 hour from Jambu/Licin to Paltuding.
Highly suggested you reach Jambu on noon, since the schedule of the truck departure is 6 AM to 8 AM in the morning. And 1 PM for Noon, there are several trucks – just show your thumbs indicating you are about to go to Paltuding. The return trip truck schedule is 10 AM, 2 PM and 4 PM (from Paltuding to Jambu/Licin). Note: No truck trip on Friday, it is a day off for everyone in the mining area.
If no truck available, just stop a pick up and ask whether it goes to Paltuding. Just negotiate the price.
Step #10 – Paltuding is 1.700 meters above sea level and the air is getting cold, better get a cup of coffee in the near by small shop/warung. And need also to pay some entrance fee as follows:
- Entrance fee Rp. 2.000 per person.
- Insurance fee Rp. 3.000 per person.
- Motel or Hotel Rp. 100.000 – 150.000 per room
- And open tent, charged for Rp. 15.000 per tent.
Step #11 – Going up to the crater
From Paltuding it is not so difficult hike to the top, we just need to walk for about 3 hours and we reach the top of the crater. Depends on what you want to see; if you want to see the blue fire – go up at night. If just sightseeing, go up on the day. All are offering awesome view. Just remember to bring enough food and drink for the entire trip. In meters, 2.200 – there are miner camp which sell food and drink, but a little expensive.
Step #12 Enjoy
How to get to Kawah Ijen from Surabaya
Surabaya is the second entry point to get to Kawah Ijen. The option remaining the same, which is the first one is rental car with driver (in Java it is hard to rent a car without driver). The cost is about Rp. 500.000 a day exclude gasoline. It’s quite expensive compare to Bali which only Rp. 200.000 a day without driver and gas. But any way, it is the first choice. It won’t be an issue if you are travel in group.
Second option is using public transportation.
Step #1 – From Juanda International airport – go to Bungurasih Bus Terminal (named Purabaya). Can use taxi Rp. 50.000 or public bus name DAMRI Rp. 15.000. But you need to wait every 30 minutes before the bus depart.
Step #2 – From Bungurasih bus terminal – take a bus to Probolinggo (or the other option is to get direct bus to Banyuwangi. Cost about Rp. 45.000). Surabaya to Probolinggo is about 2 hours and Probolinggo to Banyuwangi is about 3 hours. Total trip to Banyuwangi is 5 to 6 hours. Our destinations is Sri Tanjung bus Terminal Banyuwangi (see map).
Step #3 is find a LIN from Sri Tanjung bus Terminal to Ketapang Harbor, here you can change the LIN/Angkot (cost about Rp. 3.000). Or use motorcycle taxi cost about Rp. 10.000 per person.
From here take step step #5 above all the same.
Useful tips for hiking to Kawah Ijen
- Miners are carrying heavy sulfur, around 80kg – give them way when passing by.
- The miners like smoking, but I will never give them that. I hate smoke.
- Be polite and friendly, the miners are friendly even carrying heavy load.
- Bring small tower to protect you from sulfur smoke, which smell so weird.
- No littering
- Ensure your own safety and bring enough refreshment.
- Enjoy Kawah Ijen.