Indonesia, being geometrically situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire, is famously known for its landscape dominated by volcanoes. If you ever dreamt of hiking one, there is exactly 146 to choose from, however, there is one particular which is completely rare and unique amongst all of them.
Located in the Banyuwangi residency in the east of Java island, Kawah Ijen is an active volcano elevated 2799 meters above the sea level, with the crater placed 200 meters deep. So what is so extraordinary about it? It has not only one, but two of a natural phenomenon which are quite unique – the largest acidic lake in the world, and the electric blue fire.
Don’t play with the fire
Even though many tourists think that the sensational glow is lava, the electric-blue fire is caused by the combustion of sulfuric gases. These surface from the cracks of the volcano and can be observed as a stream of fire coming down the mountain. You must be very careful because these gases emerge at extremely high pressure and temperate up to 600°C. As soon as they get into the contact with air, they set on fire causing flames tall up to 16 meters high. Moreover, some of them condense into liquid sulfur which then flows down the slopes with a spectacular blue glow. Seeing such a raw demonstration of how powerful nature is will leave you amazed.
Swimming is forbidden
The turquoise-green colored acidic lake at the crater of the volcano is one kilometer wide and has a volume of 36 million cubic meters. The spectacular color is caused by the hydrogen chlorine gas emitted into the water, resulting in highly condensed hydrochloric acid with a pH of almost 0.
Another thing that you will notice while visiting Kawah Ijen are the sulfur miners working in extremely harsh conditions during the night. The sad truth is that they earn as little as 800 Indonesian rupiahs (0,05 Eur) per kilogram, and they usually carry to 80 kg of sulfur several kilometers down from the crater twice a day. Besides that, they use only wet cloths over their mouths instead of gas masks which in many cases results in respiratory diseases.
Ready for the adventure?
The best time of the day to experience this spectacular adventure is to do a night trekking and see the sunrise from the top of the volcano. The main reason why most visitors decide to do the sunrise tour is the fact that as soon as the first sunray hits the sky, the blue fire is no longer visible. Besides that, the view on pinky morning skies above the turquoise acidic lake will take your breath away.
Even though it is located on Java island, the volcano is also easily accessible from Bali. You can take a tour with OK Divers from Padangbai including the transport with private car as well as English speaking guide for your convenience.
The hike itself takes approximately about an hour till you reach the top. If you wish to see the blue fire, you need to descend for another 30 minutes down to the crater. For this part, it is necessary to wear a protective mask on because the sulfuric gases are strongly concentrated in the air. Although Kawah Ijen is active, it is still a quiet volcano so there is no need to worry about a possible eruption. Lastly, the hike itself is quite easy, therefore you don’t need to have climbing experience or an extraordinary level of fitness.