Kawah Ijen: Blue Flames & the Crater Lake

4:09 PM

Continuing from my previous entry on hiking Mount Bromo, I'm gonna be sharing more on hiking up the Ijen crater this time!  We did the ijen hike after our Mount Bromo hike, therefore we had to get transport from Probolinggo to either Bangyuwangi or Bondowoso, the two towns nearest to where the hike up the crater would begin.

After our bison reached Probolinggo, we had our minds set on taking public transport to get to Bangyuwangi, where we initially already have an accommodation booking made online. However, the bus operator started making offers for us to fetch us to Sempol, a small village near Ijen after Bondowoso and we eventually took up the offer.
We got our transport from Probolinggo to Sempol (almost 7 hours!!!) + ijen tour guide + the bus fetching us to the ferry terminal to head to Bali for 200,000 IDR per pax. that's $20 and since it includes a tour guide to guide us up Ijen crater, we took up the offer!

Bus ticket for 5 of us. Always good to bump into fellow backpackers to travel together (& bargain for good deals!)

Accommodation wasn't covered but we were sent to Catimoor Homestay with the other tourists where we got a room for $24. But that's the price for a triple room as they say they've run out of double rooms LOL. But well, it is a basic place BUT THE HOT WATER WAS WORKING AND I could finally wash all the sand and ash from bromo off my hair! Lol dinner was a simple set meal at 60,000IDR for 2 pax and Wi-Fi and network was almost non existent. But that didn't bother me much since we needed the rest before our climb at 130am!

We set off at 1am and reached the base of Kawah Ijen at 135am, and began the hike. The initial hike up was really tiring for me because it is a steep slope all the way!! (Coming down made my/our knees wobbly) I rested so many times along the way after almost every flight of slope because the air was so thin & I couldn't breathe properly. :O For people with asthma, I would suggest you bring your inhaler along just in case, since the sulphur smell towards the crater can get really strong. For me, I felt better putting a mask on and taking more occasional breaks :)

Miners selling some of the sulphur they mined
The best part about this hike is knowing I'm not the only one who is tired HAHAHAH. Many others took frequent breaks too! Anyway, things got a lot a lot better after the resting point where they sold drinks and snacks, and it is also the checkpoint where we had to rent a gas mask for 50,000IDR to go down the ijen crater to see the blue flames.

The walk (yes walk) from there onwards is a very relaxed and leisurely one because it is mostly flat ground :) but just be careful because you're walking like right next to a cliff so don't slip off or anything lol since after all, we're walking in the dark. 

Climbing down the ijen crater itself to see the blue flame was definitely more mentally draining than it is physically tiring. You'd have to walk down a very rocky path that can get a little slippery~ also bear in mind to always let the miners working go first!!!

Our group had 2 guides, one followed the faster group while another followed the slower group AKA ME HAHAHA and made sure all heads are always accounted for :) Our guides were also miners so being a guide was kinda an extra income for them since they'd have to make the trip up and down anyway. But they were really responsible and friendly by never leaving anyone behind!

After watching the blue flames, we made it up back to the crater for sunrise and had SUPER NICE VIEW of the crater lake and the surrounding mountain range as the sky lit up :')

We OTOT here a little to get photos, enjoyed the scenery and our guide let us OTOT and told us to just be back down by 8am :)

The walk down was quite tiring but the view is really nice! Overall, I'd say that the hike is manageable too just that it can be quite tiring at the start!!! The paths are nicely paved and there are a lot of tourists making the night hike to see the blue flame, so you probably won't really get lost as well even if you're alone.

Views and scenery wise, I really think Ijen is more beautiful :')

Our bus then sent us to the ferry terminal where we took a ferry to Bali (45min ride) where I got the worst seasickness in my life lol.

Overall, the costs incurred for the Kawah Ijen trip:

Transport from Probolinggo to Sempol + ijen tour + transport to ferry terminal: 200,000IDR
Accomodation: 240,000 IDR for a triple room
Dinner: 60,000 for 2 pax
Kawah Ijen entrance fee: 150,000 IDR
gas mask rental: 50,000 IDR
Total: 550,000IDR ($55) per pax

However, we felt a little... that by not taking the public transport way and just booking through the agent/bus operator, it took a little thrill out of the traveling HAHAHA but of course, safety came first to us as we simply wanted to reach our destination safe and quick and have a good rest before the next hike. Pretty sure it would have been cheaper if not for the accoms where we paid the triple room price for 2 pax!

In any case, if you're thinking of heading over to Kawah Ijen from bromo without a solid plan or pre booked tour, try to bargain a little w the bus agent and see what's the best price they can offer. For all you know, you may get an even better price than I did HAHAHA but if a good price isn't quoted to your liking, there's always a train (~5 hours) to take or a bus too! (although the duration of the journey varies) Hiking up the Ijen crater without a guide is also do-able (even though I was the one who kept egging H to get one cos I damn paranoid haha) because there're sooo many people hiking up together and there's only one route. The only difficult part would be getting a transport to send you from whichever place you're staying at to the base to start the hike and the transport back thereafter. Otherwise, everything is actually quite manageable without a tour too! 

The blue flame in itself was pretty cool, but honestly nothing over the top or very WOW. But it's a nice experience since there are only two volcano craters in the world where you can catch the blue flame! Totally no regrets and the view upon sunrise at the crater is too stunning :') I was so close to tears when I saw how beautiful nature is...!!!

I know this post may be less "educational" as compared to the Bromo post since we didn't exactly traveled on our own and took an easy way out by getting a driver/mini tour ;p But it's really for the joy of sharing this wonderful experience I had during these 2 hikes and if any of your guys are wondering whether to go or not, YES YOU SHOULD :')

Till then, 
Love, Xin Lin

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