Ijen Crater, the blue fire volcano, or the sulfur volcano, rstands high at 2386m above sea level. It is famous for its large emerald green acid lake.

But you wonder: How to do the Ijen Crater trek? Where to start? How to get to Ijen Crater? When to go? How much does it cost to do Ijen Crater?

How is the hike? what are its stages?

Miners collecting sulphur

Many questions without answers!

The purpose of this article is to give you all the information you need to climb Ijen Crater.

Then, for those who do not want to have the slightest hassle and who want to delegate, to Go Volcano, the organization and the logistics of the trek, you will find the program and all the corresponding prices.

Finally, for the curious, at the very end of this article, we will talk about Ijen Crater and its acid lake. Why are there blue fires? We will also talk about the sulfur porters. As well as the eruptions and the volcanic activity of Ijen Crater.

5 Things You Need to Know Before Climbing Ijen Crater

How to go to Ijen Crater?

Ijen Crater is accessible from two cities: Banyuwangi and Bondowoso.

The most easily accessible is Banyuwangi, the most easterly city in Java. From there, you have to go to the Paltuding village. The road is good so the jeep is not really necessary, but there is still some kind of resistance to force travelers to use the jeeps.

How to go to Banyuwangi?

By Plane: There is an international airport located about 1 hour from the city center at Blimbingsari. There are direct links with Surabaya Airport, Jakarta, and Kuala Lumpur. The flight takes about 50 minutes from Surabaya and 1h40 from Jakarta.

By Train : Banyuwangi can be reached by train from Malang, Probolinggo and Surabaya.

By Bus: There are buses heading to Banyuwangi from all cities and bus stations in East Java, such as Surabaya, Probolinggo, and Malang. There are also some buses from the bus stations in Bali.

By Car : One of the most used solutions by the travelers is using the private car to travel from Surabaya / Malang, Bromo, Ijen, Bali or conversely.

By Ferry : Banyuwangi is easily accessible from the west coast of Bali, through the port of Gilimanuk. There are ferry that leave every 15 minutes, and the journey takes about 1 hour.

You can buy the ferry ticket directly at the harbor, and it costs IDR 7,500/person and IDR 150,000/car for small cars. You will arrive at Ketapang harbor, Banyuwangi, and from there you can rent a motorbike, a car (with driver), or a jeep to go to Ijen Crater.

How to go to Bondowoso?

Going to Ijen Crater from Bondowoso, you can only using private car, because there is no public transportation from Bondowoso to Ijen Crater.

When to go to Kawah Ijen?

The Ijen Crater is open to climbing all year round. The high season is between July and August.

How Much the Entrance Ticket to the Ijen Crater Costs?

For Ijen Crater it costs IDR 100,000/day/person during the weekdays and IDR 150,000 on weekends and holidays. These rates are for non-Indonesians. Rates for Indonesians are much cheaper!

Where to Sleep?

Banyuwangi offers many accommodations, from dormitory class until the luxury hotel.
Bondowoso and the villages near Kawah Ijen have limited offer.

Climbing Ijen Crater, with or without guide?

The use of a guide is not necessary! The path is wide and easy to follow. You will need a guide if you want to go down to the crater to see the blue fire.

We talked about the preparations for the ascent of Ijen Crater. Now it’s time to talk about the climb itself!

Climbing and Hiking of Ijen Crater

Ijen Crater and Mt. Raung

Ijen Crater is part of a huge volcanic complex with a caldera about 20 kilometers in diameter. Which is famous for its Arabica coffee plantations.

Mount Merapi – don’t be confused with the volcano of the same name in central Java or the Gunung Marapi of West Sumatra – is the culmination of the Ijen Volcanic Complex. The crater of Ijen (Kawah means crater in Indonesian) is immediately below.

A well formed three meter wide track leads to Pondok Bunder (2214 m) for about 2 km, where sulfur carriers weigh their loads and another kilometer up to the edge of the crater (2,350 m).

From the edge of the crater, you can see the lake 300 meters lower, the fumaroles, and the Raung further. From here, you can observe sulfur carriers with loads of 60-90 kg, in two baskets on their shoulders.

You have three options at this point:

  • You can climb to a high point, to the southwest, above the crater rim (2400 m) for magnificent views.
  • Or, you continue on the rim, in a counter-clockwise direction, for even wider views of the lake and Ijen’s largest caldera.
  • The third option is to take the very steep track in the crater towards the sulfur vents and the acid lake. The descent normally takes about 20 minutes. Leave room for porters carrying their heavy loads on the way! Watch for sulfur smells from the vents as they can make breathing difficult or stuffy, especially when winds change to your direction. Face masks, moistened with water, can help protect against the worst vapors. Needless to say, don’t even think about swimming in the lake!

Hiking and Climbing Ijen Crater with Go-Volcano

sulphur miners
  • Duration: 1 day
  • Price: starting from IDR 550000/person
  • Level: 1/5

Ijen Crater is a very easy climb that you can do alone. You can arrange transportation from Banyuwangi, and this one will take you to the Paltuding (foot of Ijen Crater) and you will have 3km to walk to the top of the crater. Then the driver will take you back to Banyuwangi.

The area around the Ijen Crater is a beautiful area for all types of trekking and hiking, there are several inactive volcanic cones and also other craters.

Detailed Program and Itinerary

Day 1: Pick up Banyuwangi – Kawah Ijen – Banyuwangi

You must leave your hotel in Banyuwangi at 1:00 am until Ijen Crater (approximately 1h30 drive) by car. Once you arrive at the Paltuding car park, you will have to walk 3 km (about 1 hour) to reach the top of Ijen Crater and 30 minutes more to reach the crater. Takeaway breakfasts will be provided and you will have your breakfast after visiting the crater, once you arrive back to Paltuding. Then return to Banyuwangi. End of service

Meals included: Breakfast.

Jeep Price for Ijen Crater

Starting from IDR 550,000 for a vehicle that fits for up to 5 people

Go-Volcano Package Including Ijen Crater

Surabaya / Malang – Bromo – Ijen Crater – Banyuwangi / Bali => Starting from € 105 , duration 3 days, difficulty 1/5.

Surabaya / Malang – Semeru – Bromo – Ijen Crater – Banyuwangi / Bali => from € 214, duration 4 to 5 days, Difficulty: 4/5.

Bali/Banyuwangi – Ijen Crater – Raung

Ijen Crater and its Acid Lake

Discovered in 1796 (by Westerners), Ijen Crater is located inside a big caldera with16 km x 20 km in dimension, which also houses another active volcano, Mount Raung. Considered very dangerous, there are about twenty other cones without activity. The last recorded eruptions of Raung were from 2015, 2002, and 1991. Its eruptive cycle is about 10 years. At the time of the 1991 eruption, all the inhabitants of the caldera were evacuated, that is about 12,000 people who work in the Arabica coffee plantations.

The altitude of the Ijen Crater (which means in Indonesian the green crater, because of the emerald green color of its acid lake) is 2386m. The acid lake which occupies the bottom of its crater measures 960 x 600m for a depth of 330 meters. It is the largest reserve of hydrochloric acid (600,000 tons) and sulfuric (550,000 tons) of the planet that is about 37 million cubic meters.

At the bottom of its crater, an extrusion dome is still active and covered with a lake fed mainly by rainwater. The volcanic gases dissolve, warm the lake and reveal terribly aggressive salts and acids such as sulfuric or hydrochloric acid.

The composition of the lake and the following:

  • 1,300,000 tons of aluminum sulfate
  • 600,000 tons of hydrochloric acid
  • 550,000 tons of sulfuric acid
  • 200,000 tons of alumina
  • 170,000 tonnes of iron sulfate
  • 140,000 tons of magnesium sulfate
  • 120,000 tons of calcium sulfate
  • 100,000 tons of potassium sulfate
  • 30,000 tons of 99% pure sulfur

No one can exploit this fabulous wealth because the volcano often wakes up and projects acid to 600 or 1000 meters high, spraying a corrosive deluge all around.

Dutch volcanologists have understood the direct relationship that existed between the height of the lake in the crater and the violence of the explosions. They have installed a spillway in the east wall of the crater that allows to lower and regulate the lake level.

How Come There is a Blue Flame at Ijen Crater?

It is because of sulfur, which under certain conditions of pressure and temperature, ignites and burns in the form of short, blue flames that often illuminate the walls of the crater at night.

Since 1968, an open pit mine has been opened there. An ingenious pipe system allows the 115 degree liquid sulfur to be channeled, crystallizing in a lemon yellow mass.

At the cracks of the outlets, the acid vapors condense in contact with the atmosphere, thus passing from the gaseous state to the liquid state before solidifying while cooling. 12 tons of sulfur appear every day at the bottom of the crater making Ijen Crater a real sulfur plant. Broken into plates or small blocks, it is transported on the backs of the miners out of the crater.

But what is sulfur and what is it for?

The word sulfur comes from the Latin “svelphlos” which means to burn slowly (hence the blue flames). Sulfur melts at 112 degrees, burns at 270 degrees, releasing sulfur dioxide, and mud at 444 degrees. Its density is 2.07 gr / cm3 and it is formed by oxidation of hydrogen sulfide solfatares.
Its first use is for sugar factories, where sulfur is used to whiten sugar made of sugar cane. The rest is used in pharmacy, chemical industry, or explosives manufacturing.

About 320 people (all from the village of Licin) carry two baskets on their shoulders, connected by a bamboo bar with loads of 60 to 90kg of sulfur. They walk over a distance of 6 kilometers after climbing 280 meters from the bottom of the crater.

6 to 8 tons of sulfur are extracted daily.

In addition to dangerous working conditions (permanent inhalation of sulfur dioxide), gases with hydrochloric and sulfuric acid can form huge bubbles that burst on the surface of the lake, transforming the bottom of the crater into a deadly trap.

In 1976, a bubble of this type asphyxiated 49 people out of the 50 who were working on the crater that day. In February 1989, there were also 25 victims at the bottom of the crater.

Eruptions of Ijen Crater

1993 Ijen Crater Eruption (Bandung Volcanology Center Activity Report)

The seismographs recorded a continuous tremor from June 18 to July 4, 1993. The maximum amplitude of the tremor took place on July 2, 3 and 4, 1993, then decreased after the phreatic eruptions.

The daily frequency of volcanic earthquakes also increased from June 22 to June 30, 1993. From 1 to 42 deep earthquakes and from 20 to 74 shallow earthquakes. Whereas usually only 0 to 1 deep earthquake and 0 to 2 superficial earthquakes were recorded.

On June 29, 93, the crater lake was a whitish green, different from its usual pale green color. Small bubbles were visible in two places in the south-east of the lake surface. The surface temperature rose from 30 ° C (14 June) to 41 ° C (25 July).

According to all these changes, in the evolution of the lake, we decided to ban the access to the volcano on 1 July 1993 in a zone of 3 km around the crater.

The Following Hazards:

  • Emanations of toxic gases from phreatic eruptions.
  • Blocks projected.
  • Pyroclastic flows.
  • Primary lahars that can result from phreatomatic magmatic eruptions.

The Chronology from June 18 to July 10, 1993

  • June 18: A continuous tremor was recorded by radio-seismograph at VSI-LICIN (Banyuwangi Observatory).
  • 18 – 21 June: The amplitude of the tremor continued to increase.
  • June 22: Recording of 37 superficial volcanic earthquakes.
  • 22 – 25 June: The amplitude of the tremor increased.
  • June 26: Recording of 4 deep volcanic earthquakes.
  • June 27th – 30th: Increase in the number of deep and superficial earthquakes. Increased amplitude of the tremor.
  • June 29: The water of the lake (35 °) was pale green (bubbling to the South East). The lake covered with a very dense white vapor. Strong smell of sulfuric gas.
  • July 1-4: Increase in the amplitude of the tremor.
  • July 2: Lake color: whitish green. The temperature was 36 °. Lake covered with white and dense vapors from a height of 10m. The fumaroles emitted yellowish white vapor, the smell of sulfur was very strong.
  • July 3, 8:45 am: Sulfur carrier report: Groundwater eruption at the center of the lake with 2 large explosions. The lake became brown-green and the lake surface dark. No accident reported.
  • July 4th, 8:15 am: The water was whitish green. On the surface floated a fine white vapor of 3m height.
    • 8:35 am: Water eruption at the center of the crater from 10 to 15 meters high. The lake became brownish green. The eruption might be weaker than that of July 3rd.
    • 10:00 am: Always the same whitish green color.
    • 10:45 am: Smaller phreatic eruption in the center of the lake.
  • July 5th, 10:00 am: Fall of stones in the enclosure of the crater to the south.
  • July 7th, 2:15 am: According to the sulfur carriers present at the weighing place, a very violent roar came from the crater.
  • July 7-10: The maximum amplitude of the tremor decreased.

The most recent observations (July 27) showed that volcanic earthquakes and discontinuous tremor were always recorded by seismographs, although the number of events was much lower than that of June 26 to July 4. The water was 41 ° C, whitish green. Always boiling SE of the lake surface. No more whitish yellow vapors of fumaroles, no more strong smell of sulfur.


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