If you’re heading to Surabaya, Mount Ijen is a place you wouldn’t want to miss! Here lies the world’s largest acidic lake, the legendary blue flames and also one of the best views of nature you can ever get in Asia!
How a day at Mount Ijen looks like
We slept at 8pm the night before and woke up at 12am to prepare for our trek. Our private driver picked us up at our hotel at Ijen and we began our 2 hours drive to Paltuding, the parking area of Mount Ijen. We arrived and the temperature there was totally not what I expected. It was approximately 5 to 8 degrees cold and fortunately, we got to enjoy some warm drinks before starting on the trek. I only had myself to blame for not researching enough before the trip.
Start of the hike – The Ascend
We began hiking at around 2am and the hike lasted for about 1.5 hours. The first 45 minutes of the hike was on wide soil roads but because of the large change in altitude, our breaths got shorter and faster with each step. Do remember to take breaks if you have to!
We had a toilet break and collected our face masks then too to protect ourselves from the sulphur that was approaching. There is a restroom in the middle of the trek, for which you have to pay a small fee for. Hence, do take care to hydrate regularly on the way up, but only take care to spam your water when you’re ready for a descend as you might be spending a good 45 minutes at the peak admiring the beautiful scenery.
The Blue Flames
The next half of the hike was a sharp descent down rocky beds till we were close enough to see the blue flame. The smell of sulphur was so strong here we had to put on the face masks and even so, it was difficult to breathe without choking on that unpleasant smell.
Also, look at how dark the sky was then. We completed the descend downwards in utter darkness, and only that torchlight around my neck to guide me through
Reaching our destination
We finally arrived at the legendary blue flame of Mount Ijen at around 4am. This blue fire is ignited sulphuric gas, which emerges from cracks at temperatures up to 600 °C. It’s crazy as you can feel the heat from way above.
I even saw locals near the flames, with no protective gear, mining the sulphuric stones. It’s heart-breaking to see such a scene of how locals are risking their lifespan in exchange for some cash.
World’s Largest Acidic Lake
At about 5am, we left the blue flame and headed upwards to catch the sunrise and a view of the world’s largest acidic lake. The view was spectacular with the clouds on one side, and the volcano on the other.
We were fighting with the winds then to take a proper photo without getting any of our items blown away, including ourselves.
After taking in the spectacular view, we started on our descend. The route was much easier to navigate now that the sun is up. However, the continuous strong winds kicked up the soil and sent them straight to our eyes and mouths. I wished I had some lab goggles or sunglasses then to save my poor eyes. Fortunately, I had a cotton mask with me which kept me warm during the ascend, and now the soil during the descend.
We reached the base of Mount Ijen at 7am smelling like sulphur. And what’s better than having some warm snacks after working hard the entire cold morning?
We got a portion of freshly fried bananas at the base of Ijen to warm us up before driving back.
It was only 9am when we arrived back at the hotel. So we washed up and clocked in more sleep hours before checking out, preparing for the next half of the day when we visited a gorgeous waterfall called Tumpak Sewu waterfall.
Things to bring to prepare for the trek:
- Lightweight down jacket or hiking jacket to keep warm
- Sunglasses or clear goggles
- Face masks
- Hiking shoes
- Torchlight that can be hung around your neck to light up your path during the trek in the dark
- Bottled water
How did we get around Surabaya:
We signed up for a private tour package with one of the local tour groups in Surabaya. I cannot ask for a better private tour guide and itinerary planned out for us! If you are interested in this, feel free to drop me a message or otherwise, contact them directly to make your booking!