For hikers and nature lovers, Indonesia never ceases to amaze. Rushing waterfalls, endless greenery, magnificent flora, what’s not to like? But before you can say you’ve seen all the country has to offer, hiking the Ijen Volcano (Mount Ijen) can’t be missed. The sunrise trek will bring you face to face with blue fire, a crater lake, and a sunrise you won’t soon forget.
In this article, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about the Ijen Volcano hike. From how to get there to what to expect, we’ll make sure no stone is left unturned before you go on your journey. So, grab your boots, and let’s hike a volcano!
What is Mount Ijen?
Mount Ijen is situated in East Java, right next to the island of Bali. It’s a striking volcano that stands around 2,700 meters high. Scientists classify Mount Ijen as a dormant volcano because it’s not currently erupting, but that could change in the future. The good news is there would be clear signs in advance of an eruption, so hikers can go trekking with peace of mind.
Although Mount Ijen might not be the tallest volcano in Indonesia, its crater hosts the largest acidic lake in the world and has been like a magnet for hiking enthusiasts. The acidity of the lake gives the water a brilliant turquoise color–it makes for quite the photo opportunity.
In the darkness of night, the sulfur gas, burning at a temperature of more than 600°C, takes the appearance of a blue flame. The phenomenon is referred to as Ijen Blue Fire, and it’s one of the reasons starting your trek in the wee hours of the morning is crucial. The sulfur gases are so strong at certain points a mask may be needed, so be prepared for an adventure!
Is A Guided Tour Necessary?
The trail up to the summit is well-marked. You could manage on your own, but it’s a whole lot easier to do it with a guide. If you’re at all concerned about dealing with sulfur gas or missing out on the best viewpoints, booking a tour is the way to go. Your guide will provide you with a mask (they can also be rented at the parking lot), make sure you see the Ijen Blue Fire, and bring you to the best lookout point for the sunrise.
How to Get There
Getting to Ijen Volcano is fairly straightforward. You have three options: hiring a private driver, renting a car or scooter, or signing up for a guided tour that includes transportation. Most travellers who visit the volcano are coming from Malang or Bali, so let’s go over your best options.
Ijen Crater Tour from Malang–If you’re coming from Malang, we recommend first booking a tour with Mador Hostel . Literally they sort out everything, and you just sit back and enjoy the ride, and price is very cost effective. If you are looking to do it alone, first head over to the village of Licin. You can get there by car, train, bus, or plane (with a few taxis along the way). Once in Licin, you’ll be right next to the volcano. There will be a number of tours to sign up for, and your guide will pick you up from your accommodation.
Ijen Crater Tour from Bali – If you’re coming from Bali, you need to get to Gilimanuk on the western side of the island. You can get there by scooter, car or bus in about 4 hours. From there, you’ll take a ferry over to Java. We recommend staying in the village of Licin the day before your hike. All of this can be taken care of for you by signing up for a tour in Bali.
How Long is the Trek?
The trek is around 7 km long. It should take you about 6 hours in total to summit the volcano, see the crater lake, watch the sunrise, and make your way back down. One of the benefits of doing the hike yourself is you can go entirely at your own pace and enjoy the views as long as you’d like. But, by no means will you feel rushed on a guided tour, either.
We’d say the length of this hike is perfect–not too long, not too short. It’ll feel like a big adventure, but you won’t be stuck on a boring 10 to 12-hour trek.
Here’s a loose itinerary to give you an idea of what the hike will be like. This is based on a sunrise hike tour. If you decide to provide your own transportation and hike without a guide, times may vary.
Ijen Volcano Hike Itinerary
- 12:00 am – Get picked up from your hostel.
- 1:00 am – Arrive at the start of Ijen Volcano
- 2:00 am – Make it to Ijen Crater Lake
- 3:00 am – See the Ijen Blue Fire (time may vary depending on the day)
- 4:00 am – Arrive at the sunrise viewpoint
- 5:00 am to 6:00 am – Sit back, relax, and enjoy the views
- 6:30 am – Make your way back down
What to Expect
Compared with other volcano hikes in Indonesia, trekking up Mount Ijen isn’t ultra-strenuous. Don’t get us wrong, you’ll be hiking at an incline for a good 2 hours, but you won’t have to deal with scrambling or any technical hiking, and the trail is nice and wide. When you do reach a certain point up the hike, you will have to hike down to witness the Blue Fire. This part takes about 30-40 minutes, do watch your step as it is dark and rocky. There are plenty of rest stops along the way, so anyone who’s comfortable going on moderate hikes should have no trouble with the trek.
What to Bring?
Water – Rule number one of hiking, don’t leave without water. A couple large water bottles should do the trick. If you feel like you’re short on water, buy a bottle in the parking lot before starting the trek.
Layers of clothes – When you hike Ijen Volcano, layers will be your best friends. Starting the journey well before the sun comes up and being at elevation means it can get a bit chilly, so dress accordingly. We suggest a t-shirt, long-sleeve, and a waterproof jacket. Items you can shed as the day warms up are key.
Sun protection – Although you’ll start the hike in the dark, the sun will be shining by the time you come down. Pack sunscreen and a hat to avoid the ol’ sunburn!