East Java

Ijen Crater

Love Engine | Thursday, 07 April 2016 - 18:52:19 WIB | be read: 3423 reader


The fabled Ijen Plateau is a vast volcani¬†region dominated by the three cones of¬†Ijen (2368m), Merapi (2800m) and Raung¬†(3332m). A beautiful and thickly forested alpine¬†area, these thinly populated highlands¬†harbour coffee plantations and a few isolated¬†settlements ‚Äď Gunung Ijen is Javanese for¬†‚ÄėLonely Mountain‚Äô. Access roads to the plateau¬†are poor, and perhaps because of this¬†visitor numbers are low.

Virtually everyone that does come is here for the hike up to the spectacular crater lake of Kawah Ijen. But with sweeping vistas and a temperate climate, the plateau could make a great base for a few days up in the clouds away from the crowds.


The magnificent turquoise sulphur lake of Kawah Ijen lies at 2148m above sea level and is surrounded by the volcano’s sheer crater walls. Ijen’s last major eruption was in 1936, though a minor ash explosion occurred in 1952. At the edge of the lake, sulphurous smoke billows out from the volcano’s vent and the lake bubbles when activity increases.

Ijen is a major sulphur-gathering centre (see the boxed text, below ) and you’ll pass the collectors as you hike up the trail. Most now ask for a fee for photographs, though a cigarette will usually be accepted as payment. The ideal time to make the Kawah Ijen hike is in the dry season between April and October, but though the path is steep, it’s not too slippy so it’s certainly worth a try in rainy season if you have a clear day.
Make it for sunrise if you can. The starting point for the trek to the crater is the PHKA post (01:30 am) at Pos Paltuding,
which can be reached from Bondowoso or Banyuwangi. The steep 3km path up to the observation post (where there’s a tea house) takes just over an hour; keep an eye out for gibbons. From the post it’s a further 1.5-hours  walk to the lip of the wind-blasted crater and its stunning views.
From the crater, a steep, gravelly path¬†leads down to the sulphur deposits and the¬†steaming lake. The walk down takes about¬†30 minutes; the path is slippery in parts and¬†the sulphur fumes towards the bottom can¬†be overwhelming. Take great care ‚Äď a French¬†tourist fell and died some years ago.
Back at the lip of the crater, turn left for the climb to the crater’s highest point (2368m) and magnificent views, or keep walking anticlockwise for even more expansive vistas of the lake. On the other side of the lake, opposite the vent, the trail disappears into crumbling volcanic rock and deep ravines. 

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