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Indonesia

Kawah Ijen

Discover the mesmerizing blue flames of Kawah Ijen, an otherworldly phenomenon found only at this stunning volcanic crater in Indonesia.

Kawah Ijen, located in East Java, Indonesia, is one of the few volcanos on Earth that produce a striking blue flame that most people confuse with blue lava. The blue flame phenomenon is caused by the combustion of sulfuric gases emerging from ground cracks and igniting when in contact with the air. The flame hugs the ground and slowly spreads out, emulating the characteristics of molten lava, except blue! The mountain is part of the Ijen volcano complex, with a long history of volcanic activity dating back thousands of years. This unique geological feature has made Kawah Ijen a focal point for scientific study and volcano tourism.

The hike to Kawah Ijen is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a challenging adventure that rewards with breathtaking views and a unique trekking experience. The trail typically begins around midnight to ensure hikers can reach the crater by dawn when the blue flames are most visible. The trek spans approximately three kilometers with a steep incline, a test of endurance that takes around two hours to conquer. Equipped with gas masks to protect against the sulfur fumes, hikers descend into the crater itself to witness the blue flames up close and observe miners extracting sulfur by hand, providing a glimpse into the arduous and dangerous labor in this harsh environment.

Visiting Kawah Ijen is a must for nature enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and photographers alike. The surreal blue flames, the turquoise acidic crater lake, and the dramatic landscape create an unforgettable experience. Additionally, the cultural aspect of witnessing the traditional sulfur mining process adds a layer of depth and understanding to the visit. Whether you’re drawn by the natural wonder or the opportunity to explore one of Earth’s most unusual landscapes, Kawah Ijen offers an adventure that will leave a lasting impression.

Kawah Ijen Uncensored

Kawah Ijen Volcano has been on my bucket list for quite some time, and unfortunately, it remains on my bucket list even though I experienced this extraordinary destination in 2023. When I visited, Ijen was in a heightened level of unrest, and increased seismic activity and sulfur dioxide emissions severely limited access to the tours of Ijen for safety reasons, including a temporary ban on midnight hikes to see the Blue Lava. 

My adventure at Kawah Ijen began with a challenging 3-kilometer hike from the Taman Wisata Alam Kawah Ijen gate. The hike started off relatively easy, but the paved trail soon gave way to an unpaved path that wound its way up the mountainside, featuring steep inclines of 30-40 degrees. Over the course of this hike, I ascended nearly 500 meters, a feat that was both physically demanding and rewarding. Throughout the hike, I encountered some of Java’s most beautiful, relatively untouched landscapes. 

Summiting the Ijen Volcano generally takes 2’ish hours, depending on your physical capabilities. I broke no speed records on my hike as my backpack was full of heavy camera gear, and the weather was less than ideal.

When visiting Kawah Ijen, the weather is a significant factor that can greatly influence your experience. The conditions at the start of your journey may be vastly different from those at the ridge of the volcanic caldera. Heavy fog is a common occurrence, often limiting visibility to the turquoise lake and obstructing the view of the breathtaking volcanic landscape. The winds, too, can be unpredictable, either dispersing the sulfuric gas clouds away from the ridge or blowing them right overtop. Either way, it’s best to be prepared for the possibility of encountering sulfuric dioxide during your visit.

I wouldn’t call my adventure to the Kawah Ijen Volcano a failure. Still, I will return when I can summit this amazing destination overnight and experience its eerie electric blue flames that this destination is known for!

Everything you need to know before you visit Kawa Ijen

CURRENT WEATHER

13 C
/ 55 F

overcast clouds

AIR QUALITY

119

Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups

Map of the area

GPS COORDINATIONS

-8.0620, 114.2470

HIGH SEASON (MOST EXPENSIVE)

April – October

LOW SEASON (LEAST EXPENSIVE)

November – March

TIME SPENT

6+ Hours

LOCAL CURRENCY

Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)

CLOSEST AIRPORT

BWX

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