Ok, I’ve officially been in Java for 18 hours, and I’m already in LOVE with the island. If you’re visiting Bali, definitely consider a trip over to its neighbouring island – and the main island of Indonesia.
This infatuation began when I got on the ferry crossing. I was jabbering away to my camera (I’ve now started a Youtube channel to document my Bali to London trip) and looked up and was – for once – lost for words. The clouds that had been infront of me when I’d arrived had cleared, and in its place was the silhouette of a volcano, bathed in a multicoloured sunset.
Java is one of the best islands for hiking in Indonesia, and i’d already decided to climb up one of these volcanoes – possibly even the one that I could see – that very night. Here’s what I learned by hiking up Mount Ijen, including top tips for you on everything Mount Ijen related.
How to Get to Mount Ijen
You’ll want to stay in Banyuwangi before hiking Mount Ijen – more on Banyuwangi in a moment. From the city, it’s best to take part in an organized tour. These can be arranged easily through your accommodation and cost around 300,000 IDR.
The tour includes an English speaking guide, transport to and from Mount Ijen (about an hour and a half each way), entrance to the park, use of a gas mask and torch, coffee and fried bananas and an optional stop at a waterfall en-route.
It is possible to reach Mount Ijen from Banyuwangi without a tour, but you’ll need to hire out your own motorbike and pay for the entrance fee and if you’re going into the crater, you’ll have to hire a gas mask. Don’t venture into one without, it’s dangerous.
If you opt for the tour, it will pick you up at around midnight.
Hiking Mount Ijen
The Mount Ijen hike is fairly strenuous but doable for anyone with a decent fitness level. The first couple of hours is quite steep; you’ll be doing this in the dark. Then once you reach the top, it’s time to descend into the crater.
The paths here look terrifying, I’m not going to lie. But they’re not as bad as they seem. I was the only person who managed to fall over that I saw (of course, wouldn’t expect any less would ya?) – luckily I only had a scraped shin. There are some scary looking drops – but the path is wide enough for these not to be a risk.
When you’re making your way down, make sure you look out for miners coming up and let them cross – they have right of way.
Your guide will tell you when to put your gas mask on. Make sure you keep it on the whole time – even without it, it’s not pleasant to be around it for too long! I personally didn’t spend that much time by the flames because I really didn’t like the gassy smell. Watching them above was equally interesting! It’s also pretty cool (and scary) when you realise that you’re literally inside a volcanic crater. Just hanging out, you know?
As it starts to get light, you’ll notice that there is a MASSIVE BLUE LAKE right by where you were standing. Try to reach the summit again for sunrise if possible, but even if you don’t the view is pretty dayum fantastic from a slightly higher vantage point.
The huge blue lake and the different colours in the sunrise, the hills and rock are really unlike something I’ve ever seen. You’ll get some time to soak it all in before descending!
It’s then about an hours’ walk back to the car park, going down the same route and to the car. It’s a popular trek, so don’t worry about getting lost, but do try to stay with your group!
Things to pack for the Mount Ijen tour
The overnight Mount Ijen hike doesn’t require too much equipment; as mentioned, if you’re doing a tour you’ll get your gas mask and torch supplied.
You might want to remember these other things:
- Warm clothes – it’s a lot colder here than in Banyuwangi!
- Camera – of course, you’ll need to get plenty of photos for this one! I use and recommend the Fuji X-a3, the camera on my Samsung Galaxy S9 and my Go Pro Hero 5.
- Plenty of water – with a Water-to-go bottle, you can drink tap water anywhere.
- Some snacks – it’s an early start and you don’t get anything to eat until you’re down from the mountain
How to get to Banyuwangi from Bali
It’s easy, albeit kind of long, to reach Banyuwangi from Bali. First you need to get to Ubung Bus Station in Denpasar. Hop on the next bus to Gilimanuk. This takes around three and a half hours and will cost you anything between 40,000 IDR to 80,000 IDR. Once at Gilimanuk, transfer to the ferry terminal and purchase a ticket for the next ferry (6,000 IDR). You can then board the ferry and relax!
At the other end, you can either arrange transport from someone outside the port, or request a pick up from your accommodation. I didn’t have data, so couldn’t request pick up and ended up in a taxi, which my homestay said was overcharged at 50,000 IDR. It should cost 20,000 IDR.
Where to Stay in Banyuwangi
Banana Homestay is probably the best homestay I’ve ever stayed in. The local owners are so incredibly sweet and speak great English. They had a big family dinner when I was there (which was a special occasion, but I get the feeling it’s got a community feel most nights!) with some local children who like to come round to learn English from the guests. If you want to stay somewhere where you can chat to locals, have excellent advice about the area, and have someone really look after you, there’s nowhere better than here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Mount Ijen trekking guide! For more Indonesia content, check out my Bali itinerary and my Java itinerary (coming soon!).