Feb 27 2012

Java: Kawah Ijen from Banyuwangi

Published by at 10:16 am under Java


Kawah Ijen is one of the stunning highlights of a trip through Java and is a regular stop on many tours departing from Yogyakarta and ending up in Bali. The usual way of getting to Kawah Ijen on a tour involves heading to the inland town of Bondowoso and making your way up to the crater’s carpark via the rutted road and returning the same way. Independent travellers usually catch an angkot from Bondowoso to the final town before the crater which is serviced by public transport and then make the final ascent by ojek. But we here at Travelfish.org believe there is a better way for independent travellers to access Kawah Ijen if coming from or heading to Bali which saves time by using the access road leading to Banyuwangi, right next to the port from where ferries depart to Bali.

The acidic lake filling Kawah Ijen -- swimming not recommended

The acidic lake filling Kawah Ijen. Swimming not recommended.

Since Bondowoso lies inland in the hills 30 kilometres from the main highway which travels along the north coast of Java and Kawah Ijen is a further three hours from there, it takes much longer to travel via Bondowoso when travelling between Kawah Ijen and Bali than the alternative Banyuwangi route.

The surrounding mountains along the road to Kawah Ijen from Banyuwangi

The surrounding mountains along the road to Kawah Ijen from Banyuwangi.

With this in mind, if travelling from Bali it is possible to hire an ojek in Banyuwangi for the journey up to Kawah Ijen, have the ojek driver wait for you to climb up to the crater. The ojek can then to take you onwards to the bus terminal in Bondowoso or to a waiting angkot in the first town on the way down from the crater that is serviced by public transport, Sempol. This way you can avoid having to backtrack and waste time.

70kg basket of sulphur waiting for human transportation

Some 70 kilograms of sulphur waiting for human transportation.

The same is true for those travelling in an easterly direction from places such as Gunung Bromo. Buses from dusty Probolinggo on the coast below Gunung Bromo will take you directly to Bondowoso, where most will stay overnight before taking an angkot to Sempol early the next day. From Sempol it is possible to hire an ojek who will take you to Kawah Ijen, wait for you and then take you onwards to Banyuwangi or a further six kilometres to the ferry port for onward travel to Bali.

In the bowels of the crater where the miners do their thing in horrendous conditions

In the bowels of the crater.

The road from Banyuwangi to Kawah Ijen starts off in great condition, but as you get closer to the top, it deteriorates into something resembling the surface of the moon. It’s steep, rocky and even cars have trouble traversing it. But that’s part of the adventure of travelling this way. After a few voluntary motorcycle dismounts and some involuntary near dismounts, you arrive at your destination a good few hours ahead of most other travellers choosing the more circuitous route via Bondowoso.

We know this is not the moon because of the surrounding jungle (and the motorbike)

We know this is not the moon because of the surrounding jungle (and the motorbike).

Whichever route you choose, the utlimate prize is witnessing Kawah Ijen — and that makes everything worthwhile.

The prize that awaits those with determination -- magnificent Ijen crater

The prize that awaits those with determination: magnificent Ijen crater.

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5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Java: Kawah Ijen from Banyuwangi”

  1. […] read online accounts and met plenty of tourists who didn’t see the blue flames or the sunrise.  Absolutely don’t […]

  2. Nick Lamporton 22 Jan 2014 at 9:35 am

    Just FYI i travelled the road from Banyuwangi to Pos Paltuding (Kawah Ijen) three nights ago and am happy to report that its all sealed now and is an easy drive of just over an hour. I left at midnight, got there at 1.10 am and started walking straight up. I got a head start on everybody else and had the crater, miners, steam, sulhur and blue fire all to myself for about 45 minutes before the rest of the hikers arrived. Absolutely fantastic experience!

  3. androolon 22 Apr 2014 at 5:53 pm

    any idea on how much it will cost for an ojek from banyuwangi for the journey up to kawah ijen, wait and down to bondowoso after?

  4. Adam Poskitton 23 Apr 2014 at 7:10 am

    @androol – I paid 150,000 rupiah a couple of years back when the road was like the surface of the moon and incredibly difficult to pass. But the road has apparently been improved since then meaning a quicker journey and less wear and tear on the motorbike. By the same token, petrol prices have risen by 50% in that time. 150,000 rupiah would still be a reasonable price for the journey, but you might be able to get someone willing to do it more cheaply if you really look ask around.

  5. benon 28 Sep 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Hey, just for some more info…..did the trip this morning with a rented motorbike. The road is first class all the way to the top from Banyuwangi to Ijen, and well signed all the way from town. Motorbike rentals are a little hard to find in Banyuwangi, but we got a pretty much brand new bike from Tripoli Tours. Rented it around 4pm and returned around 1pm the following day and paid for 65,000 IDR. Really helpful staff and give a full map with detailed directions to get out of town.

    This article was super helpful and planted the seed! The only thing we did differently was to head back to Banyuwangi – had to return the bike.

    You’d have to be crazy to take a tour up there, in my opinion, when you can do it on your own this way…..also worth noting that there were literally thousands of people up there this morning. I’m not sure if that’s normal, as many accounts I’ve read claim to have the place to themselves when they leave at midnight to get up there (as we did). It was a mob scene on par with Yellowstone, Yosemite, etc. in the states. Maybe some kind of holiday, as it seemed to be 99% Indonesians……I was really surprised at the crowds, but it was still amazing.

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