Photo: A spectacular outlook.

Kawah Ijen from Banyuwangi

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The landscape of far eastern Java is dominated by the Ijen volcano complex—an over 15km wide ancient caldera of which the northern crescent-shaped rim is still clearly visible. Just to the southwest of the complex sits Gunung Raung (3,332m), while Gunung Merapi (2,803m) forms a part of its eastern slopes. In the shadows of Merapi, just to the west, lies the main attraction, the spectacular and other-worldly Kawah Ijen (2,350m).





Superlatives sit well with Kawah Ijen. Ijen’s crater lake is not just Java’s largest crater lake, it is also the largest highly acidic crater lake in the world. Ijen is also famous for its “blue fire” (sometimes erroneously reported as being blue lava) a natural phenomenon caused by sulphuric gas igniting upon contact with oxygen. Most importantly though, Kawah Ijen is famous for its sulphur mining, a dangerous and difficult undertaking where miners pipe the escaping sulphuric gas through ceramic pipes, allowing it to condensate and gather in molten pools. Once cooled, the sulphur is broken up and lugged out of the crater—all as the workers labour in clouds of the toxic gas. In all of Indonesia there is nowhere quite as breathtaking (often literally) as Kawah Ijen and it ranks along side Bromo as a highlight for many first time visitors to Java.

Don’t forget your camera. Photo taken in or around Kawah Ijen from Banyuwangi, Banyuwangi, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Don’t forget your camera. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Kawah Ijen can be approached from both the east (from Banyuwangi) and the west (from Bondowoso) with the former being by far the more popular approach, perhaps due to the proximity to Bali, a drastically improved road surface and the fact that pretty much every man and his dog can arrange an organised trip to Kawah Ijen from Banyuwangi.

You can also approach it independently but for this you’ll need your own transport (a hired car or scooter) to reach basecamp. If you are planning on riding a scooter up, while reasonably well signposted, exercise care as some of the road, while resurfaced, remains very steep and is not well suited to novice motorbike riders. You have read your travel insurance ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Location map for Kawah Ijen from Banyuwangi

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