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My second day in Banyuwangi was just me waiting to go to Kawah Ijen at midnight - we wanted to see the blue fire that everyone talks about! So, I slept a lot, took care of some pictures from the previous days and, at around 20h, I drank a coffee! Unfortunately I would regret this decision very soon, because Kawah Ijen was still not accessible because of fog! So we decided to go at 6AM and forget the blue fire... With that arranged, I would wake up at 5AM, take a shower and leave with my host.  

We ended up leaving a bit later, at around 7AM, and went on our way. I was told to wear clothes that did not matter a lot to me because they could get yellow from the sulfur. The problem is: when you travel, you don't carry around clothes that you don't like. Anyway, I pulled off some random t-shirt and a pair of shorts and I was ok.

I was told to bring a jacket, which may sound like it makes no sense because the day was really hot - but I brought one because in higher altitudes the temperature drops. Also, I covered myself with the amount of sunscreen that could cover 2 people - just in case. We started our trip and it took around 2h to get to Ijen.

When we got there, immediately I start seing westerners - they were french, as I learned by standing in the queue to the toilet. You really should consider using the toilet before going, as there is only nature from then on - and it's around 3km up the mountain. The ticket to get in was Rp. 100 000, about 7,5€.

We started going up the hill, which is a dirt road surrounded by mountains. For someone who is fit, 3km up can be done in 40 minutes, with a bit of rest in the middle - I run 5km flat in 30 minutes. I was planning on walking up, maintaining my heart rate at a stable rhythm, controling my breathing carefuly, as at high altitudes you get less oxygen in every breath you take. Because my host is a little less used to exercise, I went ahead while he was resting and waited for him later on.


The road goes to kawah ijen


As I was going up I passed by people who were going down and I could see that it was not easy - the dirt road is very slipery. But one thing that really made me amazed was that there were not only tourists coming down. There were also dozens of workers carrying baskets of sulfur down the hill as if it was nothing - later on I found out they were carrying the humble amount of 80KG!! 80KG, my dear Lord, that is like carrying my 1.90m 18 year old brother on my back down the hill.


He bring the sulfur


the basket around 80 kg


It was a good 40 minutes until we got to the first stop in a cafe at around 2100m - until then, the views were not specially impressive, but still a very nice walk. We sat down at the cafe drinking tea, while the sulful workers weighted their baskets in the scale - 80kg.

Every worker we passed smiled at us and greeted up, something I think I would not do with 80kg on my shoulders. They were all very dark skined and had weird lumps on their back. After our tea, we continued up - now it would just be 700m and it was easy, my host said.

So we walked side by side very easily. From that point on, the landscape is beautiful - we are finally high enough to see the surroundings and they are breath taking. When I start seeing the smoke, I start getting anxious! I had never seen a vulcanoe and that right there was the largest acidic lake in the world! I walk faster until... UAU. A big green lake with white smog was in front of me. It is an unforgetable view.


almost closer to Kawah ijen


We start getting closer and suddenly I smell sulfur - and that's not a good smell, specially because it's not good for our health. Luckily, my host though of everything and we had masks.The wind up there is unforgiving, so sometimes the sulfur would get to us. But when it cleared a little bit, we could enjoy that gorgeous scenery.




The best spot to enjoy kawah ijen


Try to closer on kawah ijen but the smog so strong!!!


We had the option of going down where the workers get the sulfur, but we decided not to go because of the amount of smog there today - the wind was causing it to be even more intense. But I could see the workers coming up with gas masks on and 80kg on their back - those guys are brave.

There was one in particular that broke my heart a little bit: a small man, with the sweetest face, who was probably about 60 years old. He had his back deformed by the job and he was definitely too old for that, but he was doing it anyway. After spending a good 30/40 minutes up there, we started our descent.


Go back but before that, capture the best view

I am usually better at going up than going down, and that was pretty clear after a while - the dirt road was getting to me and I fell on my butt. I went down very slowly from then on, felling humiliated because of the workers who were passing through me, much faster and much heavier. I was carrying only myself but somehow I kept falling! Then, my knees started to hurt from all the effort of trying to stay up...


Going down is danger than up hill for your knees


Hands up!!!


We took about 40 minutes to go down, and it was all my fault. After arriving, we went to the toilets an took the bigger amount of dirt of us that we could and headed towards the restaurant there, where we ate nasi and mie goreng and relaxed a little after this beautiful adventure.


courtesy; Rita Andrade