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Mesmerizing visit to Kawah Ijen

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We spend the night in a hotel with a nice pool and terribly dingy rooms with the worse bathroom ever. It’s nice to have there own sleeping bag 😉 Not only because of the condition of everything around, but also because of severe cold at night – don’t count on anything but cover sheet. But to my surprise nothing strange bit me there (what usually happens), so it may just looked a little scary.

Originally we should leave Sempol Village hotel at four in the morning, however, we were informed about the opportunity to see the blue flames – for extra charge – if we will start trip around one o’clock. Kawah Ijen flames are visible only till sunrise. Other members of the group knew about this a little bit more from friends who visited this place and highly recommended to watch the blue fire, so we decided to join them after about four hours of sleeping.

Blue flames in Kawah Ijen

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Kawah Ijen

The route to the top is not particularly long, but steep. It takes about 1.5 hours, then one has to be careful on the way down in the dark passing working miners. It is very narrow, and also curious eyes start to stare on the smoke and blue flames. It is good to take your own head lamp. There are only a few guides and if one stays in the tail like me (I just prefer it 😛 I hate when someone is moaning behind my back), one is left alone in total darkness. For this reason, instead of staying by the lake for about 45 minutes we were there about 3 hours and we returned from Kawah Ijen by ourselves, meeting tourists from other groups along the way. Somehow it happened that a guide in the darkness did not inform everyone that the group is gathering and did not bother to look for a missing person. So we accidentally stayed in the crater, because of that we managed to do some photos during sunrise. Conditions for shooting were very difficult and I am surprised that some pics turned out well. We were on time at the meeting point, because our group spent two hours near the summit. The descent is not pleasant, because you can easily slip and hurt yourself. But overall this is the route for everyone, one will need more time the other one less. Good place for the average tourist.

 

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Acid lake i crater

I have to admit that this is probably my favorite point of the trip to Indonesia, it was brilliant! I saw once documentary about Kawah Ijen and I was always thinking it would be wonderful to see such a place. I never expected that I could get there! I highly recommend it to everyone!

For visit Kawah Ijen is good to buy the mask. And I do not mean the usual “anti germs” mask, but the one resistant to chemicals. I had the most popular and basic mask plus scarf and sometimes I couldn’t stand it. But it is feasible 😉 Wind blows strongly, you never know when you will be in the “fresh” air and when in the middle of sulfuric blast. I guarantee that you will run out of breath, once sulfur vapors gets into your lungs you will have an impression that if you will need to take next breath you will not be able to do it. Also it is not recommended to take a top outfit. My trekking jacket stinks till today despite several washes and airing out. Maybe because of the addition of a silver in the fabrics. My ring and earrings in literally five minutes turned black, it was hard to clean. I did it eventually at home. Do not put your fingers into the lake, because you can get burned, tested ;P

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Deadly work of miners

Kawah Ijen despite being a miracle of nature is also a place of hard and deadly work of Indonesian miners. Apparently, their life expectancy is 40 years. Baskets weigh from 60 to 90 kilograms. They receive 800 rupees per kilogram of sulfur. Very often they do not protect themselves against toxic smoke. Much is written about drinks and candy bars people could take with them to share with miners and porters – actually they enjoy it with smile, it’s nice to be able to give a little bit of something nice during this incredibly hard work. However, if I could go there again one day I’ll buy a decent masks, as many as I can afford, to give them to these hard workers. They earn very little, some of them get extra money for guiding, taking care of the people exposed to the hostile surrounding (crag, acid lake, toxic vapors). As it turned out accidentally they get a small fraction of the money that is payed to operators and they did not know about that. The case came out thanks to a French friend, she learned Indonesian during studies in Yogyakarta. It was unpleasant for all of us, and I hope that this discovery and friend’s intervention will regulate this matter in the future.

The tour ends with the ride to the port with a ferry to Bali 🙂 We buy the tickets and head for the new adventures.

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Ijen | is a complex of active (strato)volcanoes in eastern Java. Caldera is about 20 km in diameter, the height of 2799 m above sea level. Kawah Ijen is the world’s largest, acidic crater lake with a diameter of 1 km. Inside the crater there are also hot springs and fumaroles at a temperature of 170-245 degrees Celsius (some sources say up to 600 deg. Celsius) Ceramic pipes which are placed near to lake discharge volcanic, sulfuric gas, which, after cooling, becomes a red liquid, and then solidifies turning into yellow blocks of almost pure sulfur. Last eruption occurred in 2002.

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