Mount Bromo and Ijen – Volcano hikes

October 3 to 5 – Mount Bromo and Ijen

Months ago when we started thinking about this trip we were looking at photos trying to figure out what we wanted to do.  Volcano hikes sounded really cool, the photos of Mount Bromo and Ijen looked awesome, and the hikes agreed with our tight timeline so that was that. Johnny and I were agonizing over the details and best options for getting from Yogyakarta back to Bali with stopping at Mount Bromo and Ijen along the way. It was getting kind of overwhelming so when we found we could book a tour that covered all the things we wanted to do then that made it all so easy. Direct train from Yogyakarta to Probolinggo, then private car to Mount Bromo, on to Ijen and then to the ferry to Bali. Awesome!


Left the hotel at about 6AM to catch the train from Yogyakarta to Probolinggo. It wasn’t the most comfortable train but it was way better than a bus. In Java it seems you can look in any direction and see a volcano so it was fun to see some along the train. Oh and lots of rice fields. Of course from our last trip in Asia you all know how much I like rice fields.


The first day of our 3 day/2 night tour was a travel day. After the train took us to Probolinggo we were shuttled into a nice SUV and driven up to Cemoro Lawang, a little town on the base of Mount Bromo. It was a long travel day but the hotel was really nice aside from the bed missing some essential pieces so that we struggled not to fall through the bed while we slept.


The next day we were out the door by 4AM to get up to Mount Bromo for sunrise. When we got there it was too dark to see anything but as the first signs of light came it became apparent we may not see anything because of all the cloud.


The clouds cleared enough to get some pretty good shots. See that big plume of smoke left of centre? That’s an erupting volcano. Normally going to Mount Bromo means going to this lookout on Mount Penanjakan and then going to the rim of the volcano directly in the centre of the photo. But because of the eruption it meant we couldn’t get any closer. Shucks.


Ahhh. The clouds parted. Kidding. This is a postcard of what was in front of us if only we could see it.


We pissed a few people off taking this photo. A lot of people were at this lookout and some people were taking time-lapse photos. They couldn’t set up this tripod in a worst place because everyone was constantly going in front of them to get a photo.


When you set up your tripod for time-lapse photography, you need to take your surroundings into consideration.


It’s really beautiful and tranquil up here near Mount Bromo. You see how steep those fields are up ahead!?! It looks like you’d fall to your doom if you tripped while pulling some weeds.


After Mount Bromo we were back in the SUV to go to Sempol for the night. I found this cute little puppy during a rest stop.


The next day we were on the road at 1AM to hike up to Ijen. It was about 3.5km to the rim at 2300m and then from there we descended into the crater to see the blue fire.


Ijen is a volcano known for its sulfur. The sulfur gas is highly acidic and burns your lungs so bad that you have to wear these respirators. The respirators work to some extent but they can’t keep out all the acid. Of course we had nothing to protect our burning eyes. Why are we doing this again?


That’s a line of tourists all making their way up and down the crater. It was super dangerous even without the acidic gas.


That’s really cool. It’s molten sulfur!


Ever wonder what liquid sulfur looks like?


Blue fire! Blue fire is sulfur gas when it is so hot that it ignites. The gas is about 600°C (1100F).


These sulfur miners haul out of the crater up to 100kg (220 pounds) of sulfur all without any safety equipment. This guy had boots but most had sandals. The strongest workers manage two loads a day and get about $15. That’s considered a good job. I felt pretty crummy coming to Ijen for fun (fun that I never want to repeat) while these workers have no choice.


Ijen is the largest acid crater lake in the world. The view is stellar. Unfortunately the winds were not favorable to clear out the sulfur gas from the crater.


All that sulfur gas was so inconvenient.


Doesn’t it look like hell?


Another volcano on the hike down from Ijen. The views are way better in the daylight as opposed to when we hiked up in the pitch dark.


These guys were offering to haul us up and down the first part of the hike. The crater part of the hike there’s no way anything like that could ever make it.


After Ijen we got back in the SUV and drove to the ferry that would take us to Bali. The ferry was supposed to take an hour but Java and Bali are so close I didn’t see how it could ever take so long. Now I know. Ferries leave Java to Bali way more frequently than the port at Bali can accommodate so that more than half the trip we just sit and wait for our turn to dock. Why the ferries leave so frequently when there’s no where for them to go? I can’t say.


The ferry in the background is similar to the ferry we’re on. Can you see the ignorance on my face? We heard but did not believe that once you get to Bali it’s another more than four hours to get to where we wanted to go. We didn’t believe 140km could take so long… it did. Traffic is sooooo bad in Bali. Worst than anywhere I’ve ever been.


We made it! Now back in Bali we’re staying at an awesome hotel. We’re too old to rough it.


This will be fine for the last five days in Bali.

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