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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

EAST JAVA'S SPOTLIGHT: IJEN CRATER

Early June 2015

Catching the blue fire

MT. IJEN PLATEAU is a stretched-out volcanic region located at the southeast tip of Java Island and in neighbor with (Merapi 2800 mASL), and Raung (3332 mASL). It's legendary blue fire and beautiful turquoise sulfurous lake will easily seduced you to have eyegasm.

To catch the blue fire, you should start your hiking at around 2 PM. It needs around 1 - 2 hours to reach the crater's lips. You'll need another 30 minutes to descend the crater trough a gravelly path which is quite slippery if you want to get closer to the source of blue fire. (Actually visitors are prohibited to step down to the crater base. But in fact most of visitors disobey it. Moreover no officer is watching there.)

For your own good sake, please wear a proper shoes for hiking. And don't forget to wear mask to prevent inhaling hazardous gas due to active volcanic activity. For photographer, of course don't forget to bring tripod to hold the camera firmly especially while capturing the blue fire.

The turquoise lake

As one of the sulfur mining center, here we can see many traditional mining workers. They will go back and forth from the base to the crater 2 - 3 times during their 6 to 8 hours of working which started laterally at midnight. From the crater each of them will carry the 'yellow stone' in two baskets balanced on their shoulders by using a special bamboo stick. And each basket weights up to 80 kg. Some of them will offer you to buy crafted yellow stone they make as souvenirs which are are usually in flower, animal, and cartoon shapes. Each only costs 1 kIDR. If you want to take their picture, or to be photographed with them, it's necessary for you to give some tips or share your cigarettes.

Mt. Raung in distance

On sunrise, you can see the beauty of paddlepop-rainbow-colored sky becomes the canopy of the magnificent turquoise lake. And while going back to the base camp, you can see the sea of clouds and also mighty Mt. Raung (3332 mASL) stands dashingly in distant. 

If you have some extra time, you may also wander the adjacent village in Bondowoso region. There you could stroll around the coffee plantation and even have a free tour at the coffee factory. You can also visit beautiful waterfalls named Kartimor and Bubble Waterfall.

How to Get There:

There are 2 (two) main accesses to reach Paltuding, the base camp at Mt. Ijen's foothill, i.e. from Banyuwangi and Bondowoso. Most tourist come by rented car/jeep from one of those cities (150 kIDR/passenger or 500 kIDR/jeep). Meanwhile the locals come by riding their own motorcycles. However, it's still possible for visitors to take public transport to reach Ijen.

1) From Banyuwangi

From Banyuwangi's Blambangan bus station you shall take angkot Lin 3 to Sasak Perot (5 kIDR). Then take a mini bus to Jambu (10 kIDR). From Jambu you can take ojek to deliver you to Paltuding (70 - 100 kIDR). Or, you can try to 'hitchhike' the miners truck which usually depart literally on midnight. For way back, the miners truck will leave Paltuding at around 11 AM.

2) From Bondowoso

From Bondowoso bus station, take elf (small bus) heading to Sempol Afdeling (3 hrs, 20 kIDR). If you're lucky enough the elf might deliver you few more kilometers up to Margahayu Afdeling. Please be noted that the last elf will depart from Bondowoso at 8 AM.

From Sempol, you shall continue your journey to Paltuding by ojek (motor-taxi) that will charge you around 100 - 150 kIDR. Meanwhile if you get off at Margahayu, don't believe when people there say that Paltuding is quite close, roughly 3 km only, and walk-able. Believe me, it's not true. It's better for you to take ojek (70-100 kIDR). My buddies and I were frustrated after 3 hours walking (with walking speed 4-5 km/hour) from Margahayu but not yet reached Paltuding. Lucky us that later on there was the forest fire fighter who gave us free ride to Paltuding.

Operational Hours:

In consideration of preventing hazardous sulfurous activities, the trek is open only from 2 AM to 2 PM. Some bule (foreigner) might get exception because they are considered to have stronger legs. So that the officer will let them to hike outside that official operational hours.

Entrance Fee:

Local: 5 kIDR on weekdays, 7 kIDR on weekend
Foreigner: 100 kIDR on weekdays, 150 kIDR on weekend

Camera fee: 15 kIDR

Where to Stay:

Many tourist stay at Bondowoso or Banyuwangi and come to Ijen for one-day trip.

However in Paltuding, there some some bungalows which are rented for the visitors. There is also camping ground at Paltuding and clean public toilets. Each tent will be charged of 15 kIDR per night. Since the night will be so cold, don't forget to bring sleeping bag when you decide to stay here.

Or, you could stay at nearby village in coffee plantation area (both in Kebun Belawan and Kebun Kalisat), Bondowoso region, where there are various kind of places to stay at (homestay, villa, bungalow, resort).

What to Eat:

In Paltuding there are some food stalls serving hot drinks, snacks, and even meals (fried rice and instant noodle).

-ariana-

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