Looking for adventure in Indonesia? Then the Mt Ijen hike might be right up your alley.
Located in East Java, Mt Ijen is home to the largest highly acidic lake in the world. The views from the top are breathtaking; almost as breathtaking as the toxic sulphuric gases that this volcano is continuously spewing.
Mt Ijen Hike: 15 Things To Know Before You Go
The hike up Mt Ijen is unlike anything in the world.
Regardless if you’re an experienced hiker or adventurer, you’ll want to know these 15 important tips for hiking Mt Ijen:
1. The Best Time To Hike Mt Ijen
The Mt Ijen hike is accessible year-round, however, there are optimal times throughout the year to go.
Rainy season in East Java runs from November to March, so it’s best to schedule your Mt Ijen hike with this in mind.
With that said, we ventured up Mt Ijen in March and had perfect weather, despite it being “rainy season”.
Overall, don’t let the fear of being rained on keep you from hiking into Ijen Crater.
Note: To avoid the intense Javanese sun, we strongly suggest hiking up Mt Ijen for sunrise.
2. Pack Warm Clothes
As you prepare for your Mt Ijen hike, you’ll want to be sure to pack warm clothes.
Warm clothes for Indonesia?
We were warned about the cold weather at the top of the crater many times before beginning our trip. We were prepared for the worst, however, the weather remained quite mild.
The hike up to Mt Ijen will get your blood pumping and keep your body warm. Once inside the crater, the weather can become breezy.
A long sleeve shirt or a pullover sweater should be enough to keep you warm.
3. Seven More Things You’ll Need For The Mt Ijen Hike
To fully prepare for your Mt Ijen hike, here are 7 more things you should consider packing:
✔️ Sports or hiking shoes – Apart from warm clothes, the most important thing you can bring on your hike to Mt Ijen is proper footwear.
Hiking down into Kawah Ijen (also known as Mt Ijen), you’ll face loose rock and slippery slopes.
We saw many “hikers” wearing flip flops.. don’t be those people. You would be putting yourself and others in danger.
✔️ Raincoat – Luckily it didn’t rain while we were there, but we could only imagine how miserable it would be to trek up in a storm. A light raincoat should suffice.
✔️ Gloves – If you plan to hike in without a guide, be sure to bring a pair of gloves with you.
The gloves aren’t for warmth, but they are to remind you not to touch your eyes. The sulphuric gases and dust can seriously injure your eyes.
✔️ A small backpack – A small backpack is necessary for carrying water, snacks, and extra clothes. We also stuck our gas masks in there when we weren’t using them.
✔️ Gas mask – If you go without a guide, you’ll want to bring your own gas mask or rent one near the trailhead.
There were times inside the crater that I thought I was going to die from gas inhalation. The gas mask did a decent job protecting us from the worst of it.
✔️ Water and snacks – Water is absolutely necessary for all hikes.
The dust and gas will inevitably irritate your throat. Having water to soothe it will be a lifesaver.
We brought snacks since we were starting early in the morning and wouldn’t finish for several hours. I strongly suggest bringing snacks for your Mt Ijen hike, too.
✔️ Flashlight – If you plan to summit for sunrise (which you should), a flashlight is a must.
The footing can be loose in many places along the trail. With drop-off cliffs just centimeters from the trail, a flashlight will come in handy.
Note: Many of these items will be provided if you go with a guide.
4. Hike Mt Ijen With A Guide
After a lot of research, we realized that the hike up Mt Ijen can be dangerous and hiring a guide was the smart thing to do.
In the end, we were happy with our decision because it saved us a lot of time, hassle, and stress.
Our Ijen guides provided:
✔️ A cozy sprinter van and transportation from Bali to the Mt Ijen hike
✔️ High-quality gas masks, gloves, flashlights, and extra clothing
✔️ A well-planned trip including helpful and knowledgeable information about the crater and its history
✔️ A delicious Javanese breakfast after our hike to Mt Ijen was over
We highly recommend our tour guides. If you want to take the same small group tour that we did, you can book your excursion here:
How To Hike Mt Ijen Without A Guide
Completing the Mt Ijen hike without a guide is a bit more work.
You’ll need to plan your entire excursion (transportation, ferry crossing, and navigation) and you’ll need to be prepared for all of the elements you’ll encounter (wind, sulphuric gas, rain, etc).
To hike Mt Ijen without a guide, take note of our recommended things to bring. We detail those items in tips #2 and #3 above.
Next, follow our suggestions in tip #6 on how to get to Mt Ijen. Prepare for a long journey if you’re leaving from Bali.
And finally, be sure to bring enough money to cover ferry, fuel, and park entrance fees. You can find out exactly how much hiking Mt Ijen will cost in tip #5 below.
5. How Much Does It Cost To Hike Mt Ijen?
The cost to hike Mt Ijen will be relatively the same whether you choose to go with a small guided group or by yourself.
To go with a guided group, you’ll pay approximately $140 per person, which includes everything from transportation to gear to breakfast in the morning.
If you choose to go without a guide, you’ll need to keep the following fees in mind:
1. Motorbike or car rental – You can find and rent a motorbike in Seminyak for approximately $6 per day.
2. Fuel – Although petrol is pretty cheap in Indonesia, keep in mind that this journey is approximately 172 kilometers from Bali (and you’ll be driving there AND back). Bring plenty of cash to fill up your gas tank when needed.
3. Ferry cost – The following are prices for the ferry from Bali to Java:
✔️ 8,000 IDR ($0.55 USD) per person (no vehicle)
✔️ 22,000 IDR ($1.50 USD) per motorbike (one person entry included)
✔️ 159,000 IDR ($11 USD) per car
4. Mt Ijen Entrance Fees – Foreigners will pay anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 IDR ($6-10 USD) to hike Mt Ijen depending on the day of the week.
5. Gear – You’ll need a gas mask to hike Mt Ijen. You can rent one near the entrance for 50,000 IDR ($3.50 USD).
6. Food – Food prices are cheap in Java, so you’ll be able to find affordable snacks and food along the way.
6. Getting To Mt Ijen (It’s A Long Journey From Bali)
Most people begin their journey to Mt Ijen in Bali.
To get to Mt Ijen from Bali, you’ll need to make your way north to the ferry in Gilimanuk Harbor.
Note: The trip from Seminyak to Gilimanuk Harbor is approximately 4 hours. If you venture by motorbike, prepare for a longer drive.
Once on the ferry, you will ride it across the short channel to East Java. The ferry from Bali to East Java should take 45 minutes to 1 hour.
In Java, you will continue up through the hills to the entrance of Ijen Crater. This ride took us about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
From the trailhead, the hike to Mt Ijen is straightforward.
If you’re at all confused about which direction to go, follow the groups of people hiking in front of you. Aim for the rim of the volcano and you shouldn’t get lost.
Note: If you go with a guide, you won’t have to worry about navigating your way to Mt Ijen.
7. Know The History Behind The Mt Ijen Crater
Anyone considering an Ijen Crater tour should know a bit about the history before going.
This volcano is the workplace of many Javanese locals. These men work as sulfur miners within the crater.
The work they complete each day is some of the most demanding of any job in the world.
They are constantly breathing the sulphuric gas while carrying loads of 90+ kilograms of mined sulfur.
For all of that excruciating work, you’d hope that these miners would make a decent living, but the truth is, these workers make as little as $10 USD per day.
8. Assess Your Level of Fitness Before Going
Many people underestimate the level of fitness needed to hike up Mt Ijen.
In all honesty, if you’re in decent physical condition, you’ll be just fine. The hike up to the mountain is easy and the guides are mindful if someone needs to slow their pace.
The thing you need to remember most is that you’ll be hiking INTO Ijen crater.
Loose rocks and slippery volcanic sand make it difficult to descend. You’ll also face debilitating sulfuric gases.
Consider all of these conditions before you decide to hike Mt Ijen.
Overall, we didn’t have any trouble with the hike and thought this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Is Mt Ijen Safe To Hike?
Ijen Crater is perpetually emitting sulphuric gas. This gas is toxic and can be dangerous.
However, with the proper preparation, gear, and direction, you’ll be completely safe inside the crater.
We highly suggest completing this hike with a guide so that there aren’t any mishaps.
9. Take Caution With Your Cameras
Unfortunately, not every story has a 100% happy ending. Although we loved our hike up Mt Ijen, we were devastated when we lost our drone.
The high concentration of sulfuric gases in the crater caused our drone to malfunction.
Many other hikers have had problems with cameras during their Mt Ijen hike, too. Beware of this before you decide to bring your valuable camera near the sulfur mines.
10. Don’t Wear Jewelry On The Mt Ijen Hike
Another item I would absolutely leave at home is gold and silver jewelry.
We were told that the sulfur will react with the metals and cause it to turn colors. I wouldn’t risk wearing any valuables.
11. Always Step Aside For The Miners
During your Mt Ijen hike, you’ll want to be mindful of the sulfur miners that are hard at work.
As I mentioned previously, these workers endure one of the most laborious jobs in the world. Since you’ll be in the Ijen crater for pleasure, it’s important that you step aside anytime a worker approaches.
12. Don’t Miss The Blue Flames
Kawah Ijen is one of the only places in the world where you can still witness blue flames.
These flames turn blue from burning sulfuric gas at an extremely high temperature.
As you enter the crater, be sure to follow and listen to your guide. They will show you exactly where you can see these blue flames in action.
For a sneak peek, check out our video of Mt Ijen on Youtube (you’ll be able to see the blue flames around 7:54).
13. Buy The Small Sulfur Nick Nacks
To supplement their minuscule income, many miners sell small sulfur nick nacks along the trail.
The figurines they create from these small pieces of sulfur are amazing. We highly suggest bringing a few extra bucks to purchase one of these nick nacks.
14. Is Mt Ijen Worth It?
In our opinion, the hike to Mt Ijen and exploring the sulfuric crater for sunrise was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
We strongly suggest it to anyone looking for a unique excursion while visiting the islands of Java or Bali.
Mike and I loved every minute of our trek and we would do it again in a heartbeat (maybe next time we’ll leave our drone at home though!).
15. Hike Mount Bromo, Too!
For the ultimate adventure, hike up Mount Bromo, too.
Mount Bromo is another active volcano on Java and offers some of the most iconic views on the island.
Many people choose to visit Mount Bromo directly after climbing the Ijen Crater and we kick ourselves for not knowing about it.
Learn from our mistake and be sure to hike up Mount Bromo, too.
For the best guided tour, which includes both the Mt Ijen and the Mount Bromo hike, check out the link below:
The Wrap-Up: Ijen Crater Tour
The Mt Ijen hike was a huge highlight during our trip to Bali. If you’re looking for a unique adventure, this is it.
Book your guided tour and experience the sulfuric crater, the turquoise water of the acidic lake, and the glowing blue flames at Kawah Ijen.
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