For those of you who wonder how they can escape from Bali for a night or two, I really recommand the Kawah Ijen trip.
It only takes a few hours to go there and the experience is worth the effort, I promise.
Going there :
We left Kerobokan at 5.30am, by scooters, and arrived in Gilimanuk around 9am. Many people will tell you to avoid the coast road because it is usually loaded with trucks and buses. But if you leave early enough, there shouldn’t be too many of them.
In Gilimanuk, you can take the ferry with your scooter for 20 000 IDR. Yes only 20 000 for one scooter and two people! And it takes around 45min to reach Java and Banyuwangi harbour. If you rent your scooter and wish to take it with you, you should ask your rental guy to write you an authorization. We did not need it but you never know… And if you don’t want to take your scooter with you, you can easily arrange for a guide to come pick you up at the harbour.
Climbing to the gates of Hell
The Kawah Ijen hike will only take you a few hours (and 2 to 3 hours of hiking) and it is totally worth it.
Hiking – and climbing – down the crater in the dark is amazing. And watching the sun slowly illuminate the whole site is even more breathtaking.
If you want to see the famous blue fire, you better forget about getting much sleep.
It is recommanded to start hiking at 1am, which means leaving Banyuwangi at midnight. But if you want you can also sleep in the last village before Kawah Ijen, there are a lot of accommodations available.
We stayed at Pepito Guesthouse, in Banyuwangi, and the manager of the guesthouse also organized our trip to Kawah Ijen.
What’s the price ?
You can do it on your one of course (but you will still have to pay the entrance fees). But I think it’s better to hire a local guide. First, because at 1am, I wouldn’t have trusted myself to drive to scooter in the little mountains roads. And it’s a good way to learn things directly at the source. Indeed most of the guides used to carry the sulfur or work in the mine themself, and some of them still do.
It cost us 400 000 IDR for the night in Pepito guesthouse – if we can call that a night – the breakfast, the guide and the driver.
What to bring ?
A lot of water!
In the Kawah Ijen it is recommanded (I would say mandatory) to wear a mask, to avoid inhaling to much sulfur. But even with a mask, your throat won’t come out. No worry the feeling doesn’t last long and drinking water definitely helps.
You should aslo bring a good jacket/sweater.
The temperature in the crater is ok but if you go to the top for sunrise, the wind can be cold.
Respect the workers!
They carry around 80kg on their shoulders so clear the path for them and don’t stop them for picture.
If you want some pictures, you can always buy them a sulphur statue.
If you want, you can bring cookies and cigarettes (the one perfume with cloves) for the workers as gifts.