Hiking Kawah Ijen- The Blue Fire Volcano

Hello Dear Readers!

Have any of you ever had an idea that sounded really good in theory? And then when you went to carry it out, your expectations were nowhere near reality?

Yeah, me too.

Enter Kawah Ijen, the blue fire volcano. Located on the island of Java, it’s one of two places in the world (the other being Iceland) where you can see blue flames burning in the middle of an acid lake.

Which means you have to hike the volcano in the middle of the night, so you can see the lights. It also means you get to see the sunrise from the lip of the volcano, an unparalleled view in a world where raw beauty is rapidly disappearing.

Sounds amazing, right?

Since we were on the island of Bali, we had to make the trek down to the tip of the island, take a ferry, and then drive all the way to the volcano. Our driver picked us up at 7pm, and we got to the volcano at midnight. We were early, so we sat around for an hour before finally beginning the journey.

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Now, I had read reviews of this hike, which called it “easy,” “disappointingly short,” and “not at all difficult.” So I had some pretty simple expectations for the hike. I mean, it was 1am, in the dark, and it was raining. An easy hike was what I was looking for.

I can only assume that the people who wrote those reviews are crossfitting maniacs who enjoy grueling and painful punishment. It took us several hours to get to the top, slipping through the mud and trying to work through calf, quad, and butt cramps.

But the reward was going to be worth it!

The blue flames are actually a result of sulfur gas burning, which means that the air is really toxic. Thus, they give you gas masks in order to get near the flames, which sounds really metal. So we were pretty excited when, after a few hours, we finally crested the top and caught our first glimpse of the flames.

It was unreal.

Aaaaaand that was it.

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Expectation
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Reality

Since it was raining, we weren’t able to actually go down into the crater. We didn’t need our gas masks, we were stuck on the windy top of the mountain, and it was raining. We had also gotten separated on the way up, which meant we had to wait around for over an hour to get together, at which point dawn was near.

Our guide told us we could hike another half mile up, if we wanted, to go see the acid lake and the sunrise.

So we ran up to the top as quickly as we could in order to catch the sun coming up. We needn’t have worried, of course, as the rain clouds obscured the sun anyways.

But! We did get some really cool photos of the acid lake!

It then took another hour and a half to hike back down, and we ate breakfast at the restaurant at the bottom. All told, we finally left Kawah Ijen at 7am, making it back to our villa at 4pm the next day. Yeah, it was nearly a 24 hour trip. To say we were exhausted would be an understatement.

Although almost everything failed due to the rain and cold, we still had a decent climb going up, and seeing the sulfur lake was pretty awesome. Was it what I was expecting? Not in the slightest. But pretty cool anyways.

Speaking of unmet expectations, just wait until you guys hear about my SCUBA adventures.

-Carissa “Please Let Me Sleep” Ragland

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5 thoughts on “Hiking Kawah Ijen- The Blue Fire Volcano

  1. I’ve had backpacking friends tell me a hike was easy when it was really not and I wasn’t prepared for it at all. (Like good hiking clothes, water, etc.) It’s not fun. Your photos are the acid lake are amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d say it was the worst experience I’ve ever been through but I’ve been pepper sprayed. (For work obviously) It is really great reading your recaps. At least we get to say we were there. And saw the blue flames, technically.

    Liked by 1 person

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