Green tosca lake, mountains, crater, blue fire and those unbeatable sulfur miners.
After being a week on the road, I finally reach this so called ‘my end destination’. It is not actually the last destination I visit on that season, but this place I chose to close my short East Java Expedition due to its location which is right on the most east of Java.
If you are talking what's unique in Indonesia, you probably heard something about the existence of blue fire. Here in Ijen, you really can witness one - directly from your own eyes. Those blue fires are always available in every night so there is no stake at all for you to get to this place. And it is actually not just about that blue fire. Ijen is about a true harmony of nature, by which you can really enjoy the scent of highland, mountains view, volcano, craters, lake and even to experience a unique lifestyle of its local miners.
You probably have heard the story about those miners. The struggle they experienced to earn their daily income is so real and makes my everyday’s problem seems tiny. Every morning, around hundreds of them will hike the volcano and go deep down to the crater for extracting a few solid sulfur. Equipped only with worn maskers, the miners will hike back the crater and walk 2km++ long to return to the base - while bringing 70-80kg of hard sulfur on his back. And after all of those unreal dedication, they would be only paid around IDR 60-70k.
That amount of money they make for such trip is surely nothing compared to the risk that they have to encounter, - and sadly - it is just a part of their routine activity on every morning. Several good news are heard after their existence and struggles were exposed by the media. And one of that news is when those miners received carts to assist them for bringing down the sulfur from Ijen summit to the base - which is about 2km length. However, it is still unimaginable for me to hike 4-5km in every morning while breathing a dense sulphur scents, bringing 70kg of loads in my back and ascend that 60 degree steep hills.
Long story short, so it is in Ijen when I can contemplate and feel grateful for what I had at the moment, while beholding a true sublime scene of the earth I am currently living with. There is always a place that can remind you how small your problem is and how powerless you as a mere human. Then there is also a place which can present a divinity of nature beauty. Ijen has it both.
Let’s start this guide from my own case. Completed my days on Papuma, I was transferred back to Ajung junction by Ojek and there is where I will stand by to hike any bus which will head to the east. Economy bus from Jember to Banyuwangi will cost me around IDR 30-50k which the distance itself is around 100km - reached in about 3 hours. Try to get a window seat as the scenery you will go through is quite fantastic. Along the way, you will pass by various type of forests, hills and experiencing a sensation to be atop of a highland with a vast scenic view on your side. Splendid!
Arriving at Banyuwangi City, I will stop at Karangente Bus Station and then we will have several alternatives on how you would like to continue your journey. Actually, it doesn’t really matter whether you come into Banyuwangi by bus from Surabaya, or from Bali, or you are there via train and dispatched via Karangasem station, all of the alternatives below are still doable and possible to be picked. One thing that I really love about Banyuwangi is that, it is really easy to find a car or motorbike rental around the area - making any exploration you would like to have in this city becomes much simpler.
Either you are coming from Surabaya, or from Jember, or from Bali - the easiest city you may reach in order to pay a visit here would be by getting to Banyuwangi. In my particular place, as I am currently doing that East Java Expedition, so as soon as I completed my trip at Papuma, Jember, then I headed here by taking any bus which will go to the further east - whether Banyuwangi or Bali. Some might suggest that you can go to Ijen via Bondowoso, however after doing a few observations, I simply concluded that going via Banyuwangi will be easier and it can be much cheaper as well.
Ijen itself is located around 50km from Banyuwangi city center and can be reached in about 90 minutes. The spot is situated remotely and as you may guess, there is no mass transportation which can deliver you right to its basecamp. However, you dont need to worry at all, it is still actually quite easy and affordable to be at Ijen even for a single traveler like me.
If you are entitled and are able to drive motorbike, then it would be the cheapest and the easiest alternative for going into Ijen. There are basically plenty of motorbike services available in Banyuwangi. Simply type in google and various choices will appear. One of the most popular shop would be tripoli, however wisely to pick your choice up by looking at the rental workshop location as you need to take angkot first to reach there on the first place. For example, if you reach Banyuwangi via Train and dropped at Karangasem station, there is a motorbike rental workshop located right after the parking lot.
Motorbike Rental: IDR 65-75k / 24 hours (exclude fuel)
Requirement: Motorbike driving license + ID card / Passport
If you are traveling in 2 persons, try to avoid for having Mio or Beat as these motorbikes does not have enough power to hike the way up during you trip to Ijen. Yes, you can still reach there with a note that sometimes, your friend need to get down from the motorbike first while you ascending.
Depending on how you bargain, any angkot within the city basically can transfer you anywhere around on IDR 15k.
From your location, you can easily reach Ijen by using google maps. Take a screenshot of the map first before you proceed as the phone signal will disappeared as you reach higher altitude
The Famous Blue Fire under the dark
By Renting Motorbike
By Joining Miner's Truck
This would be another affordable way to reach Ijen if you are not entitled / capable to use motorbike. The point is, you will go to Jambu junction and take a small walk to PT. Candi Ngrimbi, where you will join the miners truck which is scheduled to transfer all the miners from and to Ijen basecamp at Paltuding.
You reach Banyuwangi early in the morning as the last departure time from Jambu will be around 11AM.
Chartered an angkot to transfer you to Jambu Junction or PT. Candi Ngrimbi. Perhaps the cheapest fare will apply if you charter it from Karangente bus station. [IDR 60-100k / angkot - depend on your bargain skill]
From Jambu, take a hike on that truck for IDR 10k / pax.
Truck going to Paltuding (Ijen Basecamp): 7AM & 11 AM
Truck return to Jambu: 1PM & 4PM
Friday = OFF
Join the miners and be socialized while using this option
Another option if you simply miss out the miner’s truck schedule or when you want to take more convenience trip. This alternative certainly cost you more money considering the distance that it takes. However, if somehow you are traveling alone and you reach Banyuwangi either on late afternoon or evening, you will find that this choice is quite useful.
By local transportation, try to get to Karangente bus station just to get closer distance to Ijen.
You can get ojek from there for IDR 150-180k / trip. If you couldn’t find any ojek there, just visit local shops around and ask them if they know any ojek driver available nearby.
Or you can charter angkot to Jambu junction for IDR 50-80k / angkot then continue by using ojek for IDR 100k.This alternative can save you some money if you are traveling by 2 - 3 people and decided to take ojek as well.
Same with above condition, if you couldn’t find any ojek there, just visit any shop / warung and ask the owner if they know someone who would like to transfer you to Ijen.
Don’t forget to get his phone number if you want to be picked up while returning from Ijen.
By Jeep / Car
Everything will be much more cheaper and convenience if you are traveling with a group. Get any car rental in Banyuwangi - whether you want to include the driver or you want to drive by yourself - easily via Google. Seriously, it is really easy to get any transportation mode rental in Banyuwangi. The price range will be around IDR +/- 400k (without driver) and +/- 600k (with driver).