Indonesia is in fact, the country with the most active volcanoes in the world. If you’re looking to be blown away by them though, go to Mount Bromo and Ijen areas. Mount Bromo has 2 active volcanoes and one inactive one and it’s the volcanoes with the Sand Sea. The Ijen Crater is a few hours away and is one special sight with its largest acid lake in the world as well as the natural “blue fire” on Earth.
# MOUNT BROMO
Mount Bromo is located in East Java. The otherworldly landscape and stunning scenery have made it one of the popular tourist attractions on the island of Java. The towering volcano Mount Bromo is the main attraction of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. Visiting this national park is a truly unique experience and recommended including it on any Indonesia itinerary. The name of Mount Bromo is taken from one of the main deities in Hinduism namely Brahma, the height of this mountain is 2329 meters above sea level. On the north side of Mount Bromo, there is Mount Penanjakan, from there we can see the beautiful sunrise from an altitude of 2,780 meters above sea level decorated with beautiful expanses of mountains like a country above the clouds. Mount Bromo has a temperature below the average of 8 degrees Celsius.
# IJEN CRATER
Mount Ijen is an active volcano located in the Banyuwangi Regency, East Java, Indonesia. This mountain has erupted four times (1796, 1817, 1913, and 1936). There are sulfur mines in this active volcano, this sulfur mine is the largest in Indonesia. Every day there are more than 200 workers as porters passing by carrying lumps of sulfur. At night, there are natural phenomena that occur on this mountain. Blue Fire Phenomenon, which is sulfur gas coming out of the ground meets with oxygen. Ijen Crater Caldera is the largest in Java. The size of the caldera reaches 20 kilometers. This crater lake is the highest acid level lake in the world, it’s a very high acidity level that is close to zero.
BROMO vs IJEN
- Difficulty Level
Kawah Ijen is more physically demanding than Kawah Bromo. In Kawah Ijen, you have to trek 5-6kms to the top with a sandy road condition and slightly muddy when wet, and then another 30 minutes to go down in caldera. When you go down to Caldera, rocky road conditions you will go through, please be careful. While in Bromo, it’s a more easy trek and doesn’t take more than 30-60 minutes to reach caldera. But you can’t trek inside. Hiking to the top of Bromo Mount passes 250 sandy steps.
- The Scenery
Bromo is simply beautiful and easier to reach and a playground for photographers. While Ijen Crater offers an adventurous journey along the forest before meeting the crater. Mount Bromo offers its sunrise and view of mounts from the top. Ijen Crater offers Blue Fire Phenomenon that only 2 in the world.
Local people make a living as sulfur miners and sell it in the Ijen Crater area, you will see it when you climb or descend. They carry 80 kilos of sulfur at once. They don’t do this ascent to the top once, but up to 4 times a day, bringing home more than 200kg of sulfur. They can make up to 500$ a month with this straining job, which might not sound a lot for a job that is very dangerous to their health, but in Indonesia, this is already a good amount of money to support a family.
In Bromo, you will see horse transport providers which will take people through the desert to the hiking trails of Mount Bromo. Many people use jeeps to reach the bottom of the hiking trail, but hiking to the crater is quite difficult, they are steep, slippery, and rough. Jeep will definitely not help you once you’re on track, so riding a horse is a more reasonable choice. You can pay between 100,000 Rupiahs (depart only) and 150,000 Rupiahs (depart and return). The price range may sway between these numbers.
In Bromo you will find many edelweiss flower sellers. The Edelweiss flower, known as the ‘eternal flower’, is so famous in Bromo. The plant called Leontopodium Alpinum is called ‘eternal’ because it contains ethylene hormone, so that the flowers do not fall easily. This flower usually grows on rocks with a height of 1,800 to 3,000 meters above sea level. For the Tengger tribe, Edelweiss is one of the important media when they take traditional Tengger rituals there.
Ijen has a different way, local residents sell their mining products in the form of sulfur in various forms. Sulfur miners usually take away 65 kg – 70 kg of sulfur from the bottom of the crater to be transported to the crater rim. They can usually go back and forth down the crater to mine sulfur. After all is collected, then the sulfur will be packed and ready to be brought down the mountain using a trolley that is widely available, then the sulfur collection will be taken to collectors. Every day around 200kg they bring it to collectors for sale.
- Another Spot
The Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park area has many other tourist destinations around Mount Bromo such as Whispering Sand, Teletubbies Hill, Mount Penanjakan, and Luhur Poten Temple. While destinations around Ijen Crater National Park such as Kawah Wurung and Banyupahit river.
- Carriage Service
Bromo: You can hire a horse service and ride it through the desert to reach the climb of Bromo Crater. Ijen: If you are not capable enough to hike, there is a transport service for people to get to the top of Ijen.
Best time for hiking
The dry season in Java, where Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater is located, is between April to October. During this time, May to August are the best months with the chance of the least rain. As for the season to visit, plan to visit Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater during the dry season. The incidence of rain will be higher during the wet season from November to March.
The absolute best time to visit Mount Bromo is at sunrise. I suggest that you have arrived at the sunrise point (Mount Penanjakan) at 5:30 AM. Ijen National Park is open all year round. For conservation reason, Ijen is closed every first Friday of the month starting in 2019. To witness the Blue Fire phenomenon, you must prepare yourself in the middle of the night to climb, Blue Fire usually appears around 2:00 AM in the early day.
- Bromo from Malang
CAR : 1 hour
- Bromo from Surabaya
CAR : 3 hours with normal traffic
TRAIN : 2 hours (arrive in Malang Station) + 1 hour to Bromo Tengger by car
- Bromo from Yogyakarta
CAR : 6 hours with normal traffic
TRAIN : 7 hours (arrive in Malang station) + 1 hour to Bromo Tengger by car
FLIGHT : 4,5 hours – 1 transit (arrive in Malang Airport) + 1 hour to Bromo Tengger by car
- Bromo from Bali (Gilimanuk Harbour)
CAR : 7 hours
TRAIN : 1 hour (arrive in Banyuwangi Station) + 7,5 hours (arrive in Malang Station) + 1 hour to Bromo Tengger by car
FLIGHT : 1 hour – direct (arrive in Malang Airport) + 1 hour to Bromo Tengger by car
- Ijen from Bali (Gilimanuk Harbour)
CAR : 3 hours
- Ijen from Surabaya
CAR : 6 hours
TRAIN : 6,5 hours (arrive in Karangasem Station) + 1,5 hours to Ijen area by car
FLIGHT : 1 hour direct (arrive in Belimbingsari Airport) + 2 hours to Ijen area by car
- Ijen from Malang
CAR : 6 hours
TRAIN : 7 hours (arrive in Karangasem Station) + 1,5 hours to Ijen area by car
- Ijen from Yogyakarta
CAR : 10 hours
TRAIN : 12 hours (arrive in Karangasem Station) + 1,5 hours to Ijen area by car
Tips for hiking in Bromo and Ijen
- Wear warm clothes, thick jackets, masks, gloves and scarves, the temperature in Ijen around 11 degrees in the middle of the night and bromo can reach 8 Celsius degrees or lower than that. Choose clothing that absorbs heat such as Polyester goretex, Wool, Thinsulate, Polar fleece. Don’t wear shirts and jeans, its absorbs the cold. Also make sure to wear closed shoes with good grip, as the track is dusty and uneven.
- Bromo: At the entrance of Mount Penanjakan when you will see the sunrise, there are several local food stalls selling hot food and drinks, fill your stomach before hiking to add strength.
- Bromo: Leave around 3:00 AM from your hotel to go to Penanjakan Mountain (sunrise spot).
- Ijen: Different from Bromo, bring warm food and drinks when you hike to Ijen, there are no food vendors on your way to the top.
- Ijen: Begin hiking around 1:00 AM to be able to witness the Blue Fire phenomenon.
- Ijen: Prepare your physical condition before the day for hiking to the top of Ijen, do physical exercise at least a week before you go.
- Ijen : Before beginning the descent into Ijen crater on the night, make sure your gas mask is on your face.