Volcano Trekking in Indonesia - Part II


Most volcano enthusiasts would know that Indonesia is a haven when it comes to chasing volcanoes. Active or dormant, arduous or easily accessible, worthy of bucket list chronicles or not… you name it, and Indonesia has it. So I guess it’s really no surprise that volcano trekking is one of the most popular adventure and tourist activities in the country!

So here are 2 more unique volcano treks in Indonesia that I have tried, and you should definitely NOT miss!

“Our happiest moments as travelers always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.”

As one of the easiest active volcano treks, Mount Bromo is one of the most popular volcanic attractions in the country, for individuals and families alike. Especially when compared to other volcano climbs in Indonesia, this particular trek feels like child’s play. Half of it is done on horseback (you can obviously walk if you prefer), and the other half involves climbing a long flight of steps that takes you right to the rim of the crater. This is where you can see (and smell) the sulfur from the lake in the crater, and watch the deadly fumes emanate in the sky.

Heading up Mt. Bromo all the way to the crater

Photo of Mount Bromo, Podokoyo, Pasuruan, East Java, Indonesia by Nivedana Jalan

The magnificence of this volcano, however, is unique. Unlike most other volcanoes, which look regal and imposing in their own right, Bromo has another claim to fame – its location. Standing right in the middle Bromo Semeru Tengger National Park, this volcano can be seen from the summit of Mt. Penanjakan, rising into the azure sky, through a haze of clouds and sulfur smoke along with two other volcanoes, Mount Batok and Semeru. What makes this view even more majestic is the desolate and almost infinite sea of sand surrounding these volcanoes, along with the lush green valleys and savannah that enclose the barren land spread over an area of 800 square kilometers. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most breathtaking sights I have ever seen.

Sunrise at Bromo Semeru Tengger National Park

Photo of Volcano Trekking in Indonesia - Part II by Nivedana Jalan

Jeeps can easily be hired to take you to the summit of Mt. Penanjakan (the viewpoint), the volcano and even the sea of sand. In fact, a drive through the sea of sand is possibly the most exhilarating ride that can be. What began as a volcano trek for me literally became a version of off-roading, with my sturdy 4WD whizzing through the vast desert of ash and sand. Indonesia’s very own dune bashing, I suppose. A word of caution though – it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Whizzing through the Sea of Sand

Photo of Volcano Trekking in Indonesia - Part II by Nivedana Jalan

How to get there: Singapore has direct flights to Surabaya, which is 5 hours away from the national park by car.

Time taken for trek: Half an hour to trek up Mt. Bromo. For those looking for a more challenging trek, Mt. Semeru may be more suitable.


Carry warm clothes as it tends to get very cold

Since the journey to Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park starts after midnight, it’s advisable to book the jeep in advance – either through your hotel/hostel, or through a travel agent

“Be an explorer. The universe is filled with wonder and magical things.”

Like me, those who have seen the blue flames of Ijen can safely proclaim that they have seen one of the rarest natural phenomena of the world.

Being one of the most surreal events I have witnessed, the “blue flame phenomenon” is a natural fire that can be seen burning around the crater of Mt. Ijen, illuminating the sky with fiery and intense glow just before the break of dawn. What’s so amazing about it is its unique color – bright blue. This is essentially the result of sulfur gases from the crater combusting when they come in contact with air. And in Asia, this is the only place you can see it.

The blue flames of Ijen : I was clearly not able to capture the flames well

Photo of Ijen, East Java, Indonesia by Nivedana Jalan

In order to reach this crater, you need to complete a 3 km hike up a well paved path; which wouldn’t be too demanding, except for the fact that it’s quite steep. That’s actually a lot of fun when you’re heading back down since you can sprint down the slope. But while climbing up, the incline that varies from 40 to 60 degrees, as well as the thinning air will sometimes make you wonder why you are putting yourself through that at 230 am!

Walking around the crater of Mt. Ijen at dawn

Photo of Volcano Trekking in Indonesia - Part II by Nivedana Jalan

But the flames are totally worth the trek. Besides, this volcano is also home to a beautiful turquoise blue lake, which lies peacefully in its crater. Don’t try to take a dip in it though – it is said to be the most acidic lake in the world, as a result of the massive sulfur deposits in Mt. Ijen.

Deadly fumes at the crater

Photo of Volcano Trekking in Indonesia - Part II by Nivedana Jalan

Although magnificent, this trek generally leaves most people with a mixed bag of thoughts. On one hand, there is the awe of seeing a little known natural phenomenon which not many people beyond the Southeast Asian region are aware of. On the other hand, it is difficult to overlook the dismal sight of sulfur miners carrying large and heavy pieces of sulfur down the slopes of the volcano after mining them overnight in hazardous conditions. Each of these sulfur blocks weigh approximately 100 kg and the miners make several trips per day, with the purpose of selling them at bare minimal prices to make a living.

Sulfur baskets seen on the way to the crater, while the miners take some rest

Photo of Volcano Trekking in Indonesia - Part II by Nivedana Jalan

So if you see a sulfur miner carrying a heavy block down the hill, do your good deed for the day and buy some a small piece of sulfur from him. Not only will you help someone who is breaking his back (literally) to earn money, but also have a unique souvenir to take back home.

How to get there: Singapore has direct flights to Surabaya, which is 8-9 hours away from the volcano by car.

Time taken for trek: 1.5 hours to reach the crater


You will need a gas mask to prevent you from inhaling the toxic sulfur fumes

Due to the proximity to Mount Bromo Semeru Tengger National Park, it may be a good idea to combine both the treks

Have you been volcano trekking? Which treks would you recommend?

Also, don't miss out Part I of my article, for some more ideas on Volcano trekking in Indonesia!