So me and my college roomie decided to do 10 days of Bali in August 2018 for my 30th birthday and we had already spend 2 nights in ubud , 2 nights on nusa penida island(off the coast of bali) & 1 night in kuta when the day finally arrived when we were waiting to be picked up for this epic Ijen Crater mid night trek in Java, Indonesia(neon blue flames can be seen at night in the Crater).
A little back story, we were strolling in ubud market, a couple of days back, when we saw a local tour company and decided to ask them about speed boat timings to nusa penida and ended up chatting with them for almost an hour and booked Ijen crater tour with them(there are many such local tour companies in ubud, kuta and other main markets).
I had kept 2days 1night for Ijen Crater and we were planning to go there ourselves and check it out but this package made more sense and so we decided to go ahead with it.
So the tour company had arranged for all the transfers and we were picked up at around 4pm from our hotel in kuta.
We drove for almost 2hrs and reached a common point where all the people who had booked this trip were to meet and travel together from there on.
We were joined by a young couple from London and a medical student from France.
Then we all along with our driver headed for the Gillimanuk port from where we would take the ferry for Java.
The ferry goes to and fro 24hours a day..we waited around 15mins for our ferry. The ticket was included in our package but if you are going on your own you can get a ticket for 3300rp for a single person on foot, ticket amount is more if you take your bike or car on ferry too.
The ferry took approx 30mins to reach Ketapang port in Java.
From here we all were taken to a small room at the port where we met our trekking guide and he explained to us the whole route with the time it will take for us to complete the trek, temperature at night etc.
It was around 11pm when we left the port and headed to a local stall for dinner(also included in the package, but I would recommend you to carry for own dinner as it was quite unhygienic).
After dinner we left for a hostel, that was about 30mins away, to leave any extra luggage that we had and to use the washrooms.
Here we were joined by 2 more cars full of travellers going for the same trek.
After freshening up we left for the base of Ijen Crater. It was almost 1am & 2°c by the time we reached the base and got ready to leave for the trek(super warm jackets are available there on rent for the trek).
So finally we all started our trek which due to its super steep slope and all the carbon dioxide that is released at night, was extremely tough for me(im not a trekker).
It took us 3hours and a lot of encouraging words from our guide to reach the blue sulphur flames( OH! we were also given masks to protect our eyes and to prevent us from inhaling the sulphur fumes...quite useless but worked about 50% so that was kinda ok I guess..lol).
It's quite a steep way down inside the crater to the blue flames and extremely unsafe as there is no proper way to go down, you just follow your guide and hope for the best..literally..not kidding.
Ofcourse the flames were amazing and are a natural phenomenon that everyone should checkout at least once in their lifetime.
Then we all climbed back out of the crater to a sunrise point and saw the best sunrise I have ever seen..it was mesmerizing.
At the top there is a lake which is recognised as the highest largest acidic crater lake in the world. It has turquoise blue water and pictures cannot do justice to the beauty of this lake, which is in the middle of volcanic craters.
After taking some pictures and soaking in the view, we started our trek back to the base of the crater. We reached the base around 7am, had bun & tea and headed back to the hostel(where we had left our luggage) for breakfast.
The guide wanted to take us to a waterfall on the way back to the hostel but everyone was so tired that we told him we just wanted to reach the hostel directly, but he did stop on the way to pick up some fish chips(freshly fried).
Once we finished our breakfast we left for the port to take the same ferry back to Bali.
All in all it was a great experience, but there are some tips that I think should have been mentioned before we left for the trek.
1) Everyone, including the website, says that it's a easy to medium trek but I dont agree with that..lol...so be prepared.
2) It maybe pleasant or even hot in Bali, but be assured it ll be freezing up in Ijen..so dress accordingly.
3) Carry some snacks for dinner...the local stall where we HAD TO stop for dinner was filthy and had lizards crawling everywhere..I hate lizards.
4) Since you are on the move for almost 2 days make sure you have battery backup for your phone, camera etc...Our phones practically died after just a couple of pics.
5) Comfy shoes, a torch and water bottle are a must.
6) You can find human taxis( 2 to 3 men pushing you up in a chair with wheels), try to avoid those cos they looked even more dangerous than walking all the way up.
7) If you dont wanna take a package, you can easily do it on your own, book a hostel/hotel anywhere near Ijen and you ll find a guide there to take you for the trek.
8) Enjoy it..I say this cos I was so tired that I guess I was in a hurry to go back down and reach my bed..which I knew was a couple of more hours away.
So ya that was my experience of Ijen Crater..we started on day1 at 4pm and reached back to our hotel in kuta on day2 at 6pm..thanks to the traffic and also the taxi drops everyone off as per the route and sadly we were last on the dropping off list.