Kawah Ijen: East Java
To the west of Banyuwangi, bordering the Baluran National Park is the the Ijen Plateau. It is situated in the centre of the Ijen – Merapi – Maelang Reserve and at the far eastern end of the plateau is a luminous blue/green crater lake. Kawah IJen is 2,300 metres above sea-level. The enormous lake, which is 200 metres deep, contains approximately 36,000,000 cubic metres of steaming, acid water. To walk around the crater leave allow yourself a leisurely full day. It is an incredible sight and one of Indonesia’s natural wonders.
Getting to the lake is quite easy and can be approached from both east and west. Most people choose the latter as it is the more popular approach. The hike up the mountainside takes just an hour and a half. However, if you approach from Banyuwangi it will take you up to six or seven hours and that’s from the Licin.
Interestingly, Sulphur is mined at the lake’s edge and the strong odour of this is not for those with a tender stomach. The people who work in these sulphur mines are well-versed in their job. They carry the sulphur up to the top of the crater and afterwards walk the 19 km down the mountain to Banyuwangi where at a factory the sulphur is treated. These guys can carry as much as 80 kilos of the foul smelling material!.