Ijen is a volcano at 2799m above sea level. It is located in the Southern part of Java Island, Indonesia. It is known as a sulfur extraction site featuring lunar landscapes, blue fires which are created by a chemical reaction between sulfur & oxygen and a toxic turquoise lake. If heading from Bromo on your own, you just have to take the mini van back from Cemoro Lawang to Probolinggo then get a train from Probolinggo to one of the base camps for Ijen (Either Karangasem or Banyuwangi train station). I can’t help but recommend going to Licin in the first place.
Waking up at 1am for a long night hike sounds like an amazing experience on the paper but the reality is quite different. Let’s forget about the terrible weather conditions constantly pushing toxic smokes on the pathway since it is miners’ daily life. You can not complain only being there for a few hours as a tourist. Since the site was close on the following day due to the high air toxicity, I assume that the activity was already abnormally high on the previous day. You litteraly couldn’t see a meter away most of the time and had to sit down waiting for the smoke to go away. I couldn’t help but cry since my eyes were burning due to the air toxity.
Miners extract blocks of pure sulfur which is used for the production of fireworks, matches, fertilizers, medicines and so on. Twice a day, they carry from 70 to 80 kgs of sulfur on their back while getting some of the lowest wages of Indonesia. They work without any protection and are constantly breathing toxic smokes. With a life expectancy of just 45 to 50 years, their facial expressions say a lot about how tough is their life. If that was not enough, they have to zigzag between all the tourists going down to the crater as there is only one path.
It has been a real challenge to get correct photographs with such weather and environment conditions. The lanscapes are amazing but it is hard to enjoy it completely knowing the other side of the business.