Dangerous beauty on the island of Java

Ijen Volcano

Ijen volcano in Indonesia is quite different from its counterparts – there is no lava bubbling in its heart, just a quietly spread turquoise lake. However, this place in the east of Java is the most dangerous in the world and attracts tourists like a magnet. Ijen is an active volcano. Strictly speaking, it is a complex of stratovolcanoes, craters and cones, located within a radius of 20 km around the caldera with a unique acid lake Kavah-Ijen. The active volcano constantly spews clouds of sulfuric smoke, and the lake is filled with a concentrated mixture of hydrochloric and sulfuric acids. If you dip a sheet of aluminum in it for just 20 minutes, the metal will dissolve and become no thicker than a transparent cloth!

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Video: Ijen Volcano


The crater of Ijen Volcano is a fascinating excursion. There are scenic trails leading to the vent, which take hikers to the edge of an amazing-looking and contained natural spring. The lake is located in the largest mountain at an altitude of 2386 meters. From afar, the crater resembles the mouth of a true volcano, but when you approach it, travelers are treated to spectacular scenery. On the gray rocks lie blocks of bright yellow sulfur. It comes to the surface liquid, a rich red color, then crawls down the slopes, drawing veins on them and becoming lighter in color. Eventually the sulfur cools, hardens, and takes on a familiar yellow hue. At night, visitors to Ijen volcano will also not be disappointed: as it oxidizes, the liquid sulfur begins to glow in the darkness with incredible blue and blue lights. This mystical phenomenon is called “blue lava” or “blue fire. The crater is 200 meters deep and the radius of the lake is 361 meters. Kawah-Ijen is the largest acid lake in the world. The temperature on its surface reaches 60 ° C, and at its greatest depths – 180-200 ° C (during the eruptions – up to 600 ° C).

Many travelers dream of visiting Ijen volcano just because of the constant eruption of sulfur vapor from its bowels. Sometimes this is the result of the activity of miners of the natural resource, who set fire to the surface of the lake, artificially releasing new portions of the fossil. But history counts more than a dozen serious natural eruptions.

During the tour, tourists can also visit coffee and tea plantations and learn about the living and working conditions of the locals.

Acid Lake Kawah Ijen

History of Ijen Volcano

The origin of the volcano’s name is unknown. Locals used the same toponyms for the lake and the mountain in which it is located.

The first stratovolcano on the island of Java appeared during the Pleistocene, which began 2.588 million years ago and ended 11.7 thousand years ago. It was then that the basalt, andesite and other types of rocks formed the mountain chain, which gradually took on its modern shape and its current geopolitical, natural, economic and tourist importance.

Throughout its existence, scientists have recorded various eruptions of the Ijen volcano, each of which is majestic and unique in its own way. The most catastrophic was the 1817 eruption, which lasted more than 33 days and caused the lake fluid to overflow its banks and flood nearby villages. Then the situation was exacerbated by mudflows, which destroyed more than 90 houses and took the lives of many local residents. Activity of such magnitude has never been recorded again.

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Blue Sulfur Flame

Sulfur mining

Extraction of the dangerous natural resource at Ijen Volcano is done by hand. Many people who do this work on a daily basis have no idea how dangerous such an occupation is. They simply protect themselves from the stench with constant smoking and wet cloths that they bite between their teeth to form a kind of respirator. Most locals are incapable of surviving past the age of 45-47, and young people who have already spent several years in the foothills look like sick, infirm old men. The elderly population among the locals is practically non-existent.

Sulfur mining at Ijen volcano

Travel tips

  • The best time to arrange a trip: the dry, warm season, which lasts from April to October.
  • Entrance fee: 15,000 IDR (approximately 67 rubles). Travelers will need money for travel, overnight stay and food.
  • A one-day hike to the vent of Ijen volcano is quite physically demanding. Experienced tourists try to take care of the night in advance, because many are already exhausted by the road, and the hike to the destination simply has no strength. Not far from the volcanoes is the town of Licin, where there are hotels with comfortable rooms. There is another option: on the way to the vent there are tea and coffee plantations, where tired travelers are offered not only tasting of fragrant tonic drinks, but also exciting tours and overnight accommodations.
  • From the foot of the mountain to the crater is only a 3 km climb, but the road is difficult and exhausting. Trails everywhere are hard and gentle, so not only young active people can travel here, but also children and the elderly. The main thing is to see the weather forecast in advance, because if it rains and strong winds, the trip can be marred by limited visibility and the consequences in the form of colds.
  • Many tourists mistakenly believe that the high temperature of Lake Kawah-Ijen implies a mild climate all the way up and down to the core of the volcano. This is not the case. The mountain is so high that from the middle of the trail many need warm clothes, and at the highest point even the most staunch traveler would not refuse a jacket and warm socks.
  • Sulfur vapor has a foul odor, causing lacrimation and an acute reaction of the bronchopulmonary system. To ensure that the excursion to Ijen volcano is not marred by asthmatic attacks, you need to take care of quality respirators or gas masks, which will protect not only the mucous membranes of the face, but also the eyes from unpleasant and dangerous to health fumes. The higher the protective properties of the device, the safer it is. Among tourists are known cases of poisoning by sulfur vapor.
  • Those travelers who wish to do a good deed for the natives can stock up on cotton gauze bandages and respirators for sulfur miners, who can not afford to buy even the simplest mask.
  • Outfit for the tour should include comfortable shoes, gloves, and insulated clothing.

How to get there

Site location: East Java, Indonesia.

The easiest way to start a trip to Ijen Plateau is from the capital Jakarta. After reaching Surabaya by air, you should take a bus to Bondovoso, which departs daily at 11:00 from the central bus station. After five hours of travel you need to change to another shuttle bus to the town of Pos-Paltudinga (it takes about three more hours on the road). From the terminus, the vent of Ijen volcano can be reached on foot, on a pony, on motorcycles with a driver, or in a four-wheel drive jeep rented from the locals.

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Another option is to book a day trip to Ijen from anywhere in Java or Bali. In the second case, the trip will start with a ferry crossing, then you have to take a bus and get to the town of Bonyuwangi. From there you can get to the plateau by shuttle or private cab. The ascent to the mountain will take only 1.5-2 hours, and if after that you want to go down into the crater of Ijen volcano, the guides can be workers, sulfur miners. They will lead travelers on the trails that have been found to secure the walk. They usually ask for a small fee (by arrangement).

What are the dangers and nuisances that can spoil a vacation in Java?

In 2010, I spent a week on vacation in Sri Lanka, and that holiday went very smoothly, without any trouble. Now my brother and I are going to go to Java and I am very worried. Can you advise what can spoil our vacation? Maybe there are some moments of a natural character? I have heard that the local volcanoes are very dangerous. The local population is not too aggressive?


You are right about volcanoes. Indonesia is a country that is one of the world leaders in volcanic activity, but this does not mean that volcanoes erupt regularly and constantly carry danger. Local scientists constantly monitor the situation and evacuate the population if anything happens. Before you travel, all you have to do is check the various news and travel sites to see if there is any volcanic danger in Java at the moment or if all is quiet. If you go through a travel agent, they probably also keep an eye on such situations.

The situation with insects is much more complicated and dangerous than with volcanoes. The local tropical climate is just a paradise for a huge number of crawling and flying insects that can spoil the rest of any tourist. They are carriers of many diseases, and especially react to sweat and sweets. Therefore, if your clothes during the holidays appear any-tio sweet spots, it is desirable to quickly change them, and about personal care products you know. Going on such an exotic journey, do not forget to take with you a sufficient number of repellents that can protect you from different types of insects.

The same category as the insects can include snakes, sharks, jellyfish and other creatures found both on land and in water. Of course, this applies not only to Java, but also to the other Indonesian islands. Approximately the same dangers can be encountered in a number of other countries with tropical climates (Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand). But in contrast to them, in Indonesia, including Java, there are predatory and dangerous creatures such as Komodo varanas, from which you need to stay away.

In terms of vaccinations, you can be vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria, yellow fever, and typhoid for safety reasons, but again, this is not mandatory. If you do not have any vaccinations, you will still be allowed to enter the country.

Despite all the “horror stories” that you can read on various websites, Indonesia is considered quite a safe country. From pickpocketing and fraud no one is immune, and with this kind of crime can be encountered in any, even the most developed European country. With the maximum caution use public transport and be in crowded places (markets, squares, near the popular attractions). Try not to carry large sums of money and watch your pockets. In short, the precautions are the same as in other tourist countries. Robbery, robbery or more serious crimes are extremely rare. When dealing with the local population to behave discreetly, do not argue, if the conversation turned to a high tone, it is better to finish it. And under no circumstances should political topics be raised, as in this regard Indonesia is often feverish, and for the local population is a very sensitive subject.

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I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in Indonesia tourists often get food poisoning. And it is not so much about the quality of food, although there may be issues there as well, as drinking water. In many regions of Indonesia, and Java is no exception, the quality of drinking water is very poor. Therefore, tourists are categorically not recommended to drink running water in its pure form and brush their teeth with it. In addition, during the holidays on the island to refuse to drink cocktails with ice, because the locals make ice from plain water, not from boiled water and much less bottled (no one wants to bother once again and incur additional financial costs). Also in tropical climates should refuse to eat dairy products. If the institution of catering for some reason you have doubts, it is better not to eat there, and find some other place (sometimes the savings of a few dollars can turn into big expenses for treatment).

Few tourists refuse to drink alcoholic beverages on vacation. If you are one of these tourists, try to buy alcohol only in major supermarkets and chain stores, but not in questionable places on the roads and not from the hands of the locals. Every year in the country is increasing the number of deaths from poisoning by homemade alcohol (most often the cause of poisoning is homemade arak).

Tourists often move around the island not on public transport, but on rented scooters or bikes. On the one hand, it is very convenient and inexpensive, but on the other hand, you must be extremely careful to protect yourself from various troubles. This is due to the fact that the roads in Indonesia are very busy, the local drivers do not follow the rules of the road, which in turn leads to high accident rates. The poor quality of the road surface and the lack of sidewalks create big problems. If possible, it is necessary to completely eliminate driving at night and without a helmet.


Indeed, you have to be careful with volcanoes in Java. It is no coincidence that Indonesia is considered a country with the highest level of volcanic activity. Mysterious and majestic volcanoes attract many tourists and some of them unknowingly or carelessly may become victims of unexpectedly raging elements.

Another significant danger on the island of Java are destructive landslides, which occur here usually in the rainy season. They can completely suddenly cover the roads and entire settlements with stones and tons of mud, with human casualties as well.

Another very likely danger comes from the tropical climate prevailing on the island of Java, which makes this paradise place an attraction for all kinds of crawling and flying insects, which may well cause a lot of trouble to careless tourists. Because the smell of sweets and human sweat attract most of all insects, then try not to leave any traces on your clothes from sweets and fruits eaten, and of course you should shower more often.

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In addition you should be aware that some species of these innocuous-looking insects can be carriers of dangerous diseases, so when you go for walks in the jungle as close your body and take with you protection against insects. And even better before a trip to Java to take a course of anti-malarial drugs.

Of course, in Java, the opportunity to meet with poisonous snakes and insects, large predatory animals on land, jellyfish and sharks in the water is much less than in Sri Lanka or India. But there are also its formidable inhabitants in the form of giant Komodo dragons, which are known for their ability to lightning and very suddenly attack the victim of their choice, and from their poisonous saliva wounds then very long do not heal. However, medics strongly recommend that before a trip to Indonesia to make the following vaccinations – against yellow fever, diphtheria, tetanus, typhoid fever and Japanese encephalitis.

Special criminal danger to tourists vacationing on the island of Java in general is not available. Of course, here as elsewhere in the resorts there may be cases of fraud and theft, so we must be extremely careful in public places and especially in vehicles. It is best not to carry valuables and jewelry that can easily be stolen.

Remember that in Indonesia are very strict anti-drug laws, so do not mess with this case on vacation. And also be careful when exchanging currency in street kiosks, there are often trying every way possible to deceive customers.

Also do not drink tap water, even brushing teeth with it, and even in the form of ice. Even if you wash the fruit with running water, then let it dry or wipe with a towel. The climate here is tropical, so food spoils very quickly. You can not eat dairy products, food in the raw form and after 12 hours of cooking. Well, do not drink homemade alcoholic beverages. It is fraught with serious consequences.

Traffic on the island is extremely hectic, rarely anyone here respects the rules. So if you rent a car or any other vehicle, be extremely careful and cautious. Remember also that the quality of roads here is very poor, do not ride without a protective helmet on a motorcycle and completely rule out night travel.


Indonesia is a deeply religious country, so you should pay attention to your appearance. The attitude to the appearance of men here is quite loyal, but the frank appearance of the fairer sex may cause a certain resentment among the local population. Try to avoid appearing in public places in miniskirts, shorts or other revealing attire. When visiting mosques and various public institutions, women’s clothing should be such that it completely covers the knees.

You should also pay attention to the fact that in Indonesia they eat mostly with the right hand and do not use any cutlery. If in a national cafe or restaurant you will not be served spoons, forks and knives, then be prepared to eat with the right hand. In most restaurants you will be served cutlery, of course, but in any case, you should be prepared for a variety of developments.

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Whatever situation you find yourself in, try to keep all valuables with you and even for a short time, do not leave them unattended, otherwise you can lose them. You may be pursued by beggars in Java, but do not give them anything, because their obtrusiveness may result in unexpected costs.

Many locals at the sight of tourists immediately begin to offer them all sorts of souvenirs. Refuse of such products is not worth it, but before you buy something to bargain, and do it as strongly as possible.

To avoid unpleasant situations on vacation, it is best to use the services of reliable tour operators, who work in this direction for many years and know all the nuances of this recreation.


Going to Java, take note that Indonesia is mostly a Muslim country, with all its attendant consequences. This does not mean that you must wholly follow all Muslim laws, but certain standards of behavior should be observed in order not to incur the wrath of the local population. Try to avoid too revealing clothing, in public and religious institutions clothing should cover the shoulders and knees.

Tourists often can not adapt to the noise that prevails in many Indonesian resorts (islands). And this noise is not related to traffic, but to TVs and radios, which locals almost always turn up at full volume. If you come across somewhere with such a situation, it is useless to be indignant, no one will make it quieter, and if they do, it won’t last long. You also need to get used to the repeated calls for morning prayer, the first of which sounds at four in the morning.

When dealing with the locals do not be surprised and strongly resent if they will touch you, they have this habit, which is due to too emotional temperament. In addition, any touching of the interlocutor is considered a sign of respect.

In Indonesia there are quite strict traffic rules, the amount of fines is constantly increasing and the police on the roads is not an uncommon phenomenon. But despite all this, the locals stubbornly find themselves following the rules of the road, thus endangering not only their safety, but also the safety of other road users. Some inconvenience can be caused by the animals that periodically appear on the roads. If finances allow, it is best to refuse renting scooters and bikes, and give preference to renting a car with a driver.

Do not go alone to remote areas of the island, as it can be associated with certain dangers (mainly of a natural nature). Bring your bathing slippers (or buy them locally), in order to avoid hurting your legs on corals. Take plenty of sunscreen, because in Java the sun is very insidious.

Whatever you were told and told about the crime in Java, it is there. It should be based on the fact that the standard of living of the local population is not very high, so the tourists, who sparkle with large sums of money, precious jewelry and expensive equipment can not but arouse interest. The serious crimes are not frequent, but pick-pocketing and street robberies are common. Be careful not to draw extra attention to yourself and it will help you to avoid many problems.

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