Hiking to the Crater

Bondowoso Travel Blog

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Aan and Sukarman
From where the visitors overnight, the best start for hiking to Kawah Ijen is early morning. Start from either Arabica or Catimore homestay, takes for about 20 minute ride up to Pos Paltuding. Enthusiast hikers even leave the homestay at 4 a.m., so they can reach the crater on time for sunrise. At Pos Paltuding, visitor must sign in first and the entrance fee is 2,000Rp for locals and as much as 15,000Rp for foreigners. Ask for a gas mask for your convenience during the hike around the crater, fast blowing fume usually so terrible and get coughed. The officer provides it for rent at reasonable price and it is worth well, a reliable gas mask designed for use of harmful application.

From the parking lot, a well-worn track leads us up to the volcano.
A welcoming gate
The journey begins after a welcome gate greating us. At first, heading up through the shady casuarinas forest, the track is wide and flat but it is just the beginning and gradually it rises up with some steep sections. There are some resting post built along the way, visitor can use it for stopping by. After about 2 km walking, there is a shelter up there, Pondok (shelter) �" a small building used by some of the workers to eat and sleep in. It is also the post to weigh the worker’s sulfur load where they can get a promissory note to exchange it later with cash money at the base camp.

Just about 1 km from pondok, the trail thankfully flattened out all the way to the crater’s rim as we are welcomed by smelling sulfur fumes. From the edge, we need to climb another 30 minutes down a narrow stairway to the lake’s surface for the best point and to get the best pictures. Be careful, just follow any workers then they would lead you to the crater floor. “If you lose your way, just look out for the sulfur trail, a continuous flow of sulfur from repetitive carried burden, had left a yellow trail on the well worn path.”

As alternative, the panoramic view can be seen obviously just hike up to the northern-east of the crater and follow the track. For about 100 m, a breathtaking view of stunning turquoise lake brings us to this magnificent.
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The direction of Ijen tourism destination can be accessed via two alternative routes. The route from either Bondowoso or Banyuwangi. Today, any vehicle could run all the way to Kawah Ijen. Sometimes many travelers choose to go by public transportation or even motorbike. However it depends on your pace of creating enjoyable travel experiences.

From Bondowoso:
It is suggested the easiest start from Bondowoso for any travelers depart from Surabaya and transfer by bus to Bondowoso (180km). No train transport is possible to Bondowoso.

From Bondowoso bus terminal, you can get public transportation to Sempol (15,000Rp; approx. 3hr), there is only mini-bus transport picked the passengers up to Sempol, the last bus stop and the nearest location to find the home stay �" Arabica Home stay and Catimore Home stay. However, you have less convenience to get this transport as its departure and arrival could not be predicted sure. The last mini-bus to go at around 4 p.m. Starting from Bondowoso, the route goes to Gardu Atak, which is 12 km long, and head up to the eastern direction of Sukosari. If you want to make it faster, from Gardu Atak you can stop here then find several ojek/ motorbike drivers waiting for customer. Ask him to take you up to Paltuding (start from 100,000Rp; 55km; 2-3hr).

The long twisted roads will accompany us to enjoy the fertile plantation of sugar cane field, paddy field and dense tropical forest dominated the landscape. From Sukosari to Sempol it takes 32 km to arrive. For backpacking travelers this would be definitely acceptable as we can enjoy the trip by knowing how to connect from one place to another. See around the landscape and feel the temperature change. The dense tropical forest of casuarinas and pine tree allow our mind free. The road condition is fine except from the section of Pondok Jeruk to Cilalap and the rest is likely better. On few hours driving, the roads climb gradually. Afterward just reach to Malabar the roads begin to descent suddenly as it bends and turns through hills surrounding where fresh mountain smell get wondered that it would close to the destination. About few minutes we reach at Pos Malabar, a small security check post. A crossbar hinders someone passing the road. Usually just a quick look the guard notices who is inside the car and let them go. Reaching to Pos Malabar means it would be entering the area of Arabica coffee plantation. 

Near to the security check post, there is a small café shop with a large sign advertising the finest Java coffee. Here is the best viewpoint to remark obviously numerous mountains up there when the weather is so bright. See around. We will gaze at the fractured boundary rising up encircled us of what must once had been a giant volcano and erupted enormously then it formed into a huge volcanic caldera. Just drop by and enjoy the panoramic view of a huge caldera while sitting relax for a cup of finest Java hot coffee.

If you plan to make a daytrip, there is possible to extend driving from Sempol to Pos Paltuding and start directly to hike. Find someone in Sempol who will take you by motorbike to Pos Paltuding (13km; 20min; 50,000Rp one-way or 75,000Rp two-way). If you want to leave Sempol, Kalisat or Blawan after hiking to kawah Ijen, usually someone are willing to take you up to Ketapang harbor-Banyuwangi (45km more; 1-2hr; around 140,000Rp). At Pos Paltuding, there is not sure to meet any motorbike driver who will take you back or to Ketapang harbor but ask to any ranger who stand by there to call on someone take you to the next route.

Sempol is the start point to go anywhere like Kalisat, Jampit, Belawan, and also kawah Ijen. Here is then you can decide to visit other attractions like the view of Jampit guesthouse, savanna, kawah Wurung, Blawan waterfall, Blawan natural hot spring, and coffee plantation as well.

From Banyuwangi
Travelers come from
Bali (Denpasar) can drive directly to Ketapang harbor and connect from Gilimanuk to Ketapang by ferryboat. From Ketapang, there is possible to hire car or motorbike taxi directly go to preferable home stay whichever on Pos Paltuding, Catimore-Blawan, or Arabica-Kalisat.

Ketapang has developed into a thriving centre. It’s quiet busy and of course has a lot facility available. There are restaurant and small shop, tourist information service �" East Java Tourist Information Booth �" inside ferry terminal, a train station- just opposite the ferry terminal, a bus station �" just outside the ferry terminal and couple of hotels few kilometers to the south.

Some travelers choose to get public transport from Ketapang to Blambangan terminal (5,000Rp; 20min) and transfer to the next terminal Sasak Perot/Karangasem (3,000Rp; 10min) and then mini-bus runs to Jambu (7,500Rp; 25min). From here an ojek/ motorbike driver can be hired to Pos Paltuding or preferable home stay (Cost from 50,000Rp-100,000Rp; 30min). Finding someone to take you up to Pos Paltuding from Jambu is very easy, there are several ojek waiting for customer. Find someone with stronger motorbike.

Going to Ijen from Banyuwangi would be a secondary route to start. Today, the road condition is better along the way to Pos Paltuding and it is accessible by any kind of vehicle with the exception for the road along Sodong, 13 km to Pos Paltuding. From Ketapang ferry terminal, only take about 45km to Pos Paltuding. Driving to Pos paltuding from Banyuwangi is possible to spot a lush glove and coffee plantation and dense tropical forest. During August to October we can enjoy an exciting scene of workers harvesting either glove or coffee plantation in the area of Jambu plantation estate. The workers are usually women wearing long sleeve, long skirt or jeans, hat and rubber boot. We can interact with them and ask question about the plantation as the workers are glad to answer. In the area of Sodong, there is one very steep road called Erek-erek, so be prepared to control the motor gear on second and first. It is only few meters a head but the road combined with curve making it tricky to drive.

Aan and Sukarman
Aan and Sukarman
A welcoming gate
A welcoming gate
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Arabica home stay maintained by PTPN XII, a national plantation estate, is a lovely guesthouse in Sempol, 1 km from the main road. It has a balcony th… read entire review
12,686 km (7,883 miles) traveled
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photo by: yuness