The Magic Blue Fire in East Java

On September 9, 2015 by Novita Karana

Ijen Blue Fire by Mr. YamadaWhy does East Java have to be written on your bucket list travel destination? Because East Java has lots of hidden gems that make you crafting for more. You will find blue fire, volcano mountain, beach, the africa van java national park, waterfall in a package. East Java has Ijen Blue Fire which is the best blue fire in the world. There are 2 places in the world where you can see blue fires , the one is in Ijen – East Java and second one is in Iceland.

In Iceland, if you want to visit the blue fire, you have to take helicopter with professional guide because the location of blue fire is in wild nature, not ready for tourist destination trek.

In Ijen, East Java, you can access the blue fire in short distance by walking only, no need helicopter. You only need professional guide who accompanied you. Ijen crater blue fire tour is one of the challenging adventure activities. Climb to the crater of Ijen is very different from climbing in other areas. Here, you will see the Blue fire, Blue acid lake and miners carrying sulfur from the crater of Ijen brought to the processing site that has a considerable distance. One of the attention in the area of ​​the crater, the existence of traditional sulfur miners. The workers dare to approach the lake to dig sulfur with simple equipment and then carried with a basket. The sulfur miners take sulfur from the bottom of the crater. Here the smoke is quite thick and they are still looking for molten sulfur. Once the sulfur is cut, the miners would carry through the small path. Heavy burden borned between 80 to 100 kg. The miners are accustomed to bear this heavy burden while down the path on the cliffs of the caldera down the mountain as far as 3 kilometers. Ijen’s temperature is between 2 to 8 degree centigrade and the crater area lies at 2.386 meters above sea level.

I felt it’s pretty tough to walk 3 kilometers with the path conditions, and then suddenly it felt nothing when i compare with the strongest miners who can walk the path with 80kg – 100kg burden on their shoulders. That’s the fact about the Ijen Blue Fire.

And another gem of East Java is Mount Bromo. Mount Bromo, located in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park with an altitude of 2329 m above sea level and become one of the most iconic mountain in Indonesia. To be awe in nature’s best combination of beauty and danger, an active volcano that can be memorable and beautiful. The view itself is almost out of this world and be the reason enough to go there! It beckons majestically despite having the entire top blown off and with a crater inside that keeps spewing off white sulphurous smoke. It sits inside the massive Tengger caldera (volcanic crater with diameter approximately 10km), surrounded by the Sea of Sands of fine volcanic sand.

This breathtaking and ethereal landscape have been swooned by many travelers alike. Myth has it that Mount Bromo is significant to the Tengger people who believe that the site is where their brave prince sacrificed his life for his family. To appease the Gods, the people will offer food and money by throwing it into the crater of the volcano once a year during annual Kasada (or Kasodo) festival around September.

What to bring for trekking to the volcano crater?
- Jacket
- Flashlight, preferably head flashlight with adjustable strap
- Scarf
- Mask
- Water
- Banana
- Extra Shirt, because you will get sweat and need to change your shirt.
- Small Backpack to carry
- Small money to buy sulphur souvernirs (if you want) or hot drink
- Hand Pillow Heaters (Our guide bring the heater for us)
Note: “Warung” that sell cup noodle and hot drink located at Paltuding post (lots), and in the middle on track. Better prepare water and banana on the night before.

In my opinion, you need at least 4 days 3 nights with tight itinerary to conquer all hidden gems in East Java. For the itinerary East Java that I’ve arranged:

Day 1 : Jakarta – Surabaya City – Banyuwangi City – Red Beach – Ijen
Day 2 : Ijen – Paltuding – Ijen Blue Fire – Kawah Wurung – Ijen Hot Spring
Day 3 : Bama Beach Sunrise – Baluran National Park – Bromo Sunset
Day 4 : Bromo Sunrise – Bromo Crater – Whispering Sand – Madakaripura Waterfall- Sidoarjo Hot Mud- Surabaya/Bali Departure

For the route you can see the map below: EAST-JAVA-MAP And below is the detail information of each day:

Day 01: Jakarta – Surabaya City – Banyuwangi City

***Option A***

Take two flights and you have more time to explore Banyuwangi City. I did fly from Jakarta City to Surabaya City and then continue from Surabaya City to Banyuwangi City. Experience fly by Garuda ATR72-600 and you will arrive around 12:45 in Blimbingsari Airport, Banyuwangi. The airport is very cute and small ATR72-600 from Surabaya to Banyuwangi Blimbingsari Airport, Banyuwangi Flight suggestion: Jakarta – Surabaya : any flight arrive 09:00AM at the latest, example
Citilink 06:10AM – 07:30AM (not connecting with next flight)
Garuda : 06:30AM – 08:05AM (connecting flight)
and continue with flight Surabaya – Banyuwangi : 11:45AM – 12:45PM (only one flight per day) by Garuda

***Option B***

Take one flight and you can save money. If you choose to arrive in Surabaya City, and continue with driving to Banyuwangi City, you should get the morning flight because it takes 7 – 8 hours driving from Surabaya City to Banyuwangi City.
Flight suggestion: Jakarta – Surabaya : any flight arrive 09:00AM at the latest, example
Citilink 06:10AM – 07:30AM
Air Asia : 07:20AM – 08:30AM
Garuda : 06:30AM – 08:05AM
Citilink 07:50AM – 09:10AM

Choose between Option A and Option B, and you will arrive in Banyuwangi. Continue with lunch at local restaurant. I recommend Daipoeng Restaurant, order grilled chicken (IDR90.000 for 4 persons), and then shopping for banana for midnight trekking, and then continue to hotel in Banyuwangi or Ijen area and get some sleep before midnight trekking. Set your alarm to wake up near midnight. If your hotel in Banyuwangi, you need to set your alarm near 11:30PM If your hotel in Ijen, you need to set your alarm near 12:30AM Wake up, prepare your clothes, eat banana, and hot drink. Yes, banana. It’s full of protein and give you extra energy. Red Beach RED BEACH (PANTAI MERAH)

PS: On this day, we chose option 1, and we had time to visit Red Beach after arrive in Banyuwangi. Red Beach located 60 kilometers from Banyuwangi and took 2,5 until 3 hours driving from Banyuwangi. Red Island beach located at the foot of Mount Tumpang Pitu. It’s located in Banyuwangi southern tip and have a unique form of a small mountain in the middle of the coast. This place get its name from the red color of its soil. Best time to visit Red Beach is when sunset.

When you choose to visit Red Beach, remember you only have lack time of sleeping, we only has 1 hour beauty sleep before Ijen trekking. Red Beach was beautiful. You will be a witness of the red sunset moment, feel the happiness of younger surfer, and drowned your feet on very fine white sandy beach.

 

Day 2 : Ijen Blue Fire – Kawah Wurung – Ijen Hot Spring

IJEN BLUE FIRE TREKKING

Ijen starting

If your hotel in Banyuwangi, you will be picked up on 00:00AM. It takes 1 hour to drive to Paltuding.
If your hotel in Ijen, you will be picked up on 01:00AM. It takes 30 -45 minutes to drive to Paltuding. Paltuding is start point for the trekking in Ijen.
01:00 You will start trek 3 kilometers (2 kilometer uphill and 1 kilometer flat)
02:30-03:00 Arrive at Ijen Crater (usually take 1,5 – 2 hours, depends on your fitness level)
Dark, Cold, Sweat. And you will see the sign like the picture above.

To the Blue Fire

02:30 – 03:00 Next, trek down 800 meter to blue fire area. Along the way, you will meet the miners and give a way for them. Upon arrival in bottom area, feel the euphoria and enjoy the blue fire.
Ijen-Blue-Fire

03:00 – 03:30 You have time 20 – 30 minutes to admire the blue fire from closer distance. Here the smoke is quite thick, so your guide will say to prepare 2 masks and outer wetted by water.

Ijen morning 1

ijen-pino

03:30 – 04:00 Trek back to the crater rim and you will reward with the magical view. Everything looks clear and the blue sky will smile at you.
04:30 – 05:00 Explore Blue Acid Ijen Lake view 05:00 – 06:00 Trek to sunrise point and admire the view 06:30 – 08:30 Trek 3 kilometer back to Paltuding Post, buy souvenir and enjoy the fresh air.
Ijen Sulphur Souvenir

During your way back to Paltuding you will find miners sell sulphur souvenirs. The little one come with shape airplane, sunflower, rose, crab costs IDR5000, and the big one shape more artsy costs IDR 10.000-15.000. I bought the little one and the big one. The big one shaped like planet has travel to Bali and come back to Jakarta. Be careful the sulphur souvenir is fragile. If you want to buy the big one, put it on camera bag. Next, back to hotel and have a breakfast before beauty sleep and recharged your body. For the breakfast you can choose fried noodle, bread, or fried rice.

 

WURUNG CRATER SUNSET
02:00PM we picked up, have lunch in local restaurant, and drop a visit to Wurung Crater / Kawah Wurung. Along the way (1 hour from Ijen hotel) you will see robusta coffee plantation, and some beautiful scenery:
Kwah-Wurung-on-the-way

You will trek for 15 – 20 minutes uphill and you will reward with two beautiful view on your left side and right side. Bring a snack and picnic matt, and you can watch the beautiful sunset come up between the while eating snack. Wurung crater is an open savanna with the contour of hills by grass and a few trees. The name “Crater Wurung” comes from the Javanese language means “crater that is not ready become a crater.” Indeed, there is a broad basin resembles a crater, but inside it is a meadow, not the lava dome.

And Wurung Crater sunset view would be like this:
Wurung Crater

The opposite the Wurung Crater view also will amaze you:
Kawah Wurung Opposite view

 

IJEN HOTSPRING
After enjoy the sunset, you will invite to visit hotspring near Katimor Homestay. With entrance fee IDR 5000, you will find yourself relax on a pool with hot water after 6 kilometers trekking. There are 2 pools in the hotspring: one with medium hot temperature and one with very hot temperature of water. Drop a visit to hotspring is very recommended after Ijen visit. You will have a good night sleep with relax body and muscles. You will have dinner at local restaurant and back to hotel to get some sleep before early morning wake up (again)

 

Day 3 : Bama Beach Sunrise – Baluran National Park – Bromo Sunset

VIRGIN BEACH BAMA SUNRISE

Bama Beach

01:30AM wake up, check out and get ready for next journey. 02:00AM you will be picked up and drive to Bama Beach for 3 hours. Bama Beach is a virgin beach with fantastic scenery located inside Baluran National Park. Arrive in Bama Beach around 05:00AM and we found the best spot to stand a tripod. Enjoy your breakfast box while waiting he sunrise. We got bread, butter, sprinkle chocolate and egg for breakfast. PS: Bring snack because the food stall open on 08:00AM. Watch out for long tail monkey around you. We also meet the deer who has breakfast near the beach. Beside that you also can see mangrove forest, Bama spring and Mantingan spring. One of special moment here is that you can see monkey with the long tail, and breakfast with them. You have option to do snorkeling and then have breakfast in Bama Cafe. Watch out your stuffs because the monkeys sometimes want to play with your bag.

AFRICAN VAN JAVA IN BALURAN NATIONAL PARK

Baluran view from tower

Continue to Baluran National Park. You can enjoy the panorama of savannah and mount Baluran (inactive volcano) in the center of area, that becomes habitat of many exotic animals such as wild pigs, deer, peacocks, wild chicken, some species of monkeys and also bulls as the protected animals in the area.

Baluran2

From Baluran, we driving 4 hours directly to Mount Bromo Area and stop for lunch in local restaurant. When there’s no traffic, you can arrive on time in Bromo to see sunset from sunset point. Dinner and take a rest at hotel in Cemoro Lawang area for early morning wake up.

Day 4 : Bromo Sunrise – Bromo Crater – Whispering Sand – Madakaripura – Sidoarjo Hot Mud – Surabaya

MOUNT BROMO MAGICAL SUNRISE
Bromo Sunrise

Bromo have known by worlds. The favourite part of Bromo Trip of course to watch the sunrise. 03:00AM : Wake up, and get ready for morning sunrise 03:30AM : Start early morning journey with the jeep to sunrise points. You will need 40 minutes to reach sunrise point. There some spots to see sunrise (Penanjakan 1, Penanjakan 2, Bukit Cinta, and some hidden spots only know by local guide ) After sunrise, make a stop at Bukit Cinta to take picture of three mountains (Mount Bromo, Mount Batok, and Mount Semeru) with blue sky.

Bromo-Sunrise2
Next, around 06:30AM you will back to your jeep and continue to Bromo’s peak. You also can look down to the crater that full of its smoke, and feel the cold of the air, is probably could only be done in Bromo. Your eyes will also completed by the sea of sand that the way to reach Bromo’s peak. Next, continue to sea of sand and then breakfast at hotel before check out. If rainy season, a visit to Teletubbies hill is a must.

MADAKARIPURA WATERFALL
On the way to Madakaripura

Continue to The Surreal Madakaripura Waterfall before drive to Surabaya City. Entering Probolinggo area, after being impressed beautiful panorama of Mount Bromo. And next you can enjoy a spectacular view other spectacular yet secluded. That Madakaripura Waterfall. A beautiful waterfall and still be in the National Park Bromo can therefore be an additional destination.Madakaripura location not too far from Mount Bromo, precisely near the village Wean, Lombang district. Madakaripura waterfall believed to be the place Sir Gajah Mada, the prime minister of Majapahit Kingdom spent the rest of his days. Waterfall towering waterfalls dubbed immortal because it never stops pour water curtain of fine rain similar to those that can pass underneath. The location of this spectacular waterfall hidden at the end of a deep valley in the foothills of the Tengger. To get to this waterfall, you need to walk approximately 1,3 kilometers with duration 20 -30 minutes to cross the river and rocky road before arriving at the entrance. However, you will be treated with a beautiful green scenery along the way. The large statue of Majapahit, Gajah Mada sitting meditation will greet you before proceed further into the center of the waterfall.
Madakaripura Waterfall
“Madakaripura has 7 waterfalls. I guarantee, the first waterfall will bring happiness to you all. And the latest waterfall will bring smile to your heart”, said the local guide. And we proved the words. Madakaripura is one of the preattiest waterfall i’ve ever visited. Note: If you visit Madakaripura, please use the local guide service. Usually the age of local guide is 40-50 years old, and they will make your journey memorable with the story of the Madakaripura and Gajah Mada. “Not every tourist want the guide, that’s why we don’t earn money everyday.” The fee of the tour around Rp. 80.000 – Rp. 150.000 for 1 group. You can bargain before use their service. Tips: Bring flip flop and rain coat. Because you will get wet. You can bring the flip flop IDR10.000, new raincoat for IDR10.000, and second raincoat for IDR5000. Second raincoat will be sold near the first waterfall.

LAPINDO HOT MUD AT SIDOARJO
on the way to Lapindo

If you take last flight or flight around 09:00PM, you have a change to drop a visit at Lapindo Hot Mud.  In 2006, the largest mud volcano on the planet was born when steam, water and mud began erupting on the Indonesian island of Java. The resulting disaster, known as the “Lusi mud eruption”, buried factories and villages, causing 13,000 families to lose their homes.  And its so awkward when the disaster place become a tourism object nowadays. Scientists have suggested two potential causes for the calamity. The first possibility is that the eruption could have been triggered by drilling at a gas exploration well. The other possibility is that the outburst may have been set off by the magnitude-6.3 earthquake that struck about 240 kilometers away in Java at Yogyakarta just two days earlier, killing nearly 6,000 people.

Lapindo First Explosion

Oil and gas company Lapindo Brantas, which operated the well, claimed the eruption was due to natural causes. When you stepped my feet at the area, you will be offerred Lapindo Tour by the locals (most of the guide are the victims). The tour costs IDR35.000/person with duration 30-45 minutes. You will ride a motorbike with the local guide. He will tell you stories about the history of hot mud. First, you will drive to the 111 human statues instalation. Art instalation by Mr. Dadang Christanto.

The guide said the human statues that spread everywhere is symbol of the victims of hot mud. Next, you will continue by motorbike to the source of hot mud, where the first explosion came. Continue with dinner at local restaurant before transfer to airport for your flight home, or continue your journey to Bali island.     Flight suggestion from Surabaya to Jakarta :
Air Asia 20:35PM – 21:55PM
Batik Air 21:10PM – 22:40PM
Citilink 21:55PM – 23:15PM
Batik Air 22:00PM – 23:30PM
Citilink 22:25PM – 23:50PM

Some FAQ questions:
1) How’s the local restaurants in Ijen and Bromo Area? Don’t expect fancy restaurant, the interior is very simple. The restaurants manage by local, usually they cook Indonesian Food theirselves and the food is delicious. Do you know why the meals not included in the package? It’s because the menu is different everyday and every people has their own preferrence for meal.
typical-food-stall

2) What kind of hotel in Ijen Area? There are 2 hotels in Ijen Area that suggested by the guide : Katimor Homestay and Arabika Ijen Homestay with seat toilet and hot shower. And also lots of real homestay (stay in local house).  

 

ARABICA HOMESTAY
We stayed in Arabika Homestay. At Sempol 13 kilometers before Pos Paltuding, you will find the Arabica Homestay. The magnificent view is the main attraction. This guest house is of good value if you want to explore the coffee plantation or even participate in picking coffee.Arabica Homestay

Arabica Homestay has three types of rooms, but all have their own bathroom with hot water and breakfast is included. You can also enjoy lunch and dinner at the homestay (IDR 60.000/pax include rice, chicken, scrambled egg, soup, strawberry juice), but if you are looking for an alternatives, you can find warungs around one kilometers from the hotel area.  Arabica Homestay provides hot coffee and hot tea at the restaurant for 24 hours. What the benefit poin of Arabica Homestay? One of the two factories at the coffee plantation is right beside the Arabica Homestay. Just in front of the homestay, down the road, there is a strawberry garden. On the way to the strawberry garden you see a swimming pool.

The economy room / standard room at Arabica Homestay
water heater with hot water, seat toilet, warm blanket, towel, but no TV.
Arabica-Standard-Room

The VIP room at Arabica Homestay
Facilities : water heater with hot water, bath tub, seat toilet, basin, towel, TV.
VIP Room at Arabica Ijen

The Dinner at Arabica Ijen IDR 60.000/pax (August 2015) included: rice, fried noodle, fried chicken, omelette, strawberry juice, vegetable soup Arabica dinner

 

CATIMOR HOMESTAY
Catimor Homestay is partly constructed in an bamboo building, constructed in 1894 by the Dutch. A newer brick building contains more basic rooms. Catimor Homestay has a hot tub filled with water from a natural hot spring containing sulphur.

Catimor Homestay

Besides, they have a swimming pool with fresh water. They serve breakfast (included in the price), lunch and breakfast. Or, you bring your own food. There are quite a lot of possibilities to pass your spare time. Next to the hotel you find one of the two coffee factories that are established in the plantation Blawan. The coffee plantation is also from the year 1894. You can get a very interesting tour through the factory, just ask the staff of Catimor Homestay.  If you follow the signs in front of the homestay, it is a short walk to the river and hotspring.

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