Published: July 2nd 2011July 2nd 2011
I woke up very early again on thursday to take a few more photos of Bromo, post my blog, and have breakfast before catching my minibus back down the mountain at 9am. Once we had picked up the other tourists, including 3 girls I had met on the Merapi climb (Diana and Jackie from Germany, and Kim from America), it took only an hour or so to make our way to Probolinggo where we changed to another minibus. From there it was an interesting 5 hour drive with some great scenery including rice fields, sugarcane fields, forests, coffee plantations, and some cute villages, before arriving at our guesthouse 7km past the town of Sempol. Our hotel had a cold water pool as well as a spring-fed hot tub which was tempting but being dusk and a little chilly I decided not to hop in. After sitting around talking and having dinner we all retired early seeing that we had to get up at 4am the next morning.
After a quick breakfast and a 45 minute drive we arrived at the park headquarters where we had a 3 km uphill walk to get to the crater wall of Mt Ijen. It
was a steep walk up and I had to take a few breaks, but the scenery was very nice and the weather cool. Towards the top you could really smell the sulphur and thankfully I still had a bit of a blocked nose from having the flu so it wasn't as bad for me. It took me just over an hour to get to the top of the crater where I had a rest and took in the interesting scenery as well as a lot of sulphur fumes.
I was trying to decide whether it was worth going down into the crater to the lake and the sulphur mine below. At that stage there was a lot of sulphur smoke and we couldn't see anything below as well as not knowing the condition of the path. Some of the others had already headed down but a lot of us decided to stay up the top. It turned out to be a bad decision for myself hearing of and later seeing photos (Thankfully I got a few photos from Diana which I have included below) of the scenes at the bottom. So if you come here make sure that you
go down into the crater.
At the top I had a few words and photos with a couple of the sulphur miners. These guys usually make a couple of trips up and down the mountain every day carrying loads of 60-70 kg at a time. For 1 load they get about 40,000 rupiah which is the equivalent of $4.50. Very hard work considering they have an hour and a half hike up the mountain and into the crater before loading themselves up with the 60 plus kgs, climbing out of the crater and then carrying that load back down the mountain. They also supplement their income from selling souvenirs made from the sulphur or posing for photos (tourists usually give a little bit of money, cigarettes, or some food). I also found out that most, if not all the miners are actually farmers who do this work for some extra money when they are not working in the fields.
After being at the top for about 45 minutes with the visibility still being pretty bad, and none of the people that went into the crater returning, I decided to head back down. I later heard that soon after
the visibilty got a lot better and there were great views of the lake below. On the way down I passed quite a few miners either carrying their heavy loads or having a rest. I had a coffee at the little store about a third of the way down, and then had a snack once I got back to the park headquarters. Once the others had returned it was great to hear about and see the photos of the lake and the sulphur being mined.
We then all hopped into the minivan and drove a couple of hours to the ferry port of Ketapang, where we had a drink, and then boarded the 70 cent ferry to Gillimanuk, Bali. An hour later we were on Bali, where I said farewell to the others who were going to Denpasar, and after waiting an hour I boarded the public bus to Lovina.
There are more photos below