In Search of Bluefire


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September 30th 2020
Published: September 30th 2020
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Ijen crater had been on my wish list but prior to 2017, it was not easily accessible. Thanks to the local government who renovated and expanded the green, international airport, today, Banyuwangi is easily accessible from Jakarta. Unlike any other volcano craters in Indonesia, the 722 meter diameter crater is the largest one in Indonesia; it also well known for the blue fire. Ijen crater got popular after it was being featured in BBC's documentary film, Human Planet, due to its rare blue sulfur flame or blue fire.

The thought of climbing 2,799 meter crater was daunting as I was not a mountain person, and the best time to start the climb is slightly after midnight after the gate is open in order to reach bluefire before sunrise. I and friends, Kiko and Candy, were surprise to see many people at the gate of the trek at 1 am where our guide had waited. As soon as we passed the gate, a few people approached us and offered their transport service to the top by carts, which we politely turned down. Interestingly, they continued to follow us, and by the time we reached the first post, a friend of mine, Candy, gave in as she ran out of breath. My heart sank upon knowing the fee for return trip of IDR800,000 as it took three people to pull the cart uphill for one passenger; Later on, I learned the local make a better living by offering this service than carrying the sulfur from the bottom of the crater to a nearby village - at lower daily wage!

To a fit person, the trek should not take more than two hours, and as for me, by the time I reached the fifth post, I ran out of breath. Thankfully, there were a kiosk serving coffee. By 4 am, I reached the top, and it was dark, chill and windy, yet there were many people - all were waiting for the sun to rise. Some people continued their trek to the bottom of the crater, while I didn't have much energy to go any further. As I waited, I could see some shadow moving from the bottom of the crater climbing to the top, carrying loads at their back. These are the local villagers who make a living from carrying the sulphur to a nearby village. Soon, the sun started to appear from the horizon, where the dark sky slowly turned purplish orange, and in no time, the turquoise blue crater started to appear in front of my eyes. What a beauty!

Our next destination was the oldest and creppiest national park, Alam Purwo. This mystical park is believed to be the first soil created on the island, and at its entrance, there was a Kawitan Hindu temple, still used by many worshippers for prayers up to now. The 43,420 ha national park is home to some 580 flora and 50 fauna. Unfortunately, we must have visited the park at the wrong season as we hardly saw any wild animals other than deers and buffaloes from a distance. Neither did the 250 km2 Baluran National Park, visited the next day, gave us any sight of wild animals. In hindsight, we should have done our homework; June to July is said to be the best season as it is the reproductive season for the deers, while peacock mating season is in August to September.


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4th October 2020

Ijen Crater
Lucky you...Ijen Crater was open so you got to see this magnificent but hostile environ. We were not so lucky when we visited several years ago. It was closed due to poisonous gas and potential eruption. Gotta feel sorry for the locals who risk major health issues harvesting and carrying the sulphur in baskets as I recall.
5th October 2020

In Search of Blue Fire
Agree!
4th October 2020
The high sulphur content smoke coming out from the crater

In search of bluefire
Surreal image of one of the most toxic locales on the planet. I hope the wind did not change to cover these hikers in sulphurous cloud...yeeka!!!
5th October 2020
The high sulphur content smoke coming out from the crater

In Search of Blue Fire
Indeed!

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