Ijen Crater (Kawah Ijen)


Woken at 3:30 am to the sound of chants from the local mosque, we started our day with a short drive &2 hour walk that brought us to the Ijen Volcano complex, a group of stratovolcanoes in East Java. The Ijen Volcano has a turquoise-coloured acid lake in its crater and is famous not only for its beauty but for its very labour intensive sulphur mining operation.

The miners Generally do two trips/ 6 days a week, carrying 100kg baskets of the yellow sulphur up 300mtr from the crater base to the crater rim then down nearly 2 miles to the Pultuding valley floor. I (George) tried lifting these baskets and they are not only very heavy but very painful and awkward to carry. In addition to the carrying of the heavy sulphur they have mine the it themselves, using crowbars to crack chunks of the cooled molten Sulphur,and using no breathing apparatus or face protection in the eye and chest burningly thick white sulphur gas. You may notice the ceramic pipes in the pictures which escaping volcanic gasses are channeled through, these result in condensation of molten sulphur (dark orangey red) which then cools in a pool turning bright yellow when it solidifies. Unbelievable! The workers only earn around £7 a day, and tend to not live to an old age as they generally suffer from major respiratory problems.

Ijen Volcano and its turquoise acid lake

The sulphur mining operation

Extreme working conditions in the thick white sulphur gas

Breaking off chunks of the freshly solidified sulphur, the only protection provided by an old scarf

Then the tough work starts… Carrying around 100kg up 800mtr on these winding, rocky paths then down 2 miles to the bottom of the valley. I take my hat off!

We left Ijen feeling with a sense of awe, it was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. Next stop Ubud in Bali…

2 thoughts on “Ijen Crater (Kawah Ijen)

  1. Amazing , beautiful , dangerous .How very sad that just to make a living is killing these people . You have been to so many beautiful places that are tinge with some sadness . Hope you both are doing okay , judging by the pictures your days are filled with so much knowledge , wonder and excitement …I am so jealous ! Its truly horrid here , still loads of snow but here in Manchester we have been so luck and just had the flurry although the wind chills you to the bone . I am counting down the days now for when you get back and we can have a good catch up. Just hope the weather isn’t like it is now because we will have chapped lips, wind swept faces and frost bite on our next run haha . Miss you loads mate . Stay safe xxx

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