Mystic Lands & Volcanoes
At times, it felt like I was in a completely alien planet, it was like the twilight zone but also eerily charming at the same time. This was the enchantment of the blue fires of Ijen Volcano and Mt. Bromo’s Sea of Sand. I could feel the raw elements overwhelm my mortal body, it was frightening but I felt beautifully alive to be in the presence of formidable forces. Now let me walk you through interesting bits of detail and photographs of this peculiar journey into Indonesia, where you will find the most active volcanoes in the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Approximately after two hours from Singapore by plane, we arrived at the city center and checked in at our hotel for the night to begin our 8 hour drive in the morning to the hiking camp near Ijen.
This was me catching up on some episodes of The Tudors at our hotel (Maxone Hotel, Tidar, Surabaya) while waiting for our driver to pick us up. It was hard to resist not taking a photo with their lush green backdrop together with my morning coffee.
We began the hike at around midnight, takes a few hours to get to where the blue flames are, which is basically sulphur leaking from the rim of the crater. That's where we were going, the CRATER, it is a one kilometre wide acidic turquoise blue crater-lake. Make no mistake, Ijen is an active volcano. But you can read all the interesting facts on wikipedia:
Fires of Ijen
I shall describe it to you in my own words but I feel it is still not enough to justify its magnificence, but I will try.
The flames seem faint from afar, but the closer you get the more fierce they appear, burning at 600 degrees Celcius after all.
Pardon the not so sharp images as the elements were overwhelming my tech. Winds were fierce and the night dark as tar.
Molten sulphur flows from the cracks like an infinite blue flaming snake, blazing in the darkness yet it fades under the light of dawn. It makes one appreciate it more as it begins to fade under the morning light.
But another spectacle awaits as the fumes lift and reveal the acid lake which claims to be the most acidic in the world. It was a captivating yet even more challenging scenery, as the wind shifts so does the fumes which hide the lake. Often it would blow towards me, for a few seconds I would feel a burning sensation in my eyes and throat despite the mask, then it would disappear and return. Managed to take a few shots after choking for air a few times as I was a bit too close. The cheap mask only provides survival and not comfort, I think the fumes were too thick.
Satisfied, we began to climb up towards the rim from the crater, and you can see a much better view of the lake in the morning, it was wise to hasten our descent as the rising sun can be very unforgiving as it makes its way towards noon.
Sulphuric gas billows from the rim of Ijen Volcano's crater which is the world's largest highly acidic lake.
A glimpse of what crowd to expect in Ijen.
What to Wear?
It can be very cold when you begin the hike, but it gets warmer as you exert effort to go up. You will sweat for sure, so layer wisely, a base of dry-fit fabric or breathable clothes are ideal, it gets cold again when you stop moving, so you will still need warm outer layers. Bring extra an extra t-shirt in case you sweat too much. I wore tights but I had jogging pants with me too by the way. Smartly choose your clothes and shoes! Hiking boots will give better grip if you need. Im sure-footed so I managed with my comfy trainers.
Sands of Bromo
On the second day we await the sunrise to see the Majestic Mt. Bromo, it was cold and dark but there was solace in being with fellow travellers. As the stars fade and the fog clears, Bromo appears like a waking giant, majestic to behold.
The moment when the stars above and lights below fade and morning light wakes the land from its slumber beneath a blanket of velvet fog.
You could hear the earth churn as as the thick smoke rises. It frightens yet makes me wonder what lies beneath the thick smoke. Simply overwhelming.
A portrait of my friend Ivy amidst the morning light, the colours golden with warmth.
After all this we drive down to the Sea of Sand, which we cross by foot to reach the volcano. It was an easy hike but the landscape changes the closer you are to the volcano.
Our cute 4x4 and the gang, when adventure calls these friends never refuse, love them to bits.
Almost like walking on a different planet...
You could hear and feel the vibrations from the crater, it sounded as if the earth was snoring in its sleep, dreadful to imagine how it would be like when this active volcano wakes… thankfully it did not happen in this trip.
More examples of how you can take those epic shots below, you can check the camera and lenses I used in my other post.
Me attempting to negotiate a deal to hold the horse for a bit.
This wraps up my trip in Surabaya, hope you have enjoyed the photos, leave some love or comment if you wish and like my Facebook page for updates too!
I'll be happy to answer questions if you want to ask about this trip.
New post coming next week!