How to Climb Mt Ijen Without a Tour

How to Hike Mount Ijen Without a Tour or Guide

From transport & accommodation in Banyuwangi to entrance fees & route information, find out everything you need to know to hike Mount Ijen without a tour or guide in Indonesia.

It’s an accomplishment to hike Mount Ijen without a tour, let alone doing it at night.

An intense, challenging & emotional experience, the night hike feels all the more satisfying when you accomplish it all on your own – just like we did here at DIY Travel HQ.

Without even considering it’s awesome electric-blue flames, Mount Ijen is still unlike any of the volcano hikes in Indonesia – there’s the sunrise, views, geology & lake but it is the human element that sets it apart.

Sulphuric gas over tourists on Mt Ijen

Sulphuric gas looms over everyone on the mountain, tourist & miners alike

Personally, it was hard not to feel emotional, with the fear of the descent, sulphuric gas inhalation & possible blindness.

We recommend bringing along a headwrap to protect your face.

Witnessing the toil & suffering of the miners – physically, mentally & physiologically – also left a lasting impressing.

Miners carry 70-90kgs loads of sulphur up & down the mountain, consumed by toxic gas – their lives are shortened by decades, in order to provide for their families.

As a hiker consider bringing along a much lighter First Aid Kit for Emergencies.

Miner carrying baskets of sulphur on Mt Ijen

Miner carrying baskets of sulphur out of Mount Ijen, weighing up to 90kgs

If you want to hike Mount Ijen, expect a hard slog – the crater descent is treacherous, the all-consuming sulphur is hazardous & the labor of the miners is heartbreaking.

It was as hard as hiking Mount Rinjani without a tour but in a different way.

We don’t use them but you may feel more comfortable climbing Mount Ijen with a pair of trekking poles.

The action begins every morning around 2:30am – the start of a steep & dusty 75 minute climb up the mountain, before an even sharper descent into the rocky crevices of the crater.

As it will be pitch black, a light source such as a headlamp is essential to guide the way up.

Most miners get an early start too, in order to make 2 trips up & down the mountain before the heat of the day.

Passing a miner on the night trek up Mt Ijen

Passing a miner on the night trek up Mount Ijen

Volcanic gasses escape from a network of ceramic pipes, resulting in the famous blue flames on Mount Ijen as well as condensation of molten sulfur.

The ignited sulphuric gas of the flames burn at up to 600 degrees celsius.

Blue Flames of Mt Ijen

See the unique blue fire from the crater, the largest blue flame area in the world

Volcanic gases produce blue flames & sulphur

Ceramic pipes produce Mount Ijen’s famous blue flames

It was hard to take photos while attempting to hike Mount Ijen without a tour.

The images here are the best I captured with my Canon Rebel T3 though I now use a Nikon D3300 DSLR.

I was often caught in a sulphuric gas storm while getting too close & often felt seriously concerned for my health.

Even with a gas mask, it was hard to breathe, the taste was toxic & the sulphur burnt my eyes with such a force that I genuinely feared blindness – & it continued to burn for the rest of the day.

Sulphuric gas from the crater of Mt Ijen

Toxic sulphuric gas spurting from the crater

The Ijen volcano complex includes a one-kilometer-wide turquoise-colored lake – the largest acidic crater lake in the world.

Seeing the incredible crater landscape while you hike Mount Ijen without a tour is simply surreal & otherworldly.

Mars crater landscape of Mt Ijen

The eerie crater landscape was reminiscent of another planet

The incredible crater landscape of Mt Ijen

The majesty of Mount Ijen reveals itself after sunrise

The volcanic sulphur is red when molten, turning bright yellow as it cools.

Then miners break the sulphur into pieces & carry loads between 70-90kgs out of the crater & down the mountain.

Miner breaking sulphur from the crater of Mt Ijen

A miner collecting yellow sulphur near the ceramic pipes

Shortly after sunrise, one load already down & heading back up the mountain & into the crater for one more heavy haul of sulphur.

A miner returns for a 2nd haul on Mt Ijen

After starting in the early hours of the morning, a miner returns for his 2nd trip to the crater just after sunrise

A nearby sugar refinery pays the miners by the weight of sulphur transported – making 2 trips, the pay is just US$10-15 a day.

Yellow sulphuric knick-knacks are also sold along the trail – knowing now what’s involved, whatever price you pay, it’s a bargain.

Sulphur souvenirs for sale on Mt Ijen

Sulphur souvenirs for sale on Mount Ijen

After many years on the road, I still appreciate the many wonders of the world but few experiences blow me away.

Hiking Mount Ijen, literally & figuratively, took my breath away.

The crater landscape is stunning but the connection with the miners leaves the most meaningful mark.

Of course, one load-free day can’t compare but it elicits so much empathy & compassion for one’s fellow humankind.

Struggling up the same treacherous route, breathing in the same toxic air… it was almost too much to bear yet the miners live this every day, twice a day – in the name of survival.

I’m not an emotional person but for me, it was an eye-opening & thought-provoking experience to hike Mount Ijen without a tour.

* Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before any trip. We’ve been using World Nomads for over 10 years – it’s the best-value provider we’ve found & we’ve also never had any issues on the few occasions we’ve had to make a claim.

Me on Mt Ijen

Me on Mount Ijen, my new favourite mountain – unforgettable!

Hike Mount Ijen Without a Tour: Transport

We booked our transportation to Mount Ijen with Hotel Permata Indah for 150,000 IDR / $11.25 – we received their old price, their current price is probably around 175-200,000 IDR / $13.15-$15.00.

There were 4 of us in the car plus the driver.

You should be able to arrange cheaper transportation in town, especially if you are in a group of 4.

Going by ojek, either with a driver or renting a motorbike, is a cheaper possibility – however keep in mind that you’ll be driving at night & some of the roads are a bit rough.

The rocky path inside Mt Ijen crater

The roads to Mount Ijen are rough but they’re nothing on the path in & out of the crater!

Hike Mount Ijen Without a Tour: Park Tickets & Getting Started

We left just after midnight; the drive from Banyuwangi to Mount Ijen was approximately 1hr 15mins. This was an even earlier start than hiking Mount Kelimutu for free.

You’ll need to buy your entrance ticket, which costs 150,000 IDR / $11.25 for foreigners & 10,000 IDR / $0.75 for locals.

The time from which you can start climbing varies each day depending on the level of activity on the mountain.

On the day we were there, we arrived at 1:30am & the ticket office only opened at 2:30am.

It’s very cold, so wait/nap in the car or there’s seating & a fire at the trail starting point.

Make sure you’re probably dressed with a pair of thermal gloves and a fleece beanie.

Mount Ijen is very popular with visitors, so when the ticket office finally opens, there’s a mad rush & no sense of order.

So if you want to jump ahead of the pack, it’s worth lining-up at the ticket booth to be first-served & first on the mountain.

Line up for tickets to Mt Ijen

The ticket booth at the carpark will be dark when you arrive around 1:30am

Once you have your ticket, head to the start of the trail & prepare to wait again.

It’s not a long one though, the gates opened for us at 2:45pm.

Entrance gate to Mt Ijen hike

Line-up at the entrance gate before it opens at 2:45am

Do I need to join a tour? Do I need a guide?

Absolutely not!

You just need to get yourself to the base of the mountain & from there you can easily hike Mount Ijen without a tour or guide.

There’s only 1 path going up & you’ll be climbing with dozens of other people, all with headlamps on, so you won’t get lost.

In fact, tour groups contribute to the most dangerous part of the experience, the climb into the crater.

Groups congregate, clogging up the already-narrow & steep track.

Many tourists climb Mt Ijen

You’ll be sharing the mountain with dozens of other tourists

However, this is where a guide or the rest of your tour party can be handy, as they can help you down & across the rocks.

But just go slow & watch your steps (as well as all the people around you) & you’ll be able to it – all on your own.

Climbers on top of Mt Ijen

Climb every mountain… you can do it, on your own!

That being said, our transportation to Mount Ijen arranged through Hotel Permata Indah was somewhat of a mini-tour as it required us to be down from the volcano at 7:30am.

Also, it included a post-climb stopover at a waterfall & ”coffee plantation” at the same site – there was no coffee.

The driver dropped us off here while he took the other 2 passengers to the train station, then came back & picked us up about an hour later.

The falls were beautiful, but it was a bit of a climb down to reach them – after the 8 hour physical & emotional exhaustion of Mount Ijen, it wasn’t so welcome, but the sun was very hot by the morning so it was nice to be able to cool down.

For more information on hiking Mount Ijen & traveling in the country check out Lonely Planet’s Indonesia (2016).

Cool down in waterfall after Mt Ijen

Visit a waterfall on the way back to Banyuwangi

Getting to Mount Ijen

Banyuwangi is the base town for trips to hike Mount Ijen without a tour.

If you’re want to know how to get from Ubud to Banyuwangi, first you’ll need to take a bus to Gilimanuk & then a ferry across to Banyuwangi.

The blue crater lake of Mt Ijen

It’s a long road to the crater of Mount Ijen, especially from Bali, but it’s truly worth it

Getting from Mount Ijen to Mount Bromo

Did you manage to successfully hike Mount Ijen without a tour?!

Heading west, your next stop DIY should be Mount Bromo –see our post How to Climb Mount Bromo for Free.

To get to Mount Bromo, you’ll first need to get to Probollingo.

There are several trains from Banyuwangi to Probollingo. If time is a factor, you can go to train station straight after climbing Mount Ijen:

  • Train: Mutiara Timur Siang
  • Departure time: 8:30am or 9:00am
  • Price: 85,000 IDR / $6.40 Business class; 120,000 IDR / $9.00 Executive class (approximate)
  • Journey: 5 hours

If you take this train, you will arrive in Probollingo around 2pm. Exit the train station & take a left to the bemo station next door – now you need to get to Cemoro Lawang, the base town for Mount Bromo.

You may be lucky & find a bemo ready to go or you may have to wait 6 hours like we did.

Either way, hopefully you’ll reach Cemoro Lawang sometime on the same day, allowing you to rest a little overnight before another sunrise climb to Mount Bromo.

With this option, you’ll be climbing both Mount Ijen & Mount Bromo within 24 hours – good luck!

The next train from Banyuwangi to Probollingo leaves at 12:30pm – it’s an Economy train so it’ll take longer, around 7 hours, meaning that you’ll need to stay overnight in Probollingo & take a bemo the next to Cemoro Lawang for Mount Bromo.

  • Train: Probowangi
  • Departure time: 12:30pm
  • Price: 28,000 IDR / $2.10
  • Journey: 7 hours
Banyuwangi Train Station

Banyuwangi Train Station

In Probollingo, we recommend staying at Home Stay Diponegoro 5 for 115,000 IDR / $8.65 for a basic room, ensuite, wifi & breakfast. It’s about a 20 minute walk from the train station.

The next morning, you can catch a bemo directly in front of the hotel back to the train station for the bemos to Cemoro Lawang.

We recommend Booking.com for the best rates & selection of accommodation in Indonesia. Make a booking with our link for 10% off your stay.

Home Stay Diponegoro 5 Probolilingo

Stay at Home Stay Diponegoro 5 in Probollingo for 115,000 IDR

Know Before You Go

Mount Ijen Entrance fee: 150,000 IDR / $11.25 foreigners, 10,000 IDR / $0.75 locals

Transport from Banyuwangi to Mount Ijen: 150,000 IDR / $11.25 per person, private car. 1 hour & 15 minutes drive

Total time spent: 9.5 hours

 

*** The Final Word: Hiking Mount Ijen without a tour was our #1 adventure in Indonesia ***

Did you find it challenging or emotional to hike Mount Ijen without a tour?

3 Shovels

Accessible DIY travel to more distant locations via multiple connections or longer forms of public/private transport

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Visited in October 2015