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How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet @indtravel

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor September 16th, 2016 Posted in Asia Travel Blog, Travel Blog, Travel Guides 47 Comments

No, I did not leave Earth from Indonesia. I am not planning to neither. Never. But surprising things do matter.

How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 1

I had no idea that a boat trip from Lombok to Bali and flights from Denpsar to Banyuwangi via Surabaya could bring me in a plain white and brown locale, which is far from the blue and green hues of the world.

There was no Alien and there was no Unidentified Flying Object, but Banyuwangi, somehow brought me to places that I never thought Earth can offer. Exaggerating it may sound but that’s how exactly I felt when I explored two impeccable destinations in BanyuwangiHere’s how Ijen Crater and Baluran National Park brought me to another planet.

Monkey DividersIJEN CRATER

Chasing the Blue Flames

How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 2Photo by: Hannah Cepe

I did not chase for it to get burnt. I looked for a phenomenon. I was successful. Minimal sacrifices need to be done though. If you are ready to start your day as long as the clock’s hands tick at 12am and begin a hike, then you can catch a rare phenomenon too. As demanding as the word rare, blue fire only allow its beauty to be seen at most from two up to five in the morning.

How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 15What’s so special anyway? Ijen has the same lava like other volcanoes but it does this attractive blue light coming from burning of sulfur/sulphur. Search more on how it can happen scientifically in the web or books and don’t ask me. All I want to showcase is the feeling of searching and being able to found it. It’s not burning you like hell. The calm and peaceful reflection of the color blue remain. Despite the crowd, eyeing for the perfect spot to grab a best photo to share, the flame shades keep their ruling and conquer the morning until the natural light comes.

Records say that the blue fire/fames were observed in several points around the lake but I was able to see two spots only and it fades time by time. It is suggested, therefore, to be on the crater as early as possible to see the flame on its brightest time.

Monkey DividersInhaling Sulfur/Sulphur

DON’T DO IT.How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 16

That’s why a proper gas mask is necessary. I had a thin mask all throughout the hike and it’s totally not advisable. Respiratory infection may occur from inhaling the sulfur gas. A piece of cloth wet by water, slightly covering your nose and mouth will also be helpful for better breathing. I was too busy hiking or maybe I was just too stupid not to rent a gas mask as I came down, getting closer to the sulfuric area. Gask mask is available for rent at 50,000IDR (around 4USD) or better yet, bring your own. I started sensing the air with sulfur during the hike but it’s far from what it actually does in the main points where the tons of sulfur are.

How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 3

Monkey DividersSeeing an Acidic LakeHow Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 17

There was a huge fear to go closer. The sand is not as sturdier as I want to be. The call of curiosity won and it was fulfilling. The most acidic lake in the world was just in front of me. Even there was a strong temptation of how a lake should be relaxing for a quick bath, better not to do it. Just fill your eyes with fog from the smoke of burning sulfur as it slowly shows the killer lake.

Not all want to come at this point nor in the sulfur area. The hike in Ijen does not end by going up and reaching the peak of the mountain. The literally rocky road down the crater is more challenging, especially before the sun rises. Aside from headlamp, better bring gloves or rent a pair in the area at 10,000IDR (less than one USD) to help you pass the way going down.

How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 4

Monkey DividersMeeting the Bravest People

How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 5

Friday is supposed to be a day off for sulfur collectors. Some were still there, working from two to 11 in the morning and trying to make extra rupiahs thru photo opportunities and mini sculptures out of sulfur.

How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 5

Carrying up to 70 kilograms of sulfur in the baskets and breathing in the sulfur gas for almost every day for hours is not something that everyone can and should not do. Even the miners would probably not want to make this as a lifelong source of income if and only if they have more options.

How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 7

Sulfur Miners are the assets at Mount Ijen. Sulfur Miners are the living wealth in the crater. Sulfur Miners are among the bravest people whose jobs don’t deserve to be just a supporting attraction to this growing tourist destination in Indonesia.

Monkey DividersWitnessing the Morning Sun’s revelations

How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 8

Though I missed the sunrise which I bet would be a spectacular experience from the top of Ijen crater, I still felt the beauty of a Morning sun.

How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 9

Its light revealed the path I had no idea during the hike/trek. It revealed the tons of visitors who crave for an adventure. It revealed the number of baskets used by the miners. It revealed the alien-like realm of the mountain.

The views that it can offer make other hikers to choose morning (after sunrise) in exploring Ijen. The cool breeze going up will be a big help to lessen the tiredness. The foggy view, covering the mushrooms of mountains around the areas is also worth to see.

How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 10


Standing in a 25,000-hectare Green Sphere

How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 11

The massive area of forests can impressively be observed from above. Standing in the thousand-wide savanna made me wonder how would people are massing themselves in the urban life for entertainment and leisure when there is such a place as wide and tranquil as the Baluran National Park.

How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 12

Consisting of 12,000 hectares for the main zone, 5,537 hectares allotted for the wildland, 800 hectares of Intensive Utilization zone while 5,789 hectares for the Specific Utilization zone, and 783 hectares for the rehabilitation area,  Baluran National Park is a wide area, serving as a habitat for nearly 450 species of plants.Monkey Dividers

Viewing the wildlife freely

How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 13

We ran; they ran. We clicked; they ran again. With close to 30 species of mammals at Baluran National Park, the deer, monkeys, carabaos and all wildlife can still run freely as they want as we aim for a capture or two.

The park is the home of  the endagared banteng, which numbers decreased by 92% in the span of sixteen years (1996-2012). Sumatran dhole, Indian muntjac, fishing cat, Javan leopard and lutung are also being inhabited at Baluran National Park.

The wide range of bird species such as green peafowl, red junglefowl, and lesser adjutant can be found as well in Banyuwangi through the park.

How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet 14

The modern world is too hectic for them. At Baluran National Park, they have their planet – a place where people can barely disturb them.

Banyuwangi has more to offer aside from Ijen Crater and Baluran National Park, but I am lucky enough that I came to see these two. I was moved in a different world for a couple of days than I used to be. I saw unearthy side of the Planet. I realized that’s how magical can natural wonders be. And that’s why they deserve to be on Earth.

Monkey DividersNote: The Tourism Ministry of Indonesia invited Two Monkeys Travel Group and other southeast Asian bloggers for the 10-day #TripofWonders in four destinations, including Banyuwangi, but the views written on this article are fully my own.

Monkey DividersAbout the Writer

To Nuremberg: A Letter to the City I fell in love and will forever beJessica Ayun is a Freelance Writer who writes if 5-10 cups of coffee  a day will be served. She used to work as a TV Researcher but her feet are always curious to  step into new places so she decided to work in the communities of Visayas and Mindanao as  a  Documenter for almost two years, through a non-government organization (NGO). She tries to see the “real  happiness” in  every person she meets and every place she goes to. She will always choose mountains than beaches.

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47 thoughts on “How Banyuwangi, Indonesia Brought Me To Another Planet @indtravel

  1. Where is Jessica from? Her grammar is pretty choppy. Her diction indicates someone of Asian decent. This was a good article but a little hard to understand.

  2. You’re very lucky to have experienced those exotic places! Usually, when I travel, i would only stay in the city center. I realized that I was missing out a lot by doing just that! SO starting from my trip to Czech Republic, I took the regional bus from Prague and visited the countryside and nearby towns as well. And I learned so much more by not staying in one place. I have been doing that with my other travels since then. I really appreciate you sharing the hidden gems of Indonesia. That sulfur-mining activity and blue light hunting was just a fantastic experience, I could imagine! Wish I could visit those places, too.

    1. Great realization, Maerose JS! Hope you can see these surprising locations in Banyuwangi, Indonesia too! 🙂

  3. Some of the photos take me back to my childhood memory lane. It’s similar to the farms that we have in the province. Are those carabaos? It’s been a long time since I was able to ride one. This place can certainly give you a different perspective!

    1. Baluran National Park is one of the places you must see in Banyuwangi, Indonesia to let you remember your freedom during childhood.

  4. The acidic lake, the blue flames. Oh my god! This leaves me breathless. I like how you took the photos. Makes me want to go there right there and then now.

  5. The place could pass as an outer space setting. Seriously. Part of me would want to experience that and be brave for once. And another part of me just would want to opt for the vast greens and never mind the sulfur place. The lawn is just too manicured and I imagine myself rolling and rolling. But then, going back, those sulfur miners, i find them to be one of the bravest souls.

  6. Nature is indeed very interesting. This is such a lovely place but what intrigued me are the sulfur miners. Like, seriously? And they are selling them. Wow. But apart from that, your images can tell how beautiful this part of Indonesia is.

    1. Yes, Kareen. That’s their livelihood. Sulfur has some benefits for skin and that’s the market for them. Banyuwangi, Indonesia has really a lot of spots to capture.

  7. I don’t think you’re exaggerating. I can totally understand how it must have felt like you’re on another planet. Your experiences sound amazing. These shades of blue are stunning. And I’m happy to hear it’s not totally hard to get there. I love it. The free wildlife is awesome as well. Even though it might be hard to take a picture lol. It’s great that they are able to run around freely.

    1. Hahaha. You will need a camera with great lens to get some good shots of those animals. Glad you got how I felt when I was in Banyuwangi, Indonesia.

  8. This is absolutely incredible.. The blue fames are just amazing.. And i really didn’t know that there’s such thing as acidic lake. I was just wondering what could be the worst scenario that will happen if i were to put the tip of my fingers on the lake or perhaps soak my feet on the water? Will it burn because of the acid? Coz its acidic! Lol! It was truly an impressive and unforgettable experience for you.. I felt like i was there too through your story and the pictures..

    1. Hahaha. I also could not imagine! Lol. But seriously, better see these all in Banyuwangi, Indonesia for real! 🙂

  9. Truly a different world I was not aware of. I was in Bali in 2015 but was unaware of any of these natural oddities. I would love to get up and 12Am to photograph the blue flame. That is so cool and could be some great images. How far is this from Bali and how to get there please?

    1. Go to Gilimanuk, West Bali by public bus (from Mengwi Bus station for exemple, 80000Rp – 4h). Take a ferry boat to Ketapang harbour (7000Rp – 45min), then take a taxi or other transportation to Banyuwangi (30min).
      There you’ll find plenty of options to organize your trip to Kawah Ijen. If you want to stay a night or two, I definitely recommand you to book at Didu’s Homestay because it’s a nice place with very nice people. Plus, you can organize your trip from there. Start at 00h30 – 500000Rp approx. for a car/driver (try to find other people to share cost – up to 6 persons). 1h drive to Pos Paltuding. Ijen entrance fee is 100000Rp. Climb is between 1h and 1h30 (3km – 800m height. Have an head light, so you can keep your hands free to go down the crater. There, gas mask is necessary. Buy some sculptures from the miners so they can have extra rupiahs to live. See the blue flames and then climb up the crater and go up left to reach the sunrise spot at 5am if you want.
      The whole thing is an exceptionnal experience.

  10. I can imagine how that smells like. We had a trail hike before in Dumaguete, Philippines, passing over a sulfur river and masks are really needed. Although this one is way more beautiful. I love your shots especially how you capture the blue flames. That was amazeballs!

    1. The blue flames’ photos are from a friend. Hehe. Yes, better safe and wear the proper gas mask when you go here in Banyuwangi, Indonesia and visit the crater.

  11. While other people are going gaga over Bali, here you are exploring other interesting places in Indonesia! I can’t believe Indonesia have these interesting places. I love the blue flames and acidic lake. I’ll gather enough courage so I can do it as well someday. 🙂

  12. Jessica,

    Grabe. Namangha ako sa post mo na ito. As in ang tagal ko talaga tinitignan ang mga photos. Ang ganda kasi ng kuha talaga, and knowing how photos are captured, alam ko na to be there in person, to see it with my own eyes is a hundred times better than the photos. Sobrang unique talaga ito and yes, worth puntahan.

  13. What a fascinating and beautiful verging on dangerous place, I’m sure it took your breath away (probably quite literally with all that sulphur in the atmosphere)!

    1. All thanks to the wonderful indonesia tourism for making me visit Banyuwangi. 🙂 Will surely come back here! 🙂

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