I didn´t know that hell exists on earth- until I saw it. On the Mt Ijen. In Java,Indonesia.
I went there with a friend by scooter from Bali.
By the way, did you know that Indonesia has three different time zones?
We drove up on about 1200 m altitude to the entrance of the Ijen national park. The Ijen plateau is part of the larger Baluran National Park and is home to one of many peaceful but active volcanoes in the area.
Here we wanted to set up our camp. Usually we slept on the beach or in the hammock outside, only with a satin sleeping bag inlay as a blanket. It didn´t rain in Indonesia for more than half a year and the temperature in the night was minimum 20°C. But there it was different. In the afternoon already, the temperature was around 25°C and we knew that, for Indonesian conditions, it´s probably getting cold at night. So we did not have to search long, until we found this empty hood:
My friend created something like a tent inside the hood with a tarp we brought from Bali. It was really narrow, sheltered and a good place to sleep for one person.
I just set up my hammock at the most sheltered place and thought it should be fine.
After that we drove to a sulphur river for a small break.
After just 2 hours of sleep ( it was way to cold and luckily a group invited me to there campfire and chocolate rice 🙂 ), we started to hike up the vulcano at midnight.
The blue fire is only visible during the night, around 2-4 am. It is ignited sulphuric gas, which emerges from cracks at temperatures up to 600 degrees Celsius (1,112 degrees Fahrenheit).The flames can be up to 5 meters (16 feet) high; some of the gas condenses to liquid and is still ignited.It is the largest blue flame area in the world and local people refer to it as ‘Blue Fire’.
When we reached the top it really looked like hell. The blue fire was burning in clouds of toxic gases next to the crater lake, which is recognized as the largest highly acidic crater lake in the world. And the miners went down there, only equipped with a crappy flashlight and the 2 baskets on the shoulder. No gas mask, sometimes no shoes, no water, nothing. We went down there as well and stupidly I forgot my mask in my backpack. Every few minutes a gas cloud came up and made it quite hard to breath.
The sulfur, which is deep red in color when molten, pours slowly from the ends of these pipes and pools on the ground, turning bright yellow as it cools. The miners break the cooled material into large pieces and carry it away in baskets. Miners carry loads ranging from 75 kilograms to 90 kilograms , up 300 meters to the crater rim and then 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) down the mountain for weighing. Most miners make this journey twice a day.
There are 200 miners, who extract 14 tons per day – about 20 percent of the continuous daily deposit. They earn around 50,000 – 75,000 Rp ($5.50-$8.30) per day….