Trekking up three volcanoes in Java

At 2am, you begin the trek up. Once you reach the Ijen plateau, you stand and look down at the dazzling, electric-blue fire. This comes from the burning of sulphuric gas, which emerges from cracks of the Ijen volcano.

As the sun slowly rises, the site looks even more surreal, as the turquoise blue lake there unfolds.The lake is the site of a labour-intensive mining operation, in which baskets laden with blocks of sulphur are manually carried up from the floor of the volcanic crater. The lake is recognised as the largest acidic crater lake in the world.

A two-hour hike is required to reach the rim of the crater, followed by a 45 minute hike down a narrow stairway. Despite its dramatic setting, the Mount Ijen trek is a relatively moderate one, suitable for any first timers. However, a mask is a must to avoid getting choked by the thick and pungent sulphuric gas.

After tackling Ijen, the next target is to hike Mount Semeru, which is the highest volcanic peak of Java. The start point is at 2,100m above sea level. The stratovolcano Semeru (also known as Mahameru) is very steep, rising abruptly to 3,676m from the coastal plains of eastern Java.

The Ranu Pane – Semeru route goes through a lot of beautiful scenery at Waturenjeng, Oro-Oro Ombo, Cemoro Kadang, Banjangan and Kalimati, where you camp overnight before ascending Semeru the next morning.

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