When thinking of travelling to Indonesia, first thoughts probably direct you to the ever popular holiday island of Bali.
However, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous and have the time to explore, East Java is a must.
One of the main draws to visiting East Java is Volcano related and with good reason. There are five active volcanos in East Java with the main two hotspots being Mount Bromo and Mount Ijen.
The most convenient way to see these natural wonders is to fly to Yogyakarta and book onto an organised trip through your hostel or a local travel company. If staying in a hostel I would highly recommend choosing Laura’s backpackers, with a very social atmosphere, free breakfast AND free home-cooked dinner, this was one of the best hostels I stayed in during my five-month South-east Asia travels.
The journey begins by taking a train from Yogyakarta to Probolinggo and then catching a bus to Cemoro Lawang, before a well-needed rest in a local hotel in preparation for an early rise to see the sunrise over Mount Bromo.
In the morning you are picked up by an off-road vehicle which takes you up to the perfect viewing platform to see daybreak over Bromo. This view is absolutely breathtaking. The hazy tones of the rising sun teamed with the rising smoke from Bromo’s core really is magical and makes for the perfect picture.
Once you have absorbed all you can of this spectacular sight you are then taken to the base of Mount Bromo itself where you have the opportunity to climb a steep set of stairs up to the smoking crater. This is an opportunity that, given the chance, should not be missed.
Once back on solid ground you are taken back to your accommodation to pick up your belongings, before catching a bus to Banyuwangi. Here you can squeeze in a few hours’ sleep before rising at midnight to begin the torch-led trek up Mount Ijen to catch sight of its infamous ‘blue flames’. These blue flames are a result of ignited sulphuric gas, which emerges from cracks at temperatures up to 600°C.
Whilst the blue flames are worth a look, it is the blue lake which really steals the show here. Once the sun comes up, the stunning turquoise waters become even more impressive. As does the otherworldly landscape you begin to notice yourself surrounded by in the emerging light.
After stumbling back down the steep slope of Mount Ijen you have the option to catch a bus to the ferry port which takes you directly over to the island of Bali for some well-needed R&R – or in our case a well-deserved night out in lively Kuta!
This volcanic venture in East Java is certainly an intense experience, in terms of physical travel time, little sleep and exertive hikes, but as a whole, it is incredibly rewarding and worthwhile, with some of the most unique and spectacular landscapes on offer.