The Sulfur Miners of Mount Ijen


In the summertime over four,000 individuals go to the Mount Ijen, a volcano mountain on the island of Java in Indonesia, throughout the night time to see the “Blue Fireplace”. A fireplace that’s the results of the extremely poisonous sulfur that could be a wealthy useful resource on this volcano crater.

Not solely night photography could be fascinating to pursue there, but additionally the day has so much to supply for us photographers.

I spent 5 weeks with a neighborhood household in a small village and wish to share my expertise of documenting the sulfur miners and share some ideas in case you are fascinated by a visit there your self.


About Mt. Ijen

Location of Mt. Ijen

The Mt. Ijen is on the far east facet of the island Java. The largest metropolis close to the Mt. Ijen is Banyuwangi, roughly 1 half hour driving distance from the town heart. Java can also be house to the capital Jakarta and different larger cities like Yogyakarta and Surabaya.

There are a number of choices to go to Mt Ijen relying if you happen to come from the west or east. If You might have been in Jakarta and are fascinated by extra impressions of Java, then a road-trip may be the proper alternative so that you can go to all the opposite factors of curiosity. Coming from the west a keep in Bondowoso may be beneficial, though the journey to Ijen is considerably longer.

Different choices embrace flying to the airport of Banyuwangi from Jakarta, or in case you are in Bali, utilizing the ferry to succeed in Banyuwangi. Bali is just a few hours away from Mount Ijen, so if you wish to have a brief change in perspective, leaving Bali for a day or two to go to Mount Ijen could be an possibility for you.

Close by can also be the Mountain Raung, which may be extra fascinating in case you are on the lookout for fascinating mountain climbing tracks.


Staying close to Mt. Ijen

The Metropolis of Banyuwangi is roughly a 1 half hours automobile drive away from the bottom camp of Mount Ijen. Personally, I discovered that distance to be too lengthy and most popular a quite quick drive.

As a substitute of staying within the metropolis, there are a lot of homestays or smaller Inns that even have nice providers for individuals visiting the mountain. I had the stunning alternative to stick with a neighborhood household for five weeks in order that I may go to the mountain a number of instances.

The benefit is, that you’re staying with a neighborhood household that may present the most effective service for visiting the mountain. Tourism is an enormous financial driver these days and numerous households that have been sulfur miners themselves, working each day within the crater of the mountain, now function vacationer guides.

After all staying in a small village within the Indonesian jungle does not supply the luxurious of a 5-star resort, however you’ll be able to expertise the native life and the persons are greater than welcome to any foreigners.

So my tip can be to seek for a homestay close to the town Licin and take a tour to the mountain from there – take a look at just a few choices here.


Attraction of Ijen throughout the Day

I would say 90% of vacationers come throughout the night time as a result of they wish to see the “Blue Fireplace”. Which is truthful, it’s a actually stunning attraction, however I consider that the Mount Ijen additionally has its enticing facet throughout the day.

You’ll be able to oversee the crater and all its environment, spectating the employees and the ocean. The character is on the one hand very stunning, but additionally very surreal at this volcano. Wanting on the sea it appears like a type of fascinating locations the place you simply wish to bounce proper in and cooldown after a protracted stroll to the crater.

In actuality, you would not survive swimming there for very lengthy. The sulfur additionally made the water extremely poisonous and swimming clearly would not be an awesome thought. Similar applies to the “fog” which is commonly extremely poisonous sulfur smoke as properly. Fuel masks are necessary for this journey, however at the least the sulfur is noticeable as a result of its robust scent and fewer prone to be confused with innocent fog.


Mountaineering to the High

From the “Basecamp” it’s a few 1 half hours hike to the highest of the crater. Remember although, that there are some very steep passages that require some primary bodily health. Not at all, is it a hike that you need to take in case you are injured, sick, or just do not feel like within the bodily structure for this effort.

Alternatively, there isn’t any age restriction and mainly, anybody could make it to the highest. There are locations you’ll be able to relaxation on the best way and after round an hour, there may be additionally a Warung that sells mushy drinks, sweets or water. Remember although, that the opening hours could be very sporadic, so it is strongly recommended to hold some meals and water your self.

In any case, I might advocate taking a neighborhood tour information that leads you to the highest. Usually instances fuel masks are wanted, which the guides can present. Their stage of English could be very primary however communication should not be a difficulty.

After you’ve got arrived on the high of the crater, you’ve got the selection of happening to the bottom stage and witness the sulfur your self. That is the place the enjoyable for me begins, but additionally the extra exhausting half.

Taking place the crater requires much more bodily consideration. When you suppose that the hike was already too tiring, then I might chorus from going contained in the crater. There aren’t any handrails, no clear path, and one easy misstep may cause a really severe accident.

It’s no joke that there’s this signal on the high, making an attempt to forestall any vacationer from going any additional.


Photographing the Sulfur Miners

My purpose as a photographer was to doc one of many hardest jobs on this planet. The miners, working within the crater carry round 70kg of sulfur from the underside of the crater to the highest.

They do not do that ascent to the highest as soon as, however as much as four instances a day, bringing house greater than 200kg of sulfur. They’ll make as much as 500$ a month with this straining job, which could not sound so much for a job that could be very harmful to their well being, however in Indonesia, that is already an excellent amount of cash to help a household.

Photographing the Sulfur miners itself is fairly simple. They’re hard-working individuals however normally additionally very open to the vacationers. Remember although, that you’re of their working house. Subsequently you need to respect their work and never get of their method whereas descending your self.

This is usually a troublesome process at instances as a result of the trail is so slim that there’s no house for 2 individuals. Then it’s simply higher so that you can again off and let the miners go.

After all, with 70kg resting in your shoulder, you would not wish to watch for some vacationer both, so that they at all times ought to have the proper of method.

Whereas additionally they do not request any cash for the pictures, a few of them promote items made out of sulfur. If you wish to help them, you may take into account taking house a sulfur memento.

The descent takes round 30 to 45 minutes relying on how busy the trail is and during which route the wind blows the sulfur smoke. It’s advisable to check the fuel masks beforehand to be sure you are able to deal with it accurately when wanted.

In your method down, You could find completely different locations that simply invite you to relaxation for a minute and take some photos of the surroundings.

As soon as you’re on the bottom stage of the crater, you’ll be able to both go to the left, the place the sulfur pipes are, blowing the smoke into the air, or you’ll be able to go to the proper facet to get near have been the miners really get the sulfur. Ensure to speak together with your information beforehand the place you wish to go.

Getting near the precise mining must be very fastidiously thought of. My information did not need me to go there due to the hazards concerned. The smoke burns your eyes and the gas-mask does not shield you 100% from the hurt of the smoke.

On the mining floor, the employee may also ask for a small payment if you wish to there for the staff. It’s a truthful sport since they attempt to get you as shut as potential and present you the way they work, so I did not thoughts paying some little additional.

When you captured your photographs, you’ll be able to start the ascent once more and take a look at your pictures and this surreal place from the security of your own home.


Gear Recommendation

I did not thoughts an excessive amount of about my gear as I see it as working gear. However bear in mind that there’s a lot of smoke. I would not advise altering any lens when being close to the crater as a result of the smoke and dirt will solely hurt your sensor.

Subsequently take one lens with you that you just wish to use and do not change lenses.

A UV-filter will shield your lens from the mud and minor rubble or scratches. Hold a cleansing tissue with you, simply in case you wish to clear the LCD-screen or simply the digicam itself.

After going to the Mount Ijen, all my garments have been coated in sulfur mud and so was my digicam. The FujiX100F that I used was very nice with it although and did not make any hassle. If you’re afraid of your tremendous costly gear, take into account going there with a smaller digicam first and consider your self in case your gear can face up to the smoke.

All in all, it was a reminiscence for all times to be there and and in case you are in Bali or Indonesia, you need to see that spectacular crater your self. Meet native individuals and dive into a complete different world, that you’d by no means see in any other case.


Journey tip shared by Sebastian


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