Ijen Crater

Down to the Volcano Caldera

Solidified molten sulphur in baskets

The path was wide and easy to follow, zig-zagging down the volcano caldera, and towards the turquoise lake that lay shimmering below. I had to step aside fairly often to allow the workers to pass me by, as they carried up huge blocks of solidified molten sulphur in baskets connected by a plank of wood on their shoulders that weighed far more than they did. They would load the baskets down at the base, then walk back up to the rim and then back down the volcano to the trail head. They would return for more, making several trips a day, day after day after day. The fact that they smoked cigarettes all the time and were breathing in noxious fumes every single day, yet were still going strong, left me a little perplexed.

I carried on walking down towards the lake, down to the base where the workers were digging up the sulphur. The lake simmered as the gas escaped from the surface of the water, faint wisps hovering just above the surface of the unnaturally turquoise lake, a colour that reminded me of the lakes of Gokyo in Nepal, and the smell of sulphur reminding me of Bromo.

Sulphur Mining

Sulphur Mining

There were ceramic pipes that ran down the cliff that helped to channel the smoke outwards and caused the molten sulphur to condense. The smoke would constantly engulf me and shifted at a moments notice every single time there was a slight change in the wind. After a while, the sun began to light up the edge of the crater on the opposite side of the lake, making me realise that I had been there for quite a while, so I decided to turn around and make my way back up to the junction.

Sulphur Mining

Next : Ijen Crater (Part 4)