Tag Archives: Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Photo series of a Sulphur Miner

These slags of sulphur are look deceivingly light, but highly densed in masses, each basket would weigh an average of 80kg.
If you do visit the place, go in the early morning, before sunrise, you will get to see the miners carrying their torches. The weather is much gentler and you probably could see the crater before it gets covered by the fumes.
We only got to volcano after 8am, by then, the turquoise blue lake was covered.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

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Sulphur Miners of Mount Ijen

June 2008

Mount Ijen, Banyuwangi, East Java

It takes 1.5hours to climb down to the base of the crater. I gave up halfway, the sulphur dioxide fumes proved too piercing to my lungs and eyes. My throat was sore for the whole day after only spending few hours up the volcano.

It is amazing how these sulphur miners carry their heavy 80-100kg load of sulphur up and down the crater and breathing and working in unbearable conditions filled with sulphur dioxide fumes. The visibility was quite limited and only every once in while does it clear a little to reveal a few moments of the lake.

Many of these miners worked til their late forties, it was one of the better paying jobs in the impoverished region. Each of them start making their ascent up the volcano in the dark, a few hours before dawn and ending their work just before sunset. Its tough work but for many of them, this is the only way to feed their familes.


Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater
Base of the crater, every or so moment, it clears a little to reveal the base of the crater. This is where the miners work, breaking up pieces of sulphur.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Nothing lives up here, even the trees died, poisoned by the lethal fumes of sulphur dioxide.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Where the wind blows across the top of the rim, it becomes unbearable and almost unbreathable. The miners have no more than their clothes to cover their mouths, little use to protect them from the accumlative toxic fumes. Most of them would not live past their 50s.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

A miner making his way up the ardous rim from the base of the crater, carrying an average load of 80-100kg. Climbing down the rim and ascending up the rim is dangerous enough, not to mention carrying beyond human weights.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Midway down the outer volcano, a young miner checks the weight of his load. He gets his money based on the amount of sulphur he brings down.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

The weighing station in the middle of the volcano route. This is where some of the sulphur is collected and weighed before making its way down to the main collection office.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater


Each Miner has his own load of sulphur. He collects and gathers his baskets of the sulphur up from the crater rim before making the steep descent down the hill.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

It is amazing how these miners could carry loads than more than double their body weights.

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Visiting Mount Ijen, the sulphur volcano

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Such a beautiful and surreal place. It took some patience taking this image. The wind would blow in my direction covering the whole place with the odourous fumes. Only every now and then does the torquiose lake reveals itself for a few seconds before covering it again with the sulphur smoke.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater
Its only a 3km accent up and yet took me an incredible 2 hours to climb up! Oh How unfit am I!

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater
The Mined Sulphur on closeup.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater
Sulphur miners in the fume covered crater.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater
Finally I reached the crater rim, only to be greeted by this post telling me that there is more to climb if you can withstand the throat burning sulphur dioxide fumes, you could walk up the top of the volcano, or descent to the base of the crater which would take you another 1.5 hours.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater
Amazing surrealist landscape which looks almosts alien and breathtakingly beautiful.

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About Mount Ijen Sulphur Miners in Banyuwangi

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Location: Mount Ijen , Banyuwangi

This surreal place it takes at least 2 hours of steep ascent to the top of the crater, gives a spectacular view of the torquiose colored lake down below the crater.

This is where the local men work as back-breaking sulphur miners. They suffer toxic stinging sulphur fumes and endure the steep trek up the crater and dangerous descent down to the lake.

The sulphur is use for whitening sugar and processing rubber. The miners apparently earn around 5,000rp per load according to my travel partner who interpreted it, although there was some dispute about it later on.

It was a little challenging to walk up the volcano, takes a little persistent steady pace to reach there in 2 hours. Am not really that fit a person, a much fitter person could do it in 1.30 hours. It took me 1.30 hours down the volcano. It would take another 1-2 hour for me just to walk down to the base of the crater. Regretted not going there early before sunrise so I could have more time to walk down the crater where the miners break up sulphur pieces. It was quite a difficult descent down the crater, only managed a little bit down before surrendering to the stinging fumes of sulphur dioxide.

There’s a national geographic documentary on the Sulphur Miners of Ijen which gives you more details.

Part one :

http://youtube.com/watch?v=U2NYNdoMtEk

Part two :

http://www.youtube.com/v/V9GJdfBVjK

JourneyMan pictures gives another view

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciH1qw3eiHs&feature=related

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