Indonesian Expedition

Captivated by shaky ground, eruptions and blue lava while ascending the rumbling volcanoes of Indonesia.

Late July, four of us headed to Indonesia to explore the majestic volcanoes (Rinjani, Ijen and Merapi) and witness an unexpected eruption (to our delight!).

Our expedition begun with an early flight from Auckland, through to Sydney and then overnight in Bali. Next morning, we boarded the first flight to Lombok where we met our support crew and commenced the 3762m climb up Rinjani.

Rinjani is an active volcano and the second highest in Indonesia (behind Kerinci by just 43m). It has a large 6-by-8.5-km caldera, and is partially filled by a crater lake known as Segara Anak. Prior to our ascent, the last eruption was in October 2015.

Our porters and support crew

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Half way up our ascent, in complete whiteout conditions, we heard a series of loud explosions. There was some initial confusion as to whether it was a loud thunderclap or indeed an eruption. Eruption was quickly confirmed. People starting screaming and running. I wanted to pick up the pace and get to the summit even faster 😉

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The hike up to base camp was hard, but rewarding. We set up camp and got a couple hours of sleep, before waking at 1am to make the final ascent to the summit.

Conditions were clear with spectacular vistas.

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Rinjani casting a symmetrical cone shadow

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Next day, we headed towards Segara Anak, Rinjani’s crater lake. A stark contrast.

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Our campsite with the imposing cone smoldering in the distance.

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We then flew back to Bali and met our second crew for a visit to Kawah Ijen on the Island of Java.

Kawah Ijen is part of a volcano complex in the Banyuwangi Regency of East Java. It is within a much larger calder of approximately 20km wide. Ijen is known for its electric-blue fire which is ignited through high concentrations of sulphuric gas.

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Climbing out of Ijen

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The volcano also supports a mining operation. Miners carry 85kgs of sulphur up the 300m crater rim. Pay is about 10 cents per kilogram of sulphur.

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Looking towards the turquoise-colored, acidic crater lake – the most acidic in the world.

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And lastly, a few shots of the incredible people of Indonesia.

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