Posts tagged: crater

Indonesia: Kawah Ijen, A Sulfur Volcano In Java

By , February 18, 2011 7:59 am
Panoramic View Of The Crater

Panoramic View Of The Crater

After a short break of occidental life in Australia, it is time to get back to traveling backpacker-style again. Indonesia was not on our original list of countries to visit. However, after hearing many fellow travelers rave about it, we decided to squeeze it in.

Boris Having His First Banana Juice In Indonesia

Boris Having His First Banana Juice In Indonesia

With cheap flights to Indonesia, we flew out from Darwin, Australia. Our arrival into Bali made the beach city of Kuta an easy candidate for our first night stay, being only 15 minutes from the airport. It is so convenient that it felt like we never left Australia with so many Australian tourists around. It took us couple of hours to look for an almost livable, non-moldy hotel room that is within our budget. After spending a day walking among the crowds of tourists and touts, trying not to get ripped off when buying street food, we decide it is not the place for us, so we leave the next morning.

Ferry From Gilimanuk To Java Island

Ferry From Gilimanuk To Java Island

Dinner With Our French Friends

Dinner With Our French Friends

Spicy Javanese Food

Spicy Javanese Food

We board the first bus to Gilimanuk in the west of Bali, hop on a ferry, jump on a local ojek and finally arrive in Java at night. On the same night, we meet a French couple and decide to share a jeep to visit Kawah Ijen the next day.

The Men Have To Clear The Road

The Men Have To Clear The Road

Another Nearby Volcano

Another Nearby Volcano

Sulfur Smoke Coming Down

Sulfur Smoke Coming Down

Kawah (volcano) Ijen is one of the most beautiful volcanoes of Indonesia because of its baby-blue lake. It is also famous for its sulfur mine, which is still exploited today.

On The Edge Of The Crater

On The Edge Of The Crater

Crater & Sulfur Baskets

Crater & Sulfur Baskets

At our first sight of a sulfur miner, we are all in awe. He is carrying 2 heavy-looking baskets full of yellow blocks. Our guide informs us that the miners carry between 60 and 90 kg (130 to 200 pounds) of sulfur at one time. This figure seems a little outrageous so I try to lift the smallest basket. I can’t believe that it doesn’t even flinch as I try my hardest to lift it up. These miners are really hardcore.

Sulfur Miner Up Close

Sulfur Miner Up Close

Extremely Heavy Sulfur-Filled Baskets

Extremely Heavy Sulfur-Filled Baskets

Each time we pass a miner, we give him a piece of candy to help sooth his throat. We do not realize what this actually means until we are in sight of the caldera and are breathing in the sulfur vapors. It does not only smell like rotten eggs, but it tickles my throat and makes me cough as if I was breathing in pepper spray.

Candy Helps Soothes Miner's Throat

Candy Helps Soothes Miner's Throat

Trying To Breathe

Trying To Breathe

The view is amazing so we decide to hike down to the lake where the sulfur is extracted. The path is small and seems dangerous so we take our time. Thirty minutes later, we almost head back up because our eyes are tearful and we can hardly breath with all the smoke. Fortunately, the wind picks up a little and we suddenly see that we are almost there.

Just Part Of The Trek

Just Part Of The Trek

At the bottom, one of the miners decides to take a short break and show us around. He shows us the pipes that bring the hot liquid sulfur back to the surface. The miners stand next to the pipes and break blocks of solidified sulfur from the ground to fill their baskets.

Lots Of Smoke Coming Out Of The Pipes!

Lots Of Smoke Coming Out Of The Pipes!

Getting The Solidified Sulfur

Getting The Solidified Sulfur

A little hot stream is flowing from the side of the caldera to the lake. Both are at warm and at a pleasing temperature when I plunge my hand in.

On the way back, our guide explains to us that the miners do this 3.5 hours round-trip from the bottom of the crater to the trucks 2 to 3 times a day for which they are paid $7 USD on average. No health insurance or regular check-up is included.

As we head back, we make a few stops to see various trees like coffee, cinnamon, clove, and rubber. Our guide shows us these cool leaves that shrink when you touch it. We couldn’t get enough of it, touching all the leaves around us.

Rice Paddy Fields

Rice Paddy Fields

Local Kids In Kalibaru

Local Kids In Kalibaru

Making Fried Bananas

Making Fried Bananas

Delicious Fried Bananas

Delicious Fried Bananas

Fresh Cloves

Fresh Cloves

Clove Trees

Clove Trees

Cinnamon Tree

Cinnamon Tree

Rubber Tree

Rubber Tree

Rubber Trees

Rubber Trees

What We Paid: IDR USD Euro
– Jetstar flight from Cairns to Darwin, Australia 210/pp 155
– AirAsia flight from Darwin, Australia to Denpasar, Indonesia 190/pp 140
– Visa Upon Arrival for Indonesia 25/pp 18.50
– Taxi from Denpasar Airport to Kuta [30 mins] 40,000/ride 4.50 3.50
– Double room with private bath and AC in Kuta 180,000/double 20.50 15
– Street food 11,000/pp 1.50 1
– Restaurant dining 50,000/pp 5.50 4.50
– Taxi from Kuta to Ubung Bus Terminal [1 hour] 60,000/ride 7 5
– Bus from Ubung Bus Terminal to Gilimanuk [3 hours] 20,000/pp 2.50 1.50
– Ferry from Gilimanuk to Ketapang in Java [45 mins] 6,000/pp 1 0.50
– Ojek from ferry to Banyuwangi [or bemo costs 5,000 IDR pp] 20,000/ride 2.50 1.50
– Double room at Hotel Baru with private bath and AC 90,000/double 10 7.50
– Harry’s Javanese Restaurant for dinner 25,000/pp 3 2
– 4×4 Tour to Kawah Ijen 550,000/jeep 62 45.50
– Entrance to Kawah Ijen 15,000/pp 2 1.50
– Camera fee for Kawah Ijen 30,000/each 3.50 2.50
– Local bus from Banyuwangi to Kalibaru [1 hour] 10,000/pp 1.50 1
– Basic double with fan and free breakfast in Kalibaru 60,000/double 7 5
– Local dining in Kalibaru 20,000/pp 2.50 2
– Local bus with no AC from Kalibaru to Malang [7 hours] 30,000/pp 3.50 2.50

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Galapagos Cruise: Day 1&2 – Santa Cruz and Genovesa Island

By , December 1, 2010 3:06 am
Baby Frigatebird

Baby Frigatebird

Many of the islands in the Galapagos can only be explored by taking a cruise. We decided to go with Yate Floreana, an economic cruise line that goes to Genovesa Island in addition to the western and central islands. We met our group at the Baltra airport and from there, we boarded our home for the next 8 days. The boat was small and the cabins were tiny, but we knew that at the time of booking. There was a total of 16 passengers onboard and a large group of them were biology students. They were studying abroad and part of their curriculum is to go to the Galapagos; how cool is that.

MuiMui-Tortuga

MuiMui-Tortuga

Day 1 – The first day was essentially a half-day. After having lunch on the ship, we explored the Santa Cruz Highlands. Here we found large tortoises grazing on the grasslands. I was impressed how fast they could move. Next we found ourselves walking inside a lava tube that was large enough for us to traverse a good part of it. It started to get dark fast so we made a quick visit to the nearby Twin Craters and called it a day.

Tortoises In Santa Cruz Highlands

Tortoises In Santa Cruz Highlands

Inside A Lava Tube

Inside A Lava Tube

Day 2 – We took a seasickness patch for the first night and it helped with the overnight bumpy ride to Genovesa Island. In the morning after having breakfast, we did a wet landing onto the beach in Darwin Bay.  We were surrounded by bare trees and exotic birds. It was very important for us to stay on the walking path, as there were bird nests scattered all over the grounds, in the trees, and perched on the rocks. Boris and I chose this island specifically because we wanted to see lots of birds, but we couldn’t believe how many species there were in this one area and how close we were to them. My favorites birds on this island included the super fuzzy babies and the red-footed boobies.

Baby Nazca Booby

Baby Nazca Booby

Baby Booby Learning To Fly

Baby Booby Learning To Fly

Time For Feeding

Time For Feeding

Red-Footed Booby

Red-Footed Booby

Just when I put my camera down, one pelican was feeding another and it was such a bizarre scene. It looked as if the pelican was going to swallow the other.

Pelican Feeding Another

Pelican Feeding Another

Before we knew it, it was time to get off the island and go snorkeling. I was feeling a little sick so I opted out and of course I missed out on an incredible school of rays. Luckily Boris and the other shipmates captured the moment for me.

Thanks Kelly For The Photo Of Rays!

Thanks Kelly For The Photo Of Rays!

After lunch, we headed to El Barranco (a.k.a. Prince Phillip’s Steps), which is another part of Genovesa Island. Again, there were massive amounts of birds hanging out in their natural environment. The Nazca boobies (or Masked boobies) were making so much noise with the females quacking and the males whistling at each other. When the day couldn’t be any better, our guide was relentless about looking for a Galapagos owl. I badly wanted to see one and when our guide finally found one, my heart stopped beating. Staring right at us and well camouflaged against the brownish-orange volcanic rocks was a short-eared owl resting by its hole. Twenty pictures later, I still did not want to leave.

Short-Eared Owl

Short-Eared Owl

Nazca Booby

Nazca Booby

Tropic Bird

Tropic Bird

If you are a bird lover, Genovesa Island is worth the long boat ride and the money. With each snapshot we took, it was sad to realize we were never going to see these birds anywhere else.

More to come …

Me & Frenchie At El Barranco

Me & Frenchie At El Barranco

Group Shot

Group Shot

Lava Heron

Lava Heron

Swallow-tailed Gulls With An Egg

Swallow-tailed Gulls With An Egg

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Ecuador: First Days In Galapagos On Isabela Island

By , November 11, 2010 5:00 am
Iguanas Everywhere

Iguanas Everywhere

When we were initially planning for our world tour, we both wanted to see the Galapagos badly, but when considering how much it costs, it was always a warm subject between us.  So when my birthday came around, my knight in shining armor told me we were going to the Galapagos but I didn’t believe it until we took flight.

On Our Flight To The Galapagos

On Our Flight To The Galapagos

We heard taking a cruise was a must-do, but we also wanted to also experience Galapagos by land, so we planned for 4 days by ourselves followed by an 8 day cruise.  As we flew to the Galapagos, we got an extraordinary air view of the Cotopaxi Volcano.  We soon landed in Baltra in the open terminal and the weather was perfect, not too hot and not too cold.  After a short ride, first by bus and then by ferry to the main island, we then shared a taxi with another couple to Puerto Ayora.  A 30-minute ride later, we were all friends and stuck together for the next couple of days.

Amazing Air View

Amazing Air View

For our first meal, we decided to get off the gringo strip and followed the local traffic to Cevicheria El Pulpo.  As we looked around, everyone was having soup so we opted for the same. I am not a big seafood person but this sopa marinera (mixed seafood soup) was excellent.  We sat for over an hour talking to this local guy at our table and he ended up buying us beer.

Lunch And Drinks At Cevicheria El Pulpo

Lunch And Drinks At Cevicheria El Pulpo

Mixed Seafood Soup

Mixed Seafood Soup

For Isabela Island, we got a great deal on a package we just couldn’t refuse.  To get there, we took a water taxi for 3.5 hours and it end up being one of the worst boat rides ever.  The water was very choppy and our driver was completely insane, driving like he wanted to crash into each wave. There was a pregnant woman onboard and after an hour, she was hovering over the side of the boat.  We were all very happy to be finally off the boat and to be on land again.

When the shuttle dropped us off at our hotel, we were extremely confused.  It looked more luxurious than the pictures shown to us by the agency. The four of us just kept quiet and made our way to the welcoming snacks.  Afterwards, we toured a lagoon and saw pink flamingos chomping away at the shrimp in the water.

Pink Flamingo

Pink Flamingo

The next morning, we got up very early for a 6-hour hike to our first volcano.  The morning started off misty, which was very nice, compared to the beating sun we had for the rest of the day.  Our first stop was Sierra Negra Volcano (Black Mountain) whose last eruption was back in October 22, 2005.  The magma chamber is constantly filled with new magma so more eruptions are expected in the future.

Caldera Of Sierra Negra

Caldera Of Sierra Negra

After lunch, we were walking over a large lava field crunching our way for two hours. It felt as if we were walking on the moon, but with random large cactus plants in the background.  It was very interesting to see the variation of colors from the new and old lava. We took a break at a scenic viewpoint where we could see the other volcanoes on Isabela Island from afar: Ecuador, Wolf, Darwin, and Alcedo.  We could also make out the seahorse shape of the island.

Random Cactus Plants

Random Cactus Plants

HUGE Lava Tunnel

HUGE Lava Tunnel

Lava, Lava, Lava!

Lava, Lava, Lava!

After our wonderful hike, we took a small boat to the Islote Tintoreras (Tintorera Islands).  On the lava island, there is a natural canal where the white tip reef sharks, called tintoreras, rest on the bottom of the shallow waters.  While on land, any movement we made would result in hundreds of black marine iguanas scrambling around.  They were well camouflaged against the black rocks that I wonder if any tourist has stepped on one by accident.

White Tip Reef Sharks

White Tip Reef Sharks

Marine Iguanas

Marine Iguanas

Back on the boat, we saw sea lions sunbathing, a group of Galapagos penguins hanging out on the rocks, and then our first Blue-footed Booby!  We made our final stop of the day to snorkel.  I was hesitant at first because it was freezing cold. I put on my wet suit and plunged into the water.  Soon enough, I had one of the most amazing first experiences swimming with GIANT sea turtles.  There were three around us and they were just chilling in the water and would slowly swim up for air and come back down with no care that we were nearby.  Luckily I had on a life jacket because they would get very close to me and it was no joke how big they were.

Galapagos Penguin

Galapagos Penguin

Blue-Footed Booby

Blue-Footed Booby

Our trip on Isabela Island was truly amazing.  We saw so many animals that I wasn’t sure that we needed to go on a cruise anymore.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

What We Paid: USD eRate 0.7
Euro eRate
– Flight From Quito To Galapagos On Icaro Aero (Partners With LAN) 150 105
– Quito Airport Fee 10 7
– Entrance Fee To Galapagos 100 70
– Water Ferry From Baltra To Santa Cruz Island 0.80 0.55
– Taxi To Puerto Ayora 2.50 1.75
– Lunch (Sopa Marinera) At Puerto Ayora 4.50 3.15
– Tour Package For Isabela Island
Includes Water Taxi, Lodging, Meals, Daily Excursion
137.50 96.25
– Entrance Fee To Isabela Island 5 3.50

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Ecuador: Baños’ Thermal Baths To Quilotoa’s Deep Crater

By , November 10, 2010 5:00 am
Water-Filled Crater

Water-Filled Crater

After toughing it out at the Amazon for four days, we went straight to Baños, a town known for its thermal baths. There are three pools at different temperatures: temperate at 97 degrees, hot at 104 degrees, and cold at 61 degrees. We didn’t go near the cold pool. We mainly stayed at the temperate pool and when daring enough, we dipped into the hot pool from time to time.

Baños' Thermal Baths

Baños' Thermal Baths

Super Hot Water!

Super Hot Water!

After a night’s rest, we were ready to explore the villages in the Quilotoa Loop.  When we arrived in cold Quilotoa, we just wanted to head back to something warmer again, so we only stayed one night.

Upon our first sight of Lake Quilotoa, the water-filled crater, we were easily impressed. The lake is 2 miles wide and 820 feet deep. With the blue skies, white clouds, and snow-capped mountains in the distance, it was fun to photograph along our hike down. While it took us only 20 minutes to go down to the lake, it took us double the time to come back up, mainly due to the high altitude.

Me & Frenchie

Me & Frenchie

It was extremely cold when we finished hiking, so we went straight to our guesthouse and warmed ourselves around the chimney in the common room. During dinner, the staff started a fire in our room so right after we finished our dinner and tea, our room was at the perfect temperature. We were so cozy, we felt asleep right away. After a few hours, it got cold again because we forgot to put more wood in. :(

Our Cozy Room

Our Cozy Room

The next day, we caught the early morning bus to Saquisilí for its Thursday market. The market was held in several plazas, split up by product. One plaza had mainly shoes, another had animals (for consumption), and the one we enjoyed most was the artisan market. We had a nice time shopping and taking a chance on lunch.

Time To Bargain At The Artisan Market

Time To Bargain At The Artisan Market

Animals For Consumption

Animals For Consumption

Local Having Soup

Local Having Soup

Popcorn Is Perfect With Soup!

Popcorn Is Perfect With Soup!

View Of Cotopaxi From Bus

View Of Cotopaxi From Bus

What We Paid: USD eRate 0.7
Euro eRate
Banos
– Bus From Lago Agrio To Banos: 11 hours 11 7.70
– Private Double Room with Private Bath 4 2.80
– Breakfast 2 1.40
– Lunch 2.50 1.75
– Dinner 4 2.80
– Thermal Bath 2 1.40
Quilotoa
– Bus From Banos To Latacunga: 2 hours 2 1.40
– Bus From Latacunga To Quilotoa: 3 hours 2 1.40
– Private Double Room with Private Bath 7 4.90
– Entrance Fee Into Town 2 1.40
Saquisilí
– Bus From Quilotoa To Latacunga: 3 hours 2 1.40
– Bus From Latacunga To Saquisilí: 30 minutes 0.30 0.20

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

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