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You typically want to enter (yes, there is a kind of park entrance) Kawa Ijen as early as possible in order to avoid the dozens of people arriving by organized tours. I entered at 1am & it felt just fine. The best way to visit this amazing place is to do it on your own. You can then start as early as possible and take as much time as you like to enjoy ...
I've been to Mount Bromo and Ijen crater many times. If you want to get a good view and landscape then better you go to Mount Bromo, take the picture on Penanjakan viewpoint, you'll get the picture: But if you want to see the big crater with toxic water and sulfur (and blue fire at night) with the chance of getting closer to the crater, then better to ...
Most if not some of the way is possible to be trekked on a semi-beaten path. The ridge you mention actually has roads most of the way around it. If you are to go hiking, some that I recommend (although still old paved roads) would be somewhere like Sky Road / Laputa Road (Yes, named after the Studio Ghibli movie). Google Map shows it as Closed (which it ...
Due to a lack of answer here I can tell you what I figured out. Apparently it is better to stay in Malang rather than Surabaya. From there I saw that there is a Bromo & Ijen tour (together). From Malang, Batu Secret Zoo is also much closer.
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