During a month-long stay in Indonesia in 2010, our last stop before leaving Java for Bali was the stunning 3 km Kawah Ijen hike. At the peak of this active volcano, 2148m above sea level, lies a magnificent turquoise sulphur lake. Our goal was to reach it before sunrise, so we set off at 3:30am and spent an incredible one and a half hours trekking to the top, listening to the dawn chorus develop as we made our way.
It was the second day in a row we had woken up around 3.30 AM having made a pre-sunrise trip to another volcano, Mount Bromo the previous day. Tough going, physical and a gruelling hike, but well worth it for the incredible views, the beautiful sunrise accompanied by gorgeous light and colour, and of course the serenity of the dawn chorus.
In tropical countries like Indonesia, the dawn chorus is extremely rich all year round. A combination of birds and insects, I always love to hear how the chorus develops over time. And with the hike lasting one and a half hours each way, we experienced the full spectrum from the early crickets and cicadas to the birds that soon joined.
We were alone on that hike, apart from the odd worker we passed as they carried baskets os sulphur back down to the nearest village. With both of us walking at slightly different paces, we were close enough not to loose sight of one another, but far enough away from each other to feel like we were alone, accompanied only by the vibrant birds and insects surrounding us. It felt somewhat spiritual that morning. To feel so isolated, so far from civilisation. Just us amongst the local residents who sing this beautiful dawn chorus each and every day. I feel lucky to have experienced this trek and it was a fitting way to say goodbye to Java and all that it had shown us.