Selfie Mountain

How this Indonesian sulfur mine became an Instagram-famous tourist hotspot

Selfie Mountain The Indonesian volcano, Kawah Ijen, is a notorious dark tourism destination. Tourists admire the sumptuous landscape, while sulfur miners do back-breaking work scaling the active volcano for a pittance.
Beyond Kawah Ijen's toxic smoke lies the perfect Instagram photo op - wondrous views over a turquoise acid lake framed by yellow chunks of smoking ore. Yet while social media adventurers pose in their gas masks, nearby miners breath in the deadly sulfur dioxide without protection. "It was quite shocking to see the workers in the mine", says one young tourist. But the mining is one reason tourists visit. "That's not the main reason [for going], but it's part of it", says another. When local chef Heinz Von Holzen first saw miners hauling 80kg by back, he designed 200 wheelbarrows to help ease their load. Before long, miners were using them to carry willing tourists up and down the volcano instead of ore. "When there are not many tourists, they return to the village without money", says Von Holzen, now helping the children of the miners with new school materials.

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