Facts, navigating the Sea of Sand and climbing this active volcano in Indonesia
After our amazing sunrise view of the majestic UNESCO World Heritage Site of the infamous Mount Bromo, it was now time to catch a much closer view – this time by climbing up the active Bromo volcano itself!
• The Bromo Tengger Semeru-Arjuno biosphere reserve (Indonesia) is located in East Java province and has a total area of 413,374 hectares.
• The site consists of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (BTSNP), and the forest protected area of Raden Soerjo.
• Mount Bromo itself is an active volcano.
The easiest way to get to Mount Bromo is by first reaching the city of Yogyakarta – this is the cultural hub of Indonesia and a must visit during your trip. Once you reach Yoyakarta and have had some time to settle in, have a chat with your hotel receptionist or manager. They are usually inundated with offers from tour companies and can recommend or book your tour for you. We covered Sunrise at Bromo and checking out the Blue Fire at Kawah Ijen, with a drop off to Bali which was our final destination.
• The Bromo and Ijen entrance fees were not included as part of our tour package, which meant that we had to pay extra at these venues. It is worth checking what is or is not covered in your tour.
• Expect long, long, long drives. Our tour was of three days two nights, among which roughly 40-45 hours were spent driving.
• Expect basic living conditions – we opted for the “Economy” accommodation option (because we did not originally budget for Kawah Ijen) but soon found that our rooms were almost the same standard as others who paid for “Premium”.
• Take snacks. I’m not kidding when I say those are some long drives. We didn’t know and ended up surviving on roughly one meal per person per day (our daily lunch stops on the road). You will need your energy for those hard treks.
• Layer your clothes. The temperature is drastically low at the Bromo Viewpoint before sunrise. However, once the sun rises the temperature follows suit, increasing rapidly. Leave the extra layers in your jeep when you're near the volcano crater in the second half of the Bromo exploration.
• This goes without saying – but be prepared to walk. Ensure that you have basic to moderate physical fitness, can cope with two to three hours of sleep each day (for two days in a row) and can walk uphill on a steep incline, navigate your feet downhill amongst rocks and also climb stairs.
• Once your jeep drops you off near the Bromo crater, you will have an option to walk to the crater or to take a horse-ride to the beginning of the stairs below the crater.
Once we had snapped all the pictures of this gorgeous wonder from the Bromo viewpoint, we headed downhill to our jeep. Next stop – climbing up to the top of the Bromo crater.
The jeep ride there was unreal. Maybe it was that particular time of the morning or maybe it was just our stroke of luck – but I spent the entire hour of our ride from the viewpoint to the crater just ooh-ing and aah-ing at how beautiful it all was.
In fact I’m pretty sure my open-mouthed gawking was probably what made our jeep driver park in the middle of the “Sea of Sand” once we got there. “Go, go,” he waved us out of the jeep…“Go take photos!”
We snapped a few pictures, grateful to our driver for stopping, since all the other jeeps seemed to be zooming past.
After 10 minutes of photographs, we got back in the jeep and got dropped off at the Bromo crater drop-off point. My friend decided to walk, but I opted for a horse ride for two reasons: firstly, lack of food and sleep had made me exhausted already, and secondly because the horses did look fresh, spruced up and adequately cared for (contrary to other facts I’d read about it previously).
The horses dropped us off at the base of the Bromo crater, following which we were then required to climb a large flight of stairs to the top of the crater. This was not as difficult as I had anticipated, owing to the large volume of tourists climbing up in a single file. I loved the way everyone was considerate towards each other – we were a mixture of young and old, athletic and unfit climbers all marching up together and everyone supported and helped each other.
The views from the top were amazing. I stood there silently for a while, finding it hard to believe that I was standing on the crater of an active volcano. The people below were so far down that they were barely visible from this height – seemingly like a line of ants! I snapped a few photos whilst my daredevil friend took it a step further, found the smallest ledge ever and ventured out on it to take a photograph of the landscape.
After a saunter around the rim of the crater, we decided to head back down. By this time it was starting to get quite hot too and our jeep driver had only allocated us an hour to explore. We also came across more offerings of locals to Bromo.
Our walk back to the jeep was uneventful and a tad anticlimactic. I have to admit I was feeling a little cheated at not having the chance to just “hang out” and having timing restrictions and schedules everywhere, but then again that’s one of the drawbacks of joining an organized tour. Next stop on our itinerary was the extremely rare Blue Fire and Blue Flames tour at Kawah Ijen – check back again next week for the final installment of the Bromo-Ijen discovery adventure!
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