Monday was my 25th birthday, and since I’m on the road sendirian (alone), I decided I would have to do something pretty special to celebrate a quarter century of existence. To Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park we go!
So from Surabaya, I headed to Probolinggo on Sunday, copped heaps of abuse, lies and rudeness from many of the people in the town there (the train station when I was leaving and the warung next to it were the only place I was treated well, honestly… touts trying to sell exorbitant Bromo tours are everywhere and the general consensus is that white people are walking ATM machines. I got called a slut by one man for saying I didn’t want a Bromo tour… that’s just one example). Then we waited several hours for the minibus to depart for Cemorolawang while our driver tried to extort ridiculous sums of money out of us, with every bus driver being in on the racket, leaving us with little option… then after a dark ride up a wild road into the hills, we (all of us on the bus had become fast friends, united in frustration) finally arrived at our hostel, Cafe Lava Hostel, which was thankfully very friendly and organised and arranged a reasonably priced trip for us the next morning.
It was really cold up in the town, because of the high elevation, so there were thick blankets on the beds. It was fun being cold and sleeping all rugged up… it’s been a long time since I’ve done that!
We weren’t going to sleep at the hostel for long though. Up at 3.30am, we boarded into a jeep and took an insane ride up what could barely be considered a road in the pitch darkness, chasing a spectacular sunrise over the volcanic plain (it’s actually a caldera from an ancient and larger volcano, from which four new volcanoes sprouted) and mountains from the viewpoint on Mt Penanjakan.
We didn’t quite get the rainbow coloured miracle sunrises seen by several of my friends on their Bromo visits due to rainy foggy weather, but nevertheless, we were thankful that at least it was clear enough to see the landscape for 15 minutes or so, before thick fog returned. We couldn’t see Mt Semeru though, the highest peak. Boo, cloud cover! It was still rather spectacular though.
We piled back into the jeep, after first having some difficulty recognising it in the sea of jeeps that were there, and started to head towards Bromo itself (the mountain with the smoking crater in the above), stopping for a few photo ops along the way (like the first pic on the post). During daylight, it became clear just how precarious the road was… there were several parts that had almost vanished in landslides, and at one point a broken barrier seemed to indicate a jeep had gone over the mountain edge. Eeep!
Once we were close to Bromo (second picture from top), we trekked across the ‘sand sea’ of black volcanic grains and scrambled up the rocky hill, which was dusted with yellow specks of sulfur. For the final stretch up to the crater, there was a huge concrete staircase. Once up the top, you could look down into the lava and get a huge stinky whiff of the sulfurous clouds belching from within the active volcano.
The landscape was amazing… it almost looked like we had gone on a trip to the moon sometimes.
Is it a moon horse? No, it’s just for tourists who were too old/young/lazy to scramble up to the beginning of the crater staircase. It was quite steep, but only took about 40 mins to climb to the very top.