I landed in Indonesia during the wee hours of the morning before our Bromo adventure was to commence and after thirty hours of flying followed by a handful of buses, I had finally made it to Cemoro Lewang, the base town of Bromo! Let’s just say I was all sorts of pooped (translation: I immediately fell asleep on the hotel bed for 8 hours in the middle of the afternoon). In my defense, to sunrise hike you have to wake up especially early, so I was just really
Chasing the Sunrise
Our alarm woke us at 3am and we groggily moseyed to meet our new friend Matej, a superhuman from Slovenia that we met at the bus stop en route to Bromo. Matej travels the world, takes amazing photos, has his own NGO, brews his own beer and is looking into the wine business. Like I said, superhuman.
But back to 3am… We decided to hike on our own (versus taking a taking a Jeep ride) and enjoyed the coolness of the morning coupled with the sight of the stars above. We ended up walking for about an hour in the dark (obviously), but our headlamps and a million Jeeps passing by with their brights on helped light the way. Along the trail to the sunrise viewpoint, which is more accurately described as a steep paved road, we saw several people being brought up on ponies as well as hoards of locals swarming around little shops to get in on the hot food and drink action. Now let it be known that it was New Years so everyone and their Mom, 17 cousins, 14 great aunts and all their neighbors were there. It was packed.
Unfortunately, New Years also falls during the time of year that the mountain is often surrounded by clouds and sadly the sunrise wasn’t too spectacular because of that. It was still pretty, it just didn’t quite live up to the hype. The clouds may have cleared enough to see the mountain if we had stayed up for an hour or so more but we decided that breakfast was far more important because we were ready to walk to the big dawg itself: Mount Bromo.
A Mid-Morning Jaunt Across the Sea of Sand
We stared in awe across the way at Mt. Bromo, which apparently is NOT the green thing standing happily in all it’s mountainous glory, but is actually the smoking crater next to it. Who would’ve known? Obviously not me…
99% of tourists take motorbikes and Jeeps across “The Sea of Sand” to arrive at the base, but once again we didn’t mind using our handy dandy legs to get there. Plus, the nice thing about built-in transportation is that it’s totally free! At some points during the walk we had to shield our faces from the sand blowing at us and we also climbed in and out of little canyons, but that just added to the adventure.
One canyon detour here, a little sand in the face there, and we finally made it to the base of whatever the big green mountain that is in fact not Mount Bromo is called. Right in front was a small Hindu temple, Pura Luhur Poten, which was nothing to write home about but it scored points in my book for being incredibly random.
The Crater Awaits…
After that little pit stop we followed the smell of sulphur and the masses of people, still on horses, en route to the crater. Again, I will emphasize that it was absolutely packed.
The final ascent involved a couple dozen stairs and an equal amount of human traffic jams, but then we made it to the top and… wow.
Seriously, just wow.
We found ourselves looking directly into the heart of a crater with plumes of smoke flowing out and reaching the sky. It was absolutely otherworldly to be that close to something so immensely powerful. I felt a little like Frodo on the way to Mordor, you know, just minus the massive flames and an obsession with evil jewelery. In any case, it was an incredible sight to witness.
When we had enough of the super pleasant sulphur smell we headed back down the stairs, past the pony-riding locals, over and through canyons, across the Sea of Sand, up the hill and back to town. Before washing off and packing up we decided to get lunch and beers, well, more like breakfast and beers since it was barely 10am… Fancily enough, Superhuman Matej and I share similar tastes in beer; I like IPAs (pronounced I-P-A) and he loves IPAs (pronounced “ippas”). But alas, as beautiful as a perfectly chilled hoppy brew sounded, we were still in the purist land of Indonesia so instead of drinking our beloved IPAs/Ippas we split a crappy Bintang that is well known for being only a few steps above water. After our productive morning I think we would have cheers-ed with far less, so down the hatch the moderately cold Bintang went!