I’m so excited to share a little bit about finally making the trip to Bromo.
All photo credits in the gallery go to the lovely Sharis Coppens, who does fascinating documentary-based anthropological work in Peru that’s worth checking out. I realized the night before this trip that my camera wouldn’t hold a charge, and I’m very grateful to Sharis for sending these shots my way. Before now, all I had was a smartphone pic snapped of myself by a cute group of Indonesian college kids that I cajoled into enduring data costs for my sake…
So, oddly enough, I’d never actually been to Bromo Semeru Tengger National Park, despite its easy location in East Java; it was one of those things about which I kept telling myself “You have plenty of time!” only to realize that Peace Corps service was over. I’m so glad to have finally made this pilgrimage. Here’s a map with Malang and Bromo circled (click to enlarge):
At the time of the Bromo adventure, I had a couchsurfer with me–a German lady from Switzerland. We were picked up at midnight in a Range Rover, went east to the park after picking up Sharis and her partner and another tourist couple, saw everything, had lunch, saw some more things, and were back by noonish. But wow I tell ya, that trip felt like it was never going to end. Total exhaustion, but it was totally worth it!
Yes, I look the same in both of those photos, but there we are. Below you’ll find the rest–all taken by Sharis. I went through them one by one as best I can and explained what’s going on in the photos; click for gallery view so that you can see the whole captions, which will show up at the bottom of each image.
Here we are waiting at the sunrise viewing area, which was packed. We walked from the parking lot uphill for about ten minutes to get here, enjoying some ginger coffee and fried bananas on the way. It was really crowded and overwhelming at moments, but you can’t deny the beauty of watching the much-anticipated sunrise at Bromo or the fun of doing it with a whole mess of like-minded travelers (mostly from Indonesia).
Sunrise begins! We took this trip during the rainy season and wondered if clouds would block the view. Luckily, it all worked out.
It was very cold all morning! I wore two scarves, a sweater and jacket, and a knit hat; Indonesia has it’s chilly places for sure. Here you can get a sense of the crowds gathering to watch sunset. The rainy season is the low season, so you can imagine how crowded it gets when the threat of rain/clouds is nil.
The steaming, smoking crater–short and fat in the front–is Mount Bromo, and the tall one in the back is Mount Semeru. They are both active volcanoes. Semeru is the highest point on the entire island of Java. People are fond of hiking it, but it takes two or three days of serious camping, and the risk of exposure is real. Travis and Teguh hiked this back during PC days, and I bet some other PCVs have done it. I’m skipping Semeru in favor of hiking slightly-less-intense Ijen Crater next month…
The misty glory!
Crowds watching sunrise
The sun has risen!! Look at that mist and fog!
Bromo from the viewing area
Here we are on the way to going up to Bromo. We stopped in this area to have boxed breakfast. It was so amazing; the space was so vast and there was nobody else around, and not being surrounded by people is the rarest of rarities on Java (the most populous island on earth). The ground was barren from previous lava flows, I assume, and there were verdant ridges all around the valley, making it feel like we were inside a huge, deep bowl. It was eerily quiet and still, and I loved it.
…in Java, “nobody else around” actually means “a few people around.” My mistake. Anyways they may as well not have been there at all.
From a different angle
I had never had a legitimate reason to ride in a Land Rover until now!
This was the next stop on the trip. Another deserty area on the way to see the crater, this place was even more eerie than the previous stop, since it was starting to get misty and foggy as big poofy clouds spilled over the ridges surrounding the valley. This is the special whispering/singing sand of Bromo, which, during dry seasons, gets swept up by the winds and rustles up noisily against itself.
Our next stop was the parking lot area in front of Bromo, which took a decent walk to get to from here. There were tons of horses, brightly colored Land Rovers and Jeeps, and hundreds of people (if not more) milling about. The humans and human-related activity was so brightly colorful in comparison to the landscape, making a stark contrast and at times seeming pretty surreal. I didn’t feel like I was in Indonesia anymore! Honestly I felt like I was in a National Geographic magazine.
Some horses available to rent for the walk to the crater. We walked (on their poop).
A tiny Javanese horse and his wrangler
Heading to Bromo, looking for a tired client to hustle
Riding to Bromo
View on the walk
Folks making their way to the stairway to Bromo
Heading up the 400-some odd steps to view the crater. This took about 20 minutes to complete because it was so packed; we took three steps at a time and waited a minute or so between each set of steps.
From the top of the steps, looking down to the horse poop parking lot
BROMO! The beast itself!
Some local Hindus were performing a ritual offering at the time we were visiting Bromo. I didn’t speak to any of them so as not to disturb them, so I can’t explain exactly what’s going on here, unfortunately…
Our next stop was the “savannah” area, totally lush and green compared to the desert area we saw before the crater. Lots of people were doing motocross training in the park.
Another set of travelers enjoying themselves
In the savannah area
Taking some pictures in the savannah area. Can you see me? I’m actually in some of these… 🙂
This place was really overwhelmingly gorgeous. It had been too long since I did any outdoor activity / nature exploration, and this made me feel so warm and tingly inside! Totally transcendent!
The rocky road
Our final two stops were to see a farming village and a waterfall. Here, we stopped to look at some crops and appreciate the farming techniques of the local people. This reminded me a lot of my Peace Corps site, which was also near a volcano–lots of really perfect, healthy soil, and crops planted every which way on the sides of the foothills going up the mountain.
Another view of some crops
Our last stop was Rainbow Falls, and we were totally wiped out. After this, we headed home, got dropped off, and I slept for four hours. LOVED Bromo; would recommend it and would totally go back again. If my sister visits, we’re going!!!
PS: The next week, my pals and I went back to Rainbow Falls for a little more fun. Coincidence! The first and only two times I’ve been there were in the same two-week time span. Anyways, I love these people and can’t wait to go to Ijen Crater with them in a couple of weeks!