There are few words to describe aptly the feeling you get when you gaze upon one of Earth’s many wonders – Indonesia’s Mount Bromo in Malang, East Java. It is the country’s most iconic volcano and is still pretty much active. In fact, there was a small eruption just two days before we went to see it recently, almost resulting in the cancellation of the trip altogether.
Rising to the height of 2,329 metres, Mount Bromo is part of the Tengger massif in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. Although not the tallest of the mountains within the area (the tallest being Mount Semeru at 3,676 metres above sea level), it is the most well known and is frequented by visitors who wish to experience how it’s like to be in a crater of an active volcano. Unfortunately following the eruption earlier, visitors were not allowed to visit the crater or even get on the mountain itself.
Challenge of the mind, body
Fortunately we received the good news just the night before, on our return to our accommodation at Golden Tulip Holland Resort on Panderman Hill, Batu, which was an amazing resort by the way. We were told that we could go see the famous view of Mount Bromo, albeit from a safe distance and minus the climb up to see the crater. The latter would have been great but it was quite big a risk to take given that Mt Bromo had just erupted that same week.
A quick adjustment was made on our schedule, which required us to check out of the resort at midnight, get on our trusty tour bus and head to Mount Penanjakan viewpoint to catch the Bromo sunrise.
It was a three-hour-or-so road trip from our hotel to the Mount Penanjakan viewpoint. That included a transit from our bus into 4x4s that took us all the way up. During transit a little after 3am, I realised how numbingly freezing it was up there even with my multiple layers of shirts and sweater. The gloves I wore were of little help. We had to stop near the top of the viewpoint, as they were too many vehicles clogging up the road ahead. So we abandoned our 4×4 and walked uphill another 15 minutes or so. With the air so cold and thin, it was difficult to breathe while making my way up. It is advisable to pace yourself and let your group know when you’re having any difficulties.
Once at the top, it was a waiting game. Despite the extreme cold, everyone was eager to see the view of Bromo. At around 5am, the sun slowly made its appearance. There were just too many people at the viewpoint and everyone was eager to capture the sunrise to our left. I decided that their silhouette against the blue and gold backdrop would make a great picture instead.
Minutes later, the sun brought to light a magnificent view of the mountains in front of us – the beautiful Mount Batok in the foreground, the famous Mount Bromo on the left, with its crater now highly visible from the viewpoint, and the tallest of them all – Mount Semeru. Mount Bromo had smoke coming out of its crater – a wondrous sight I never thought I would see for myself. Too bad we weren’t allow to go see the crater up-close. But as it was, the view of the mountains and the desert plains surrounding them was still just so magnificent. The feeling I got when I gazed at the scenery was just indescribable. One would have to go there themselves to comprehend the majesty of this natural wonder.
Pictures taken, we headed down to the Sea of Sand around Mount Batok and Mount Bromo. It was warmer down there but the views were just as stunning. Horseback riding is among many activities one can participate in at the Sea of Sand. Either that or take tons of selfies with the mountains in the background.
With the sun already high above us, we made our way back to the bus and then back to Surabaya. And though the tour of Bromo had ended, the fond memories of our time there linger to this day. It was, quite simply, the highlight of our trip of East Java, in Wonderful Indonesia.
By Lester Geres
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