As I think I’ve mentioned before, my village here is no stranger to “buleh” (or foreigners) due to the multitude of tourists that visit and/or pass through on their way to one of Indonesia’s main tourist attractions, Mt. Bromo. Finally this past week I got to experience it myself, not once but twice! The night after the wedding, around 10pm (yes, I somehow now manage to stay awake past 8pm these days), Dedik came down to tell me I should go to bed soon as we would be leaving for Bromo at 3am. I woke up not only to the sound of my alarm but the roar of a jeep waiting outside. After bundling up under three or four warm layers, I joined Dedik, Budi, and Rizky (Lilik’s nephew), to begin the dark drive up the the windy roads of the Tengger to the top of Pananjakan, the only lights on the road being the other jeeps making the same trek.
We reached Pananjakan, the viewpoint for the Bromo-Semeru-Tengger Nat’l Park, around 4am – spending our first hour sipping coffee, huddled around the small fire of a warung. I usually don’t drink coffee, but it just seemed too appropriate paired with the cold mountain atmosphere.
The sunrise was beautiful, as most sunrises are, although the view point was near packed to the rim, very unlike my afternoon runs to Pananjakan when i share the view with no one but my thoughts. A couple hours (and many photos) later, we returned to the jeep and continued our drive down to the foot of Mt. Bromo.
After the long, windy, bumpy, seatbelt-less ride down to the caldera floor, the jeep pulled out onto a long flat dessert stretch of fine grey dust surrounding the volcanoes springing up from its center. Jeeps swerved and glided through the sands, criss-crossing and tailing sarong caped men atop horses and donkeys, while motorbikes to the side struggled to make their way through the deeper sands.
Eventually, we came to a stop at our dropping off point – a caravan of jeeps , horses, and hawkers gathered by a Hindu temple about 2km off from Bromo. The hike to the top really wasn’t difficult at all and only took about twenty minutes. You can choose to go by foot or horse; I’ve tried both and suggest you keep to your own two feet. The horses, or donkeys rather, are walked by their owners anyway…although the many Indonesians galloping around you does serve as a bit of a false advertisement.
Really the only difficulty is the regular gusts of wind carrying fistfulls of fine dust directly into your face. I found myself still cleaning out my ears, eyes, mouth, and camera days after. But the short dirty climb is well worth it after reaching the ridge, taking in not only the crater at your feet but the view that surrounds it.
After Bromo, we continued exploring the caldera via jeep, met by dust storms and a beautiful savanna that is known to be lush and green during the rainy season. I had a great time; so great I actually went back to replay the same trip over just a few days later with a couple of nearby volunteers. Definitely a trip well worth making for anyone considering it!