I must be a glutton for punishment. Having decided to make my way to Bali, I booked myself on a two day-one night journey from Yogya (short for Yogyakarta) to Bali via Gunung Bromo, a volcano in east Java. Standing at 2,329 metres, the volcano belongs to the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. It’s name is also derived from the Javanese pronunciation of Brahma, the Hindu creator god.
We were off to an early start again and I had previously spent the entire day at Borobodur, Prambanan and the Ramayana ballet (3.30am – 11pm day). In retrospect, I should have given myself a break in between! The bus picked us up at 8am and the entire day was spent travelling towards Probollingo, where we would transfer to our hotel for the night. The journey itself was fine, if tiresome, and we stopped off for lunch at a decent (albeit very touristy) eatery and a couple of toilet/water breaks too. By the time we reached our hotel it was almost 9pm – quite a day of travelling! The room was fine and I settled in for the night early as the next morning we would be woken at 3am for an early start to catch the sunrise view across from Mount Bromo. There were a number of 4x4s there to pick guests up and the journey up to the viewpoint was gorgeous with the night sky’s stars twinkling above us.
After picking up another couple of tourists, the 4×4 snaked up the mountain and dropped us off at the end of a seemingly neverending line of jeeps – there were going to be a lot of people up there. I was glad to have my head torch and climbed up the rest of the way, which was a relatively easy walk towards the summit. I was plagued by motorbike taxis all the way up though and some would just stop right in front of your path and shout ‘taxi taxi’ – extremely annoying, but I suppose it’s their livelihood. I did see some people take them up on their offer too so I’d say they don’t do too badly.
The view point when I arrived, was as I had imagined, absolutely jammed with people. I have to say it definitely took away some of the enjoyment for me, because it was hard to take in the view when my line of vision was crowded by a sea of arms with cameras, phones, iPads stuck up in the air.
But I managed to find myself a nice spot to enjoy the sunrise and the beautiful views, as well as take some photos of my own. On the way back to the 4×4, I stopped at a quieter spot which was another viewpoint and enjoyed a more peaceful moment taking in the surroundings.
Once back in the jeep, our next stop was Mount Bromo itself, which is just a short ride away. The jeep stopped in a sea of cars and hordes of people made their way by foot or on horseback across the dusty landscape and began the ascent up the volcano. Once you get to a certain point just before the peak of the volcano, there is a set of concrete stairs built onto the side (which I found a bit odd). It does make it easier to climb, however it takes a while to get up there as the pace is very slow. I purchased a dry flower bouquet for a few thousand rupiah at the bottom – supposedly they are offerings for the gods that you throw into the volcano to appease them, or as another girl told me, you can make a wish! So I did both 🙂
It’s extremely dusty on the way up and down, and there are lots of people selling surgical masks to minimise dust inhalation. A good investment, but I just used my scarf to protect myself against inhaling mouthfuls of dust and ash. The volcano last erupted in 2011, and since then you haven’t been able to go nearer the crater. My aunt Jackie was here about 20 years ago and remembers cooking breakfast in the heat of the crater – amazing!
The journey back to our hotel was really pleasant as we were able to fully enjoy the scenery we had missed in the pre-dawn darkness. I had an hour or so to enjoy breakfast and shower before we were picked up again to begin what would be another slog of a day’s travelling. It was a similar day on the bus, except with a relatively better lunch place, followed by an hour-long ferry ride and then, finally, I had arrived in Bali!