Hiking an active volcano – Mount Bromo is a fantastic experience when done at your own pace without any organised tours and crowds of tourists that flock there every morning on noisy jeeps. It takes about 1 hour to get to the top. Hiking Bromo in the evening from Cemoro Lawang village on our own was one of our favorite experiences in Java and we had the whole volcano for ourselves!We get up early in the morning, have a buffet type breakfast at our hotel (Hotel 88 Embong Kenongo) and take a taxi to catch a train from Surabaya to Probolinggo (75 000 IDR ~ 6.5 US$). At the train station we’re surprised by the unusual thing we see… there is band playing for people awaiting train – not some imitation band but they all have proper equipment – guitars, drums, loudspeakers etc. Rather unexpected and impressive! Even in Western world we’ve never experience such a luxury at the train station. As Rich was taking picture of the singer with his union jack decorated guitar he must have realised that Rich is from the UK and said to the microphone – “hello from England”! The journey takes us a couple of hours and it’s very comfy. As soon as we leave the train station in Probolinggo we meet 2 couples (Italian and Spanish) and decide to take a mini bus together to get to the place where we can catch a bus to Cemoro Lawang (closest place to the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park). Once we get there (driver drops us off in front of some tour office not a public bus stop but it’s hard to communicate so we don’t argue) we end up paying for a tour type bus. And it looks like all other tourists also get on those buses – after all it’s really cheap: 25 000 IDR ~ 2 US$ per person. The road is quite steep, views are spectacular, it’s getting cooler the higher we get but it’s also rainy – we’re worried that we might not be able to hike to the Bromo today… For the first time we didn’t book any accommodation in advance so we ask about prices in different hotels in Cemoro Lawang village as our driver drops other tourists off. Café Lava turns out to be the cheapest one and nice enough so we stay there. It gets positive reviews on Trip Advisor, conditions are good enough (there are few different rooms’ standards to choose from) and food is tasty. It worked really well and we could also see in advance what we payed for. After enjoyable dinner in our hotel we set off with torches and waterproof jackets on the Mount Bromo hike. We don’t see any tourists on the way – we have the whole volcano and its surroundings called ‘Sea of Sand’ for ourselves. Bromo and the nearby area has signs of volcanic activity – there aren’t many plants around and the ground has greyish colour in some places it looks like frozen lava – very interesting volcanic landscape we haven’t seen before… like from a different planet. The only building that stands at the foot of Mount Bromo on the ‘Sea of Sand’ is a hindu temple – Pura Luhur Poten. Every year a ceremony takes place in here and crowd of local people proceed to the Mount Bromo where they throw offerings into the crater. Once we get to the bottom of the Mount Bromo there are quite few steps all the way to the top, partially covered with volcanic ashes. With every step we’re getting closer to the volcano’s caldera… Finally, it’s very exciting to be at the top of an active volcano – at the height of 2329 meters! We can hear the boiling noises and feel the smell of sulphur and are trying to imagine how it was here during the last volcano eruption in 2011… Unbelievable feeling to be on top of volcano crater rim – just two of us – amazing! Seems like not taking part in organised trips and avoiding crowds always turns out to be better and cheaper option. On the way back to the village is already very dark so even with torch we struggle to see the path back to Cemoro Lawang village! Luckily we have GPS on our phone which guides us in the right direction – back on the right path. Back in our hotel – Café Lava we enjoy more food and drink and go to bed as tomorrow we’re planning to have ridiculously early start – around 4 am. All that sacrifice to hike to the viewpoint to see Java’s one of the main attractions – volcanoes in their morning sunrise glory – how exciting!
- Java Day 4 – Majestic Borobudur temple
- Java Day 6 – Mount Penanjakan – magnificent hike to the iconic viewpoint