Gunung Bromo: Volcanos at Sunrise

Trip Start Jan 22, 2010
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Flag of Indonesia  , East Java,
Monday, May 24, 2010

It was 3:30am when we set out under the clear night sky. (We intended to leave at 4:30 but had forgotten to change our clocks from Bali time to Java time, so 3:30 it was!) Destination: Gunung Bromo, a stunning volcano protruding from a desolate lava field of black volcanic ash and flanked on both sides by the towering Gunung Kursi and Gunung Batok. Nearby looms the 3676 meter high Gunung Semeru, one of the most active volcanos on Java. After a 15 minute walk on pavement, our feet sank as we hit the black sandy field where all signs of life have been wiped out by the volcano. The thousands of twinkling stars in the night sky dimly lit the landscape, and we could just barely make out the silhouette of Mount Bromo in the distance. There were no signs posted as to which way to go so we blindly picked a route and started walking. Every once in a while, a tourist-filled jeep would scream by on its way to the viewpoint on yet another Gunung, Penanjakan, for the sunrise. We, being the anti-tour travellers we are, decided to forgo the jeep and hike to the top of neighboring Batok, which, we had heard, would afford stunning sunrise views of Mount Bromo and the surrounding area. After about 20 minutes of walking in the lava field, we decided to try to hail one of these jeeps to see if in fact we were even going the right way. We saw some headlights in the distance and started flailing our arms as it got closer. The jeep sped by us without so much as a glance. Okay, we thought, we'll get the next one. The next one comes by – same thing happened! And the next one, and the next one. Why won’t they stop?! I guess we are going to have to figure this one out on our own! We reasoned that if the jeeps were heading this way to go to a different mountain than the one we wanted to go to, perhaps we were heading the wrong way. So we turned around. After another 20 minutes, we arrived back at the beginning of the lava field and tried to take heed of our bearings. Hmm…still dark and still no signs anywhere; Go figure! After some deliberation, we decided to head back the way we had just come from. (Don’t ask me how we came to that decision – it was 4am and we were running on very little sleep.) Finally, after yet another 20 minutes, we saw a light in the distance. Maybe it is a guide! As we neared the light, we realized that it was just a couple of other tourists, but they at least knew the way. So we took off in the direction they were heading. But they were moving slowly and we wanted to make sure we got to the top before sunrise, so we lost them after about 5 minutes. Then we came to a temple, its black spires boldly protruding against the starry sky (stunning!). We had heard the temple was near the stairs that we were supposed to find to take us to the top of the crater, so we knew we were on the right track. But which way to go from the temple? At this point Mount Bromo was directly in front of us, and the mountain on the left of Bromo looked less menacing than the mountain on the right. I had read that this hike should only take about an hour, so we decided to go left. (Nevermind that it had already been an hour and a half!) After veering off on a couple of paths and second guessing ourselves a few times, we found a guide who pointed us in the right direction (and incidentally the direction we were originally heading). After just a short walk, we finally arrived at the stairs. We were only 253 steps away from our destination! We huffed and puffed our way up (Bali did a number on us!), and we finally made it to the top of Batok just as the sun was coming up. (Good thing we didn’t change our clocks to the right time!) All our efforts were worth it. As the sun rose opposite Gunung Bromo, its rays slowly crept over the picturesque volcano, creating an amazing display of light and shadows. It was an unforgettable experience to hike blindly to the top of a crater under thousands of stars, and then sit and watch the magnificent landscape wake up and reveal itself for the first time that day.
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Comments

Diane on

You got some amazing photos of this magnificent sight. I have enjoyed reading all your posts eventhough I don't always write a comment. You sure know how to create memories.

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