A very early morning (03.30) enabled us to reach a good view point to watch the sun rise over the volcanos that form the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. Our mini-buses were not up to the task of climbing the steep road let alone cross the Sea of Sand (read ash flats), so we were loaded into short wheel-based 4WD Toyotas with big fat tyres that were only partially inflated.
Light was just beginning to lighten the horizon as we reached our view point, Mount Penanjakan 2,770 m (9,088 ft). We had travelled from our hotel in the centre-middle of the photo.
The sky began to lighten predawn… Mt Bromo was hidden by cloud but the taller stack of cloud in the centre of the photo was actually ash and steam from Mt Bromo.
The effort required to get up so early was well worth it… it was spectacular watching the sun rise above some clouds out to the East of our vantage point.
It turned out to be the coldest morning of our whole adventure. A stiff breeze made it even more so, but, at an elevation of 2770m, it should be expected.
And then the cloud in the valley parted and we could see Mt Bromo.
After enjoying that stunning sunrise, we headed part-way down for a quick stop at another view point. Now we could see how far we had climbed up from the valley floor..
Wonderful scenery… clouds wreath Mt Bromo on the other side of the valley. The Sea of Sand is the flat grey valley floor between the view point and Mt Bromo.
Our next stop was at a staging point for the climb to the rim of Mt Bromo’s crater, a 2km walk with a height difference of 133m (436 ft.).
It was a gentle walk over ash to begin with.
The incline gradually got steeper. Our vehicles were parked at the edge of the green area on the far side of the area with trees in the middle distance.
Finally, we came to a set of steps that would get us up to the rim.
A continuous roar came from the volcano, getting louder as we neared the rim.
Looking down into the crater, large clouds of steam were bellowing upwards. Every now and then there would be silence before, suddenly, there was a huge roar as even more steam burst forth. On these occasions, rocks and other debris was hurled into the sky.
It was indeed fortunate that the wind was blowing away from us or we could have been in some peril. Even though I’ve been on volcano rims before, this was still quite exciting.
Our guide, Tan Tan, had advised us not to climb to the rim, but not because of safety concerns… no.. because he didn’t think we had it in us to get to the top and back to the vehicles in the time available. This wasn’t the first, or the last time, that we managed to achieve a bit more than he gave us credit for.
It transpired that Mt Bromo had increased its activity somewhat while we were climbing, to the extent that, according to Tan Tan’s wife, it hit the local news.
Back down on the ash flats, we had that moment I usually dread… the group photo!
After all that, we were back in Yoschi’s dining room for breakfast by a bit after 08.00! And by then we were rather peckish. After breakfast it was back into our trusty mini-buses for a seventy-five minute drive to Probolinggo.
We travelled back down the same road we had traversed in the dark the night before. The scenery was quite spectacular with many different crops being grown on every arable piece of ground.
The tall narrow trees look that way because the branches are cut, probably for fuel.
The road twisted around the steep valley sides.
At Probolinggo, we caught a train to Kalibaru – a three hour journey. This was the Station Master’s office which contained all the levers that controlled the station yard points.
Arriving at Kalibaru, it was just a walk around the end of the station platform to find our overnight accommodation, the Margo Utomo Agro Resort. This hotel had two rows of twin bungalows set in very well maintained tropical gardens.
Shrub Vinca (Kopsia fruticosa).
The resort had a massive swimming pool… a lovely place to while away an hour before dinner… and that was worth waiting for, too. It was a mixed plate of Indonesian cuisine; chicken curry, chicken satay, sautéed vegetables, boiled egg with Balinese sauce, sweet potato chips, steamed rice and beef floss. We had earned that meal.
And we had also earned an early night after a very interesting, but long, day.
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