Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Gunung Bromo, Probolinggo. Ano?

Gunung Bromo means Mount Bromo (named after Brahma, Hindu's Creator God), considered sacred, is in fact a volcano, part of the Tengger Massif, an active one with last dated eruption in January 2011. Probolinggo is a town located in East Java, Indonesia. How on earth we found this? Because of one single photo (doesn't look the same when we visited because of the eruption) by one of the travel bloggers that I am following.

trying to re-create the 'inspiration' photo, can you spot the difference? there's a lot
up close Mt Batok, a dormant volcano

Getting there was not easy. We allotted 5 days for Indonesia leg but we originally planned to chill at the island of Bali the whole time. Due to this, we had to make necessary adjustments right away. Because we cannot do re-routes of our Bali flights (hard on the wallet), we flew from there to a city called Surabaya (Sura means Shark & Baya means Croc, is the 2nd largest city next to Jakarta) after almost 8 hours of lounging at Ngurah Rai Airport. A contracted SUV for 1.3million rupiah (return trips) fetched us from Surabaya airport at almost 8PM and drove us all the way to Probolinggo for 4 hours. Tired and sleepy, we did not notice we were already at a high altitude (the highest area in Indonesia) that when we got off the car, it was biting cold (it was cooking hot in Bali).

We got into our no-need-an-AC room (Hotel Cemara Indah for 350,000 rupiah/night for 3 pax with free bfast), arranged our visit to the volcano (paid 25,000/head park entrance) and settled for the night. After 3 hours (roughly 4AM,) we're up on our knees for the sunrise hike. I had barely much energy because the night before that, we curled ourselves to sleep at the bench of Don Muaeng Airport in Thailand. Among us 3, I was the least prepared (f0r the first time) for the temperature, the altitude and the physicality of what's ahead of us that day.

Our 4x4 jeep (450,000 rupiah/jeep paid at hotel) led us to a much higher platform of Mt Pananjakan. The hike took off after 5-10 minutes and even on the onset of the trek up, I was running after my breathing. I lag behind, slowly making my steps while ensuring I got enough air inhaled and exhaled. The trail couldn't get anymore better, it was getting higher, steeper and the surroundings were still pitch dark. My other buddies had to wait up front and called out several times to check if I was alright. There were horse services being offered for a ridiculous price so I passed and dragged myself up until we finally reached the first-level viewing deck. I signaled the team that I cannot push through anymore to the topmost area and will wait for them there when they climb down. But they didn't and instead joined me there. We waited for sunrise while the wind was blowing as if coming from a huge freezer.

Top - Bromo crate;
Bottom - Our ride to below the staircase
When the sky lit, the scenery was surreal. The clouds walked above the valley and the moment the light pierced through it, the marvelous landscape of Tengger Semeru National Park where Bromo sits, glowed. We forgot for a while to clasp our hands while blowing air to it to fight the cold because it was already doing the 'like' pose in front of the shutter. What an extraordinary start of the day.

Not for long, we descended and into the park itself with the 4x4. It stopped on another take off point. This time we were actually headed for what we came for - Mt Bromo. Our horses and guide were already there to carry us up to just below the volcano steps. We were among the few travelers riding nicely on a horse's back because most of them were striding and striving the black volcano ashes towards the mountain's peak. It was a very good decision and a well-spent 100,000 rupiah each for the pony ride especially for me because my powers were running low to endure a 2-km walk. I was also preserving that few energy left of me for the final ascend by foot to get to the top of the crater.

Later on, I was already enjoying the view from above. The volcano's mouth was smoking sulfur and silently waiting for a victim - there's nothing to hold on to so when you slip, the crater will eat you alive. That's one reason I wasn't able to do my jump shot, the other one has something to do with my tummy, haha, which was also one of the things why we had to go back to our place after couple of hours or less.

Top left - View of the park from the sunrise deck, the highest peak at the back is Mt Semeru;
Top right - the staircase to the crater
Bottom left - View from our hotel; Bottom right - while on the Jeep heading to jump off

Back at the hotel, we had an authentic Indonesian breakfast (i love their pansit), checked out and waited for our ride back to Surabaya. Our hotel by the way is in a fantastic location - Bromo and the whole park are the background. We arrived at Juanda International Airport 4 hours before our flight so we had enough time to rest, for lunch and to our next destination.

That 2-day side-trip felt like a week, a lot of things happened. An unforgettable experience that I strongly recommend to anyone seeking the right kind of irresistible rush in Indonesia.

  • There are public buses from Surabaya to the town of Probolinggo then a transfer to Bromo via 4x4 for 250,000/jeep return rates. Travel time is 4-6 hours depending on highway traffic. The bus has limited trips so if you have a tight sched, getting a private service is highly suggested, it's way comfortable too.
  • Bring your own hiking outfit - thermal or thick jacket, long but light pants, socks, hike/rubber shoes, bonnet, flashlight/headlamp and hand gloves otherwise, you'll rent or buy one at your hotel which would save you some decent rupiah. Hike light.
  • Renting the 4x4 jeep maybe inevitable but the horse rent (both at viewing deck and Park trek) can be avoided. Just keep in shape and be mentally conditioned.
  • Souvenir shirts can be bought for as low as 40,000 rupiah from the ones selling at the viewing deck or at your hotel. Designs are quite a few though.
  • Side tripping to other sites nearby/along the way Probolinggo or the whole Semeru Park can be done if time permits (for an additional fee) though not a must-do.
  • Indonesia airports has airport taxes you need to pay after check-in: 40,000 rupiah  and 150,000 rupiah for domestic and international flights, respectively.
  • Do your forex at the airport, 1USD = 9,700 rupiah approx and your groceries- hydrates & snacks, in Surabaya (there's IndoMart all around). Forex at hotel is very low and no decent stores in the area.
Visited: November 2012

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About Dee

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I was born and raised attune with nature, grew up from the countryside and a strong believer in endless possibilities. I am drawn to adrenaline rush and was never a girly kind but I dig chick flix and plays some music. I started this site during a 6-month distressing/long sojourning away from the corporate world. I gathered all the travels I went and translated them into words. I am not fond of sharing details of my trip and thought looking at the photos I've effort-fully taken was enough. Yet to my amazement reading through it flashes back more wonderful memories like a gush of throwback Thursdays. This is also a good venue to practice writing and to connect. So, thank you for stumbling upon my corner. Sorry I can't update regularly but I hope you'd visit again as my journey continues, find some useful information here and most of all be inspired to go on adventures your own. See you on the road!