Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mt. Bromo

After a week in Bali, Nick and I headed to Java to explore the most populated island in the world. Going from Bali to Java means going from an island where over 90% of the population is Hindu to one where over 90% of the population is Muslim. Nevertheless, many of the famous sites to see on Java are relics from the days when Buddhism and Hinduism were the dominant religions of the region.

One 9 hour bus ride later (including a ride on a ferry) took us to a town called Probolinggo – the main jumping off point for people headed to Java’s famous active volcano, Mt. Bromo. After that it was just another hour more in a public mini-bus (bemo) and we arrived at the village of Cemoro Lawang on the lip of the crater at 6:00am.

Since we missed the sunrise, we decided to take a break for a day, relaxing and walking around the town, before heading up to catch the sun rise over the volcano.

The next day, we woke up at 4:30 am and hopped in a 4WD Jeep for a trip up the mountain to catch the sunrise.

Mt. Bromo is actually a pretty small volcano, and just one of three peaks situated inside of a huge caldera called the Tengger Massif (10km across!). The entire caldera landscape is made of sand, hardened lava flow, and volcanic rock and at times it can really feel as if you are on another planet.

Bromo is the “peak” to the left with it’s top blown off – endlessly smoking and steaming.

For our entire stay, the steam was flowing out of Bromo, across the caldera, over top it’s walls, and cloaking the village at the crater’s edge in fog and haze.

After enjoying the sunrise, we headed down into the caldera for a short hike up to the rim of Mt. Bromo. Upon arriving in the caldera, we were swarmed by people trying to convince us to hire a horse for the “grueling” “long” "hike" of about 1km across a field of flat sand.

Nick and I decided to “rough it” and walk through the black sand, passing by a very mystical looking holy site

Until we reached the stairs that take you straight to the top along the rim of Mt. Bromo

Where there is a nice little viewing area

But you can venture off the viewing area, if you’re feeling adventurous, and walk around the crater

Or sit at it’s edge

and look down...

From here you can actually hear the creation of the steam (or something) that sounds almost like an ocean break – I like to imagine that there was a sea of lava just under the surface lapping up against the walls of the crater… but I wouldn’t put a wager down that that’s actually what the noise was.

The whole landscape was a bit surreal; it was a bit like being on the moon. The only thing missing was weightlessness and space suits!

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