Mother Nature is a true artist. The land and seas her sculptures, the sky her painting, the mountains her monuments, the Earth her canvas. Bromo at sunrise is one of her works of art that I had the good fortune of seeing for myself.
The two slices of bread, small packets of jam and butter, a banana and a cup of sealed water, comprising the free breakfast, were quickly consumed in anticipation of the long day that lay before us.
Waiting outside of the hotel at four in the morning are 4x4s, ready to take us on our Bromo Sunrise Tour. Good thing the staff at Yoschi’s Hotel proactively offered to wake us up for the tour.
Bring a torch. The only source of light we had as we climbed the dark path to the view deck are the stars. The moon decided not to show up that morning. Fortunately, we brought our mobile phones with us.
Jackets are available for rent at the hotel reception. Trust me, you’ll need one.
Please note, I’ll be referring to the entire caldera as Bromo, while I’ll be using Mt. Bromo for the volcano.
The absence of street lights along many of the roads in Cemoro Lawang makes for an eerie and bumpy 30-minute drive to the view deck. With the faint light from the stars, we were still able to appreciate the silhouette of the surrounding mountains.
Only a portion, near the top, of the path has concrete steps. For the most part, we were walking on packed dirt. It’s not a very steep path up the view deck, but the loose earth and high altitude makes for a challenging climb.
It took us around 20 to 30 minutes to get to the top. I overstepped my bounds, climbing as quickly as we did, I experienced a short burst of headache as my body tries to adjust to the thin air.
Wiggling, trying to fit my entire body in the rented jacket proved a fruitless effort. The temperature at the view deck are much colder than that at Yoschi’s Hotel.
The view deck itself is just a small leveled area on the side of the mountain. Hawkers are present, selling hot beverage, cup noodles, snacks and even cigars.
Much like the rest of Cemoro Lawang, Bromo is often covered in mist. However, during our visit, the entire caldera is free of it. I was actually looking forward to seeing portions of the volcanoes covered in mist. To have that feeling of being above a sea of clouds. Still, a clear view of the awesome beauty of the entire caldera is priceless!
Four of the five volcanoes inside the caldera are active, including Mt. Bromo whose crater we are going to ascend. According to wikipedia, the caldera used to be one ancient volcano. After its eruption four new volcanic cones emerged inside of it.
I won’t describe the beauty of the sunrise at Bromo, I’ll let the photos do the talking.
Legend has it that a childless couple (a prince and a princess) asked for help from the mountain gods for them to have children. The gods gave them 24 children but demanded that the 25th be thrown into the volcano as a sacrifice. The couple did as they were bade and this practice continues until this day… Only, the sacrifices are in the form of flowers. Whew!
Driving on Sea
If you are in good physical condition and have time to spare, you may walk from the view deck up to Bromo. This trek will probably take around two hours. Good thing, the drive from the drop off point of the viewing deck, across the Sea of Sand, then to Mt. Bromo is included in our tour package, as well as the entrance to the Bromo National Park.
Inside the caldera is a vast plain called the Sea of Sand, and in the middle of it sits Mt. Bromo and the other volcanoes. The walls of the caldera are such a sight to behold.
The 4x4s are allowed only to a certain point across the Sea of Sand, so you will still need to trek a good distance to get to the foot of Mt. Bromo.
Temple at Sea
Near the foot of Mt. Bromo is a temple. The tree-lined Hindu temple stands out from the barren waste that is the Sea of Sand. I’m not sure if outsiders/tourists are allowed inside.
As we’ve learned from our Prambanan tour guide, temples are erected near areas that pose a danger to the people to appease the gods.
Some of the locals say that the temple at the foot of Mt. Bromo was miraculously spared during one of Mt. Bromo’s major eruptions. The flowing lahar parted just a few meters from the temple, leaving the structure untouched.
Crossing the Sea of Sand
The soundtrack to one of my favorite movie franchise was playing inside my head as I stood at the Sea of Sand. Active volcanoes continually rumbling and spewing smoke, the vast nothingness of the Sea of Sand, the seemingly impossible task of crossing it and climbing one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia… Yes, the soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings is a fitting tune. :)
Together with hundreds of other souls, we make our way across the Sea of Sand. Heading to our ultimate destination, the mouth of Mt. Bromo. The closer we get to the volcano, the more dramatic the landscape become. In place of the flat plain are walls of sand and ash, towering above our heads. The ground begins to swell, signalling the beginning of Mt. Bromo.
Those whose energy are spent decided to enlist the help of horses for IDR 30,000. The beasts can only carry them up to the foot of the stairs at the base of Mt. Bromo.
The beauty of Bromo is slowly revealed as the sun rises. Its rays slowly kissing the tips of the volcanoes giving them a golden hue. It is a more dramatic way of seeing the caldera, the Sea of Sand and the volcanoes within it. The best way, in my opinion.
This phase of our trip is part of the 1.25 million tour we availed of, making the entire adventure extra convenient. However, making arrangements on your own to see Bromo at sunrise is entirely plausible. Once you get to your accommodation in Cemoro Lawang, 4x4 operators are not hard to find and can be booked through your hotel.
Standing inside the ancient caldera, at the Sea of Sand, surrounded by the immense beauty of nature is an experience that not even hundreds of words can begin to describe. Bromo is a place I would not hesitate going back to.