We were awoken at the ungodly hour of 3:15am by our guide tapping on the window, not too hard or the windows probably would have simply shattered into a thousand pieces – I was not sure if I had slept at all and because of this had lost a good part of any capacity I had for reasoning due to possible sleep depravation but we managed to get out of bed somewhat zombie-like and were on our way.
The jeep and our driver were both stood in the pitch black waiting for us so off we went, it was all very dark and grim. First we went downwards and then steeply upwards and as most of it was off-road so we had plenty of jolts and bumps to give us that gentle push towards full wakefulness – hoorah! There were other jeeps making the same journey but we had no idea of the extent of the convoy until we finally reached the top of our vantage point – Mount Pananjakan – this would give a prime view over Mount Bromo just in time for the sunrise.
There were quite a few people at the top brought by quite a few jeeps and we were one of the last and we still had a bit of a climb to reach the top and the viewing platform. Everybody faced forward eager for a glimpse of Mount Bromo but it was still quite cold and cloudy so actually seeing anything took quite a long while but then shapes did slowly start to emerge from the mists. It was really weird seeing Bromo from on high and the other more distant but much bigger Mount Semeru even further in the distance and the nearest volcano Mount Botok – this really is the place volcanoes hang out!
As the morning started to kick in more of the vista came into view and what first grabbed me was the scale of the thing – huge really does not cover it! Mount Bromo is inside the Tengger caldera of which there are now five volcanoes ‘living’ there. This caldera came into being over 45,000 years ago in what must have been a huge explosion similar to Krakatoa on scale. I could even see the little town we had descended from into the ‘Sea of Sand’ where all these volcanoes now reside.
And the town/village really did just look like it was clinging to the original volcano’s wall. It is one of those moments when you realise just how tiny you and all human exertions really are in the scheme of things. One big volcano like this blows and we are all history so might as well grab a beer and go and see a few things – oh yeh that is where our blog began … lol.
From the viewing platform we descended back down onto the ‘Sea of Sand’ which we could now see and on to the star of the show – Mount Bromo. Looking at it, Mount Bromo probably receives top billing because of its accessibility rather than anything else – it is a climbable volcano that even fat people and geriatrics can reach the top of, due to it being reasonably easy and the invention of horses! There were horses everywhere some quite mis-matched to their riders we thought but soon enough everyone was off to the top. To be fair the horses only took people across the ‘Sea of Sands’ and up the lower reaches before everyone has to dismount and climb the stairs. Strange how volcanoes come complete with stairs but this one certainly did and this makes life much easier too. Us pedestrians reached the stairs a bit slower than the jockeys but it was a nice walk – like being on the moon everything was black volcanic dust. Only hiccup along the way being an old wizened woman who tried to rob me of a few shekels over some water – but I was too tired to start haggling with her and my dander was up quite quick I tell you, so got my money back in double quick time – but I did tell her it was a good try! She will probably turn me into a frog!
The stairs are one long queue but this is good as it slows everything down and Liz had a bit of a turn going up so this also helped me to recover my breath too. At the top it was astounding,
and I am not talking about the massive hole with smoke pouring out of it, but there were a few guys at the top on the other side of the fence used to keep sightseers at bay, who were actually running up and down the dust in ill-fitting wellies, not too far from the hole’s edge, in order to collect money and offerings being thrown in by people wanting good things to happen to themselves and thinking the Gods of the volcano could grant them their wishes. I am really not sure who was dafter them on the dust or the crowd for throwing in their offerings!
There was the chance to walk around the top the as the path was far from pristine I decided to call it a day and we headed back down.
By now the sides of the original huge caldera (Tengger) was in view – well at least the parts you could see and let me reiterate – IT WAS HUGE!!!
We had to get moving sharpish as the next stop on our trip was to be Mount Ijen but downhill we did see some signs saying ‘in case of eruption run this way!’ which did make us smile somewhat but we still did ask the driver to step it up a bit and kept our necessity for the toilet until we were well out of volcano ‘range’!
Again it was quite a trek to our next port of call so another stop but this hotel though far less seedy was far more costly and again the time to get up was another early start 1:15am to be at the volcano whilst dark so we could see the ‘Blue Fire’.