Sunrise Over the Volcano

Sunrise Over the Volcano

I was invited to climb up an #active volcano in #Indonesia, and that's just not something you say no to. Mount Bromo is one of Indonesia's most beautiful #nature attractions, and with a little work, and fighting a bit of a sandstorm, you can climb to the top and stare down this monster.

Mount Bromo, Indonesia

There aren’t many reasons tourists take the road south from Surabaya. To be fair, there aren’t many reasons tourists would even be in Surabaya in the first place, but let’s overlook that for now. Because the city is the staging point for the 120 kilometre journey down East Java to one of Indonesia’s most beautiful natural attractions.

With its top blown off, it appears more crater than mountain

I’m talking about Mount Bromo, the active volcano that lies in the middle of a large valley. 

The Impressive Mount Bromo

With its top blown off, it appears more crater than mountain, while putrid sulphurous gas and smoke billow out from within.

from  $344

Mount Bromo Trip

 Mount Bromo, Podokoyo, East Java, Indonesia
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Mount Bromo's surrounding are just as amazing

One of the reasons it has become such a popular site for visitors is that Mount Bromo doesn’t exist in isolation. The valley is actually a ‘caldera’ – an enormous cauldron-like pit created by the ground collapsing after a major eruption. And all through and around this caldera are the remnants of volcanic action of the past…and the ominous signs of more to come.

The telltale signs of volcanic action

Most people start their visit well before the sun is up, in preparation for the sunrise. In a convoy of jeeps (the road is too bad for anything else, so the jeep cartel owners tell me), we head towards a nearby mountain, Mount Penanjakan. From the end of the road, it’s a twenty minute climb to the viewing area, although dozens of locals with horses will gladly accept some money for a ride up. 

Dozens of locals with horses will gladly accept some money for a ride up 

I had been warned that it would be cold at the top, but I think that must have been by Indonesian standards because, although the rays are yet to reach out across the terrain, it is far from chilly.

An early morning over Mount Bromo

Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park

As the sun rises, the clouds are the first to catch the colour. Red. Pink. Orange. Then the valley starts to glow. The shadowy outline of the mountains come into the focus and vista across the whole area is suddenly bathed in light. It is a good way to start the morning, indeed.

Bathed in the sun's early light

An hour later, down at the base of Mount Bromo itself, I am confronted with the ‘sand sea’. It was hard to get perspective from the viewpoint but now, as I am forced to quickly shield my face as a wind gust tries to blast grains into my eyes, it feels like something from Africa or the Middle East.

a wind gust tries to blast grains into my eyes, it feels like something from Africa or the Middle East

The only vegetation is up on the cliffs around the caldera, watching fearfully down at this barren landscape. These are the wastelands of East Java, the plains poisoned for eons by volcanoes, a dangerous ghetto of sulphuric solitude.

a dangerous ghetto of sulphuric solitude
Ready and willing to take you up to the top
A new friend

But again, there are horsemen here. While many visitors choose to walk the 30 minutes or so to the top of Mount Bromo, there is once more the option of going on horseback. The riders, covered up to protect themselves from the sandstorms, have an eerie and romantic ruggedness to their appearance. 

... have an eerie and romantic ruggedness to their appearance

A Hindu temple set against the grey landscape demonstrates their connection to this region.

Everyone covers up to escape the blowing sand

At the top itself, there’s only so much to do. The gases coming from the crater are quite overpowering and at times it’s a bit uncomfortable to stand at the edge and look down. Sudden bursts of strong wind blow a concoction of smoke and sand right into my face. But to look down into the volcano makes me feel a bit insignificant.

Staring into the volcano, a very surreal feeling

This is a unique part of the country. It’s more than just a volcano – it is a whole tract of land which has evolved over the millennia from the geological activity beneath it. It’s created a natural phenomenon much larger than any tour can do justice. It just feels… special… to be here.

Time Travel Turtle was a guest of the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

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