Mt. Bromo is one of the more accessible volcanoes in Jakarta and thus it receives a somewhat annoying amount of tourists. Like everyone else I showed up around 4 in the morning to wait for the sunrise over the mountain range. It was like every other sunrise I’ve waited for at some tourist attraction. Beautiful but crowded, cramp, and since I always manage to get to the very front, slightly scary cause someone could push you A) off the fence you’re dangerously balancing on, B) into the lake you’re standing on the edge of, or C) into the bush.
Tourist obligatory sunrise done with, my driver and I weaved through the long line of Jeeps on his motorcycle down the slope. The summit of Mt. Bromo is sprinkled with locals and their horses who offer rides up the swaggering slope. I didn’t even consider them because I’m pretty sure the horses would much rather do anything but carry overweight tourists up a definitely manageable trek by foot. I thought one of the horses was gonna collapse under this very round guy I saw. Shame on you, sir.
About half way up, I came upon a gate and an incredible amount of steep stairs. I stopped near the top to take a picture, but really I wanted to catch my breath. I don’t think I fooled anyone. Once I could manage deep breaths, the poignant smell of sulfur led me up the remaining stairs. At the top, a fence about 400 meters long stood between me and the smoking pit.
Beyond the length of the fence was a trail that eventually lead up a hill. It was wide and sandy. At the top, the tourists began to thin. From this point on, sharp rocks replaced the sand and the wide foot path narrowed. I was unsure whether or not it would even continue but I saw two local people keep on ahead. I waited for a few minutes. I had to make a decision. The path around the crater looked steep in some parts. I was tired. I didn’t see any other tourists heading this way. I thought about turning back, but I didn’t travel all the way here from Solo without a proper sleep or shower for 36 hours just to turn around now. Go back to your AC VIP buses, I’m gonna do this shit.
The terrain got harsher and I had to climb up rocks. The path had a sharp crust that looked like it was made from magma. What would I do if this thing exploded right now? There was no smooth sand leading away from the crater anymore. Everything in sight below me looked like more mountains and forest. About half way through, without any major falls, I stopped where the volcano crater connected to a mountain range. I plopped down and ate breakfast. The two guys in front had decided to do the same a few meters away.
As we ate and caught our breath, I noticed another group even further ahead. They climbed down the side of the volcano into a valley that looked like it could have been a lagoon at some point. Vegetation only began to grow through half of it. Where are they going? At the other end of the valley they stopped. The two men in front of me followed them. What is over there? It’s probably something awesome that no one knows about. Ugh, am I really gonna go all the way down there… I knew if I didn’t go, I would wonder about it for the rest of my life.
To be continued…