We debated whether or not we should visit the Indonesian Island of Java, but in the end we just couldn't say no! We had to tick Mount Bromo off the bucket list! However, it's safe to say that something about our visit to Mount Bromo left us feeling a bit disappointed, so read on to find out why...
Staying In Surabaya
Staying in Surabaya meant that, from Borneo, we could grab a cheap flight and be based close enough to the national park to get an organised tour that we were lucky enough to find. Tourism wasn't much of a thing in Surabaya, but we did find a really cool hotel called Tab Capsule. Our private double room only cost about £10 a night, but that isn't why it's so special... As the name suggests, our room was equipped with what can only be described as a "capsule", a futuristic space pod that's straight out of a sci-fi film! Check out this photo...
After a bit of searching online, we came across BromoTour.com, which also happened to be the cheapest out of the few tours that we found. At about 1,350,000 RP / £67 each, it was certainly a bit of a bargain for how good it was - well organised, great guides and good transport. Breakfast was included and so was almost everything else other than the entrance fee, which was 330,000 RP each.
A little before 11pm, we headed down to our hotel lobby where a tour guide was already waiting to brief us. With every word he said, he had us more and more excited! From everything about the volcanos to how we'd be exploring them! Excited was an understatement!
By 11:15pm we were on the road and ready for the two and a half hour drive to Cemoro Lawang Village. Upon arrival, we were offered tea and coffee, which was much needed because of, not only how knackered we were, but how cold we were too! Rookie mistake number one - not having a warmer jumper!
At 2:45am, it was time for us to jump into a jeep along with our guide and three other girls from Denmark. On the way to the view point, we raced up the windy mountain roads, which was a bit of a wild wake up call!
When we were unable to get the jeep through the crowds, we knew that it was time to walk the rest of the way. It was busier than anyone had expected, with a lot of people making the pilgrimage after the Hindu "Day Of Silence", but the guide insisted that he could get us a good spot!
With over an hour to go until sunrise, we joined the long line for the toilet. Rookie mistake number two - drinking a bit too much coffee! But we were quick to get back on track and did in fact find a good spot in the end! We had conquered the steepest of inclines and all that was left to do was gaze at the milky way, shining brightly against the dark mountain ridge. We had never seen it so clear before! It was magical!
The sun started to rise and the stars soon started to fade, and the incredible volcanic landscape that was in front of us was illuminated. Fog still hung amongst the trees and sat above the Sand Sea, whilst smoke bellowed from Bromo's crater and Semeru's highest peak. The fact that Semeru erupts every 45 minutes makes it one of the most active volcanos in the world, and the fact that we were there to witness it was unbelievable!
As the sun cast it's light onto the volcanos, highlighting the lava-carved textures, Alex's camera died! Rookie mistake number three - not having enough camera battery to last the morning! Luckily, we could force just enough juice from a spare that he had by warming it up in our hands!
Mount Bromo's Litter Problem
After enjoying the sunrise from the viewpoint, we stumbled down a very unsteady walkway and began the hike across the Sand Sea in awe of the otherworldly landscape. Out of the fog came a collection of jeeps and horseback gangs, cloaked in ponchos and faces covered with snoods.
As if we were searching for the safe zone in a post apocalyptic world, we continued marching up to the base of Mount Bromo. Remnants of consumed supplies (food wrappers, plastic bottle caps and much more) buried amongst the black sand beneath our feet.
We climbed the 250 steps, 2300m above sea level, to Mount Bromo's crater where the litter problem only worsened. There we stood, arguably at the lips of hell, with the smell of sulphur filling the air and fog climbing the sides of the volcanos, plastic bottles cluttering the lava trenches and plastic bags literally encased within the sand. The words on the back of our guide's t-shirt read "bring trash back" and the message couldn't have been more profound.
This was a tour that we feel lucky to have ticked off the bucket list and one that we highly recommend to everyone! The volcanos are incredible and truly impressive, but how bittersweet it was with all of the litter. It could only be taken as a warning to those willing to leave litter in a world of such beauty... Litter that will likely stay on the planet forever, posing a threat to the world's natural wonders, whilst the solution is as simple as taking responsibility for your rubbish.