Mount Bromo, as we see it (Part 2-Up close & personal with the active volcano!)

Written by @Lan & edited by @joehairie
(Photos by curiostraveller.com team members)

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“Volcanoes are one way Earth gives birth to itself.”-Robert Gross

After that excitement at Penanjakan View Point (Link to Part 1), our curiosity towards Mount Bromo got bigger and we felt that it’s a must to be closer to the active volcano, seeing it from the edge! It’s an up close and personal adventure, a ‘meet-up’ with the nature that was planned almost a year ago. With some help from various organizations, we’re finally here! Getting here from Penanjakan View Point using the Jeep, maneuvered by Wes, took us about 40 minutes. It was a bit packed road with so many Jeeps, people and motorbikes (Ojek), slowing us down. Deep inside we felt like we want to be near to Bromo soonest possible before more people come. To get to the edge of Mount Bromo, riding a horse or walking and conquering the 250 steps on foot are mandatory!

Tengger Caldera

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Tengger Sand Sea

And then we found ourselves inside that famous Tengger Caldera. According to Wikipedia, it is the only conservation area in Indonesia that has a sand sea. Tengger Sand Sea (Laut Pasir Tengger), across which is the caldera of an ancient volcano (Tengger) from which four new volcanic cones have emerged. This unique feature covers a total area of 5,250 hectares at an altitude of about 2,100 m. The massif also contains the highest mountain in Java, Mount Semeru standing at 3,676 m, four lakes and 50 rivers.

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Green Mount Batok (Background)

There are five volcanoes inside the Tengger Caldera: Mount Bromo (2,329 m), Mount Batok (2,470 m), Mount Kursi (2,581 m), Mount Watangan (2,661 m), and Mount Widodaren (2,650 m). Mount Batok is the only peak that is no longer active, and is covered in casuarina (cemara) trees. Mount Widodaren, located beside Mount Batok, contains the cave Widodaren, which is considered sacred by local people. The five volcanoes within the caldera are surrounded by a vast area of sand called the Tengger Sand Sea, which in turn is surrounded by a steep crater wall of the larger Tengger Caldera with height differences of about 200–600 meters.

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Further up is Penanjakan (Where we were earlier), viewed from Mount Bromo. 

Other mountains around the Tengger caldera are: Mount Pananjakan (2,770 m) Mount Cemorolawang (2,227 m), Mount Lingker (2,278 m), Mount Pundak Lembu (2,635 m), Mount Jantur (2,705 m), Mount Ider-ider (2,527 m) and Mount Mungal (2,480 m). The peak of Mount Pananjakan is the most popular place to watch the entire volcanic complex of Tengger. The area in and around the park is inhabited by the Tengger people, one of the few significant Hindu communities remaining on the island of Java. The local religion is a remnant from the Majapahit era and therefore quite similar to that on Bali but with even more animist elements. The Tengger people are believed to be descendents of the Majapahit empire and were driven into the hills after mass arrival in the area of Muslim Madurese in the 19th century.

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Beauty and the beast, we named it!

The eerie landscape has spurned countless legends and myths. Mt Bromo has particular significance for the Tengger people who believe that this was the site where a brave prince sacrificed his life for his family. The people here appease the Gods once a year during the annual Kasada festival where offerings of vegetables, chickens and money are thrown into the crater of the volcano (www.indonesia.travel)

The Jump & The ‘Jeep’ Pose

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If you are on a tour with any Jeep, the driver will surely take you to a sandy place where you and your friends get to do the jump and the pose. The background of the photos that we took were quite amazing and some say it’s studio background! My Chief Editor did a jump and the outcome (photo) was truly amazing! We were then persuaded by our driver/guide (Wes) to pose ‘on the jeep’, an opportunity that we took without any hesitation. We saw some of our friends photos previously and we definitely want to have some great photos as well!

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Wes helped us in taking photos while we were seated on the Jeep. He certainly knows how to handle the equipment perhaps he is so used to helping other visitors in taking great shots. Some of our friends told us that this particular photo was taken in the studio!

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The Chief Editor of curiostraveller.com, @joehairie updating his Instagram post!

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…..I want to have my pic taken too! Nice Jeep by the way.

The Horse Ride

Our driver took us to the base, where visitors starts their ‘journey’ up to Mount Bromo. At this base, visitors have 2 options, either going to Mount Bromo on foot or by riding on the back of the horse. Though it is a guided horse ride, if you are good in riding horse and ably to negotiate with your guide, you probably will have the chance to maneuver the horse on your own. We saw some Ojek as well but we’re not sure if that Ojek able to take visitors up to the final base (where horses and guides wait).

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During the first phase of our ride, we were guided by two men but later we managed to persuade them to let us riding the horses on our own. You need to be particular sure how to negotiate otherwise it’s a guided ride all the way. Not that fun if that happens unless you really do not know how to ‘manage’ a horse. We can’t really tell how much the cost was for the ride as it was arranged in advance by our guide, Wes. Maybe around IDR100.000 to IDR150.000. You may get lower price if you negotiate seriously. If you take a horse from the final base back to your jeep, the cost is only IDR50.000 which is relatively cheap!

It was one fun activity. Some people opted to walk, there’s nothing wrong with that but that is surely time consuming. Save some time and get yourself on that horse! Here is a short video showing how @joehairie was guided half way before he decided to ride on his own.

On our way to the final base (the 250 steps), we passed through one pretty big temple called Pura Luhur Poten. According to our readings, the temple holds a significant importance to the Tenggerese scattered across the mountain villages, such as Ngadisari, Wonokitri, Ngadas, Argosari, Ranu Prani, Ledok Ombo and Wonokerso. The temple organises the annual Yadnya Kasada ceremony which lasts for about one month. On the 14th day, the Tenggerese congregate at Pura Luhur Poten to ask for blessings from Ida Sang Hyang Widi Wasa and the God of Mahameru (Mount Semeru).

Then the crowd proceeds along the crater edges of Mt Bromo where offerings are thrown into the crater. The major difference between this temple and Balinese ones are the type of stones and building materials. Pura Luhur Poten uses natural black stones from volcanoes nearby, while Balinese temples are mostly made from red bricks. Inside this pura, there are several buildings and enclosures aligned in a mandala zone composition.

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Pura Luhur Poten

On the fourteenth day of the Hindu festival of Yadnya Kasada, the Tenggerese people of Probolinggo, East Java, travel up the mountain in order to make offerings of fruit, rice, vegetables, flowers and sacrifices of livestock to the mountain gods by throwing them into the caldera of the volcano. The origin of the ritual lies in the 15th century legend where a princess named Roro Anteng started the principality of Tengger with her husband, Joko Seger. The couple were childless and therefore beseech the assistance of the mountain gods.

The gods granted them 24 children but stipulated that the 25th child, named Kesuma, must be thrown into the volcano as a human sacrifice. The gods’ request was implemented. The tradition of throwing sacrifices into the volcano to appease these ancient deities continues today and is called the Yadnya Kasada ceremony. Though fraught with danger, some locals risk climbing down into the crater in an attempt to recollect the sacrificed goods that they believe could bring them good luck.

The 250 steps

Upon reaching the final base, your guide will give you a small paper indicating his name so that you know which horse to go to after descending from top of Mount Bromo. One will need to walk a little bit to reach the 250 steps that lead to the top of Mount Bromo. Depending on your luck, the queue going up and down might be a bit slower as some people really can’t go up on faster pace. Patient is the key here, take time, one step at a time and be considerate to the elders. There are some vendors selling drinks and light snacks but there is no toilet or anything similar to that in this area, so be prepared!

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The 250 steps! 

There are 2 sides, one for going up and the other one is for people to descend. However, some adventurous visitors will simply ‘create’ a third lane by pushing themselves climbing the vertical sandy surface. At times, you may get to see people running down on  ‘another lane’, fun but a bit dangerous. If you want to avoid the crowd, visit this place near to noon where most visitors are at their respective hotels already.

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Some stick to the normal path/steps while some were a bit ‘adventurous’. 

Though it is not cold up here (well, a little bit), it is advisable to wear something that ably to cover your hair, face and especially eyes. There are sand floating all over and eventually it will make you a little uncomfortable. Bring a scarf, sunglasses or anything that will protect you from that flying sand (from the volcano).  Don’t look up too much otherwise your face will get sandy!

On the Top of Mount Bromo

Words cannot describe exactly the beauty of this place as well as the excitement, fear and curiosity. Here is a short video that we recorded while we’re on the edge of Mount Bromo. Beautiful but terrifying as well! Don’t stay too long here or you will have problems later with all the sand in the air that will be dropping gradually all over you. Mind your steps, watch where you are going and be considerate to other visitors. During peak time, it might be hard to move around so use common sense.

Photo below shows the crater of Mount Bromo. No one wish to be inside that crater so be careful with your steps. It’s generally safe on the top/edge but still play it safe when maneuvering and balancing your steps.

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Visitors are of course happy to be able to be nearer to the edge as the view is breathtaking!

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The brave Monk we must say, confidently balancing his way to the other side as the path is quite narrow. To his left is quite a steep fall as shown in the photo below. If you are bringing young children, do pay attention to them!

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There is another small worship area that is sacred for the Hindus, as shown in the photo below. Please respect the sacred site and most importantly don’t be too over excited when exploring the area. Again stay safe while enjoying the magnificent view of Mount Bromo.

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While we do keep repeating about taking care of your own safety, we didn’t mean to say that this place is dangerous. It is worth visiting for its amazing view, we’re just suggesting that you use common sense while being here. Respect the culture and be nice to everyone.

Next Entry-Part 3

(Savannah Bromo/Bukit Teletubis)

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Savannah Bromo

In the next entry, we will be revealing our experience at the Savannah which is located just next to Mount Bromo. This place is uniquely different from what you see on Mount Bromo, it’s one big green area near a mountainous wall of the caldera that features some beautiful rolling hills with a lot of vegetation (mostly grass). This place  sometimes nicknamed as Bukit Teletubbies, named after their similar characteristics or resemblance to the neat green hills appearing in the famous television show The Teletubbies.

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Teletubbies?

The Gallery

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Horseman
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Ready for a ride?
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The Horse bestie…
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Beautiful Mount Batok
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