Another long and tiring journey later and we arrived into the town of Probolinggo. This is the town from which we would catch onward transport to the village from where we would climb Mt Bromo. Although we decided to overnight in Probolinggo as the three of us were very sleepy after being up for 20 hours climbing Mt Ijen and sitting on an uncomfortable bus. There isn’t a great deal to report about the town apart from we seemed to be the only Western people overnighting there judging by the stares off the locals. It also gave us our first taste of the Indonesian dish murtabak which is a heavily deep fried omelette wrapped up in a heavily deep fried roti. Heart attacks at the ready we headed to bed.
The next morning we made a quick trip to the train station to secure ourselves onward tickets for after the trek, unfortunately the train is a much more popular mode of transport than the bus and it had already sold out. So we reluctantly booked an overnight minivan journey instead, something none of us were looking forward to. Anyway first things first we headed up to the small village by Mt Bromo and on the way met Sohan our first Indian travel companion who would join myself, Chris and Remi for the trek. After looking around the village for the cheapest place to rest our heads we decided that instead of waiting till the morning we would climb to Mt Bromo that afternoon to be at the top for sunset. In order to avoid the hefty entrance fee we snuck behind a hotel and climbed (literally) down the grass verge behind it In order to get to the plateau. The first glimpse we saw of Mt Bromo and the surrounding scenery made us all stop and a simultaneous “whoa” echoed around the group. For anyone who has seen the new Mad Max movie it’s probably easiest to describe it as we’d just stumbled across the set or for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie it’s like we’d just arrived on Mars or the Moon or somewhere equally impressive. Infront of us steaming away was the squat grey caldera of Mt Bromo, to the right was a perfectly formed cone shaped volcano coated in greenery and at the base of these volcanoes was a flat plateau covered in a thick layer of ash. It’s hard to describe the scene and portray just how spectacular it was but the best was yet to come.
After making it down possibly the stupidest route from the town to the plateau we made our way towards Mt Bromo, it was like walking through a desert due to the ash we were walking on but thankfully the whole walk was very flat. Once we approached the volcano it was a short walk up the side of it to the crater rim. A few steps away from the top and I started to hear a roar, a few steps more and I was stood on the crater rim looking down into the centre of Mt Bromos crater. From the crater rim the sides fall steeply into the centre from which there is a tunnel-like drop into the unknown, from here there is a huge cloud steaming up into the air and a noise I can only relate to that of an airplane coming from within. In my imagination there was a huge pool of lava bubbling away down there like water in a kettle boiling and that’s what the noise was. Personally, it was the most impressive sight of the trip so far. The sulphurous smell was back with a vengeance and we wanted to make most of the journey back to town before dark so unfortunately we didn’t stay for too long. We decided to go the official way back to town instead of trying our hand at cliff climbing in the dark and this gave us the chance to watch the stars appear as we crossed the plateau. Once back in town we got some warm food and headed for an early night.
The next morning at 3am we congregated and started the walk up to the view point from which we would watch sunrise around the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park. We had been informed that the walk would take 2 hours but we could get a jeep up if we wished, of course we chose not to and the walk only ended up taking us 50minutes. Heaven only knows why someone would pay for a jeep, it only takes you half way as well! We had a little while to wait at the viewpoint before the sun started to rise so we huddled together and drank coffee to keep us awake and warm. From the distance we could see the glow of headlamps heading toward the summit of Mt Semeru, a feeling we’re all to aware of and we’re glad we were not doing at that moment in time. One year after purchasing our camera Chris managed to find the right setting at which to capture the stars which was a nice treat and passed the time. The sunrise was beautiful and illuminated Mt Ruang far away in the distance still churning out its big grey ash cloud. The view over Mt Bromo and Mt Semeru as light hit was amazing, a misty cloud formed around the volcanoes giving an eery effect and every so often Semeru would pump out a tiny little cloud from its crater. We stayed long enough to see the sunlight catch Mt Bromo and then began our walk back to town.
A few more hours sleep, a big breakfast and an hours wait later we managed to flag down a minivan heading back to Probolinggo. Once back in town we had a long wait at the bus station before getting our overnight minivan with our two friends to our next Javanese destination of Jogjakarta.