Mt. Bromo volcano in East Java is the active cone inside the giant Tengger caldera, one of Indonesia's most scenic locations destination in East Java, famous for its magnificient sunrise views and the panorama over the caldera with Semeru volcano in the background. Due to recent eruptions (December 2015 and February 2016) the crater acces of Bromo was limited and just recently (a couple of weeks ago) opend again for tourist. Good news for us!
The Kawah Ijen Volcano is less familiar than Bromo, but is definitely worth a visit and is completely different then Bromo. In the crater of Ijen, is a 1 kilometer wide turquoise lake. What a lot of people don’t know, is that you can also see the mysterious blue fire within the crater. This blue fire, best described as a huge gas pit, can only be seen at night and therefor is not seen by a lot of visitors. The tour is getting more populair nowadays but is not completely without risk. There is a story about a Frenchman who died during his visit..
We arranged a tourpackage from Yogya for 600.000 Rupiah p.p., this was including transport to Bromo and accommodation, transport from Bromo to Ijen including accommodation and drop off at the Harbor from where the ferry leaves to Bali.
The tour involves a lot of waking up early and spending lots of hours in busses but it is worth it!
What to do? See the spectacular sunrise at Mount Bromo for example! This moon landscape scenery is one of the best views you can see at Java. And can only be matched in dreams or sci-fi movies.
We got up at 2.45 am and got picked up by a jeep which brought us to viewpoint 1. Driving trough the mist we feared for the worst, would there be a clear view to see the sunrise? Arriving at viewpoint 1, we didn’t know what to expect, but we did not expect a big platform with loads of people.. Luckily we were able to find a good spot from where we waited till we could see in the darkness. And yes we got lucky, what a nice and clear landscape was unfolding for us. Great!
If you don’t want to book a tour, and don’t want to be standing with lots of other people, going to viewpoint 2 is a good option. While we where standing on the platform with lots of other people, only a few people were standing at viewpoint 2 and their view wasn’t that much different from ours. So if you don’t mind walking upwards and want to safe some money, this can be a good option. We even heard that if you go to Bromo afterwards, you don’t have to pay the 220.000 Rupiah entrance fee, but this could have been the luck of the travelers we spoke to. It is best however to stay at hotel Lava View which is a bit more expensive but it saves you quite some time, and distance, walking up to the viewpoint and you are closer to Bromo.
After the sunrise we got back in to the jeep en continued our trip to the puffing Bromo itself. And how impressive was that!? Walking up through the black sea of sand in the mist, not seeing that much in front of you. Horses with their owners combined with this surreal landscape we truly felt as walking on a filmset. Because of the mist you don’t really see how far you have to walk so that can be a good thing because the walk isn’t that easy. You can take a horse to the bottom of the volcano (50.000 Rupiah) but we have mixed feelings about that. Not al the horses looked like they were well taken care of en there was no water around for them to drink. We saw them having a hard time walking upwards through the loose sand with a fat tourist sitting on top of them.. And it felt quite good to get some exercise and get a bit warm after getting cold from waiting for the sunrise.
After climbing the stone chairs at the volcano, you get treated with an awesome, really impressive view: an active volcano that is spitting his smoke and making sounds that are a bit intimidating. It feels like it rains a bit but it is black ash falling down. Looking around all you see are black dunes. And looking in to the volcano you see big clouds rising up from the put. You ask yourself what would happen if the volcano started spitting lava and that is quite scary.
At about 9 am we left Bromo, drove back to our hotel, took a quick shower to wash al the black ash of, had breakfast en got picked up from the hotel to continue our travel to the Ijen crater. This trip was a bit shorter, and after 6 hours we arrived at our guesthouse. Knowing that the alarm clock was going even earlier this morning, and being tired from getting up early, we went to bed right after diner, about 8 pm.
Waking up in the middle of the night (at 1 pm.) was difficult but we hoped it was worth it. The pictures we saw of the blue fire were really impressive and we wanted to see that with our own eyes. This part of the trip is not included in the tour so you have to pay 150.000 Rupiah extra p.p. to see the blue fire, the same for the entrance fee of 150.000 Rupiah p.p.
A Duth girl we met earlier told us she walked up with about 10 people so we expected it to a bit like that, because we only went a week later. Well, maybe we didn’t understand her right, or it was way, way, way busier because of the easter weekend, but we walked up with more than 10 people, a lot more. Again, you have no idea how far you have to walk and it is quite tough as well because some parts are quite steep and you hope that after every corner you see a flat part to give your legs some rest, but unfortunately there aren’t a lot of flat parts… After walking up for about 1 hour you arrive at the top of the Ijen crater and you start your climb down into the crater. But, before you do, you have to struggle through all the people wanting to rent you a gas mask (50.000 Rupiah). Do you need it? We rented one and used one scarf and the scarf was doing it’s work. But the other people of our group, who walked up later than we did from the crater, had to use it because the smoke was getting quite thick.
Going down was a really nice sight because you see a string of people, some with flashlights, coming down the crater. And then the blue fire we came to see and expected to be awesome… We didn’t really see that much.. We saw some blue flames coming out of the smoke now and then but we weren’t really that impressed. The same for the mineworkers. We had a different image of them. And they have some extra business on the side selling them statues made out of sulfur to the tourists. Our guide told us to wait for the sunrise in the crater to see the blue lake by daylight, but we wanted to go up and see the sunrise from the top. Which was nice but you don’t see it above the lake but on the other side of the hill. Unfortunately the smoke of the crater (or was it mist?) blocked the view from the top over the blue lake so that was less beautiful than we saw on the pictures but we are still happy we went here. It is worth waking up in the middle of the night and spending some extra money. Especially because we knew we were going to Bali afterwards and have plenty of time to recover from these days!
After walking the long way down and driving for about 3 hours, we got dropped of at the harbor. There it started to be a bit confusing… Another bus was waiting for us and without really telling us anything, we had to get in. They told us the bus would go to Den Pasar (Bali) and that we had to pay 100.000 Rupiah p.p. We got in because the other people from our group did, but regretted it later on. The bus was almost full, no aircon and really hot and sweaty. And it took forever to get on the boat with the bus. It probably would have been much easier, and a bit cheaper, to get on the ferry by ourselves (tickets are about 7.000 Rupiah p.p.) and get on a bus arriving in Bali. The good thing about getting on this bus beforehand, was that we didn’t have to figure anything out arriving in Bali because we could just get in and continue our trip.
After another 4 hours of sweating and not really being able to sleep, we finally arrived at our end stop. Which wasn’t Den Pasar as we were told but 15 km. away from Den Pasar. Because we didn’t have a plan where to go in Bali, we got in a cab with 2 others to share the cost and we ended up in Ubud where we will take some time to rest and do nothing!