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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Discovering Mount Bromo




Mount Bromo is one of the most famous and most beautiful volcanoes in Indonesia. It is located in Tengger, in East Java.

Mount Bromo is one of two volcanoes that were created following a massive eruption which created an enormous caldera in which are the active Mount Bromo and the non-active Mount Batok.

The caldera has seen been filled with grey sands, and is called Laut Pasir or Sand Sea. Trekkers walk through this expanse on their way to Mount Bromo. The scenery is reminiscent of earth in its primeval age or a moonscape. This is more so when a layer of mist carpets the caldera floor.

Standing at a height of 2392 meters, Mount Bromo isn't the tallest mountain in Java. That title goes to 3676 meter tall Mount Semeru, located to the south of Mount Bromo and within sight. Also called Mahameru, meaning "great mountain", Mount Semeru is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia constantly belching steam from its peak.

An undulating plateau interrupted by valleys and lakes reaches right to the foot of Mount Semeru. They are all located within the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park.


Legend of Mount Bromo


 

There is legend related to Mount Bromo and the region of Tengger. According to this legend, there was a 15th century princess named Roro Anteng from Majapahit who started a principality with her husband Joko Seger. They named the principality Tengger, an amalgam of the last syllable of both their names.

Being childless for many years, the royal couple made a trip up Mount Bromo to seek the help of the mountain gods in granting them a child. The gods agreed to their request, telling them that they would have 25 children, but demanded that they sacrifice their final child. Together, the couple had 24 children.

When the last and final child was born, Roro Anteng refused to sacrifice it. The mountain gods sent fire and brimstone until she finally relented. After the child was thrown into the crater of the volcano, his voice was heard asking that an annual ceremony be performed to appease the gods. The ceremony was still being performed to this day. It takes place on the 14th day of the full moon Kesodo, according to the Tenggerese calendar. Rice, fruits, vegetables, flowers and livestock are offered to the mountain gods. 


Going to Mount Bromo


 

The nearest airport to Mount Bromo is Surabaya, about 3 hours away by bus. Most visitors to Mount Bromo access it from Cemoro Lawang, at the foot of the mountain. To go there from Surabaya's Juanda International Airport, take the Damri shuttle bus to the Bungurasih Bus Terminal. From there, take the Patas air-conditioned bus to Probolinggo. The journey takes about 2-3 hours.

At Probolinggo, it is another one hour to Ngadisari, a town about 6km northeast of Mount Bromo and the base camp for Mount Bromo trips.

Another base camp is Cemoro Lawang, about half an hour from Ngadisari. You can get accommodation at Ngadisari so that you start off a little after midnight for the trip to Mount Bromo.

Be sure to bring along warm clothing, and the temperature can drop to between zero and five degrees Celcius. From there, it is about half an hour to Cemoro Lawang.

The foot of Mount Bromo is a 3-km hike from Cemoro Lawang. You can hire a pony for 50,000 Rupiah or a seat in a jeep for 40,000 Rupiah to take you to Mount Bromo. Private cars are not allowed. 


What to see

 

The main sight is of course Mount Bromo. It is always bubbling, and its edges are tinged with sulphur. From Cemoro Lawang, take the path on the left fork. It leads to the Hindu temple at the foot of the mountain. From there, a steep 250-step path leads to the crater from which you can view the volcano.

Be forewarned that Mount Bromo is an active volcano. As recently as 2004, two tourists were killed when the volcano spit out molten lava, reaching as far as the Hindu temple. If the mountain appears to be acting up, stay away from it for your own safety.

Mount Batok (2440m) is a dormant volcano at the northern centre of the huge caldera. It is now growing with vegetation, mostly cemara trees that can thrive in the volcanic ash.

To the north of the caldera is Mount Penanjakan (2770m). As it has a paved road, it can be reached by jeeps and even tour buses. It is crowded with tourists at around 5:00am. If you are here at a later time, you probably get the place all to yourself.

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