Landscapes from another world

Trip Start May 20, 2010
Trip End Sep 05, 2011

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Where I stayed
Cafe Lava

Flag of Indonesia  , East Java,
Saturday, September 4, 2010


Day : 112
Temperature :  24 degrees
Weather : Sunny mornings, cloudy afternoons and freezing night times!

We came in search of volcanoes, and boy did we get them! We can safely say, that neither Kevin nor I have been anywhere in our lives with landscapes like this……

Our journey here was long, 3 days to be precise. We could have come here quicker but it seems we would have had to pay a lot more, and since we have time before the end of Ramadan, there was no need to hurry. We left Yogya on the afternoon train and arrived in the city of Surabaya that evening. We checked into a bland but functional hotel for the night.  The following day our train was in the afternoon, and what a surprise when we arrived in Probolinggo we discovered that we had missed the last public minibus to our final destination of Cemoro Lawang. Our choices were either to go on two of the many motorbikes with all of our luggage, hire private taxi which would no doubt cost a fortune, or spend the night in Probolinggo and go the following day. We chose the latter option.  The next morning we set off early for the local bus station, and after plenty of waiting around and negotiation we caught a minibus up to Cemoro Lawang on the rim of the crater.

From the flat planes of rural Java rise up several mountains, some 2,500m in altitude.  At the top of these mountains is the large, ancient Tengger caldera, 13 km in diameter, formed many years ago by previous volcanic eruptions.  In the middle of this flat, sandy bottomed crater several "new" volcanic cones have emerged over time, one of these being Mount Bromo, belching out steam and sulphur more or less continuously. In the distance Mount Semeru, one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, soars into the sky at over 3,500m. The sleepy village of Cemoro Lawang is situated at the top of the mountains on the rim of the large caldera. Prices are ridiculously inflated, and rooms are not good value for money…but I guess tourists will put up with these problems to see some of the most incredible scenery in the world.

It’s hard to describe the surreal, otherworldy beauty of this lunar landscape.  We’d read that Mount Bromo and its neighbouring volcanoes look best early in the morning at sunrise…and this is when the mobs of tourists arrive. Since we’d arrived at around mid-day we decided to take a walk that afternoon into the caldera, across the sea of sands, and up to the rim of Mount Bromo. As we headed across the sand we reflected on how lucky we were to be there on our own….not a single other tourist was there. It was incredibly peaceful. Only the noise of the gentle breeze could be heard as the odd dust tornado spiralled its way across the crater floor eventually disappearing.  Here we were, just the two of us, and only a single local man on horseback could be seen riding in the distance with a trail of dust blowing behind him.

The following morning we rose at the crazy hour of 3.30am. It struck us that we would not be the only tourists to see Bromo that morning when dozens and dozens of 4 by 4 jeeps arrived in Cemoro Lawang. We paid 85,000 Rupia each ( 10 US $ )for the sunrise trip to the view point on the top of Mount Penanjakan at nearly 2,800m altitude. We sat shivering in our jeep as it set off in convoy with many other jeeps down into the caldera in the pitch black. After crossing the crater floor we had a bone shaking climb over terribly potholed roads up the mountain on the other side. We arrived at the viewpoint at 4.45am, along with around 50 other jeeps, dozens of motorbikes, umpteen local sellers, and around 300 hundred other tourists!!!! This was crazy and quite alarming to us…we’ve had Indonesia almost to ourselves for a whole month!! How dare all these people be here!! But considering the beauty that was about to unfold before us, it’s incredible that there aren’t even more tourists.

We squeezed our way through the crowd and lucky managed to find a prime spot on the barrier at the edge of the cliff. As the sky turned from midnight blue to pink and flaming orange, Bromo came into view, emerging from a sea of ghostly white mist which had settled on the crater floor.  The silhouette of Semeru contrasted against the ever changing colours of the sky, and the hundreds of tourists crammed forwards, eager to capture precious images, as they “ooh’d” and “aaah’d” at the ethereal landscape which lay before them.

What incredible memories of Mount Bromo we take with us!

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Monique on

Stunning pictures as usual! Well done you two.

Johan on

Beautiful shots! That was worth getting up early for. Amazing! Good to see you're doing fine. We'll be in Bali with friends this Friday until Monday. How about you?

Nomadic-brands on

Thanks for the nice comments guys!
Johan - we are also in Bali as it happens. We are in Ubud right now, but leave on Sunday for Sulawesi. Where are you?

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