Hiking Mt Bromo & Ijen

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Mount Bromo

So Kim and I decided to go on a New Years trip on a whim. Our supposedly chill trip to Vietnam became one helluva Volcanic adventure up in the mountains in Indonesia. Hiking Mt Bromo and Ijen has been on my bucket list for the longest time and I was so glad that we finally did this! 

Mt Bromo is the most iconoc and most hiked mountain in Indonesia, it stands tall at 2329m and it is still one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It sits inside the massive Tengger caldera, surrounded by the Sea of Sand (Laut Pasir) of fine volcanic sand. Myth has it that Mt Bromo is significant to the Tengger people who believe that the very site is where their brave prince sacrificed his life for his family. So to appease the Gods, the people will offer offerings by throwing it into the crater of the volcano once a year during the Kesodo Festival (August is the month of the Kesodo Festival for the Tennger people if you're interested to experience it). 

Mt Bromo is situated inside Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, beside Mt Semeru at East Java, Indonesia. 

Why you must go

How often is it you get to be in awe in nature's best combination of BEAUTY and DANGER. It is hard to put your head around it but to experience being on an active volcano can be foreboding and desolate yet so incredibly beautiful. The view is so out of this world?! 

What to do

Obviously catch the stunning sunrise over Mount Bromo...

We did it differently from the usual itinerary most travel guides would offer. So we hiked up to Bukit King Kong instead of Mt Penanjakan. It takes about 1-2 hours hike to the vantage point. Depending on your fitness level, you will have to plan properly on the time you want to start your hike. The sun rises at 5.30am. Be sure to adjust your watch to the local time! I was the time keeper for the hike and silly me...I forgot to adjust the time and we thought we were behind time! 

After the sunrise, we took the dirt bikes down and across the 3km Sea of Sand to the base of Mt Bromo. The trek up to the summit of the Caldera takes about 30mins to 1hr depending on your fitness level. The view from the top was very spectacular you'd feel like you're in another world! 

Tip: Please bring a jacket, gloves or beanie to keep yourself warm, It can get very chilly up there! 

Getting there

Fly into Juanda International Airport at Surabaya. There are direct flights from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Bali. The distance from Surabaya Airport to Mt Bromo National Park is about 70km and it takes around 4-5hours (with heavy traffic). 

Kim and I booked our Mt Bromo and Ijen tour with Arya from Java Transport. They're very helpful with the planning of our itinerary for Mt Bromo and Ijen. We spent 3 Million Indonesian Rupiah all inclusive of transport and accommodation. I personally think that the price is just right compared to the other tour companies I had contacted. 

Where to go nearby

There's no where else you could go but to continue your journey to Mt Ijen, which is 6hrs drive from Mt Bromo. 

Desolate beauty: Rugged, barren volcanic peaks, gravel plains and sea of sand. Truly unworldly!

That magical feeling when you're awarded with such breathtaking sunrise after an arduous hike in the dark. 

Riding the dirt bike on this unearthly moonscape to the middle of the plain. Hands down one of the best experiences ever! I'm so in awe of this vast sea of sand and this magnificent volcanic mountain! 

At the foot of the active Volcano Bromo lies the Hindu Temple Pura Luhur Proten.. which is often immersed in a soft mist at dusk.

Mount Ijen

We barely had enough sleep or rest before we started our Mt Ijen ascent at 12midnight. We trekked beneath the narrow ribbon of sparking stars that twine around the crest of the gorge, took a lot of pauses to catch my breath.. Three hours later, we made it to the giant crater; its mouth sporadically belching plumes of toxic sulfur. What makes Mt Ijen special is the blue fire. It is phenomenal. You'd see how it seduces curious tourists, they hurry down to the caldera just to see the nature's magic before the fleeting moment fades away. 

You'd also see miners going about with their job, so please make way for them if they are passing through. The entrance to Ijen Volcano trial opens at 3am. So if you plan to see the blue fire, I suggest starting the climb at 12midnight to ensure you have enough time to reach the rim. It will take roughly 2 hours to climb the rim and another hour to go down the crater for the blue fire. The blue flame fades once daylight appears around 5am. 

  • I highly recommend hiring a guide if you wish to see the blue fire for your own security and safety. The climb down to the crate is very steep and it should not be taken lightly. 
  • Do wear a thick jacket, gloves and hiking shoes because it can get very cold. 
  • The trail to Ijen crater is dark so if you are climbing at night, wear a headlamp or bring a flashlight! 
  • If you are running out of breath, just pause for a few minutes. Pace yourself! 

Why you must go

Where else you'd find a mesmerizing electric blue fire streaming down the mountain during the night? And when the sun comes up you'd see a turquoise, tranquil, but highly toxic lake... with a spectacular sunrise that leaves you in awe with various shares of pink and purple as a backdrop. You'd find yourself enrobed in sulphur clouds, breathing into a gas mask as though you're a soldier on a mission. There's only one of this in the world so let this be the reason for you to check out Mt Ijen! I promise you you'd come back from this trip thinking that you have had a lifetime opportunity experiencing such a unique aspect of Indonesia's culture. 

The glowing blue fire is formed when the light from the combustion of sulphuring gases is in contact with air. They ignite, sending the flames up. Some of the gases condense into liquid sulphur, giving it a feeling of lava flowing. 

Rich in history, mineral resources and scenic beauty.. I climb on what seemed like a surface of a planet millions of years back in time.

At sunrise, turn your attention to Mt Ijen Crater Lake. This lake is the world's largest body of water filled with Hydrochloric Acid, the reason why it is shamrock green! 

Without a doubt, Kawah Ijen is an epitiome of nature’s surreal beauty and prowess.

It is rather amazing to see how we are dwarfed by nature.

Our Volcanic Adventures on hiking Mt Bromo and Ijen came to an end when our driver dropped us off at Juanda Airport. It was another 6 hours drive back to Surabaya from Mt Ijen. Lots of hours on being on the road, waking before 3am (sleepless nights), having to deal with altitude sickness, waking up in strange towns.. It was all very interesting and I can never forget this incredible experience! 

Kim and I stayed overnight at Ibis budget airport hotel. We treated ourselves to a a full body Javanese massage and Indonesian meal. Looking back, I cannot believe that we survived the intense hike. Hiking these two Volcanic Mountains taught me a lot of things. It taught me that if I can make it through such difficult hikes with such determination, I can pretty much deal with other hurdles that's ahead of me in life. Also, there is a saying that sometimes in life you have to climb different mountains to appreciate the scenery of the one you were on. 

We caught an early morning flight to Yogyakarta the next day. 

Till then I'll fill you guys in with more adventures on Yogyakarta on my next post! 

Fierce and Love, 

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