Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park: Once in a Lifetime Spectacle - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park: Once in a Lifetime Spectacle

The out of the world scenery at Bromo-Tenegger-Semeru National Park

There is something about volcanoes that pulls me to it. Even right now, I cannot stop myself from following the activity of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano that has been erupting and spewing lava, smoke, ash and gases for over 2 weeks now. I find this raw, violent side of earth to be massively thrilling and to see it in real is immensely galvanizing for my soul. May be, that is why I absolutely love climbing and exploring the volcanoes of Indonesia.

The smoking Bromo and Semeru in the background, East Java, Indonesia

In case you did not know already, Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, lies on the famous ring of fire and thus is home to a stunning array of volcanoes. Some blow like clock work every few years, some keep bellowing smoke all 365 days of the year and there are some that are quiet from the outside, but there is a rumble or two in their insides from time to time. Whatever the kind of volcano and on whichever island it is located in, there is never a paucity of thrilling active volcano phenomenon when you visit them.

Shaggy sunrise near the Bromo volcano, Indonesia

And that is precisely why I adore climbing the volcanoes of Indonesia. Add to it the spectacular panoramic sunrises and vistas, the experience of negating the sea of sand, the sight of that lava river flowing down below and that of the volcano mountain smoking all day long like a hippie and you have a once in lifetime kind of spectacle.    
The wide Bromo crater that is always smoking

Out of all the volcanoes of Indonesia, the one that oozes special appeal are Mount Semeru, Mount Bromo and many others from the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park in Eastern Java. Just watching the volcanoes appear from the cloud mist during the early hours of the morning is surreal enough. To climb them is an altogether out of the world experience.

Jumping high at Bromo National Park

Mount Semeru, locally referred to as Mahameru or the great mountain is my favorite in this national park. Standing at 3, 676 metres tall, this mountain is the tallest on Java island and is one of Indonesia’s most volcanoes. If you stand at any of the view points for a long while, you will notice that this Mount Semeru blows up smoke every 20 or 30 minutes. From far away, it looks like someone is exhaling smoke, but when you get closer to the mountain, you can hear the rumble and can feel the stones being thrown in the air along with the acrid smoke.

Black Bromo and the other green volcanoes around

Mount Bromo on the other hand, offers a much superior panorama courtesy its blown up top. One can either climb up its sea of fine volcanic sand or pay to be carried on top of horses and ponies to reach the mountain top and enjoy the view of the crater that constantly belches white sulphurous smoke and that commands a stunning view of the green-brown-black tones of this national park spectacle.

Enroute to the Bromo Crater, Indonesia

This national park is named after these two active volcanoes and the Tengger people who inhabit this area. One of the few significant Hindu communities living on the island of Java, these people consider the Mahameru to be the abode of the lord. As visitors, you will come across the Tenggerese people if you stay in their village homestays and/or when you are visiting the tourist circuit of Bromo where you will see these sunburned individuals wrapped in poncho-like blankets standing next to their ponies and horses and asking you if you wish to avail their tourist guide or pony services.

These jeeps are ideal for the rough Bromo terrain

There are about three established routes to enter this national park: Probolinggo –> Ngadisari route that takes you via the Cemoro Lawang village where you can stay in a rural homestay, the Pasuran –> Tosari route and the Malang-> Tumpang route. While the Probolinggo –> Ngadisari route is the most common and the most popular, I personally prefer the offbeat route from Malang, especially if you have a 4x4 jeep. Not only does this route allow you to indulge in some off-roading, but it takes you into remote corners of this national park and gives you unique perspectives of this stunning landscape. Just remember to carry a handkerchief, scarf or bandana to protect yourself from the fine black sand that will find its way into your nostrils.

Standing on the path of the volcanic flow, Mount Bromo, Indonesia

The Bromo sunrise is possibly the most famous thing to experience here and could be the most iconic image to photograph in the entire country of Indonesia. So if you are a photographer, do not miss out on this iconic spectacle.  Climbing Mount Semeru is possibly the most enriching experience, but this requires a strenuous trek, a lot of planning and many permits to be taken along with availing the services of a knowledgeable local guide who understands the volcano behavior well. And good solid gear as well to protect you from the volcanic elements (masks, cold weather jacket, boots, etc.).

The sea of sand and the iconic Land Cruiser near Mount Bromo, Indonesia

The Mount Semeru trek is the way to go if you have a lot of time at hand. For those who wish to experience this national park on a limited timeframe, I would recommend the Bromo viewpoint, Bromo crater climb and the Poten Hindu temple, Mount Penanjakan viewpoint, Madakaripura waterfall, Mount Batok and a stay at Cemoro Lawang for a true local experience.

Mount Sumeru and Mount Bromo, East Java, Indonesia

For those who wish for a luxurious stay, but don’t mind the bumpy commute, Malang and Surabaya are two different options. My personal favorite is the cultural gem of Malang that is known for its cool weather, delicious food and laidback lifestyle. And plus, it allows you go on a 4x4 off-road adventure.

Bromo crater and its volcanic lake, Indonesia

View of smoking volcanoes, the acrid smell of sulphur, the periodic rumble you feel when you walk, hospitable locals, a remote landscape that has a myriad shades of green, brown and grey, the joy of continuously slipping in the sea of sand and stunning panoramas, the volcanoes of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park are bound to stupefy and thrill you to the core. Such places are rare and hence offer you once in a lifetime kinda experience. Don’t miss it on your next holiday to Bali or Indonesia.

Admiring the terrain of Bromo volcano, Indonesia

Note of Caution:
This thrilling place is full of dangers, especially during explosions. Hence, do ensure that you look up the volcano explosion activity or other possible dangers before you plan a trip here. And carry with you a mask or some kind of protection for your nose and mouth in case you are prone to any breathing difficulties. And remember to carry proper winter clothing as temperatures usually drop below zero here especially in the night and the pre sunrise hours. For photographers, wear hunter gloves to help you press the shutter in the freezing temperature.

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