It was with a mixture of nerves and excitement that we got into a jeep at one in the morning to be driven in complete darkness up a mountain.
The journey to Mount Bromo from Malang in Java, Indonesia took around two and a half hours. A check point is in place before you reach the main viewing point to make sure you buy your admission ticket to the national park. As we waited for our driver to sort out the tickets, we were approached from all angles by villagers selling hats, scarves, gloves and blankets.
Forewarned about the low temperatures at the top of the mountain, I had taken a hoodie and a walking jacket and used a thin cotton scarf around my neck to retain some heat, but I could still feel the freezing air infiltrating the layers. The viewing area itself was pretty busy, but we got a great spot, so we stayed where we were. There were some alternative places available further up the track and the area quickly filled with tourists aiming their fancy cameras at the smoking volcano.
While we waited for the sun to rise, we were treated to a spectacular view of the milky way, something I had never seen before. It was quite breath taking. The volcano itself looked amazing, emitting white smoke into the blue and pink sky. As the sun rose, more and more of the landscape came into view and the sky was a riot of colours. By then we had been outside for about an hour, so we were ready to get back into the jeep and warm up.
We were driven in convoy to the foot of the volcano where we were given some breakfast (bread and jam, a boiled egg, a banana and water). The area is barren and covered in soft grey sand, just how you might picture a lunar landscape.
Our next stop was the crater itself. There were plenty of touts wanting to sell us horse rides to the top, and plenty of people taking them up on the offer, but we persevered on foot. It was very dusty and getting hot, and to be honest, the view half way up was better than at the top. We walked around 1km and up 150 steps to look into the mouth of the volcano, which made a loud rumbling sound as it belched out sulphurous fumes that smelt of rotten eggs.
Our next stop was the ‘sea of sand’, a large expanse of black sand from the volcano, completely lifeless. It really was the epitome of the middle of nowhere apart from the brightly coloured jeeps driving around it. The ‘Teletubbies’ hill was next – basically just a green hill shaped like the landscape in the popular children’s television programme. Nothing exciting, particularly compared to our home in Yorkshire! We did however stop for photos at a spot which had fantastic vistas of the surrounding lush and verdant hills being cultivated to grow vegetables. The contrast between the two sides of the volcano as the sun started to make its presence felt was quite remarkable.
The journey back took us via a waterfall that wasn’t included in the tour but one of the guests wanted to see it. It was a relatively easy walk down several flights of steps, but arduous on the way back due to the rising heat. The waterfall itself was very pretty and the mist rising from it very refreshing, but it probably wasn’t worth the long hike to see it. We arrived back at around 11am ready for a shower and a nap!