Travel means different things for different types of people. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you might want to consider a customized trip to the Indonesian island of Java. Here, you will get to experience the magnificence of Mount Bromo, the island's most iconic volcano that has the added allure of being currently active. Standing at 2,329 meters high, it is part of the immense Tengger massif.
Though not one of the tallest volcanoes in the massif, it is the most popular and attracts hikers and tourists from all over the world for the sublime views from its top. Bromo means Brahma, the Hindu God of Creation, and the mountain is considered sacred to the indigenous people of the area.
Mount Bromo is of significance to the Tengger people because they believe it is the site where a heroic prince sacrificed his life for his family. According to legend, the Tengger people came to live at Mount Bromo because of a beautiful woman called Roro Anteng and a giant who fell in love with her. The giant wanted to marry her and Roro Anteng—too scared to reject the giant—devised a plan to prevent the marriage by asking for a wish that would be impossible to fulfill. She asked the giant to make her a desert of sands between the mountains at night before the break of dawn. When it looked like the giant might complete his task in time, the wily Roro woke up the roosters who heralded dawn with their crowing. Frustrated, the giant threw down the coconut shell he had been using to dig next to Mount Bromo. This area became Mount Batok (coconut shell) and the sandy plain was known as the Tengger caldera. Roro then went on to fall in love with Joko Seker and together they had many children who became the people of Tengger. There are many more legends surrounding the volcano, and during the annual Kasodo festival villagers trek up the mountain to offer sacrifice by throwing chickens, fruit and money into the crater to appease the gods.
The Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park covers an enormous area of 800 square-kilometers in Eastern Java and is the largest volcanic cluster in the region. For anyone considering an Indonesian tour, a visit to the park is highly recommended if not simply to marvel at live smoking volcanoes and nature at her most unpredictable.
Mount Semeru, another volcano in the area, rises tall at 3,676 meters above sea level, complete with plumes of smoke that lay testimony to its active status. The sandy desert (or caldera) between the volcanoes has an almost lunar scape and stretches for about ten kilometers. Within this space rise the active Bromo and the dormant Batok, while green valleys and lakes extend to the south of the park.
Visitors often choose to walk to Mount Bromo from the park, and well-marked paths make it quite easy. There are also private and public vehicles to Bromo Tengger Semeru from Surabaya or Malang in East Java, or from the north west through Probolinggo, which is a very popular route especially for those traveling by bus. It is best to plan ahead to avoid chaos and confusion, though some would argue that these elements are part of the experience. However, when there is a view and sunrise involved, the perfect moment does indeed come down to planning!
The best views of Mount Bromo can be seen from the adjacent mountain of Penanjakan, and since the sunrise is spectacular, all hikes or trips by jeep are timed to catch a 5.30 am sunrise. It takes about two hours to hike up and after sunrise, serious adventure trekkers can then trek down Penanjakan, cross three kilometers of sand and then hike up to the Mount Bromo summit. Since this is still an active volcano, the trip to the crater makes for a real rush especially given that there are certain areas on the Mount that are off limits because of the danger it poses. Still, you can’t beat that adrenaline rush!