Our driver and guide picked us up in a mini jeep at 11 pm where we were cramped into the back sitting facing each other. The jeep was quite a torturous experience to travel in for extended hours especially for people with long legs. The route up the mountain was very bumpy so we were bumped up from our seats very often hitting our heads on the roof. Both the driver and guide was dressed in thick winter jackets while we were dressed in lighter winter clothes. We had checked the weather beforehand and it was suppose to be 8-10 degrees so I had on a fleece jacket with 2 layers of Uniqlo heat tech thermal wear and a fleece tights. We got a bit worried comparing what the guides had on and what we had on but we could only brave on ahead.
We arrived at the first stop for the milky way photography. To get to the vantage point for the pictures, once we alighted the jeep, we had to hike a further 5 mins up slope the hill to an area where there is less light contamination. There was loose ash and sand flying about the air and it is crucial to have a mask or bandana covering your mouth and nose or you will risk breathing in all the fine particles. When we reached the top, the guide told us the sky was very cloudy today and we probably would not get good pictures. He was right, we spent about 30 mins at the same spot and we compared pictures and saw not much stars appearing in our pictures. In comparison, he showed us his pictures from a few nights ago and there is a great difference. The picture above was greatly adjusted with light room software to retrieve some stars and colours. We decided to forgo the 2nd spot for photographs as the sky was not clearing up.
Because we forgo the 2nd spot, we arrive at the spot to view the sunrise way ahead of schedule. So our jeep parked at the nearest spot and our guide told us to get some sleep and rest before heading to the sunrise point. By then it was only past midnight almost 1 am and we had 2 hours to be cramped up in the jeep. By now the temperatures dipped and we were freezing our butts off. Luckily for the unprepared, you can buy gloves, scarfs, masks and even rent jackets from the stores all set up along the way to view the sunrise. You will also see many of these stores setting up fire stoves to warm themselves up from the chill. Me and my friend had to rent the jackets as we preferred to wait outside instead of cramping in the jeep and yet it was too cold to just wait outside with what we had. The jackets went on rent for about SGD 10.
When it was almost 3 am, load and loads of tourist came and you can see most of these tents getting filled up as all started to crowd around the fire stoves to keep warm. Many of them were also getting hot tea, coffee or even hot food to keep warm from the chill.
We also started to hike up nearer to where the vantage point for the sunrise will be and settled at one of the tents near the fire. Our guide suggested for us to follow the other group to a higher spot in the hills to get a better and more picturesque view of the sunrise with Mount Bromo. Feeling adventurous, we said yes and went ahead. Once we started the climb, we totally regretted. It was a up slope climb on un pathed mountain treks with nothing to grab or hold on to except the trees and plants at the side. The path is very narrow and there is hardly any visibility except your guide and your own torchlight. There is crazy loads of volcanic ash in the air which makes breathing slightly more difficult. We were 5 mins on the climb when we decided to give up and headed back down as some of us were feeling the strain. To be fair, if you exercised regularly, this would probably not be a tough climb at all. We only had 1 healthy person in our group while one of us was sick, 2 of us not fit at all and carrying a tripod and camera, we knew we could not make it.
Coming back down, we headed back to where the general crowd was, 2 giant platforms where you could stand and view the sunrise. The platforms were already crowded with people when we got there and there was a strong wind blowing sand and ash into our faces so having a mask here is crucial. To secure a great spot for the view, we climbed below the platform to the small path below the platform but above the rocks and waited in the cold while the sun slowly creep its way up.
Many people were crowding around with their cameras and tripods as well as phones to capture the beauty of the sky as it gets lit up by the sun. You can also see Mount Bromo from the platform with the pink blush in the sky.
This is my best sunset picture to date all thanks to the huge camera my friend loan to me.
This was taken on my trusty Samsung Note 9 and I am loving the textures in the cloud.
The surrounding areas start to get the reddish colour from the sun as it starts to get brighter and the sky gets more blue. We were snapping pictures for a good 30 mins or more before returning our jackets and heading downward to Mount Bromo itself.
Everyone was on the same tour schedule and there was a huge queue of jeeps heading down hill.
We reached the spot for photo taking where you can take pictures of the surrounding hills and the vast land which is full of volcanic ash.
Once we reached the foot of Mount Bromo, we had to alight and choose to walk or take a pony ride right up to the volcano itself.
Many of these were just tiny pony and we found it quite cruel to take the ride so we forgo the ride. By now, we were also exhausted and feeling weak so 2 of us decided not to attempt the climb while 2 of us went ahead.
The 2 of us who gave up so decided to walk across the flat land for as far as we could to see the volcano up close.
The next few pictures are courtesy of my friend who went ahead with the climb. Yes its the same friend whom had to climb the Machu Picchu mountana alone. First you have to climb up this sandy slope without any path which really wasn’t tough. Apparently, at this point, you can still take the pony ride.
The next area you will be seeing the steps where you have to climb before reaching the crater of Mount Bromo.
The steps are quite narrow and steep and according to my friend, what made it tough was not the steps or how steep the climb was but how over crowded it was. There was many times, people were pushing around and she nearly fell down the crater or even down the slope.
This is how the crater looks like and it is pretty dangerous as there is no railings to hold onto and it gets very dusty with the ash.
Here’s how it is in the video with a great amount of smoke emitting from it.
The climb back down was getting very crowded so the tip is go as early as possible after the sun rise viewing. After leaving Mount Bromo, we headed back to our hotel for breakfast and check out and proceeded with our drive to Ijen.
On our way to Bangyuwangi, we stopped by this traditional restaurant for lunch. For the full review, please see here.
We checked in to the El royale resort hotel after a 7 hours drive on the road from Mount Bromo to Bangyuwangi. We were stuck for an extra hour due to a major jam on one of the roads due to road construction. We were not moving for close to an hour so when we reached the hotel, it was pretty late. Our Ijen hike tour was suppose to start by 10 pm but we only got to the hotel around 8 plus and we had not gotten any rest or food. After weighing the pros and cons with the group and the guide, we gave up on Ijen as the guide mentioned that the Ijen hike is 3 times more tough than the one we attempted at the hill for sun rise. Looking at our condition, we knew most of us could not make it so we opted to get a proper rest at the hotel before heading back home for work the next day. Review of the hotel is here
This is what we missed for those who are interested to know. I have seen videos and pictures of it and it is a pretty rocky climb and if you ask me, I would say it is not a very difficult climb but for conditions like us where we are not too fit, this proves to be too challenging.
The next morning we headed to the Bangyuwangi airport for our domestic flight back to Surabaya.
The airport is really small but yet very clean and well kept.
Our small little propeller plane back to Surabaya and here ends our adventure in Surabaya.
My Overall thoughts on the trip is that I should have better trained and prepared for this trip instead of just heading off like this. I was definitely not fit enough for this therefore missing out on many sights. It was in regret we did not do this when we are a few more years younger so we had more energy and more of a dare devil spirit compared to now. The mask I brought was also not good as it kept flogging up my glasses and reducing my visibility ahead.
My tips for handling the sunset viewing :
- Wear a good wind breaker jacket that’s breaks the chill from the cold wind or if you are saving on luggage space, rent them at the stores.
- Wear a good thermal or internal fleece jacket that will keep the warm in
- Carry a bandana or mask to filter all the volcanic ash from entering your lungs and this is extremely crucial
- Carry a torch light or head light to see the way in the dark
- Drink enough water to stay hydrated.
- Carry heat packs if you are really afraid of the cold
- Train and practise steep slopes hiking or climbing beforehand