Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Easiest Mountain I've Ever Climbed

Mt. Bromo:  hands down, the easiest mountain I've ever climbed.

Dave and I were planning our next move, and we realized that booking a package tour from Yogyakarta to Denpasar in Bali, with a stop in Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, would be nearly as cheap as going independently.  Sigh.  So, we joined the tourist herd for 48 hours.  In retrospect, even though the mini-bus was cramped and the air-conditioning didn't work and the whole shebang was incredibly disorganized, it was probably better than the multiply public transport buses, mini-buses, and bemos we'd have to take.

We got up at 3:30 a.m. to catch a jeep up Mt. Penanjakan to see the sun rise from the north of the volcanoes.  The sunrise wasn't anything amazing, but holy guacamole, those are some pretty pretty mountains!!!

almost like looking at a painting

We piled back in the jeep and headed down into the "Sea of Sands," the inside of the massive crater from which rise the three volcanoes in the foreground above (Semeru, the tall mountain in the back, is outside the crater, to the south).

So, this is how I climbed the easiest mountain ever.  The jeep drops you off about 1-2 km from the mountain itself.  You walk across the sand, avoid the local Tengger people selling bottled water and horserides at the base of the mountain, then climb 253 steps to the top.  Yeah, there's a staircase.  But the crater at the top is pretty sweet!

holy smokes...  literally!

Here are the rest of the pictures from the day:

Here's what I'd do differently, if I visit again:

Book transport from Yogyakarta to Bromo and Bromo to Denpasar through a travel agent, but book my own accommodation and skip the jeep.  Accommodation is cheap and plentiful.  Our travel agent put us in a place that was 20 minute away from Cemoro Lawang, the closest village to the mountains.  Try to stay as close to the mountains as possible, because...

...I'd leave in the middle of the night to walk up Penanjakan.  It's totally manageable, if you can find your way.  I hear if you stay at a guesthouse named "Yoschi's" the proprietor might be able to help you.  Be there well before dawn to stake out your spot away from the tourist herd... finding a secret viewing spot.  At the motorbike parking before the viewing platform, you can walk to the left on the edge of the hill in front of the fence.  Alternatively, go around the front of the viewing platform to the right; there's a tree you can sit on.  Also, to the right of the viewing platform, there's a small building with a flat roof that would offer a good spot to sit.

After climbing Penanjakan in the morning, I'd head back to the hostel for a nap and a bite to eat.  I'd go back to Bromo in the late afternoon, well after the tour groups have departed.

Do walk around the Bromo crater.  Dave did it, while I walked less than 1/4 of the way around to a deserted spot to sit and relax while he did his exploring.

Make sure you bring a headlamp and extra batteries.

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