Picture perfect Mount Bromo is Indonesia’s best known volcano and is the feature of many postcards, interestingly it is only one of five volcanos that sit inside the huge Tengger Caldera and an eruption of Bromo in 2004 killed 2 people, who were hit by flying rocks. The nearby mountain village of Cemoro Lawang is the starting point for most visitors and it is littered with hotels catering for the swarm of tourists that arrive every day to see the sunrise over the smoking volcano. The only way to get to the volcano and the viewing point of Mount Penanjakanis is by 4WD or motorbike across the vast “sea of sand” that sits on the bottom of the Tengger Caldera. It seems every person in the surrounding villages owns a restored FJ 40 Toyota land cruiser and has a business as a tour operator, the road side to mount Penanjakanis is full to capacity with cruiser after cruiser, it’s a great sight in itself. I began the ride up to the viewing point at the ungodly hour of 3am, being on motorbike meant I was easily able to pass by the traffic jam of FJ40’s heading up the steep, winding road. The photos that you see of Bromo seem so serene but the viewing area is anything but, there must have been well over 100 people crammed in waiting to see the sunrise. It was worth the wait, the sunrise was spectacular and I managed to get plenty of photos, now it was time to have some real fun, getting down the hill to go for a ride in the black sand and climb Bromo itself.
I met a group of young guys on KLX 150’s, I thought they were locals so I asked if I could tag along for some dirt riding and they were more than happy for me to come. It turned out that they were from Sumatra and this was their first visit to Bromo so none of us had any idea of where the best riding was, nonetheless we set off to explore the sandy trails at full throttle. After a bit of dirt riding we headed up to the smoking crater of Bromo, it was very impressive indeed. As per usual I managed to slip past the safety barrier for some better photos and convinced a very patient Japanese gentleman to take a few pictures for me. The boys from Sumatra headed home when we got to the bottom and I hung around to explore a little more of the sea of sand.
I had to cross the Calderra again to reach the city of Surabuya, this time the bike was fully loaded and a little more unstable in the thicker pockets of sand. It was great fun and after a few km’s I reached a deteriorated road that led up to the top of the mountain. The road was in terrible condition and was more rubble than road but I had a ball riding up and passing 4wd’s crawling their way along. Once at the top the road condition improved greatly and it wound its way through the mountains until it eventually eventually merged with the highway to Surabaya, good bye wilderness hello city traffic. I negotiated the traffic jam into town spending more time on the dirt sidewalk to get around the slow moving vehicles than on the road itself. Surprisingly it didn’t take too long and my friend Yudi organised someone to meet me and escort me to his garage. The bike had a safe place to stay so I could relax, giving the bike a thorough clean and mechanical check was on the agenda but that could wait until tomorrow.