Sleeping 2.35 km away from a volcano

Nothing else is more exhilarating than sleeping next to an active volcano. I first visited Mt. Bromo early this year with friends and instantly fell in love with the place. I promised myself that I will bring my wife Kylie and 21-month old son Travis so they can experience the beauty and nature of this mountainous town of Probolinggo in Indonesia.

5:49 am ~ 1/100 sec at f/3.2, ISO 100 at 16 mm

This is Travis’ first time visiting Indonesia.

Here’s Travis enjoying the sand + ashes across our hotel’s view point. Loads of laundry coming up!

Sunrise view of Mt. Bromo

Woke up at 2:30 am to prepare for our 4x4 Land Cruiser trip at 3:00 am. But Tris, our guide, was caught in a bad traffic jam so they arrived 30 minutes later. We started going down the sea of sand and you’ll be in a convoy of circle headlights from the Land Cruisers and your morning playlist will be the squeaking chassis and engine sounds. We’re on our way to the steep mountain to catch the best spot for sunrise.

Since we started our journey late we were stuck on the road full of jeeps and later on a flood of motorcycles going up fill the gaps. Then people from other jeeps started walking while we waited inside to warm ourselves. After our driver checked possible exits and knew we couldn’t move any farther we started hiking and after a few steps we reached Cinta View Point with lots of tourists, possibly stuck on the jam too.

5:30 am ~ 1/30 sec at f/2.8, ISO 250 at 11 mm ~ This is how Travis & I looked like. Sound asleep in the baby carrier plus his blanket wrapped around his legs plus we borrowed our guide’s traditional Tengerrese blanket, which is a sarong, as a wind breaker.
The last time we went to a cold place like Alishan in Taiwan, Kylie was prepared for the cold weather. But we didn’t expect wind this strong so her DIY-instinct tells her to use extra socks as mittens. Hahaha
6:18 am ~ 1/80 sec at f/2.8, ISO 100 at 15 mm ~ Me and Kylie started going back to the row of small shops while Hazel and Tris hiked even farther. We “chilled”, literally, at this shop and drank coffee, ate pisang goreng (banana fritters), warmed our hands at this small fire.

Travis woke up and we decided to head back and take more photos. At this time 2/3 of the crowd left so we have more space to take in the view.

Travis, his cute smile, and very loose mittens. We bought this from the local sellers outside our hotel.
Our local guide on the left, Trees, short for Treesna. So everytime we asked Travis “where are the trees?” he points at him.

Descent and on to the crater.

7:12 am ~ 1/50 sec at f/4.0, ISO 100 at 11 mm ~ This is our driver and our guide’s father-in-law. It feels good that you help almost an entire family by booking the tour with them. Let me know if you need help so I can hook you up.
7:58 am ~ 1/400 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100 at 12 mm ~ The government strategised the entire place that lots of locals will have a livelihood which is great! The jeep park is about 650 meters away from the Buddhist temple where you have the option to ride a horse (actually a pony).
7:53 am ~ 1/400 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100 at 15 mm ~ Tourists heading back. The crater is really wide as you can see here.
This is the entry to Mount Bromo. You will start feeling that you really are in an amazing adventure when you see this unusual terrain with deep ridges and hiking next to horses. I suggest you bring a mask cz the sand is loose and it can get very dusty in some areas. I forgot mine so I bought a surgical mask near the temple (which is right before this).
No idea who carved this and why but it’s a great detail near the entrace. About 2 feet tall. Behind is Mt Batok.
8:20 am ~ 1/125 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100 at 11mm

From the base of the volcano, we saw 2 paths to hike up: flight of stairs or a foot path going sideways. We chose to be more adventurous and skipped the long queue for the stairs.

I really love the next photo where a tourist is resting on the rough textures of Mt. Bromo and tiny people on the crater. The dark shadow ridges are large and deep gaps which you have to go down to cross or if you are part of the long jump team in olympics this will be just a walk in the park for you.

8:26 am ~ 1/250 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100 at 16mm
8:31 am ~ 1/400 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100 at 13mm ~ Horse Park. This is where you stop and start walking a few meters to the stairs. You save a lot of steps riding them from the Land Cruiser parking area to here but we prefer hiking and it’s not that hard too. That’s the Buddhist temple in the middle of the photo where mostly Balinese come 2–4x a year to pray. Behind is Mt. Penanjakan where I viewed sunrise from my previous trip and the ridge below is Cemoro Lawang where we stayed.
This looks like a gate to the crater which was carefully placed to line with the stairs with Javanese writing on the left. Too bad some idiot tourists tampered it with some smiley drawings near the top.
8:38 am ~ 1/400 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100 at 16mm

I definitely love the ridges that Mt Bromo formed over the years of small and large eruptions. Last noted eruption was December of last year. The soil of this volcano (not sure if it’s same for all) is quite loose making the hike up more challenging and I keep on telling myself that if I slip then you might see a tourist rolling down on youtube 😜.

Loose soil. If you jump or slide it starts to break apart.
People climbing up. You’ll see how steep it is.

After 15 minutes hike on the steep and slanted path (I felt it was 30 minutes) we reached the top of the crater. And it was


8:54 am ~ 1/640 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100 at 16mm ~ Hazel was crawling up and didn’t realise the next step was the edge of the crater. Scared, she paused for a few minutes and couldn’t stand.
9:00 am ~ 1/320 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100 at 11mm ~ You can’t tell how steep this is but trust me once you fall, that’s it. Half of my left shoe is already hanging here. Scroll up again and visualise it. Also you will see an iron bar (near my foot) swallowed into the hole due to recent eruptions making the crater even wider.

The view from the top is breathtaking. It almost looks like 2 summits ’cause of the thick smoke on one of the curvatures. And if you may ask what the sound was up here, well it was pretty silent. No howls but eerie.

8:20 am ~ 1/125 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100 at 11mm ~ You will definitely need a mask to filter sulphur smoke from entering your lungs.
9:12 am ~ 1/640 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100 at 11mm ~ To make it even scarier you have to take a jump shot. Excuse the smoke-propelled fart. Jumping was easy but the landing part should be precise. If Kylie was here, she’ll kill me. Hahaha
This foot path is for 1 person only but you’ll have to share it with incoming traffic so better be the first person to move to the safer side else you might slip. Going down is definitely easier and faster.

Time to head down and back to the jeep park.

9:31 am ~ 1/400 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100 at 16 mm ~ You have the option to eat breakfast (cup noodles), quench your thirst, or buy some flowers & shirts at the base. It’s sad that some of these shops don’t have customers ’cause most of the tourists bring their own water and snacks.
9:37 am ~ 1/250 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100 at 11 mm ~ Striking a pose.
Looks like a sight in the olden times where Moses divided the sea.
Some ridges are short and this one is the tallest.
10:07 am ~ 1/6400 sec at f/2.8, ISO 100 at 11 mm ~ Slight sand storm on the way back.

Greenery at Savana Hill

Kylie and Travis went back to the hotel and didn’t climb up the crater due to the damaging sulphur smoke for the little man. At 4:00 pm we went to Savana Hill also locally known as Bukit Teletubis about 3.54km north of Mt. Bromo and 6.6km from our hotel.

4:19 pm ~ 1/40 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100 at 11 mm ~ I finally achieved this shot of Travis next to a large tire.
4:24 pm ~ 1/250 sec at f/2.8, ISO 100 at 50 mm ~ This is Fernanda, the son of our guide, Tris.
I really love these photos. Shows how Kylie takes good care of Travis.
4:28 pm ~ 1/160 sec at f/4.0, ISO 100 at 50 mm
4:29 pm ~ 1/80 sec at f/4.0, ISO 100 at 50 mm ~ Wild Boy.
4:30 pm ~ 1/160 sec at f/4.0, ISO 100 at 50 mm
4:40 pm ~ 1/60 sec at f/4.0, ISO 125 at 12 mm
5:27 am ~ 1/80 sec at f/2.8, ISO 1600 at 50 mm ~ They added this tent store at the entrance so after the hike up the hill we drank tea and rested while travis was playing and fanning the fire wood. It was a bumpy ride to and fro and he fell asleep on the way back.

To end this post, here’s a long-exposure from the FJ40 Land Cruisers travelling across the Sea of Sand up the view point.

4:00 am ~ 90 sec at f/2.8, ISO 1000 at 11mm

This post is intended for Travis to reminisce when he grows up and become an adventurer one day. #TravisTheTraveller

Canon 60D / Tokina 11–16 mm f/2.8 / Canon 50 mm 1.4

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