We booked ourselves onto a 3 day 2 nights trip to see volcanoes...eruption permitting.
The first obstacle was the advertised 11 hour drive, no wait, 14 hour actual drive in a minibus. Everyone on the bus chatted and seemed really nice, and as we'd be together for most of the trip that was a good start! We arrived at our accommodation at about 10.30pm which we weren't too happy about as we knew we had to be up again in a few hours! We were the last drop off as we'd splashed out on accommodation that was situated on a volcano crater rim! Unfortunately as we arrived so late the restaurant was closed so it was biscuits before bed!
We got picked up at 3.30am to goto the viewpoint. The guide did try it on and ask for extra money as our jeep sat 6 and there were only 4 of us. But Emma laid the law down and said 'not our problem', Kris was still asleep by this point! The guide made a quick phone call and then told us to get in. He knew he was pushing his luck, and only asked us as we'd chosen to stay in the nicest accommodation.
The jeep only took us part of the way to the view point, from there you either had to walk or get a horse. Despite the fact that climbing steps, rocks or climbing of any sort was still not appealing to us at this point, we chose just that! This was mainly because the 'horses' looked like the tired clapped out donkeys on Western Beach and we felt mean as they had hills to climb! But also just because we're just to stingy!! So we climbed the hill in the dark, and got up there well before sunrise.
We set the tripod up and waited. When the sun rose we could clearly see the distinct cones of two volcanoes. You could clearly see the steaming cone of Mt. Semeru, which erupts with ash and stones every 20 minutes and the perfect cone of the dormant Mt. Batok. At first the crater of Mt Bromo wasn't easy to identify as you will see from the photos. The early morning cloud looked amazing as it cleared to reveal a lunar landscape. We took a lot of photos including a shot of the group (unfortunately minus Marta and Gerard the Spanish couple).
We headed back down from the viewpoint and our jeep made our way into the massive Tengger crater (which we had stayed the night at the edge of) and headed across the Laotian Pasir (sand sea) towards the inner cones. Dormant large volcano craters sometimes have smaller volcanoes forming inside them, which is what has happened here. We pulled up and again chose to walk about 30 minutes towards Bromo crater and climb the steps so we could see in. It last erupted for 2 months in Dec 2010 to Jan 2011. There use to be a footpath going completely around the crater rim, but this was now covered with ash and mud. You may be able to see the top of the handrail in photos.
We then headed back to our hotel for breakfast and were able to finally appreciate the view. Tired but full the group all got back in the minibus and drove to a very quiet area near the Ijen Plateau ready for our trip to see the Ijen Crater early the next morning. We ate and drank together that evening, although constantly being dive bombed by giant bugs didn't make for a relaxing meal! However, its always good to share travel horror stories and tips! Mariska, the dutch girl in our group, found it hilarious that beans on toast is one of our favourite meals. And couldn't understand the British love of 'white beans in tomato source' as she called them. The rest of the world is seriously missing out!!! It was then an early night for us all as we were waking up at 3.30am again.
At 4am breakfast was ready, fearing and expecting the usual two toast and 'two egg any style' (we're getting pretty sick of eggs for breakfast, sometimes we're eating three eggs a day!!) we were horrified to find worse. A sandwich containing some sort of green gunk and Chocolate sprinkles. It was disgusting, even by Kris's standards, and he likes a chocolaty breakfast! Now this definitely isn't what they eat for breakfast, so who told them westerners eat it?! It was like a child found leftovers and put it all together!
We sleepily drove to the crater but found unfortunately that it was closed due to safety reasons as Ijen was too active. We could see the sulphur cloud coming from the crater behind the hill and it seemed to be blowing towards the trail. We were told that its a 50/50 chance before we booked the trip but it looked more like 90/10!! Some people still wanted to go anyway but after having the experience in White Island, New Zealand we understood why it wasn't possible.
We asked the guide for what Plan B was, for which we got a laugh reply. A few people were persistent in requesting to do something else so we went to see a coffee plantation, rubber trees and a waterfall. It was an ok substitute but the blue sulphur lakes of the crater would have been better. Click here to see what we should've seen at the Ijen Crater.
We woke up to find we had slept all the way to the ferry port. We decided to make our own way (cheaper) to Bali so we said our goodbyes to our group at the ferry port and headed off.
Marta and Gerard, a Spanish couple in our group, also have a blog. If you'd like to check it out click the link below - don't worry there's a Google translate at the bottom right.