After our 2:30 am hike up to Kawah Ijen, we took a 5 hour shuttle bus to our next destination, Cemoro Lawang. Luckily, we were the only ones in the shuttle and our seats reclined all the way back so we could get some much needed rest.
The tiny village of Cemoro Lawang is situated on the edge of the massive Tengger Caldera rim. As we drove in to town, we viewed field after field of cabbage, onion, lettuce and tomato that sprawled up the steep hillsides. The farms almost seemed to defy gravity as they went vertically upslope.
Within the Tengger Caldera, there are five volcanoes. The volcanoes are surrounded by the “Sea of Sand,” an extensive plain consisting of volcanic sediment from past eruptions. The Sea of Sand and the five volcanoes are part of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. While most tourists pay to enter the park by Jeep tour, horse, or motorbike, we decided to save some money and hiked across the Sea of Sand to the top of Mount Bromo, the most well-known volcano in the Caldera.
Mount Bromo is the most active volcano out of the five, with major eruptions in 2004, 2010, and 2011. White sulphuric smoke still continually billows from the crater. A trail and a long staircase leads to the rim of the crater where you can peer down into the volcano.
One of the main activities in the national park is to watch the sunrise over the caldera. Again, most people pay for a Jeep ride up to the top of the caldera rim, but we decided to hike to the viewpoint on our own. We awoke at 3:30 am and hiked two hours in the dark to a spot below the popular tourist viewpoint. As it started to get light out, we noticed that low clouds and fog were going to prevent a spectacular sunrise. Disappointed but not defeated, we hiked back to town and decided to stay another night and try for sunrise the following day.
The alarm went off at 3:30 am again, and as we stepped out into the darkness and looked up we spotted stars. The sky was clear! This time we hiked up to the viewpoint to get a spectacular view of the massive caldera’s rim, the five volcanoes within the caldera, and Mount Semeru in the distance.
After a cool reprieve in the mountains of East Java (we actually wore long underwear at night to stay warm), we headed to our final stop in Java and in Indonesia: Yogyakarta.