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BROMO-TENGGER-SEMERU NATIONAL PARK > Mount Bromo Crater
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LOCATION:
Located deep inside Tengger Caldera. Jeeps can be rented from Tosari, Cemoro Lawang or Ngadas. The one I took from Bromo Cottages Hotel in Tosari cost me Rp275.000 ($30) which includes the sunrise trip at Gunung Penanjakan before descending across the Sea of Sands to the foot of Mount Bromo.

DESCRIPTION:

Mt Bromo (or locally known as Kawah Bromo) is simply the most well-known volcano in the island of Java. It is not because the mountain claims the island's highest peak (that accolade goes to Mount Semeru) or the world's most active volcano (which goes to Mount Merapi), but because of its accessibility. Also the fact that one could get to the edge of the crater has really made this mountain popular the world over. Also Mount Bromo is unique because it is a volcano inside a volcano - the base of the mountain actually rises from an ancient caldera of the bigger Mount Tengger (where the name of the national park is derived from).

Getting to the crater is a storied journey by itself. The jeep that you hire will traverse across the Sea of Sands (Lautan Pasir), another unique landmark of the national park, before arriving at the foot of the mountain. Then, you have the option to hire a pony ride (Rp30.000 one way) that will carry you to the final portion where you can find the staircase that climbs to the crater's edge.

The staircase climb was rather tiring, so I felt that the horse ride earlier was a life saver. Do exercise caution when climbing the stairs because I found that the steps are quite narrow for your feet and one can trip and fall easily. There are 2-3 rest stops along the way to catch your breath.

The view from the edge of the crater is what Mount Bromo is all about. The mountain's entire top has blown off many years ago. Left inside is a deep gully of black granite. A small opening spews out white sulphurous smoke. Here, you need to exercise another caution. Apart from the risk of falling or slipping due to inadequate barricade, the spewing hot gas is VERY dangerous. Most of the time, the hot gas (hydrogen sulphide or H2S) will ooze directly upwards, but a slight change in wind direction will point it towards you. It actually happened during my visit - a little exposure to this poisonous white gas was enough to make me cough incessantly and I even witnessed a tourist almost fainted.

MY VERDICT:
An extremely unique experience that you probably cannot find anywhere else in the world. Getting to the crater is also very easy with well-established tourist facilities.

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