I signed up for a tour to Mount Bromo whilst staying at a hostel in Yogyakarta. I prefer to travel independently at all times, however due to a lack of time to make mistakes, I had little choice but to take a tour. I also forgot to carry my Dbz Backpack with me.
Initially, I simply booked the bus ride to Mount Bromo, however soon realised getting away would be hugely impractical via public transport, so signed on for longer to visit Mount Ijen as well. After a long 13 hour bus ride throughout the day, we arrived at Mount Bromo late in the evening, and would be leaving our hotel at 4am to view the sunrise from Bromo. I joined up with another traveller I had met on the bus, sharing a room and therefore reducing both our costs in the process. Java feels like a destination built for couples, so travelling as an individual has been tougher than in other destinations, such as Malaysia, India and the Philippines.“This was the first attempt to take more money out of our wallets…”
For the Bromo trip, we had been given two choices; to simply walk up to Bromo, or take a jeep to the viewing point and then go up to the crater after the sunrise. The latter option would cost us an additional £6, but “is the much better option, you will be missing out if you don’t do this, this is what you should do”. This was the first of a barrage of attempts to take more money out of our wallets, and this is something that continued for the rest of the trip. Another way the tour companies make money is by selling the entry ticket to Bromo for a slightly discounted rate, which they get because “they purchase the tickets in bulk”. In actual fact, they simply have a deal with the ticket office that they split the profits and therefore cut out the government and conservation efforts for Bromo, to fill up their own back pockets. I decided to spent the official £11 rate, turning down the £10 opportunity, simply because I didn’t want to hand this tour company even more of my money, particularly through a scam.
The Crater of Mount Bromo
Adam (the other traveller) and I decided to skip the viewing point, and head straight for Bromo – which turned out to be absolutely the right choice. Other travellers reported large crowds of visitors at the viewing point; even Mount Bromo’s official website states that all the viewing point offers is “the constant clicking of cameras” – hardly the selling point of the year! Adam and I however were able to enjoy Mount Bromo with just 20 other people, and we headed past the main barrier area to effectively enjoy exclusive views and space that anyone who visited the viewing point simply could not enjoy.“The drivers clearly got a good commission…”
Breakfast followed the mountain climb, and we departed for Mount Ijen. That’d be another day of constant travel! The journey was relatively comfortable, apart from the fact that the “Air Conditioned Minibus” featured no Air Conditioning at any point throughout the entire tour. We enjoyed regular stops at convenience stores and lunch at a restaurant; all of which were conveniently located away from all other shops so you had no choice but to use them – and the drivers clearly got a good commission for bringing their bus load of travellers to the overpriced shops.
Ijen in all its glory.
I was not exactly sure what Ijen had to offer, however had been informed by multiple other travellers who had already visited both Bromo and Ijen that Ijen was the more worthwhile visit. And so, after another short sleep (5 hours this time!), we left our hotel at 4am once again, and headed to the destination. This trek would be slightly longer at 1.5 hours each way, and we had once again decided to turn down the next round of upselling to see the ‘blue flame’ (a man made flame made by the miners burning sulphur). This would cost an additional £6 to see, and would involve leaving at 1:30am and you would also leave before the sunrise. Of course, “if you buy from me now, I can give to you for £5″. Oh, I’m sure you can, you greedy….
The View Facing Away From Ijen…
After arriving at the home stay that we would be at for the night, I headed off to a nearby small village to explore the surroundings, initially aiming to find a shop that wouldn’t overcharge me for drinks and snacks. I ended up having fun with local people with DIY fireworks and, er, playing Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 on a families PlayStation 2. Certainly not something I thought I’d be doing in a remote part of Indonesia, but an opportunity I simply couldn’t turn down simply due to the bizarre chance that it undoubtedly was!“A local miner had gripped onto us earlier on in the walk…”
Ijen was, without a doubt, one of the most amazing sights I have seen on my trip so far. The view from the top of the crater was simply incredible, and Adam and I decided to head to the bottom of the crater by the sulphur mine to head for the lake. Admittedly there is a sign stating visitors are prohibited from going down, but many people do it, so we decided to make the 25 minute walk down too. A local miner had gripped onto us earlier on in the walk, clearly anticipating he could make money out of us – so we made it clear we had no intention of giving him any money. He then saw we were heading down the crater, and announced “You cannot do this without a local guide” – my response was simply that the sign says you cannot go down at all, whether you have a guide or not (and you can therefore stop trying to get your hands on my wallet!). The view from the bottom was totally different, and less dramatic than the top – although being by the sulphur mine, a tea-warm lake and incredible rock formations was well worth the trek down the crater (which you should not go within 1km of due to a Level 2 alert…).
Do Not Go Within 1KM of the Crater. Yes Boss.
Once we had arrived back from the crater, we headed for the ferry port which would be going to Bali. It turned out the breakfast – included in the price of the tour – never actually materialised, with each bus change insisting “half an hour, half an hour” – presumably knowing that once we had changed bus there was literally nothing we could do. Once the ferry ride was complete, we headed to Denpasar in Bali, or should I say half an hour from Denpasar, as the bus that we had bought as part of the ticket didn’t actually go to the city the ticket claims it would – but hey, there is clearly nothing wrong with continually lying about the services you offer!“I am really happy I took the tour.”