I was already awaken to the cold morning in Cemoro Lawang when I heard a knock on the door. It was Pak Ecok, Cafe Lava front person, calling us to get ready for the pre-dawn hike to Mount Penanjakan – the favourite spot for catching up with the sunrise at Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park. DH was still groggy when I woke him up, and continued with his pseudo-sleep as I headed to the washroom for my daily morning rituals. He was still sleeping when I returned 10 minutes later. I threw a glance at my watch; it was 3.00am and we were already late. I woke up DH again, this time more firmly. We quickly slipped into our jeans and layers of clothing, and walked to the Cafe Lava’s front door.
The sleepy Cemoro Lawang we discovered the day earlier was already alive and on its full swing. The deserted streets were now cluttered with colorful jeeps, and boisterous guests in their beanies, gloves and scarves – proudly bearing Bromo knitted logo. Prolly they came very early morning either from Surabaya or Malang. We also spotted our driver, leaning back on his green 4-wheeler. He quickly tossed his cigarette away as we approached him, opened the door and asked us to hop into the back of the jeep. The jeep picked up a few passengers from other guesthouses, then sped off into the darkness to the base of the hiking trail, passing through beds of onions and some faithful farmers. As I turned my head around I saw a line of jeeps trailing behind us which headlamps flashing at me; it almost hurt as my eyes adjusted from the pitch black surrounding to the blinding brightness.
The short bumpy ride took us to the start of the trek, of Penanjakan 2. Another viewpoint is at Penanjakan 1, which is much easy on foot and provide better view of the three peaks, but unfortunately closed for renovation. From the drop-off point we hiked up the ash-covered slope; the air was thin, and endless demoralizing taunts by hordes of horsemen offering horse ride half-way to the top making it a challenging climb despite an easy trek.
“Ayuh bu, pake kuda aja, olahraganya nanti di tangga.”
(Come on, use the horse. Save your energy for the stairs)
“Jauh lagi bu, pake kuda aja. Jalannya nanti mendaki terus. “
(The trek is far, it is better to ride a horse. It’s a steep climb all the way)
We continued climbing despite the discouraging words and our thinning morale, and arrived at the viewpoint just when the sun was about to rise. Arriving a bit late most of the strategic spots had been taken, so we climbed up a bit higher for the uninterrupted view of the volcanoes. We experienced the sunset from behind Bromo a day before, hence it was only logical that the sunrise would come from opposite direction. We turned our gaze towards Mentigen, and voila! A fine streak of red and orange started to appear on the horizon, just above the caldera.
Sunrise at Penanjakan 2. The tiny white dots were the distant lights coming from Cemoro Lawang, of which we came from.
A few minutes later the sun shyly appears with its majestic glow breaking through the clouds. I’d seen a lot of sunset and sunrise that it is difficult to say which one is the nicest, but the sunrise in Bromo is one that will not be easily forgotten.
As the sun rose higher in the sky it dawns the land beneath with its golden rays, slowly illuminating the far distant Semeru. We stood in awe as the orange hue touched the smoldering rim of Bromo and crawled down the eroded gullies of Batok, until it finally dissipated through the vast expanse of the Sea of Sand.
A surreal view of the Tengger Volcanoes.
The crowd at Penanjakan 2. Amidst the early morning spectators, hawkers set up their make shift stalls selling hot drinks and bowls of instant noodles which aroma enough to stimulate one’s appetite.
It was all bright and sunny when we decided to head back to the hiking base. Going down was easy, only that the path was so covered with thick ashes that a single step causing the dust to stir up, squirting into our eyes and nose. I stopped along the way to clear my eyes and my neck warmer now doubled up as face mask, and when I turned around I was blessed with this beautiful sight. The sun shone brightly, radiating the green land beneath through the morning mist, giving it a soft glowing effect.
Riders of Bromo, at the foot of Penanjakan 2.
As we reached our jeep we looked back at Bromo, now bathed in blue.
Going down from Penanjakan 2 towards the Sea of Sand.