This post is also available in: German
Standing in a light drizzle and observing the early morning mist press in from all sides, I watch as the phone gets handed to Brendan. It’s six in the morning now and the light is gloomy. Visibility is low and I know that somewhere to the South, the volcano Bromo is spitting sulphur into the sky. Directly East, on the edge of the gigantic caldera, lies the little town of Cemoro Lawang. Our driver for a 4am sunrise tour, after the initial stint at a viewpoint, had decided that we had no choice but to wait another hour in the miserable weather for two Swedish girls to hike the volcano and come back.
Two German travellers, Brendan and I are having none of it. Already having hiked the volcano the day before in much nicer weather, considering the fact that visibility was absolutely zero and due to the general frustration that had set in after a terrible tour, which involved crowding around a tiny viewpoint with hundreds of other people and seeing absolutely nothing, we all try to convince the driver to take us back to town – a 10 minute drive max. – and to come back for the Swedish girls later.
After all, we had paid enough and the tour was pretty shit to begin with. The driver refuses to listen to reason, but eventually lets us call his boss. Brendan takes charge of the situation and does the math for the guy at the other end, who’s now claiming that such a venture would use too much gas: renting the whole Jeep for the morning, no matter how many people were going to be in it, costs about 400’000 Rupiahs (40$). The six of us in the Jeep had all booked separately, paying 125’000 per ticket. Effectively, we paid 750’000 for the car and therefore theoretically 350’000 too much – the tour company had already made a huge profit.
Brendan has a strong case, but the boss has already smelled the opportunity of ripping the tourists off some more. He insists that we have to pay an additional fee to be taken back to town. This is where things get heated and as we decide to stalk off towards where I hope Cemoro Lawang is located in the mists, I yell a few swear words in the general direction of the Jeeps parked there.
Many of you have probably heard of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park in Indonesia, a rugged and dark Mordor-like volcano landscape on the island of Java. Escaping from Bali and headed in the direction of Jakarta, it was a no-brainer that Brendan and I were going to drop in and do some hiking of our own.
Across the caldera of the ancient Tengger Volcano, where now four new peaks, including Bromo, rise up into the sky, stretches the only sand sea in Indonesia, covering an area of over 5000 hectares. And we just got, maybe somewhat voluntarily, stranded in the middle of it.
Luckily some tracks show the way through the mist and we set off at a brisk pace, the two Germans carrying their whole luggage and Brendan and I weighted down by heavy camera gear, that we had packed expecting nothing but car rides. Eventually, we make it back to our hostel in a little over half an hour, panting from the hard climb up the caldera and starving from not having eaten in hours.
Don’t get me wrong, the Bromo National Park is pretty cool and the landscapes are amazing, but the tours offered are a huge rip-off and really not worth your time and money. Tune in soon for my next article about how to hike Bromo yourself and enjoy the best views without a tour!