Tuesday, October 30, 2012

East Java Trip Part 2: Mt. Bromo And Songa Pekalen

Around a week before my holiday, the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency (PVMBG) raised Mt. Bromo's status to Waspada (Alert). The news is here. To add more drama, Penanjakan 1 route was closed due to repair works. There is Penanjakan 2 route for an alternative, but Penanjakan 1 has the best view over Mt. Bromo.

I texted Aneen a day before my arrival, suggesting other spots to visit such as the inactive Mt. Argopuro (3,088 meters above the sea level). But then I read more about Mt. Argopuro and found out that it took at least two days to hike it. Ok, wrong choice.
The good thing was although Mt. Bromo's status was raised, it was still considered safe for the visitors. So to Mt. Bromo we go! At 2,329 meters above the sea level, Mt. Bromo is not the highest peak in the massif, but it's the most well-known. Bromo is derived from Brahma, the creator god in Hindu.

Desy and Sisca had arranged for a Toyota Hardtop Jeep to pick us up at 4 a.m. on Oct. 17. Besides the four of us, there would be two Malaysian tourists (Chia and Cody) whom Desy and Sisca met when they were going to Cemoro Lawang. The Jeep rental fee is Rp 500,000 for the six of us. You can also walk to Penanjakan 1 and 2, but in this cold weather, I'd pay what it takes to keep myself warm.

We reached the foot of Penanjakan 2 at 4:15 a.m. There were many locals offering a horseback riding up to the stairs. The opening price for a horseback riding in Penanjakan 2 was Rp 50,000, if I'm not mistaken. But as we continued walking, the price would gradually fall down to Rp 10,000. Although I could not hike the track quickly, I still preferred walking to horseback riding.

At first, Aneen climbed the track really fast, while Desy and Sisca followed her closely. I was the last one. But then Desy started coughing and Sisca waited on her, so I was the second person. It didn't help that those locals kept badgering me to rent their horses. At some point, I wanted to shout "Leave me alone!" at them. But then, what good would it make? They are just simple people trying to make a living. So I just shut my mouth and focused on my breathing and walking.

All those efforts to catch the sunrise were paid off once I reached the viewing deck. The view was majestic. And as I tried to catch my breath, the first sentence that left my lips was,"Subhanallah, I just have to take the pictures and be photographed here!"
Once a narcissist, always a narcissist :P. Anyway, here are the photos.

From left to right: Mt. Bromo (the low caldera that emits smoke), Mt. Batok (on the foreground) and Mt. Semeru (the tallest on the background)

Mt. Bromo panorama, subhanallah, it looks like a country up in the clouds

Sunrise hunters

The Bromo team, from left to right: Chia, Cody, Sisca, Desy, me and Aneen
After taking photos from Penanjakan 2, we walked down and went closer to see the caldera. The same thing happened here, many locals offering horseback riding. The tariff was between Rp 100,000 and Rp 125,000, but as you walked the price would fall.
In my opinion, it's better to walk. You can take in the view as you stop to breathe. Besides, I saw two Italian grandmas with walking sticks passed me by. Ok, so I overheard them talking to each other, couldn't help recognizing the language. The point is if two Italian grandmas can walk to Mt. Bromo then this not-so-young bambina can do it too.

As Aneen puts it,"You have strong will, you know." Yes, I know :).

Tips: you'd better bring face mask or head scarf to cover your nose, mouth and hair because the smell of horse manure is just awful and the way people walk makes the volcanic dust flying around.

A Hindu shrine near Mt. Bromo. That's Mt. Batok on the background.

The stairs to Mt. Bromo caldera

Mt. Bromo caldera panorama

Mt. Batok panorama from  the caldera of Mt. Bromo

What's cooking, Chef?

What a cute horse. Reminds me to Yakari's pony Little Thunder :)

Then we went to Segara Wedi (the Sea of Sand). One Indonesian movie Pasir Berbisik (Whispering Sand) was shot in this area.

Sea of Sand


Gray ferns

From Mt. Bromo, we rushed back to Probolinggo to pick up Daeng and went to Songa Pekalen. We rent a car to reach it because there are no public transportation going to Songa Pekalen. Songa is how the locals call sungai (river). There are two places to do whitewater rafting in Songa Pekalen: Songa Atas (Upper River) and Songa Bawah (Lower River).

Songa Atas spans at 12 kilometer long and it usually takes between 1.5 and 2.5 hours to complete the rafting session. Songa Bawah is shorter, but I forgot its exact size. So which Songa did we pick? Songa Atas of course!

Before rafting: dry and excited. Songa Pekalen full team, from left: Sisca, Daeng, me, Aneen and Desy.

During the rafting: stunning scenery comes before our eyes.

After rafting: wet, soaked, drenched and happy

When we had dinner, we were happier!

Doing the whitewater rafting was a great choice to remove all the dirt and dust we picked up in Mt. Bromo. It was raining in the middle of the rafting session, which made it even more exciting. The river filled up under the rain, making the current strong enough to push us through the big rocks and boulders in the river. As a newbie to whitewater rafting, I find it very tiring, but I like it and would love to do it again if I have the chance.

Next post: Camping in Sempu island.


  1. You really had an enjoyable time spending time in those lovely mountains..

  2. hi, may I know where did you book for your water rafting tour and how much is it?
    thank you.

  3. Hi Anon, it was my friend Aneen who booked the rafting package for us. I believe we used this company>> http://www.songarafting.com/ind/price/