Yet another day of our sunrise tour as we woke up not-so-bright and early at 3:30am in the freezing cold. We met our 4×4 outside the hotel, and after a brief bout of confusion, they threw us in one of the Jeeps and took off in the pitch dark, up some gravelly, windy roads uphill. After about 45 minutes, we arrived at Penanjakan, the viewing area and entrance to Tengger Semeru National Park. Still pitch dark, we made a short trek uphill to the viewing platform to watch the sun rise over Mt. Bromo, a smoking Mt. Semeru, and numerous other volcanoes and craters. The landscape was incredible, with parts of the terrain enshrouded in clouds to make it seem like we were on the moon, and other parts seeming like a vast desert, except replacing sand with volcanic ash.
After about an hour, we drove over to Mt. Bromo itself, where we were greeted with a herd of horses that could take us to the foot of the mountains – very Arabian feeling. We opted out of riding a horse and hiked across the terrain, up some steep ashy land, and then up what seemed like never-ending stairs covered in ash that I kept slipping down. We were treated with a phenomenal view up at top, peering down into the crater that resulted from the last explosion and seeing the milky whitish green lava that was continuously steaming. There was a narrow trail around the crater, flanked by steep edges on both sides and often lacking any guardrail. Naturally, my fear of heights coupled with the steep plunge into boiling lava kind of freaked me out (understatement) but we managed to walk a bit around the crater to take a few shots. I myself was a sight to see, hanging onto the guardrail for dear life. Apparently, there are several Hindu ceremonies that take place at the lip of the crater, where people would make offerings of dolls, food, and even chickens to throw down into the lava. Poor chickens!