Offerings for Bromo

Hiking Mt. Bromo, an Active Volcano (16 Pics)

Indonesia, Photo Essay

Sometimes, it is hard to argue with the logic of a 7-year-old.

I was showing my young niece photos of Indonesia (she likes looking at photos of tornadoes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and animals – this makes being an uncle rather easy) and we came upon the below photo of an offering at Mt. Bromo.

Offerings for Bromo

A sandwich left as an offering for Mt. Bromo. It is necessary to appease the volcano gods!

“Why would you want to feed a volcano?” She asked. “It will only make it grow bigger and be more dangerous.” It was an astute observation. Then she asked why we’d hike to the top of an active volcano. That seemed dangerous and rather foolish to her. For that, I had no answer.

Hiking Mount Bromo

The Mount Bromo area is a complex set of volcanoes in a very dramatic setting. Piercing the sky is a tall, jungle-clad mountain topped by a sand filled caldera. In the caldera is the active cone of Bromo and the extinct cone of Mt. Batok. In the distance, rises majestic Mt. Semeru. The whole area begs to be explored on foot.

At 3:30am we began our trek from the village of Cemoro Lewang to see the sunrise over the three volcanoes from the caldera edge. Some tour operators offer a jeep ride to a higher point with a slightly more dramatic view, but we hiked from our hotel in Cemoro Lewang to the below spot for free. We were the only ones there. Sometimes it is great to be frugal.

Sunrise over Bromo Bells

Bromo Sunrise

After sunrise, we hiked down into the crater, across the sea of sand to the active cone of Bromo, where we took a set of steep stairs to the cone. The word Bromo comes from Hindi for Brahma, or creator, and it is a holy place for Hindus. I felt bad cursing as I hiked up the steep cone in the blazing heat, blaspheming a holy site.

Looking down into the crater, my mind was blown. Bromo was hissing and roaring, smoke was pouring from the cone. It looked like a gateway to hell. It felt less like a creator and more like a destroyer. I’ve climbed active volcanoes before, but this one seemed really angry.

And then something happened that I can only assume pissed it off even more. A man, who obviously values a few Rupiah more than his life, hiked down the steep slopes of scree and began collecting coins given as an offering to the volcano. He was stealing from the angry volcano, something that I did not view as a smart move. I expected the volcano to rumble to life, causing an earthquake that would send him tumbling into the smoking abyss or melt him with spewing lava.

At this point, we decided to leave. We didn’t want to be collateral damage in the volcano’s wrath. We didn’t want to be guilty by association. Besides, after all that hiking, the sight of the offering sandwich was making me hungry.

Bromo offerings being robbed

A brave and foolish man.

Bromo Photo Gallery


Have you climbed Bromo or any other active volcano? 

Would you feed a volcano?


Related Posts:

The Blue Flames and Badass Miners of Ijen Volcano (Planet Bell)

Bromo: Third Time’s a Charm (What an Amazing World)

Mount Bromo in Java Without a Tour (Be My Travel Muse)


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Currently living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I travel, write, take photos, and stalk street cats. ~

26 thoughts on “Hiking Mt. Bromo, an Active Volcano (16 Pics)”

  1. Another incredible payoff for a dark-30 hike. Amazing sunrise. I can’t imagine climbing the scree looking for coins! Sounds like sacrilege and desperation!

    • Laura, you know, I didn’t really think of desperation until commenters said that. Now I feel bad for him maybe. At the time though it felt like he was scooping them up for coffee money. There was a certain cheekiness in his demeanor.

  2. Stunning pictures, great tale, and as for that guy, well he’s either very uncharitable, or very desperate. I’ll go with the latter, in which case my sympathy is kinder than my scorn.

  3. I’m with you Jeff stealing from an angry volcano sounds like a very bad idea.

    Another example of how getting up early is a good idea. Gorgeous captures.

    • Sue, yes this is another example of how getting up early is a good idea. It wasn’t easy, we arrived late the night before, but this is one of the best sunrise spots in Indonesia.

  4. Glad to know the weather was good when you were in Bromo despite the fact that it was already wet season when you came to Indonesia. I guess that super early start of the day really paid off — your photos speak for themselves.

    • Thanks Bama,

      Yes, we got lucky with the weather. We didn’t get any rain until November and none of our plans were ruined by the rain. I’m not sure the rice farmers were happy, but it was good for us.

  5. Your shots are breathtaking, Jeff! I particularly love the one of Cemoro Lawang at sunrise. Wasn’t it amazing to see the mist peeling off the caldera floor? It looks like there were far less visitors than the time I visited in October 2012.

    As for your niece’s question, the answer is very simple. When someone asked George Mallory why he wanted to climb Everest, he famously replied, “Because it’s there”. I think volcanoes are even more special because they feel like living mountains with all that steam, ash and lava belching from the depths.

    • Yes James, the morning mist sailing around the craters edge and Cemoro Lawang make this already special place even more magical. That view is so perfect it is like looking at a painting.

      We hiked 4 volcanoes (Bromo, Ijen, Rinjani an Kelimutu) and they were all very different. Indonesia has to be the best country for a volcano-phile.

  6. Beautiful photos Jeff. One of my happy hour entertainments (other than drinking beer of course) in Yogyakarta was sitting on the balcony and watching Mt. Merapi smoldering in the distance and listening to the call to prayers, which was pretty neat. The only active volcano I’ve spent any real time around is Mona Loa in Hawaii. The thing I love about this volcano is being able to see all old lava flows that crossed the roads with signs of the date when it happened. And as to pissing off a volcano, I’m a geologist, so I treat volcanos with the respect they deserve. ~James

    • James, yes, as a geologist I can see why you’d treat volcanoes with respect. You really get a sense of the raw power of the Earth when visiting them. That is cool about Mona Loa – I didn’t know that. I heard that a city was in danger of getting party covered. Crazy stuff.

  7. Amazing shots – the purple sunrise shot of Mt. Bromo was especially stunning. Very enjoyable – and your writing style added to that. Great photos + funny text = nothing more to ask. 🙂

  8. Great post and awesome photos. Bromo is among my top three places I’ve ever visited. It’s spectacular at sunrise but I also loved exploring it midday with no one else around. Thanks for stopping by my travel blog.

    • The sunrise was awesome but yes, a mid-day hike to the crater rim was really special. Nothing can prepare you for the sight and sounds of looking into the active crater.

  9. Pingback: Trekking Rinjani Tips and Advice | Planet Bell

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