Monday, June 10, 2013

Riding Mt. Bromo

Last week, a couple of friends (Chow Kok Yeang from Malaysia and Ramang Kristian from Bali) and I got together on the island of Java, Indonesia, to ride the volcanic trails of Mt. Bromo.


At 2,329 metres (7,641 ft), Mt. Bromo sits inside a caldera called the 'Sea of Sand'.  It's the most famous, but it isn't the highest or most prominent peak there.  Gunung Batok (or Mt. Batok) is the most prominent peak in the caldera, and the peak is easily confused with Mt. Bromo.  Gunung Semeru, visible a little further away, is the highest peak on Java.

The best time to go is during the dry season from August through November.  Mid-August, the transition between the wet and dry seasons, is the absolute best.  That's when the sand is still compact with moisture from the wet season, but the weather is dry and skies are blue.  I went last week, and was lucky with the weather that it didn't rain on us, but had some overcast and cloudy days so the views weren't as good.
Mt. Bromo is the one puffin' smoke. Gunung Batok is the big one to its right.
We flew in to Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia, and from there, it's a 4-5 hour drive to Cemero Lawang, the base for exploring Mt. Bromo.  Cemoro Lawang is at 2217m, so although it's in South East Asia, it does get pretty chilly at night.There are a few small hotels and simple homestays in Cemero Lawang.  We stayed in one of the local homestays, but the Lava Cafe Hostel looks pretty good.  The food is decent at Lava Cafe and there's free WiFi.  Otherwise, there are a few small local eateries where meals $1 and up.
Meals start from about USD$1...
The riding itself was good.  The first day, we rode the 'Bromo Classic Track', which includes the 'Sea of Sand' through 'Teletubbies Hill', up 'Jembalong Hill', 'New Zealand' Trail, 'Kechiri Hill' and back down to the 'Sea of Sand' to Cemoro Lawang.  The second day was a fast downhill ride through various farming tracks; and Day 3 was the famous B-29 singletrack, which was supposed to be ├╝ber scenic, but we got clouded in.  The video should give you a good idea of the type of riding you can expect.

My Sandman Hoggar fatbike is the near perfect bike for Mt. Bromo, not only because the additional float and traction was welcome on the sand or down the steep, slick, muddy trails, but the tough titanium frame proved impervious to scratches as the bikes were crudely strapped onto the back of a pickup. 
Some enterprising kids took our bikes down to the river to wash.  I guess child labor and environmental laws are different here ;)
We engaged a local guide at very reasonable rates, and although you don't need one if you have the GPX tracks and a GPS, it simplifies logistics as the guide can probably arrange accommodation and transportation cheaper than you can.  If you need a guide, I can recommend our guide, Anom, who can be reached at anomharyawicaksana@gmail.com.  Alternatively, Ramang from Bali Rides can arrange a high quality trip to Mt. Bromo for you. Contact Ramang at ramang_kristian@yahoo.com


2 comments:

Anom Harya said...

Hi Mr Ken,
Thanks for giving recommendations (as riding guide in Bromo) to me.

About your article, I would like to give a correction about the spot which we spent all night. There is "Cemoro Lawang", not "Cemero Lawang" :D

Hopefully you were not regret to visit Bromo yah ;)

Kenneth Koh said...

Thanks Anom, I will make the correction.