Captivating Mount Bromo - spelic

Captivating Mount Bromo

Mount Bromo

One of most iconic mountains in Indonesia and only active volcano on Java, and it is still one of most active volcanoes in the world. 2329m above sea level. It sits inside the massive Tengger caldera (volcanic crater with diameter approximately 10km), surrounded by the Laut Pasir (sea of sand) of fine volcanic sand.


My Bromo adventure started really bad... after I canceled some plans I needed to buy plane ticket from Jakarta to Surabaya ( Indonesia ) the next day I went on another trip so I was booking it at the last moment… After my debit card was rejected multiple times with Lion Air, due to some new internet banking security protocol, I decide to take Air Asia. I was really annoyed because I was filling same data last hour and I was just filling data like robot but after 1 hour I finally bought it. Just before I went to sleep, I decide to look at my ticket one more time, and I notice something was weird – its written Surabaya – Jakarta, Jakarta – Surabaya ! Damn, I bought a ticket in opposite direction !!! It was already after midnight and the next day I had to wake up at 6 to go on trip. I tried to phone Air Asia and change the ticket but they don’t have a 24 hour customer service, and they don’t open until 6am. So I just decide to wait till morning and went to sleep … I did not sleep well  :/ Next day we made the phone call to change my ticket, but I also needed to pay fee for changing, so in the end I almost payed double price, I was furious !!!

4.7.2014 – 5.7.2014

I had a flight in the morning, and I was supposed to meet my good friend and organizer of the trip Francis Tan (  the3nity ) at the airport in Surabaya, we had a little misunderstanding because I landed at Terminal 2 and he landed at Terminal 1. So I took the shuttle bus to Terminal 1. We had a car waiting for us and we headed out. First we picked up Julien ( Beboy from beboyphoto ) and Sabine from their hotel in Surabaya bcz they had arrived a day earlier.

I was really happy that I would finally meet Beboy because he is a photographer who I have admired for a really long time. He has a really cool personality just like Sabine and they are willing to help in any time.

We continued our trip and a few hours later we reached Bromo . It was looking really nice and you definitely could feel the temperature difference. We went to rest, eat, and planed to go shoot the stars at 1am. We stayed in the Cemara Indah hotel. the Hotel has a really amazing view, just on the cliff next to crater but the hotel was really bad. Old style and in the evenings and at night it was very cold in the rooms. The food was terrible. I honestly think is was not worth the price.

After short rest it was 1am already, our guide and jeep picked us up and we headed out to our location. After short a Jeep ride we continued by foot uphill, it was not far but it really made me tired. The sky was very clear, full of stars and we had a nice photo location with a view, it was just enough for 4 people and tripods. 

Its never easy to find your composition in dark, and especially with autofocus so I spent quite some time with trials and errors, with high ISO and manual focus. First we wanted to catch the Milky Way and after that shoot some StarTrails. With time it became much cooler and we started freezing, Luckily I borrowed a winter jacket from Limey, Yes it’s a girls jacket, but I was thinking there is no point in buying a jacket just for a few days since I have a perfect jacket back in Croatia, nobody would see me there anyway. In Bromo it is also possible to rent a jacket but smell is not really comfortable ). About 4am we bought instant noodles from some woman, she also had hot water in a thermos bottle to prepare them with, and it was best noodles ever, because I was really hungry, and hot noodles were perfect to warm us up! Sunrise was getting closer majestic Bromo and was showing his shape more and more, and the fog was dancing around in the crater! It was like a big lake of clouds and volcano in the middle with red a glove of lava on the top. Soon more people started coming to see the sunrise but mostly they continued to a higher location. With first sun rays we started to shoot more and more and after the sun got too high we stopped and headed back to the Jeep and hotel to have some breakfast, rest and sleep.

Milky Way

5.7.2014 – 6.7.2014

We woke up in the afternoon and went to a restaurant to grab some lunch and catch an internet signal. Also to discuss about plans and details for the night shoot. We wanted to catch the Milky Way just under top of Mount Bromo and the Night Sky app for Ipad said the Milky Way would be in that position between 10pm and 11pm. Late in the afternoon we went to our rooms to rest for the evening adventures we had planned..

At 9:30pm Jeep come to pick us up and after 45min of driving we reached our destination. We were unlucky because the moment we arrived rain started and the sky was covered with clouds and fog. We found shelter in a nearby warung ( local wooden shop where you can buy drinks and food) so we got a cup of hot Milo to keep us warm. We completely gave up on the Milky Way shoot and we tried to get some sleep and wait for sunrise, from 11pm sunrise was far far away… After a few hours the rain stopped and we went to our view point. We go early to get the best spot to set up our tripods because later the place would be crowded with people. Francis got the best spot, Beboy’s place was also good but not very stable and I used a yoga pose on my Manfrotto tripod so I could put my camera outside of the fence hanging over a cliff. After putting the tripods up we just waited, I even managed to fall asleep for an hour covered with a blanket ( we expected it to be very cold so this time we were well prepared, we took blankets from our room, I had on 3 t-shirts and triple socks and I still got cold feet ). When I woke up I had a weird feeling, I was completely alone and I did not see anybody around in the dark, and after a moment I noticed my friends in a blanket next to a fire.

Soon more and more people kept coming and first light of the day was almost there, so we decided to move our tripod place and prepare the cameras and start shooting. Sunrise was really nice and I thought I got few good photos but the place was really crowded with people. there were so many people coming to watch sunrise and they were all so pushy and wanted to be in the front row. I was very lucky, my place was surrounded with barbed wire and people were unable to come very close to me, Sabine was completely surrounded by tourists, Beboy had worst position because his tripod was very high on a somewhat small wall, so he needed to be extremely careful or his camera and tripod would fall off the cliff, and he needed to climb to see what he was shoot the people were like ants around him, Francis was completely stuck in a small place with some Russians who did not care that they hit his tripod. After we got out from the crowd we just wanted to get to the hotel, to have breakfast.

That was also the last day for Francis and at about 10am the car came to pick him up. Beboy was really poor at this moment, he literally did not have any cash, I was getting low on cash too so we took the ride with Francis to the first place where we found a cash machine, the only problem was it did not accept my card so Francis lent me some cash, till Beboy’s card was accepted. Francis needed to take a second ride, once with us to the cash machine and then back to the airport.

Later we got take a nap for the last night of shooting.


Our last night we decide go back to the first location, It gave us a better view and not as many people around. We decided if it would be better to catch the stars and leave our hotel at 1am or if it would be better if we just shot the sunrise and start at 4am. In the end we decided 1am.That night the Jeep come to pick us up and we headed out. Hiking at the location was exhausting, especially in the middle of night with only the light coming out from your flashlight and you needed be careful about every step. When we reached the view point I was really tired and I start to open my jacket and t-shirt because it was really hot. Soon it was colder and colder. We set up our tripods and cameras and started to search for the best composition for our shoot. The fog was high and we had problems with our lenses , they become foggy and we needed to clean them often. We set everything up for the startrail and we sat next to our guide and fire to get warm. This time we also brought blankets and I can say they were extremely helpful. I can not imagine how cold I would have felt if I did not have it, the temperature at night was 2 degrees Celsius…

With the first sun rays the scene before us was becoming more impressive with every second that passed! The fog was high and it looked like it was overflowing the edge creating a mystical mood. I was happy because the high fog also created mystical mood around the volcano, and at one moment even cut it a half. From our location we could not see the sunrise, actually I don’t think there is any location where you can see both Bromo and sun in background because of its position, so we can only caught side light. Also it is kind of hard to get the sunset, because the thick fog fell all around the place.

Fail Star Trail Time Lapse

After shooting we headed back to our hotel, I was planning to take a tour inside the crater, I really wanted to go, but I was really tired too, because it would require hiking again, so Sabine, Beboy and I went to breakfast, then to our rooms to rest and pack our bags for leaving. The car come to pick us at 10am and soon we started heading back to Surabaya airport. I need to say the driver was kinda crazy ( but also this is very normal in Indonesian traffic ), he used the horn all the time, cut in people’s way, speeding and almost hit other cars a couple of times. I also need to say he is a muslim, and at this moment they have a fasting month so all muslims can not eat or drink during day. In my mind this was – he had to drive about 5 to 6 hours ( 3 hours from Surabaya to pick us up in Bromo, and about 3 hours back from Bromo to Surabaya ), the temperature about 30 degrees, high humidity in air, driving like a maniac and he could not drink or eat anything all day, its like perfect recipe for a disaster. Luckily we arrived safe and sound. Sabine and Julien went to Terminal 1 because they were flying to Lombok on a holiday for a few days ( I guess they really needed one, with the hot weather and freezing beach in Bromo ), I was going to Terminal 2 to catch my flight back to Jakarta. We said goodbye and I really hope I will see them again soon ! I really enjoyed it ! I still had few hours at the airport till my flight. So I was just checking my photos and I tried to process some. Time flew by and soon it was boarding time.

Bye Bye – Back to Jakarta !

Mount Bromo


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