A JOURNEY THROUGH ANCIENT RIDERS AND NEW HEROES
Make a journey in the eastern part of Java Island, in Indonesia, it's an adventure in the shade of giant volcanoes and steaming calderas. We departed from Bali, but you can visit this part of Java, also taking a flight to Surabaya and starting the tour directly from there. In both cases, you plan several hours by car on narrow and winding roads, dotted, here and there, with small villages.
Starting from Bali, you have to reach the West end of the Island until Gilimanuk then board the ferry to Banyuwangi harbor. In one day of driving you will arrive at the foot of Mount Bromo Crater, where all the hotels for tourists are located. In this spot, you can organize a 4x4 tour with a guide that will pick you up around 4 am to drive you in on one of the many sunrise viewpoints.
When the sun shines “the sea of sand”, in the Tengger Massif, while the Mount Bromo smokes, the East Java Riders prepare theimself for the race. Many of them live in villages on the slopes of the volcano, others have a simple accommodation in some huts inside the caldera. For a small fee you can cover the road that separates you from the Volcano, mounting on the back of one of the many Bromo's horses. We recommend you the ascent to the crater, evenf if it's exhausting, because it will offer you a breathtaking view of the Hindu God Brahma Temple and over all the valley. Many tourists leave from Bromo in the early afternoon, but we suggest you to remain for an other night, so you can grant a second descent in the caldera even at sunset time. In this way, you will meet some Bromo Riders and will enjoy the light of the golden hour that illuminates the dust, almost in complete solitude.
Started up early the following day, you can come back to Banyuwangi, along the south road of the island., so you can stop in Kalibaru village and spend a night at Margo Utomo Agro Resort. This hotel have a beautiful swimming pool , some spacious bungalows nestled in the jungle ans is located in a coffee plantation. A botanical tour between vegetables and spices's rows , followed by a relaxing massage, they will rest you from the long journey.
At this point, you are ready for the best excursion of all your tour: hiking to Kawah Ijen to discover the blue fires and the sulfur mines workers. Everyday, in the depths of Kawah Ijen, it's consumed the terrible battle between man and nature. Considered heroes by the local people, three hundred miners walks towards hell, into the mouth of the volcano, to offer their contribution and placate the lava and blood hunger of the fire's Giant. A feeble light illuminates the path, while the dark trying to swallow their lives. You will also go through the hell, with a steep climb of about 3 km, in the middle of the night, armed with torch and gas mask to avoid the sulfur fumes emanated from the mountain. You’ll meet the miners along the way, they are dressed by rags and their lungs burnt from harmful gases.
Only the lucky ones among them wear rubber boots and have gas masks, the others face the violent missions of sulfur and the steep ascent, equipped only with wet scarves and slippery flipflops. On the shoulders they have a basket full of sulfur,every kilo transported to the Valley is weighed and paid 900 rupees / kg.The strongest are able to carry up to 100 kg at one time to earn 90.000 rupees for each descent (about USD 8 per load).It is a work to the limit of force and human possibilities.
Live with your eyes this experience, it will give you a new dimension to what work means and you will reassess all your beliefs about the true meaning of the word "fatigue". But they are the heroes of the Kawah Ijen and they feed on the dismayed gazes of those who consider them super-men, surrounded by a landscape of in natural beauty. Upon reaching the summit of the mountain, you can go down until the crystal clear lake in the interior of the crater to see the stunning Blue Fires that go violently out from the mountain , illuminating the night.
It 's a tough tour, that requires good physical condition, but all your efforts will be rewarded by this unique experience. You don't have everyday the chance to meet some heroes and their smiles will remain in your heart, forever.
Written by Sarah Falchi - Photos by Paolo Castellari
WHERE TO STAY - OUR ADVICES
Banyuwangi: Ketapang Indah Hotel
Bromo: Lava Crater Lodge
On the road: Margo Utomo Agro Resort
For more infos about our Java Est trip visit our blog: paolocastellari.com/icastell/