The village of Wonokitri
is an important centre of Tenggerese culture. Claiming descent
from the kingdom of Majapahit, the people retain a Hindu/Javanese
faith, not unlike that found on the neighbouring island of Bali.
At Wonokitri, it is possible to visit the pura (temple), witness
occasional cremation ceremonies and generally experience traditional
Tenggerese culture. The people are horse breeders and hillside
farmers, cultivating a wide variety of excellent fruit and vegetables
on almost impossibly steep slopes. The cool climate and rich,
volcanic soil allows the cultivation of many plants which are
impossible to grow on the plains. The Tenggerese have their own
explanation for the abundance of their crops, related to their
legendary past. In this version of the story, the child Kesuma
was sacrificed as payment for the bountiful harvests granted
by the gods on Mt Semeru.
Vehicles can drive up to Cemara Lawang after obtaining special permits, from where the rest of the journey on foot takes not much more than 45 minutes. Another possibility, and a popular alternative, is to approach the crater on horseback, either from Ngadisari or from the hotel at Cemara Lawang. Horses and guides are plentiful and can be arranged on the evening before setting out. The guides at Cemara Lawang begin to congregate at about 4.a.m., after which they all descend together in a mysterious procession. Low lying fog which often envelops the flat, sandy plain adds to a sense of mystery. The temperature drops several degrees during the descent and the combination of chill air and echoing horse's hoofs in the darkness gives one the feeling of walking across a huge frozen lake. The guides try to arrange it so that visitors reach the foot of the crater at first light. From here a long flight of steps leads up to the crater rim. As the sun rises, the early morning mist dissipates to reveal a fantastic, almost lunar landscape. Two deeply furrowed volcanic cones stand side by side on a vast, perfectly flat expanse of sand 10 km across. Bromo's crater is active, emitting dense clouds of sulphureous steam. Reasonably quiescent at the moment, the mountain has erupted three times this century at fairly regular 30 year intervals. The last major eruption was during the early seventies. Beside Bromo stands its dormant twin, Mt Batok, whose deeply furrowed sides rise in a perfect cone shape to a flat summit. The entire circular plain is surrounded by steep cliffs, which form the rim of an enormous caldera.
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