Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrLocated on the eastern side of Java and named for two of its mountains (Mount Semeru and Mount Bromo), together with the Tengger people who live in the area, Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park covers just over 5,000 hectares. It protects a spectacular landscape containing five volcanoes within the Tengger Calder, together with four lakes and around 50 rivers.
GeographyWithin the immense Tengger Caldera lie five volcanoes: Mount Bromo at 7,641 feet, Mount Batok at 8,104 feet, Mount Kursi at 8,468 feet, Mount Watangan at 8,730 feet, and Mount Widodaren at 8,694 feet. The volcanoes are surrounded by the Tengger Sand Sea, a large area of sand, and all are still active except for Mount Batok. In addition, the park also contains Java’s highest mountain, Mount Semeru which stands at 12,060 feet, together with its surrounding mountain landscape.
Flora and FaunaThe forested areas of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park can broadly be classified into three groups: sub-montane vegetation below 4,921 feet, montane vegetation from 1,500 to 7,874 feet, and sub-alpine vegetation above 7,874 feet. Towards the peak of Mount Semeru extreme conditions prevent any vegetation from growing. On the lower altitude slopes, tropical rainforest dominates with sub-montane species, such as figs and orchids, commonly found. As you ascend the mountain plant life is reduced, with hardier montane species such as species and edelweiss dominating the ecosystem up into the sub-alpine zone.
The surrounding Tengger Sand Sea is a sparse desert-like landscape resulting from volcanic sedimentation deposited by the surrounding active volcanoes.
The unpredictable volcanic activity, together with challenging high altitude conditions limit the faunal species within the park. Most notably, however, are a large number of bird species which either reside in or migrate through the area, together with illusive leopards and marbled cats which comprise the mammalian species.
Religion and FolkloreHindu Tenggerese communities fled to this mountainous region in the 19th century with the arrival of Madurese Muslim immigrants who came to work on Dutch coffee plantations. They still live in the region of the park and its surrounds, numbering more than 500,000, and practice their animist form of Hinduism, most visible to outsiders in the Poten Temple within the Tengger Sand Sea.
Javanese folklore dictates that a catastrophic eruption on Bromo during the 15th century swallowed the last borne child of the residing royal couple of the Kingdom of Tengger, after they refused to sacrifice him (as agreed) to the mountain. To appease the God, his brothers and sisters held an annual offering ceremony at the crater which is continued up until today on the full moon of the 12th month in the Tenggerese calendar.
Visiting the parkMount Bromo is the most accessible region of the park and an incredibly popular place for both domestic and international tourists, particularly at sunrise. The access village is Cemoro Lawang from where you can either hike or take a jeep up to one of a number of viewpoints across the park. Most tours head to the top of Mount Penanjakan for sunrise at around 3:30 a0 feet, accessed via a sealed road. In peak season you will see the line up of jeeps long before you reach the top and souvenir stands and snack stalls line the steps which lead up to the viewpoint.
While tiered seating is in place to cater to the large numbers of tourists who descend in anticipation for sunrise, finding a good spot to take photographs can be difficult along the fence line. While watching the sun appear behind the mountains of this incredible caldera is impressive, at Mount Penanjakan it is far from a serene or tranquil experience! An alternative is another viewpoint, part way between Mount Penanjakan and Cemoro Lawang. It sees far fewer visitors at sunrise, due to the challenging 90-minute hike in the dark from Cemoro Lawang, but it is a much more enjoyable experience.
Following sunrise, most jeep tours then stop at the base of Mount Bromo from where you can walk (or take a horse) across the desolate sand desert and up a steep staircase to the edge of the crater. From here you get incredible views into the steaming caldera and across the impressive landscape which surrounds. The ledge is very thin in places and precarious, so take extreme care if you decide to explore away from the main viewing area, and heed any warnings regarding volcanic activity. If you are visiting any of the elevated viewpoints for sunrise, remember to pack lots of warm clothing as temperatures are bitterly chilly at this altitude before the sun comes up.
In addition to the main sunrise/morning tourist trail, there are fantastic hikes throughout the park if you want to explore further and away from the crowds. From Mount Bromo you can trek for around three hours around the crater rim to Mount Penanjakan, taking in some stunning views, and then head back down to Cemoro Lawang, either along the mountain path or the sealed road. Alternatively, for experienced hikers the peak of Mount Semeru can be climbed over two days. It does, however, require a permit, available from the National Park office in Ranu Pani , and a guide is highly advisable in what is a challenging and active volcanic region.
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Author: Pip Strickland. Last updated: Apr 23, 2015