Bondowoso City, East Java

Bondowoso is located in East Java, Indonesia, between the highlands of Tengger and IjenFor most travellers is the gateway to Bromo and Ijen.

I stayed in Bondowoso a couple of days, just relaxing away from all the other places that are packed with tourists. The nearest largest city is Surabaya, approximately five hours away. Bondowoso is a nice, peaceful and clean town with considerably less traffic than other cities in Java.

I’ve found here super interesting markets, great food and nice people. The common dialects are Madurese and Javanese, although Madurese is the majority.

The food in Bondowoso is delicious and cheap, and they have food stalls everywhere in town at all times. They also have delicious coffee.

Bondowoso is known for its dessert, tape, that is made from slightly fermented cassava. Tape from Bondowoso has a special sweet taste that locals say can’t be imitated by other towns.

The traditional markets are a must, you can wander for hours just exploring. Locals were quite curious when they saw us, they were commenting, saying hi, and smiling a lot.

Bondowoso is a small provincial town easily walkable, but you can also get into a becak (bicycle rickshaw) if you want a break from the heat.

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Bondowoso has a park in the city centre, called Alun-Alun, with a magnificent view of the mountains.

The biggest adventure we had here was to try to rent a motorbike. Apparently, people here find it hard to say they don’t know or there is no such thing here in Bondowoso. Instead, we had people giving us all sorts of tips and directions that led to nowhere. We got rides in motorbikes from strangers without helmets that said: “we can deliver” ?

That day we “talked” with dozens and dozens of people, that didn’t speak any English neither we could speak their language, so google translator was our saviour.

By the end of the day, we were no close to finding a place to rent a motorbike, but we were well known around town.

We also went to a hotel to swim at their pool and refresh from the heat of the day.

To get to and from Bondowoso they have frequent buses.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Mount Bromo’s Sea of Sand, without crowds

To visit Mount Bromo, the active volcano in East Java, Indonesia, you will encounter the Tengger Sand Sea. Mount Bromo has a caldera of 10 kilometres surrounded by a vast plain.

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If you end up deciding, visiting it for free and without a tour, you will have the time of your life walking through it. To get to Bromo’s crater edge you must cross this landscape of fine volcanic sand.

As a vegan, I strong campagn for responsible animal tourism and I disencourage anyone from taking a ride from one of the horses there. Walking is healthier, kinder and so much fun. I can’t count how many pictures and videos I did of my feet, touching the mixture of sand and ashes. It was definitely an experience I will cherish till the end of my days.

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When you put your foot on the ground you will see fine sand rising up around your foot, creating a translucent blanket of dust. Its also really cool to feel hollow spaces underground, that were created by lava.

To have the place to yourself and avoid the crowds, climb the volcano late morning or in the afternoon because all the organized trips go early in the morning.

Make sure you take all the time you need to cross the sea of sand, enjoy the moon like landscanpe, and climb to to top of the volcano.

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photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha