Macritchie Tree Top walk 01.01.2016

We started 2016 with a trail to Macritchie Tree Top Walk.
This is Boon Yee(9) and Boon Xin(7) first attempt (Read our 2011 experience)

The climb in numbers.
7am start.
3 hours, 7 km trail.
38 floors (FitBit) and 12000 steps.

Trip can be challenging but great company encouraged the kids to soldier on. Proud of them!
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Directional signs and maps to guide visitors. Keep to the boardwalk and track and you should not get lost.
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New paths are being mapped across the terrain, more exploration for kids. Stop to enjoy nature, the ants, spiders, and squirrels.
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I remembered the path was more rugged, with exposed roots last time. I would prefer mud over boardwalks anytime, for a more authentic nature experience.
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Parents need to control kids from dashing down slope, as they might find it hard to “brake”.
Some surfaces are rocky, exposed rocks can be sharp.
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We reached the suspension bridge after 1 hour.
Macritchie tree top walk with family

A wefie with Tan family to shout “Happy 2016!
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We are supposed to enjoy the moment, the serenity and the tree top expanse, but kids dashed across the bridge!
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Video : Tree Top walk highlight!

For first timers, there are two challenging points.
1) The steep incline after ranger station, with gradient of 40 degrees!
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2) … the endless steps after suspension bridge.
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Some fishes and pond skaters populate this pond and natural stream.
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* Take note of incremental weather notice.
– We had a close shave when a tree crashed 2 minutes after we walked past.
– After rain, kids might slip on wet boardwalk’s fallen leaves

Fitbit report, not shabby at all. We managed to finish the 7km Tree Top trail in under 3 hours.
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Additional tips for families :
– Target 3 hours with 3 to 4 breaks for trail. Slow and Easy.
– Hydrate, rest every 20 to 30 minutes for water break
– Tree Top walk can be accomplished by families, recommended for kids 5 or 6 and above.
– The numerous steps are manageable, but I might recommend more stairs/steps to condition your calves and hamstrings
– Trail is not stroller friendly
– No U-turn on suspension bridge
– Ranger station (after 50 minutes) can be your first pit stop. Refill, toilet break.
– Bring Mosquito repellent
– Bring rain coat or cap, there are few shelters from rain
– No feeding of monkies. They will snatch any exposed plastic bag, which they have associate with food.
– Suspension bridge only open at 9am, but ranger allow guests to enter at 8.30am 🙂
– Wear proper shoes, not sandals

Map of our trail.
1)Start from Venus carpark, 2)Reach Ranger (after 50 minutes), 3)Suspension bridge, 4) Heading back to Venus Carpark
Macritchie Tree Top walk map

More photos have been uploaded on our Fanpage album.
If Boon Xin can do it, your kids can do it too 🙂

Kawah Ijen or Mount Bromo

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A few things remained constant during our hiking trips.
Clear blue skies in the day, and starry nights!
Dusty and Sandy road around the volcanoes.
The views are always postcard perfect!
(read our 5D4N East Java Itinerary)

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Kawah Ijen or Mount Bromo, both are famous in East Java. If time permits, go for both.
For families with younger kids (under 12 years old), we would recommend Mount Bromo as Kawah Ijen requires a bit of stamina.

We covered Kawah Ijen and Mount Bromo on Day 2 and 3 respectively.
Both volcanoes do need you to wake up early, 1am and 2am respectively.

Having climbed up both volcanoes, the feeling is surreal and unbelievable. I could never imagine myself going so near to a live volcano. (Google “Ring of Fire” and you will get a listing of active volcanoes from Java to Sumatra!)

If you could remember, the smoke and ash from Mount Raung’s discharge in July August of 2015 closed down Bali and even Surabaya airport!
Indonesia volcano activity

One day earlier, before we touch down on Bali. Nuffnang bloggers were pampered by Garuda Indonesia’s inflight services (business class), and I love the pretty cloud formations.
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(Group photo courtesy from PurpleLightVisuals)

Seafood Bali, been there done that, we could spot happening Kuta beach at the other end of the sandy beach.
Bali seafood

We hopped onto Garuda’s ATR72 for an one hour flight to Banyuwangi. The packed itinerary meant we could only laze on Hotel Santika‘s bed less than three hours before morning call.
Hotel Santika

0100 – Too early, but we were eager to start our hike up Kawah Ijen (Kawah means crater).
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0200 to 0400 – We took two hours to reach the peak. Everyone can do it, but certain sections are very steep and slippery. I would recommend a head-torch to free your hands. If you need walking stick, grab them near the base, as it will be difficult to find walking sticks along the route.

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* Kawah Ijen TIPS *
– Temperature might be around 10 degrees. Three layers of clothes (including windbreaker) was enough for me as I was actually perspiring along the hike
– Whenever you are catching your breath at rest-points, off all lights and look up. The STARS are amazing!
– Clear your bowel before the climb, there is no toilet at the peak
– Covered shoes recommended, preferably hiking shoes
– Do not wear your finest clothes down to Ijen’s crater, as the sulphur smell will linger even after a few wash
– Those with a history of asthma should bring their inhalers along, as the path is dusty

Sample pricing (Ruppiah) for your reference:
Kawah Ijen Entrance Ticket :‎
Weekday : IDR 100000/pax‎, Weekend : IDR 150000/pax‎
Local Transport ( jeep, tropper) : IDR 75.000
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Miners will be touting their heavy-duty face masks at the peak, but some commented that it made breathing harder. I was ok without mask, but I need a N95 mask once I reach the crater lake. The sulphur fumes blowing in your direction will choke and sting your eyes.

Some guides will recommend that we should not stay more than 15mins at the base, this safety recommendation obviously does not apply to the miners. Hardworking sulphur miners laboured from midnight all the way to noon. Painstakingly lugging their 70kg load up the steep (and sometimes slippery) slope.
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The slow climb downwards took longer because of human jams and we need to give way to the miners.
For those who wish to catch the blue flame, make sure you reach the peak no later than 4am!

0550 – We took more than 90 minutes to climb down the crater, nearly missing the blue flames (as Sun was starting to rise). The phenomenon blue flame at Kawah Ijen is only visible in darkness, and occurs when sulphur is burning.
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We got nearer and nearer to the crater, there was a certain sense of urgency as daybreak means no more blue flames!
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I struggled to carry the sulphur load on my shoulder. Tourists can choose to buy sulphur souvenirs (20,000 IDR to 30,000 IDR).
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SGD 1 = IDR 10,000 (approximate)
Miners make two trips per day, carrying a 70kg load of sulphur per trip,
but earning less than USD10 (ie 140,000 IDR!)

While we are enjoying the sights, how many of us realised the miners’ tough lives?
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Kawah Ijen miners

Scenic landscape all around Kawah Ijen vicinity. Around the dirt track corner, we sometimes see clouds beneath us, and more peaks or valleys around the corner.
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With daylight, we can see clearly the winding paths appear before us. Did we really trek 2 hours through this path in total darkness?
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Friendships bonded through hardship, our Indonesian guides commended that the lifestyle bloggers still look so pretty after the hike.

Go slow when you descend, I slipped at least twice and landed on my butt, and I was wearing hiking shoes 🙂
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After our hike up Kawah Ijen, we reached Hotel Santika around 10am for breakfast, but most of us were too exhausted to enjoy the spread 🙂

distance from Kawah ijen to Mount bromo

1800 – After a 5 hour bus ride, bypassing plantations and more mountain ridges, bypassing Probolinggo. Freezing weather welcomed us near Mount Bromo. We stayed at Jiwa Jawa (also known as Java Banana).
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Would love to stay another night at this lovely resort in the hills, we can always see blue skies and mountains from any angle. Aircon is not necessary, as the temperature must be around 20 degrees in the evenings.
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0200 – As our jeeps convoy goes though the “desert” under darkness, you see only the lights from the jeeps infront and behind before we go up Mount Penanjakan. We reach the peak at 0400 but we can already spot a sizeable crowd gathering for sunrise.

0400 – Cup noodles and hot milo to keep us warm. Mount Bromo is definitely colder than Kawah Ijen, perhaps we had less exercise (no hiking needed)?
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My first attempt at Star trail. Difficult to take continuous exposures as someone will always shine a torchlight or camera flash in your direction. Imagine yourself standing at the peak, accompanied by stars, chilling wind, and anticipation.
Star Trail Mount Bromo

Mount Penanjakan is 2770m above sea-level, we can watch the clouds drift like currents below us. We need to wait two more hours before sunrise, and more people had gathered.
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0620. As the orange ball breached the horizon, and filled us with warmth, amazing moment 🙂
Sunrise Mount Bromo

The temperature is still hovering around 20 degrees, but everyone could not resist selfies with Mount Bromo. In case you are not aware, the smoking crater is Mount Bromo.
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* Mount Bromo TIPS *
– Temperature might be below 10 degrees. Minimum three layers of clothes (including windbreaker)
– Most people will watch Mount Bromo sunrise from Mount Penanjakan (cafeteria and toilets available)
– However, there is no toilet around Mount Bromo’s crater

Sample pricing (Ruppiah) for your reference:
Mount Bromo: Entrance Ticket :
Weekday : IDR 207500/pax‎, Weekend : IDR 307500/pax‎
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Local Transport ( Jeep Hardtop 4×4):
From Malang : IDR 1500000/jeep, From Pasuruan : IDR 800000/jeep (4 attractions),
IDR 600000/jeep (2 attractions)
From Probolinggo : IDR 750000/jeep (4 attractions), IDR 500000/jeep ( 2 attractions)
Rent a horse : start from IDR 125000 – 150000
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Video (link) : Catch our Jeep and Pony rides across Mount Bromo’s basin from 2.25 minutes onwards

We chartered our own four legged taxis, it was my virgin horse ride and I love the slow galloping motion across the plains (or “desert”). My kids would love this experience, which I felt was more fun than the jeeps.
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You can walk 30 minutes across the dusty plains. I would recommend ponies for families, not only because of the experience, but because you do not want to piggy back your kid across the dusty plains 🙂

Vendors will be peddling masks, a simple one will do for kids. I could do without the mask.
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250 steps up to get “Top of the World” feeling. The scenery really looks as good as those seen from travel magazines, but do take note of the sulphur fumes direction.
Mount Bromo crater

Above middle photo, our friendly photographer Chuan Ren from http://www.purplelightvisuals.com.
Thank you Pak and pony for the company (好多马!).
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Whispering Sand, when the wind blows and the sand moves, you can hear whispers 🙂
We cannot help but felt so small surrounded by mountain ridges.
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They named another corner of Mount Bromo Teletubbies (yes, the UK cartoon!) Just look at the cute green dunes and contours behind us.
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1000 – With a few happy jumps, we ended our Mount Bromo excursion on a high 🙂
Kawah Ijen or Mount Bromo

Between Kawah Ijen and Mount Bromo, I personally preferred magnificent Kawah Ijen. But I have no doubts that my kids would not be able to resist the jeeps and ponies at Mount Bromo 🙂

We will be sharing more sights, sound and smoke from our East Java Itinerary over the next few days.
Meanwhile, the following albums have been uploaded onto our Fanpage:
– Day 1 blog- 5D4N East Java Itinerary
– Day 2 and 3 blog – Kawah Ijen or Mount Bromo
– Photos Day 2 Kawah Ijen
– Photos Day 3 Mount Bromo

Wonderful Indonesia! I am still in awe of Mother Nature’s creations Kawah Ijen and Mount Bromo.
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All our flights, accommodation, food (and Bali massage too!) were sponsored by Garuda Indonesia and Ministry of Tourism (Republic of Indonesia). Insurance sponsored by Ace Insurance.

* Do pop by our earlier East Java post to score some Garuda Indonesia tickets discount
–> http://sengkangbabies.com/holiday/5d4n-east-java-itinerary