Whispering Sands and… Teletubbies: Mount Bromo, East Java

‘There’s an area here called Tellatubiss,’ Jack grinned.

My ears pricked up and my heart filled with excited wonder – a new place to explore!
‘Tellatubiss?’ I smiled, ‘What’s in Tellatubiss?’
Crinkles of laughter accompanied Jack’s cheeky smile. ‘It’s really beautiful, high green hills – you know, like the round hills in the Teletubbies?’
The Teletubbies?’ I frowned with confusion. And as Jack sniggered a little more, it sunk in. ‘Ohhh,’ I smiled and rolled my eyes, ‘Tel-e-tubb-ies… wait, what?’


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In the Land Cruiser and circling around the base of Mount Bromo, we were completely engulfed by an earthy brown, barren desert. The air was filled with dust and wind, and miniature dust devils rushed across the surface.  A few minutes later and now behind the mighty volcano, our eyes were hit with a smack of green. A beautiful, almost lime coloured, pastoral green, crawling form the earth right up to cover the gigantic hills that now surrounded us. What?!

We stopped in the middle of the pass way of the savannah. A small tent billowed in the breeze at the foot of the hills. Hungry and energy levels low, we entered the makeshift café and ordered some food and tea.
Whilst sitting on the wooden bench inside the café, like an owl I spun my head and body to gain a full 360 degree view of our new environment. Men in ponchos and small horses stood a few metres away from us. Beyond them a field of tall wavy grass carpeted the earth and rose and tumbled into mini humps and bumps. Beyond them, they transformed into high, rounded hills; the famous ‘Teletubby’ Savannah. Almost like a child’s crayon drawing of an idyllic countryside scene, they were perfectly sloped and spherical at the top, almost like perfect semi circles protruding  from the ground. You could clearly imagine our red, yellow, purple and green alien companions prancing around with that weird sun baby looking upon them, gurgling in the sky. They were the ideal landscape for a nursery rhyme; I could imagine Jack and Jill giddily tumbling down and Miss Muffet would have proudly eaten her curds and whey upon one of them.
Sitting amongst the tall, rippling grass and basking in the sun, my eyes which had been awake since 3.30am succumbed to lethargy, and I fell into a quick ten minute snooze.

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Feeling a little more revitalised after a midday nap, we drove onto our last point of the trip, an area of Bromo which the locals called ‘The Whispering Sands.’ Images of fearsome pharaohs and tales from A Thousand and One Nights flooded my imagination – it sounded like another of one of Sinbad’s many legends.
We arrived at our destination, and stepped out of the Land Cruiser, scarves around our faces to protect from the dust, just like Lawrence of Arabia himself. Dunes and mounds of taupe and black coloured sand filled the landscape, the mighty Mount Bromo looming in the horizon. Not a speck of green in sight now, this was a desert that resembled the arid deserts of the Middle East. If someone had snapped a photo and shown you, I would have imagined most people to have guessed somewhere around the Arabian Gulf – not in a million years would it be Indonesia.
But here we were, in the heart of tropical Java, in a desert.
The locals named in Whispering Sands because apparently when the weather is windy, the gusts pick up the sand and it causes a swooshing, whispering sound. Had it been at night time, I am more confident we would have heard the deserts’ hushed tones, but unfortunately we didn’t hear anything. However, it was the nevertheless a beautiful intriguing view and another example of Bromo’s diverse landscapes.

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Go Go Go!

How:  We rented a Land Cruiser from our hostel (Yoschi’s) and for the day it cost us around 600,000 RP (approx. £30) – hiking on foot is another option, but be sure to take appropriate walking shoes and perhaps a scarf and sunglasses to deter all of the dust flying about!

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6 comments

  1. cool, never actually heard about the wispering sand on Bromo. But that is funny i just watch a documentary on BBC 2 the other day about weird noises that sand makes. Didn’t realise they can be found in Indonesia. :D

    1. yeh I hadn’t heard of them before either – Indonesia is always full of surprises! Thanks for checking it out!

    1. thank you so much! your photos of bromo are insane!

  2. wow this place looks so different! I never knew Indonesia has such places.

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