Bromo to Madakaripura
Spirits were high after our morning adventure (previous post). We left Lava View Lodge soon after breakfast and got a look at the other side of the mountain village on the drive to Madakaripura. The sun was out now and brought life to the sky and fields. I wished we could have stayed for a couple of days here. We saw tourists walk around the local market and take in the sights of this bucolic mountain village — steeped in the culture of the Tengger Tribe.
Zipping through a Tropical Forest
As adrenaline levels dipped, tiredness slowly took over. The scenery outside our window changed with every shut-eye. We reached the outer gate of a tropical forest pretty soon.
Locals had discovered what a gem Madakaripura was and had seized the monopoly of taking tourists around. So, tourists are forced to rent an ojek to reach the main entrance of the waterfall, after which they have to hire a local guide to show them around. I could see that Eko, our guide, didn’t agree with this kind of tourism and it bothered him. But, for the locals who’s main livelihood was agriculture; I think tourism could give them an extra income. We had little to lose and they had much to gain. It worked for everyone as long as the prices were competitive and tourists weren’t harassed.
I hopped on an ojek and the driver zipped away in the tropical forests. I was scared of crashing somewhere or toppling over the edge of the road. And then, I started enjoying the wind hitting my face and nothing seemed to matter. Clearly, I had forgotten how much fun it is to ride a bike.
Like most cultural and natural gems in Indonesia, Madakaripura also has its own legend. My attention span had it hit an all-time low and I could hear Eko mumble words.
Back in the day, during the rule of the mighty Majapahit Kings, Gajah Madah would meditate in the sanctity of this cave. According to local texts, Gajah Madah was a strong commander who was responsible for the unification of the kingdom that spread across foreign shores. Madakaripura was the final meditation place of the commander and it’s believed that his body and soul transformed into another realm without physical decay. The waterfall is considered to be sacred by locals.
The Walk to the Falls
We had to walk for about 2 Km to reach the waterfall. It was a hot day and I hoped the effort would be worth it. At around 11:00 a.m., there were barely any tourists around and for most parts — we’d walk in silence. I followed the local guide whilst Eko and Basil trailed behind me. They discussed other places in Indonesia, especially Ijen. Once again, I overheard Eko wonder if I would be able to hike Ijen, and I decided to ignore him. Occasionally, we’d pass villagers on bikes with sickles jutting from the piled stacks of grass. Birds broke the silence and gushing rivulets added life to the dull parts of the walk. Our passage disturbed some monkeys and we got a shower of fruits on our heads.
We had bought raincoats from the main stall at the gate and slippers to replace our shoes. I hadn’t realised that Eko had changed into waterproof clothing. We were still dressed in long cotton pants. The first views of the waterfall were disappointing. I remember reading about the waterfall on Helen’s blog (Dancing with Shadows). This looked nothing like what I had expected. We put on our raincoats and I hoped there would be something better on the other side.
It gets very slippery inside (not in pics) and rubber slippers aren’t the best to walk with — on a rocky, flowing rivulet. The local guide asked if it was all right to hold my hand and guide me through. I’d already broken my front teeth as a kid and I didn’t want to repeat that mistake again. So, yes, I was happy to hold something and walk through the tricky stretch. Basil tried to protect his camera and not slip on the rocks. And then, we we had to put all electronics inside because we got completely drenched under the waterfall. Finally, we saw the waterfall from the other side. I remember Helen writing how words or pictures can’t capture its true beauty. I completely agree! Madakaripura is a natural gem and I’m glad few chose to visit during our trip.
The local guide was an expert in clicking pictures and coerced us to click pictures of ourselves. He was friendly and resourceful in navigation. We had to walk along a narrow path, along the rocky face of the cave, to get to the vantage point. There was considerable slipping and I was happy to have the local guide take me to safety.
Light and Dark
I don’t remember being so stunned by a waterfall before and I’ve seen many spectacular ones.
The Gushing Waterfall
The waterfall started from an opening above and fell into a clear pool of water below. I could have stood there forever.
Can’t get enough…
Madakaripura Waterfalls are naturally tucked in the valley of the foothills of the Tengger Mountains. While writing this post, I wondered: is there a reason why natural gems are hidden from us? Can we observe a hidden gem without destroying or creating infinitesimal changes that are irreversible? With travel becoming the ‘in-thing’, many natural wonders and cultural spots are in danger of being eroded by massive footfalls. Tourism can have far-reaching effects on the places we visit. Am I part of the problem? Should I have kept this to myself? Should we have even visited this stunning cave? I’m equally guilty and I can only urge travellers to preserve what-they-see (wherever-that-may-be) for the next visitor.
The Journey Back
We retraced our path back to the main entrance and saw more tourists walking towards the waterfalls. We had a quick lunch at a local restaurant and reached Surabaya (next post) by late evening.
A special shout-out to my dear friend, Yuna (Little Orange World) for messaging me on every single day of our trip and providing online support in any possible way. The warmth of the people of Indonesia has been truly wonderful and I would love to come back someday.
We’re going to take a sabbatical for a bit, but I will try to break the silence whenever possible. Hope to hear from you then!