Indonesia is famous for it’s volcanoes and Mount Bromo is one of it’s most impressive! This Mount Bromo Travel Guide shows why you should visit this natural wonder and gives tips about how to get here!
Indonesia is a huge country that is located on the ring of fire. Whilst this does mean the country has to face hardships it also means it is home to some fantastic natural beauty spots. Volcanoes in particular attract many tourists as there are many here that really do look spectacular. Mount Bromo is one of the most impressive and also the most accessible. This Mount Bromo Travel Guide is divided into 2 parts. The first part covers why you should visit the area and what there is to see and do! Then the second part of this Mount Bromo Travel Guide covers the practicalities such as getting here and where to stay.
Mount Bromo Travel Guide – Why should you visit the Mount Bromo volcano?
First some essential information. Yes, Mount Bromo is an active volcano. It does occasionally erupt! And obviously when it does, tourist activity is restricted. So before you go get on google and check the news! MAGMA Indonesia do monitor it and the others in the country, have a browse on their website if you are curious.
Of course, the fact that it’s active is also one of the major reasons to visit. You have the chance here to actually walk up to the crater and look down into it. To stare into an active volcano, smell the sulphur and see the smoke rising is something very special.
One of the popular activities is to view sunrise over the volcano. You do this by travelling up the nearby Mount Penanjakan. You get a great view of the crater and Sea of Sand. And you can look around and see other parts of the park too! Cloud allowing of course. When I visited it was quite cloudy in the morning due to smog from a nearby forest fire. Though later on it did clear up nicely. Many tour operators will take you by jeep up a fair amount of the mountain, then you can walk the rest. It can be quite tough walking some routes! If you struggle going up mountains then make sure you get a tour operator that will take you as near to the top as possible.
There are several viewpoints here. The main ones are easily identifiable. They have barriers and crowds of people! But walk up and around the back up to the King Kong Hill viewpoint. You will see that has arguably better views and a lot less crowds!
Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park
The park area is one of great natural interest and beauty. To reach Bromo crater you have to cross the Sea of Sand. This area around the volcano is very impressive. It formed from lava flows and volcanic ash that have spewed out over the years.
To note you will be offered a horse to cross the sand here. I absolutely advise against it. They are overworked and they do not look well cared for. Its walkable and you have to up the steps by yourself anyway. You can get a mask to help protect yourself against the dust. But please don’t pay those mistreating animals!
Mount Bromo Travel Guide – How to visit Bromo
Where to stay?
The main transport point for Bromo is Probolinggo. There is a a train station here that serves both west and east of the area. It’s also a good option to visit the national park from, there are several hotels and hostels.
From Probolinggo you can take a bus to Cemoro Lawang, the nearest settlement to the Bromo crater. Buses leave the terminal when full and there are stories of them waiting for hours and hours. Unless you pay extra to cover the empty seats, this is a common scam across South East Asia unfortunately. Once in Cemoro Lawang there is a lot of accommodation options on offer. Cafe Lava hostel is one that has a particularly good reputation in the backpacker scene.
I have also spoken to someone who did a jeep tour from Malang and really liked it. So if your visiting Malang before you go to Bromo then that is something to investigate as an option. The best bet is to check with your accommodation in Malang to see what is offered.
Taking a tour or doing it independently?
One of the key decisions when visiting the area is to decide how you want to visit. Do you join the crowds doing the tours or find a way yourself?
Joining a tour
When I visited Mount Bromo I did it as part of a tour from Probolinggo. Having arrived late into the city me and the 2 people I was with decided to stay here rather than try to get to Cemoro Lawang. We did a tour through Colorbox Guesthouse and it was a good one, there were 4 of us in total in the jeep. The 3 of us (i’d met the other 2 at the hostel in Yogyakarta) and another who joined. It picked us up around 2am and we arrived around 4am, to then climb up to the viewpoint on Mount Penanjakan for sunrise. Afterwards we rejoined the jeep which then took us to the Sea of Sand. From here we walked to the Crater and back. The tour included banana pancakes for breakfast.
There are of course many other tour operators out of Probolinggo, check with your accommodation what they offer. Tourism is a vital trade here and you will usually be able to book a tour for the next day without issue. And by usually I mean 99% of the time. There is some debate about park entrance fee’s. This wasn’t a problem with the tour from Colorbox, it seemed to be genuinely included in the price we paid (which was decent). In terms of Malang ask at the backpacker hostels. These are the places that will offer the best budget trips at short notice. In Cemoro Lawang there will be plenty of tours offered so just look around.
Doing it yourself
If you wanted to do it independently the best way would be to stay in Cemoro Lawang. From here you could walk to the viewpoint and to the Sea of Sand. Or ask/pay a local for a lift on their bike! The advantage here would be you get to do it at your own timescale, and don’t have to pay the tour fee’s. You won’t avoid the crowds for sunrise, but you can avoid them later on should you want to stay longer! The disadvantage of course is you have to make your own way here from Probolinggo and back. So weigh it up and make your own decision!
Getting here and departure?
As previously mentioned, the town of Probolinggo is the major transport point for Mount Bromo. Its at a central point of the train line between Surabaya (and beyond) in the west and Banyuwangi in the east. For the purpose of this Mount Bromo Travel Guide I have written the below in the way I did it. That it travelling from the west to Probolinggo, and departing for the east. If your doing it the other way round simply reverse it!
When booking train tickets it is advisable to do at least a day in advance! There are 3 types of seat. Executive, Business and Economy. Some train will only offer the first two. Business class is good way to balance comfort and budget.
From Yogyakarta and Surabaya
If your coming from central and western Java then you can catch a train to Surabaya to Probolinggo. This takes about 2 hours. You can also travel here direct by train from Yogyakarta, this is what I did when I visited. The train from Yogyakarta leave early morning (just after 9am) and takes over 8 hours).
Surabaya has an airport so you fly straight to there from several airports around the Southeast Asia region. From there as well as the train you can also take a bus or taxi to Probolinggo. You can also fly to Yogyakarta from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
In terms of Malang there are buses that go to Probolinggo if your not doing a tour from there. You an also take the train which takes about 3 hours.
The port city Banyuwangi is on the eastern tip of Java. From here you can take a ferry to Bali. Its also the gateway to visiting the Ijen volcano. It possible to travel to Banyuwangi in the afternoon having visited Bromo in the morning. the journey takes around 4 hours. Just make sure your ticket is booked in advance as this is a popular thing to do for backpackers who don’t wish to spend an extra night in Probolinggo.