The island of Java is probably the second most visited in Indonesia, and we understand why! The largest Buddhist temple in the world, the magnificent Hindu temples, the incessant activity of Yogyakarta … But also the volcanoes! Mount Bromo is THE volcano to see in Indonesia. It is located in eastern Java in the Tengger Mountains and culminates at 2,330 meters above sea level. You come to discover it with us?
How to get to Mount Bromo?
There are two possibilities: if you decide to go by yourself, you can take two trains to connect Yogyakarta and Probolinggo, then a taxi or a local bus to the village of Cemoro Lawang (know that these local buses are too often said to be crooks – even by the Lonely Planet!). Alternatively, for a more than reasonable price you can choose an agency that will take you there and find your accommodation.
After wondering whether we were going there on our own or not, we decided to go through a local agency (Losari). Indeed, when you compare time and price it is almost the same thing so we told ourselves that it would be more fun to be driven without worries!
The «tour» for Mont Bromo
We chose a package that took us from Yogyakarta to Cemoro Lawang (12 hours to reach the village at the foot of Mount Bromo), with one night on site, then a jeep ride to see the sunrise from Penanjakan Mountain and visit the Bromo crater, and finally a transport to Denpasar on the island of Bali (14 hours by local bus). Let’s go!
Day 1: Yogyakarta to Cemoro Lawang via Probolinggo
A minibus picks us up at the hotel at 07:30, we pass by another hotel to pick up 2 more couples and we will make the trip to Cemoro Lawang together. The journey will last 12 hours if all goes well (counting pauses and traffic). The arrival at the hotel at the foothills of Mount Bromo happened around 9:15 pm for us, so 14 hours!
The ride: Everything goes well even though we paid for a minibus with aircon and we didn’t have it …. It got a little hot in the van but we dealt with it. The driver stops in a place to eat. To our surprise it’s not a crowded place for tourists, and the prices are quite correct.
We take the road again and feel that the driver is drowzy and he can’t keep his eyes opened … We ask him to stop for a pause and a couple of tourists buys him an energy drink, we all want to get there safe!
The rest of the journey goes well and we arrive at the agency of Problinggo, where we make the check in for the hotels and where we are explained the progress of the next steps: waking up at an untimely hour, sunrise, visit of the crater, breakfast and again a 14-hour drive!
After paying the entrance tickets to the national park, we get in a car to get to Cemoro Lawang the village where the hotels are located. The journey lasts a good hour through winding mountain roads! Luckily for us we are so tired that we do not pay attention!
Arriving at the Adas Hotel, we read in the brochure that these are more basic hotels and they usually haven’t got any hot water but for the moment we are happy! The room is huge, there’s a TV (we don’t really care but there is one), and a bathroom that doesn’t look very nice, but we just want to take a shower.
We asked the hotel if we could eat dinner and there they said no, it was closed … But if we wanted we could go down the street (where there is no light since it was almost 22h and we were in the middle of the mountain) and “maybe you’ll find somewhere to eat”… Maybe! We were so tired that we didn’t even try. No dinner that night!
2nd day: visit of Mount Bromo and drive to Bali
Wait, what’s the noise? Oops, it’s the alarm clock ringing at 2:45am because the jeep will be waiting for us at 3am! It feels like we have not slept but we hurry to dress as warmly as we can and close our bags!
The jeep was punctual and they were waiting downstairs. On the way we picked up the couples from the previous day, right next door. They were able to dine but did not have hot water (looks like you can’t have it all!).
During a half hour journey by jeep we crossed what seemed to us the desert. We recognize that we did not know where we were or where we were going!
They left us on the lookout. There we climbed the stairs in the darkness and the mist to get up. And there we sat and waited because it was too early. In fact we wondered why they made us get up so early if afterwards we had to wait an hour and a half in the cold!
And then the light came but … oh my god, what a disappointment, what a drama! There was so much fog that you could not see anything, just a white screen! People started to leave, the two couples who came with us asked us if we should come back … no! We wanted to see our sunrise over Mount Bromo!
But 30 minutes of waiting afterwards, still nothing. So a bit sad we went back to the jeep. But we want to see the positive things, and we tell ourselves that we will have to come back again!
We returned to the jeep and 15 minutes later we stopped at the foothill of Mount Bromo, so that we would walk up there. We were super happy, the place is magnificent! We were at the foot of the crater, in the caldera, and we had to walk a few hundred meters and then climb to the crater. It is a totally unreal landscape!
To climb the crater you can hire a horse, but we did it on foot. It is not complicated, although sometimes it is hard to breathe for altitude and sulfur! The floor is covered with volcanic ash and the scenery is simply stunning! It was not the first time we visited a volcano but it is always an extraordinary experience.
The last part of the path is a ladder that reaches right to the edge of the crater. But beware, do not touch the floor or the railing, the ash sticks everywhere! On arriving upstairs, the smell was very strong, and there was a lot of smoke, but the place is awesome! We could not see the bottom of the crater, because that day it was too active. But the noise of the entrails of Mount Bromo is mind-boggling, and the views over the caldera and the other mountains are awe-inspiring.
After a while, we returned to the jeep, which dropped us off at the hotel. Breakfast was waiting for us (Hallelujah, food!). We were starving after waking up so early and without dinner. We then took a shower and at 9 a car was waiting for us to return to Probolinggo.
The ride was fast and amazing. We had to be in Probolinggo to get to the 10:30 bus that took us to Bali, so the driver stepped in! Have you seen Fast & Furious? Well a bit like this but in the mountains of Java. One of the girls in the group ended up throwing up!
In Probolinggo we got on the bus to Denpasar (Bali). The bus itself was very good: air conditioning, very comfortable seats, very few passengers … But they drive like crazy! Of all the journeys we have made on our trip around the world, we assure you that it was the worst! Even if it was a huge bus, it was overpassed every other vehicle, and we thought we were going to die about 20 times. We were able to rest a little on the ferry but we do not recommend this route very much.
You should also be advised that the bus does not stop for lunch. So 14 hours without eating is not ideal. Luckily for us, on the ferry between Java and Bali they sold packages of chicken and rice, and noodle soups.
The bus dropped us off at Mengwi bus terminal, a few miles from Denpasar (but we knew this, so no problem). From there we took a taxi to our hotel in Seminyak.
Tips for visiting
- Take warm clothes and good shoes to walk.
- Do not do this tour if you have motion sickness, or if you do take medication.
- Pack food for the trip and for dinner, as well as for lunch on the second day.
- 28 hours of driving over two days is a bit too much, so plan to keep yourself busy!
Prices for visiting Mount Bromo
The full visit of Mount Bromo will cost you 500,000 IDRs to be paid in Yogyakarta (transport and hotel in Cemoro Lawang) + 217,000 IDR to be paid to Probolinggo (entry fee), ie ID 717,000 per person in total.
This rate includes: Yogyakarta transport from your accommodation to Cemoro Lawang + overnight hotel + Mont Bromo entrance ticket (IDR 217,000 to be paid on site) + jeep ride (viewpoint of Penanjakan , Mount Bromo crater, return to the hotel) + transport to Denpasar with ferry included.
We enjoyed the stay even though you can imagine we were disappointed not to have seen the sunrise! The price is adequate for all the transport we took, we had no bad surprises (except the fact that the driver of the bus got his license in a lottery)! The Bromo is definitely worth the effort, the views are spectacular and it is not every day that one can visit an active volcano!