Mount Bromo: why you don’t need a guided tour

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Located west of Bali, Java is known for being the most populated island in the world. Despite that, this stunning Indonesian island hides so many natural wonders. One above all: the incredible Mount Bromo.

If you are travelling to Indonesia, you can’t miss it!
When you get to Mount Bromo you will see that there are many guided tours available, but if you want save some money or you’re just seeking some adventure, we’d recommend you to do it yourself!

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SKIP AHEAD:


How to get to Mount Bromo

Mount Bromo is located in East Java, and the closest airport is Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, roughly 3,5 hours by car.

To visit Mount Bromo there are mainly 2 options: by departing from the city of Malang or via the city of Probolinggo.

As far as we know, the option from Malang is much more complicated as it would require to cross the park, so we didn’t even consider it. If you are willing to explore mount Bromo from Malang, search for other blogs that will be certainly more helpful than ours.

For all the other cases, we would highly recommend the option from Surabaya (or wherever you are) – Probolinggo – Mount Bromo.

  • If you are already in Java, you need to head to Probolinggo, and just ask your hosts, google or locals for the best way to get there.
  • If you are coming by flight through Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, you can either come by bus or by car.

BY BUS:

The journey from Surabaya to Probolinggo is not an arduous one. The bus ticket should cost no more than 50.000 IDR ($3.5 USD) and it takes around 3 hours. All buses depart from Purabaya Bus Station (yes, Purabaya, not Surabaya).

Once you get to Probolinggo, you will need to jump into a small minivan to complete your journey to Mount Bromo.

This ride to Cemoro Lawang (the last town before mount Bromo) will take upwards of 90 minutes, and it will cost about 20,000-30,000 IDR ($2 USD) one way.

Keep in mind that the last minibus leaves around 8 pm.

Where exactly you should stop for the night really depends on what your plan is, but you will probably want to stay in Cemoro Lawang (check “WHERE TO STAY” for more info)

BY CAR:

This was the best option in our case. Renting a car for the journey from Surabaya to Cemoro Lawang won’t cost more than 600.000 IDR ($41 USD) and you can actually easily bargain it down (keep in mind that the price for a whole day (12 hours) car rental with driver in Java is about 650.000 IDR). Obviously, you can share the price with other people if you are a group.

The journey from Surabaya to Cemoro Lawang takes about 3.5 hours.

If you are landing in Surabaya in the afternoon as we did, you may be late to catch the last minibus from Probolinggo so hiring a car may be the best option.

Where to stay in Mount Bromo

As we mentioned before, the closest town to visit Mount Bromo is Cemoro Lawang.

Sitting at 2,217 metres (7273.622 ft) above sea level, this town is the last village before Mount Bromo and it overviews the sand sea that surrounds Mount Bromo as well as the other volcanoes.

You can see the volcanoes from above directly from a viewpoint in Cemoro Lawang, which makes it a nice spot for star photography.

The only case you do not need to sleep in Cemoro Lawang is if you are planning to visit Mount Bromo with a pre-arranged jeep tour. In this case, since they will pick you up from your homestay anyway, you may just want to look for a more comfortable – and cheaper – hotel.

Mount Bromo, Cemoro Lawang Map by google

About the location, the best accommodation is Cemara Indah Hotel (check location here), so you most likely want to sleep there or very close to that.

Cemara Indah Hotel is also where the viewpoint of Cemoro Lawang for star photography is. Check it out in the evening.

There are many accommodations in Cemoro Lawang, check Booking.com for more options. Accommodations are very basic and not really clean, and remember it gets very cold at night!

What to see and do in Mount Bromo

Be prepared for witnessing one of the best sunrises of your life.

Alongside Raja Ampat and Komodo National Park, Mount Bromo is a MUST-VISIT place in Indonesia.

There is a set of viewpoints from which you can watch the sun rising and lighting up Gunung Batok and Mount Bromo.

Sunrise Mount Bromo

SERUNI SUNRISE VIEWPOINT

The lowest viewpoint is called Seruni View Point:

this viewpoint is easily accessible from the town of Cemoro Lawang. It’s a 3km walk, which starts quite flat and then becomes quite steep, and it takes about 2 hours with a total elevation gap of 250m.

There is only one road going up here so you can’t miss it.

KING KONG HILL

The highest viewpoint is called King Kong Hill and it’s 3.8km far from Cemoro Lawang. It is about 200 metres higher than Seruni Viewpoint and the total elevation gap with Cemoro Lawang is about 440 metres.

NOTE: Guided tours get here by car, so don’t expect to be by yourself once you make the effort walking up.

There are many different spots to watch a stunning sunrise in between those 2 viewpoints, so if you are walking up, don’t give up and search for the best spot!

TIP: If you are using MAPS.ME you will have a more detailed map with several more viewpoints displayed.

MOUNT BROMO CRATER RIM

Another must-do experience is walking up the crater rim of Mount Bromo.

After watching the sunrise from one of the viewpoints you can walk down into the caldera (sand sea) and then up to the Mount Bromo crater rim.

The sand sea is the dustiest environment you’ll ever see. The walk (about 2km) is flat until you reach the temple at the base of Mount Bromo, after which a steep walk begins. There are local people who will try to sell you a horse ride, but you don’t really need it.

There are stairs to walk up the last (and steepest) part, so don’t be afraid of going up.

Once you are at the top, you can look straight into mount Bromo.

There are some safety barriers along the first part of the crater rim, but always pay extra attention since it’s very dangerous.

Check out the next chapter for detailed information about the different ways to experience it!

Guided tour vs DIY

SUNRISE GUIDED TOUR:

The “jeep mafia” of mount Bromo is quite real. They want you to join a tour, even if you don’t really want or need to.

This is what to expect from a guided tour. They will pick you up at night on a 4×4 jeep and you will reach the highest viewpoint, where a lot of people are waiting for the sunrise at the same spot.

The PRO of it, if you will, is that you won’t have to walk. The CONS are that you are missing out part of the fun (the trek itself is part of the experience), and that you will most likely rush your visit since you are part of a group.

From the viewpoint, you will jump in the jeep again, drive down into the caldera and park in the sand sea. You have to walk then up the Bromo crater rim, visit it and when the group is done you go back to the jeep and they drive you back to your homestay.

The entrance fees are:

  • Weekday IDR 235000/person
  • Weekend IDR 335000/person (weekend; Friday, Saturday and Sunday

An example of the prices for a private tour with a private jeep, including the entrance fee, provided by one of the hotels of Cemoro Lawang are:

(Monday, Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday)

  • 2 Locations: IDR 850000/jeep for 2 person
  • 4 Locations: IDR 1100000/jeep for 2 person

(Friday, Saturday, Sunday)

  • 2 Locations: IDR 950000/jeep for 2 person
  • 4 Locations: IDR 1200000/jeep for 2 person

DO IT YOURSELF:

This is what we did and what we will focus on in this blog post. You don’t really need a guided tour to visit mount Bromo and doing it yourself is a much more enjoyable (and a much cheaper) experience.

First of all, you need to set up an early alarm. A very early alarm!

Sunrise is at about 5 AM, so you need to wake up quite early to get up the viewpoint at least half an hour before sunrise, considering that the walk up takes about 2 hours.

At this time of the day is SO cold (8°C or lower)! Make sure to pack warm clothes!

NOTE: If you can’t wake up so early for any reasons, you can actually arrange with your homestay a one-way motorbike ride from your place to the base of the viewpoints. It will save you over 1-hour walk in the dark for about $5 USD.

From the town of Cemoro Lawang, facing the Mount Bromo, you have to walk RIGHT.

There is only one road: you can’t really miss it.

The best viewpoint, if you are looking at “maps.me“, should be called “Seruni Sunrise Point 2”.

We stopped there and it was only us, although many people were walking up. The view was just great. After sunrise, you can walk down on the same path until you reach again Cemara Indah Hotel.

We are referring to this hotel because from this spot is where you can walk down into the caldera. Once again, we recommend using the app “maps.me” instead of google maps to find this place.

This shortcut will allow you to save some time, but also to avoid the ticket gate. Rangers may be present, but if you are going not exactly after sunrise you will probably be fine.

In our case, we decided to chill and have breakfast after sunrise, mainly to avoid the crowd that was moving from the sunrise spots into the caldera on the jeeps. After a while, most jeeps (and tourists) were gone.

We walked down at about 9 AM and it was much less crowded than expected, plus it was for free.

Once you get to the sand sea (the red point on the left of the vegetation) you are practically done. You will be in front of a super flat desert, in fact, a sand sea. It’s very, very dusty!

You will see the Mount Bromo from there and you can just walk on a straight line until you reach it.

Some locals will approach you offering a motorbike ride or a horse ride. You won’t need it in our opinion, but it’s still an option.

FAQ and tips

  • How long does it take to visit Mount Bromo?

– We did it in less than a day.

If you are short in time like we were but you don’t want to miss Mount Bromo, you can get to Cemoro Lawang in the afternoon, watch the sunrise, get to the crater rim the next morning and you will be done at mid-day. However, if your travel plans allow you, you might consider spending some more time there and watch the sunset on the crater or explore the surrounding areas. It would definitely be less crowded than the morning.

  • Is it worth to go to Java just to visit Mount Bromo?

– Yes, absolutely.

Actually there are several other things to do and see in Java, such as Tumpak Sewu (one of Indonesia’s most beautiful waterfalls), Kawah Ijen (a complex volcano home of the largest acidic lake in the world), the temples of Yogyakarta or the hidden islands of Karimunjawa just to name a few, but if you are short in time you can easily visit Java and Mount Bromo in 2 days/1 night.

  • When is the best time to visit Mount Bromo?

– The best time to visit Mount Bromo is during the dry season, from April to October. The national park is open all year round, however, the incidence of rain is higher during the other months.

  • How difficult is the trek?

The trek overall is quite easy. There are a few steep parts but it’s nothing like the mount Rinjani or other difficult hikes.

  • What are the temperatures of Mount Bromo?

– The temperature in Mount Bromo can be as low as 5 Degrees Celsius before sunrise. The temperature in the late morning will be around 15 to 20 Degrees Celsius.

What other backpackers say

@bender_ca & @bwils_ca – Date of visit: December 2017

The morning begins in the quaint mountain town of Cemoro Lawang.

We stayed at a tiny guesthouse offered by a nearby local upon our arrival, we layered on all our warm clothing and hit the sheets around sundown.

THE HIKE

Woke up at 3:30 am and began following the uphill road (on the right at the fork) to get up to the local viewing point. Keep in mind there are some tourist taking Jeep rides to this viewpoint so it’s very very difficult to get lost en route.

Just grab your headlamp (only needed for the initial dark road after the town) and walk on the road toward the bright lights of the Jeeps that are clearly marking the route above.

The route is simple, it’s a road that gains elevation with many switchbacks, there shouldn’t be any confusion. Once the road ends where all the Jeeps are parked you will take stairs that also climb and have many switchbacks towards the viewing area.

THE VIEWPOINT

We were quite disappointed when we arrived at the viewing area because there we so many people there talking loudly, taking selfies and vendors selling things. After taking a look around we realized that behind the big crowd there was a rocky wall with some steep rocky/muddy trails heading further up, so we decided to climb higher.

We were able to get up to another ridge about 50 meters higher and sit quietly with two awesome Dutch guys to enjoy the sunrise over Mount Bromo.

INSIDE MOUNT BROMO

At the conclusion, we made our way down to the Sea of Sand (flatlands surrounding the volcanoes) by discovering an unmarked path beside Cemara Indah Hotel.

We walked for roughly an hour or two from our sunrise viewpoint to the base of Mount Bromo while enjoying the unbelievably beautiful landscape in peace. Others chose the Jeep or motorbike option, but we took the heel-toe express.

THE CRATER RIM

Finally, on the ridge of Bromo after the crowded stair climb, we walked around the rim of the volcano to a point where we were alone and could truly feel how small we were in comparison to the loud roaring beast that is Bromo.

We decided to hire a motorbike back to the town centre as on the way down huge dreary clouds rolled in and it began pouring rain. Despite the rain, it was an incredible experience we will never forget, it absolutely pays off to work a little extra to discover this region independently.

There are many tours overcharging for something that can be done with a little sense of adventure. Enjoy!


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