Mount Bromo which stands tall at 2329 m is the most iconic and the most hiked mountain in Indonesia. It beckons majestically despite having the entire top blown off and with a crater inside that keeps spewing off white sulphurous smoke. Mount Bromo is still one of the most active volcanoes in the world and there are areas that are blocked off from tourists due to its imminent danger. It sits inside the massive Tengger caldera (volcanic crater with diameter approximately 10km), surrounded by the Laut Pasir (sea of sand) of fine volcanic sand. After an easy hike, travelers are awarded a breathtaking and ethereal landscape during the sunrise.
Myth has it that Mount Bromo is significant to the Tengger people who believe that the site is where their brave prince sacrificed his life for his family. To appease the Gods, the people will offer food and money by throwing it into the crater of the volcano once a year during annual Kasada (or Kasodo) festival.
Where is it
Mount Bromo is situated inside Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, beside Mount Semeru at East Java, Indonesia.
To be awe in nature’s best combination of beauty and danger, an active volcano that can be so foreboding and desolate yet so beautiful. The view itself is almost out of this world and be the reason enough to go there!
When is the best time to go
June – August where there is less rain but more tourists. August is also the month for the Kesada / Kesodo festival for the Tengger people if you are interested.
But that being said, Indonesia being a fairly mild weather of just rain and shine, anytime is a good time to go Mount Bromo, only check out for local weather when you are there for the best clear sky for your sunrise experience. If you do not have many days then hope for the best when you are there.
Also try to avoid weekends if you do not want the crowd.
What to see
Mount Bromo of course.
Tenggerese houses which is unique to its kind, while take some time to understand the fine Tengger people.
A Tenggerese Hindu temple known as The Poten that sits nearby Mount Bromo, looking both eerie and peaceful on the sea of sand.
Hike up Mount Penanjakan in time to catch the sunrise over Mount Bromo. It takes about 1-2 hours hike to the first vantage point. Sun rises at 5.30am, therefore usually you have to plan when to start hiking depending on your fitness level. Maps and information are readily and easily available at one of the many official locations. Extra tip is that you may want to hike earlier to avoid the crowd and get a good spot as you may find a lot of people crowding the vantage point to view the sun rising over Mount Bromo. If you have the time and energy, there is another less-crowded vantage point higher up with unobstructed view of the sunrise. Find and scale the slope behind the shelter to get to the higher flat land.
Trek down Mount Penanjakan and up to Mount Bromo summit. Here you can trek down and then across 3km sand of sea and then upwards to summit the caldera of Mount Bromo. It takes about 1-2 hours again depending on your fitness level.
Where to stay
You may find various guesthouses and basic hotels located around Mount Bromo, as that place is popular for tourists. Try to stay nearby so that you can do the morning hike up to catch the sunrise easily. Lots of guesthouses or hotels are situated at the crater rim. I stayed in Cemara Indah, it was an overall pleasant stay but most important was it is located right behind the trail to start trekking up for sunrise. If you prefer more of a hotel, a popular one here is Jiwa Jiwa Bromo *.
But if you want to stay a little bit further away, you may stay in nearby towns such as Malang, or at some of the cool mountain resorts offer spectacular view of Mount Semeru and Mount Arjuna.
What and where to eat
Every lodge, guesthouse or hotel normally serves food as well for travelers. There are also few independent eateries around to choose from such as Bromo Corner Café and Waroeng Basuki, or you may just head on to simple roadside warungs and enjoy basic local Indonesian food. You should also try out the hot Javanese coffee (kopi panas). All restaurants will open by 3am as that is when most people start to wake for the hike to catch the sunrise.
Fly into Juanda international airport at Surabaya. There are direct flights from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Bali. If you are flying domestic from Jakarta, you may take Sriwijaya that flies twice weekly. Take note of domestic departures cost is 40,000 Rp tax while international departures cost is 200, 000 Rp tax.
Distance from Surabaya airport to the Mount Bromo national park is about 70km and the time it takes is around 4 hours due to heavy traffic and congestion. On the way, you would pass Probolinggo town which lies at the major highway across java. Here is where most backpackers would usually share a transport to take them up to the Bromo Tengger Semeru National park. Or get a complete overnight sunrise tour from Surabaya to Mt. Bromo and back.
How to get around
If you are able, then trekking or walking is the best way to experience Mount Bromo but you may take ponies or horses across the sea of sand to the bottom of the steep stairs that leads to the crater.
Where to go nearby
Malang – Cultural capital of East Java
Ijen crater – 6 hours drive away. Magnificent turquoise sulphur lake that exudes flames, blue fire at night and smoky white in the day.
Bring a jacket and gloves as it may get chilly up there. In a pinch, you can rent a jacket at around 25k rupiah and buy a glove at 20k rupiah.