Next up, climbing a volcano...

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Asia » Indonesia » Java » Mount Bromo
May 9th 2013
Published: May 18th 2013
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We have been on the road over 7 months now and we are tired. Not tired of travelling, as we love it, but always trying to do things independently, or the cheapest way, or the local way, whilst rewarding, gets tiring sometimes. With less than a month to go until we go home we didn’t have the energy (or the time really) to do this next part of our trip on our own, so we opted for the dreaded traveller sin – a tour. In saying that, this ‘tour’ actually worked out almost the same price as if we had done it ourselves, but without any hassle and it all went to plan, if not better. It was actually a highlight of our whole trip so far…

Since before we left home when we were researching this trip, we both said if we make it to Indonesia we really want to visit Mt Bromo, so in Yogya we looked around various tour companies offering overnight trips to this famous site, with transport onto Bali afterwards. Another site we wanted to see but weren’t sure if we would/could was Mt Ijen, but when we found out that you can visit both landmarks then go on to Bali, we got a good price and booked onto a 3 day/2 night tour. The prices being quoted were really high and we contemplated doing it all ourselves, but Scott dug his heels in and had his negotiating hat well and truly on, so we got a great deal in the end which was too good to turn down.

We had heard various scare stories about these kinds of trips and people not getting what they paid for, but we had been recommended a company by a couple we had met a few weeks back and felt positive with our choice. It’s always a good sign when the mini-van turns up on time, it’s not over-crowded and its brand new. We left Yogya at 8am for the supposedly 10 hour journey to Mt Bromo, and after a lunch stop and a change of bus in Probolinggo (at a surprisingly nice tour agency who were not pushy and very honest with the info on Bromo), we finally got to our hotel for the night at 10pm, just in time to order something to eat. The length of the journey surprised us as the driving, predictably like in the rest of Asia, was really fast the whole way, and yet it still took 14 hours. Anyway, Yoschi’s Hotel was 4km from Mt Bromo and very nice, with a lovely courtyard and comfy rooms, we were very happy as we had not expected anything this good! Knowing we had a very early start we went to bed after dinner to get a few hours sleep before the main activity the next morning.

At 3.30am we got up, wrapped up warm as we had heard early mornings were cold on Bromo and had a cute pre-packed breakfast prepared by the hotel of coffee, bread with jam and some fruit. It was then time to take a jeep to the viewpoint where we would see the famous sunrise from. Now we had deliberated long and hard over walking the 4km to the crater for sunrise or taking a jeep tour to the viewpoint approx. 8km away, and until the night before we were certain we were walking; it would be a good experience and we had heard not too many people chose this option. Jeeps are for lazy people we thought and they weren’t that cheap at 100,000rp (£6.60) per person, but after seeing some photo’s from both perspectives and speaking to the guy in the tour office, we actually opted for the jeep tour! This was because a) we wanted to see the best sunrise we could which we thought would be from the viewpoint, and b) we couldn’t get to the viewpoint and the crater rim of the actual volcano in enough time and get back to the hostel as we were not staying near it and had to be back at 9am for our onward transport. So at 4am, we hopped in the jeep and made the ascent.

We shared the jeep with a nice Spanish family who were on our mini-van the day before and it chugged its way up and up the windy roads for a good 45 minutes – in the pitch black and feeling cold and tired with not much sleep we were pretty glad we hadn’t attempted to try and walk this – call us lazy but we feel we have done more than our fair share of walking/trekking/climbing/hiking etc these last few months! Anyway, we got near what we thought was the viewpoint and were greeted with loads of jeeps, motorbikes and people – the downside to going the easy way is obviously sharing with the masses – all heading to the same spot. We got out as the driver couldn’t go much further due to the gridlock and started to walk up the rest of the steep roads, but when dawn was breaking and we didn’t seem to be near the top we started running, weaving in and out of the traffic for a further 1km , struggling for breath due to the altitude – we did not want to miss the sunrise, especially after paying for the jeep to come up here.

Finally we made it to the top, breathless but excited, and we got to witness one of the most, if not the most, spectacular sunrises we have ever seen. The sky turned from burning orange to bright red to hot pink and purple all in the space of about 15 minutes, and the views over Mt Bromo below were just incredible. From where we were on Gunung Penanjakan we could also see across to other major peaks including Mt Kursi, Mt Batok and Mt Semeru, and whilst Gunung Bromo is the most famous it is also the smallest at 2392m, but no less impressive. Yes it was busy at the viewpoint, but the views across this vast crater were amazing and we were really glad we had chosen to come up here and get the money shot. No exaggeration, it was one of the best things either of us has ever seen. The crowd was mainly local tourists, who all cheered when the sun came up, although there were a few obnoxious European’s as well who poked us to move as we were ‘blocking their view’…there had to be over 200 people up here all craning their heads to see this beautiful sunrise, the view doesn’t belong to you! Always one…anyway, after gawping at the landscape and taking lots of photo’s of this once in a lifetime view, we headed back down to our jeep where we continued onto the next stop.

As we got out near the base of Mt Bromo, we felt like we had been transported into a scene from a Wild West movie. Along with the dark volcanic ash that covered the Laotian Pasir (sand sea) on the way to the base of the volcano, there were locals challenging the cowboy look atop horses who were galloping around kicking up dust clouds, it was very strange. We walked for about 20 minutes over and up the ash which was like walking uphill on soft sand, so not that easy, until we then had to climb over 250 steps before we got to the lip of the volcano. This offered views down into the crater and you could see the steam rising from it, as well as views back over the Laotian Pasir, and while it was exciting as we had never set foot on an actual volcano before ,and it was cool to see, we felt happy with our decision to see the sunrise from where we did.

After spending some time walking around part of the lip we descended and had the long walk back to the jeep. We got back to Yoschi’s and had our second breakfast of the day (tasty Nasi Goreng), and while I managed to nab the only hot shower Scott had to settle for probably the coldest shower of the trip! It was then time to be whisked away back down to Probolinggo where we would get our onward transport for the second leg of the trip…so far so good!

S&V's Travel Info & Tips:

General Info: Approx 15,000 INR/RP (Indonesian Rupiah) to £1.

Transportation: All transport info on the trip will be written in the next blog. The jeep up to viewing platform 1 and to the bottom of the rim was 100,000 INR

Food: When our minibus stopped at the usual overpriced tourist stop, we walked a few 100 meters up the other side of the road and found a local warung at a fraction of the price.

Accomodation: We stayed at Yoshi's guesthouse which although included in the trip, we would recommend to all travellers. Standard priced rooms were 150,000 INR with breakfast.

Other observations:

x) The viewing platform is very crowded, so get there as early as possible, the views are so worth it though.

Additional photos below
Photos: 58, Displayed: 28


18th May 2013

Ah, the dreaded tour....sounds grand. Sometimes we travelers make all tours out to be villains when sometimes they just make the travel a bit easier. Your photos are top notch. What a grand adventure. Carry on.
19th May 2013

Your pics tell me we should go back to Bromo. We went in wet season around New Year and while we had the best time with the Tengger people I was conscious the views would be better in dry season. Point confirmed.

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