Mount Bromo
Sunrise over clouds and ash.

An experience we’ll never forget.


Have you ever felt tired, cold, uncomfortable… and then something happens that makes you completely forget about it, and suddenly it’s the best thing that has ever happened to you?

Then you may experience something similar if you decide to visit Mount Bromo on your own. Trust us, it’s worth it!


With just a few hours of sleep after the crazy day we had trying to get here (read all about it here), we woke up at 3am, grabbed the warmest clothes we’d packed specifically for this day, took our backpack and cameras, and started our trek!

Pitch black night in Cemoro Lawang, nothing makes you suspect, no metter how many pictures you’ve seen before, what you’ll witness in a few hours.
We catched up with our Ukranian friends from the van ride as the track started to get steep. Jeeps and horses will pass by you with those who’ve decided they don’t need to suffer to enjoy. No judging here, sometimes we are also in that category. But not today.
We can’t see it but we are walking along the edge of the giant caldera of Mt. Bromo. As we advance and get higher, the first lookout points start to appear. Jeeps are parked, some food stalls start their bussiness day and people are looking for the perfect spot for sunrise. We decide to keep going as high as we could. We pass by Seruni viewpoints 1 and 2, where our friends decide it’s been a long enough hike.
From here, things get a bit sketchy. We know there will be a better view from the to, but there is no real track to keep going. Tourists who go to the Penanjakan or King Kong viewpoints often do it by jeep or scooter, and they take a different route. And we understand why. With just our headlights, we venture up using a small path more appropriate for goats than people; muddy and wet. We don’t cross paths with anyone else, which makes us wonder if we’ve made a mistake by not staying down with our friends. We pass bay a few post that seem to be on the very edge of the crater (hard to actually tell since we can’t see farther than our headlamps), and which we’ll find out on our way down that would have been awesome spots to watch the sunrise completely on our own. But still, we keep going up the hill with the distant promise of a more comfortable location to relax and watch the sun rise.

TIP. If you follow our path, which is certainly not the easy one, you can choose to stay by yourself at the very edge of the crater in any intermediate spot and experience sunrise alone.

You may not have the 360 views that you’ll find at the top, but you’ll avoid the crowds!
After what seems like ages give the difficulty and darkness, we start hearing people’s voices again. A steep, muddy stint higher, and we’ve finally reached our destination! We are at the view point of King Kong Hill.
Since this area is also accesible by car, and therefore still quite crowded (although many people will not reach it and stay at the Penanjakan view points, with warungs, shops and parking lot), we keep hiking a few metres up until the hill itself hides the people. We set up or tripod, and more importantly a blanket to sit on the cold, wet floor, and we wait….



Our thoughts of «we should have stayed at the first viewpoints» or «this was not the best idea», are quickly put on hold by the views.

The most beautiful scene we’ve ever witnessed (perhaps only comparable to sunset on a glacier in Iceland) unveils in front of us. We stop feeling the cold, we stop thinking about how are we going to get down, and we just look mesmerized at the natural spectacle of SUNRISE OVER MOUNT BROMO.
The clouds are stuck inside the huge crater that surrounds the three peaks inside of it, and it feels like a white lake that slowly dissolves to reveal a darker texture, a sea of ash and sand.
It was all definitely worth it, and we’ve only seen this view so far!
After perhaps an hour admiring how the sun starts to lit up the textures of it, the wind and the cold get us back to our corporeal selves.
Time to get down and into the crater.


The hidden (and free) path

Imagine how good sunrise was, that we decided to walk down the same way!!

It’ not as bad in daylight, of course. It’s still tricky, but at least you can see where you are stepping and which branches will hit you in the face. The light is perfect for photos on the way down. Viewpoints are starting to empty, which makes us hurry up as much as we can to avoid being last to the smokey crater.
If you don’t want to pay the entrance fee, and more importantly, want to be by yourself in the sea of sand for a good hour at least, then this is what you should do:
On the way back to Cemoro Lawang, there is a hidden path used by locals and horses. It’s hard to spot it and it has no sign at all, but you can use as indication a small cabin with blue windows which looks like its meant to hosts a guard to keep this entrance closed. It will be empty, don’t worry. Right in front of it, try to get as close as possible to the edge of the crater, and then you’ll see a zigzagging track going down. It may be wet, since it doesn’t get much sunlight until later in the day, so make sure you pack good hiking boots.
It will leave you down on the sand flats, and they’ll be all yours to cross, far from the noise of the jeeps, bikes and horses. We really enjoyed this part of the experience
We knew about this in advance, and we used the Wikiloc app to find the entry point. We had no internet during our whol Indonesia trip, but made screen captures of the route and checked on our offline maps often.



After crossing the sand flats, you’ll arrive at the jeep parking area at the feet of Mount Batok (the first one of the three peaks), and then to the temple complex closer to Mount Bromo.

Things get busier here, but you’ll probably be happy by now to sit for a while in one of the food stalls to have a snack while letting your legs rest before heading up the stairs to the edge of the Bromo smokey crater. Motorbikes, horses and hordes of tourists, both local and foreigners will be heading to the stairs by now.

We felt like the horses were in pretty bad shape, and therefore ask you to not ride them. If no one rides them, perhaps they’ll stop using them for this…

Our recommendation would be to either be there pretty early or, if you’ve already missed that opportunity (which we did by making the walk through the sand field instead of hiring a jeep or a scooter), there’s nothing wrong with waiting a little bit before going up the stairs. There is a very obvious rush hour at around 9am. Everyone will be up there and though the noise of the active volcano will prevail, it won’t be the most pleasant and photogenic experience.
Take our advice and have breakfast down at the food stalls, and when you see more people going down than up, then it’s you time to hit the stairs! We bought some water and cookies since we had taken some fruit with us, for 30.000 IDR (1,80€).
Chances are if you are not in good shape you may need to do a couple stops on the stairs before reaching the top. These are not you everyday stairs. Once up on the crater’s edge, make sure you walk towards either side, as most people will just stay where the staris end, take their picture and go back down. You’ll find some more solitude, and a different perspective, from either side of the narrow track along the edge.
The rumbling inside the crater and the sulfur smell will make you feel like the earth is alive and powerful. We love that feeling. We love realising how small we are in places like this.

TIP. Wear layers that you can take off during the day. It’ll be cold and windy up in the viewpoints, but it gets hot once you get down to the Bromo and start going up the stairs to the crater.


Quick summary

After wandering at the crater’s edge for a while, we decided it was time to get back, given we had a flight from Surabaya to Makassar that same night. After the experience of getting here, we were not sure at all that we’d make it and not lose our flight.

With our legs pretty tired from hiking since 3 am, we decided it would be a cool experience to hire a couple motorbike guys to take us back from the crater to Cemoro Lawang. Two bikes for 100.000 IDR (6€) sounded good enough, but don’t even ask for helmets.

We were still hungry from ourlight breakfast, so we stopped by the only place that seemed to be open in Cemoro (the Lava Cafe, which is much better, was closed) and had omelettes and pancakes at 10:30am for 70.000 IDR (4,20€).

Satisfied, headed back to our guest house, took a shower and packed our backpacks. Time to find a ride down the mountain and back into Probolinggo. The system is the same: Go to the main street and find the corner where it splits in two (there are a couple small shops and you’ll probably spot the same green old van that got you up her). Talk to the van guys, and wait for more tourists to arrive. The price will be the same, 500.000 IDR for the full van, but there will be plenty of people going down at this time, so it will be a lot cheaper per person. In our case, it was 11 people sitting almost on top of each other, with our backpack on the roof rack.

Once in Probolinggo, go to the same bus station you arrived to, and ask around for your destination. We were headed to Surabaya, and the only bus we found was in terrible condition and more expensive than the day before: 80.000 IDR(4,8€).

WARNING. Even the bus driver warned us not to fall asleep during the trip from Probolinggo to Surabaya. And of course, never lose sight of your luggage!

People will get up on the bus pretty often, take a look around to spot distracted tourists, and get down on the next red light.

Traffic into Surabaya can be hectic and the bus ride took a lot longer than the day before. Luckily, a bus shuttle from Bungurashi Terminal to Surabaya airport for just 50.000 IDR (3€) for two tickets was about to leave, and we arrived on time to have a quick dinner at the airport and board our fligth to Makassar. The adventure was over… but a new one started!


All prices stated in this post are for two people, so if you travel solo just split it in half. Indonesia is a cheap country, but sometimes people will try to take advantage of tourists asking for overpriced services. Make sure you don’t always settle for the first price they tell you and ask around.


The third stop of our trip was going to leave us speechless. Read all about our days in Tana Toraja in the next post!

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