Java is famous for its many wonders and especially its volcanoes, some are still really active and all are spectacular. The most famous ones being Mount Bromo and Ijen. Although Gunung Bromo is still active, you can still trek to the summit and see the crater from up close, for Ijen you can even get down into it to see the impressive blue fires.
Both volcanoes are located in East Java.
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About Gunung Bromo
Exploring Gunung Bromo, part of the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, is a truly unique experience. The scenery is spectacular, and the landscape like you’ve never seen before.
Gunung Bromo is an amazing place, you’ll start by driving up and then when you go down into the valley where the Bromo crater is. You’ll feel transported into another world. Everything here is so different from what’s around it. The valley is actually a 10 km large crater, the one of the now-extinct Tengger Volcano, hence the surprisingly lunar scenery. Bromo is not the only volcano there and you’ll have to cross an impressive sand desert to get to them. Locals call this area Laotian Pasir or sea of sand. It is made of volcanic residue from past eruptions.
The climb to Gunung Bromo is easy, the volcano is not that high, and a stairway has been built, you can even hire a horse if you don’t feel like walking. Be careful when you’re up there, there are no security railings and it can get really crowded. From there, the views of the valley and surrounding mounts are sweeping, Bromo still emits some smoke and make as much noise as a plane taking off.
Another good part of the Gunung Bromo experience is watching the sun rises over it. From the viewpoint at the top of Mount Penanjankan, you’ll be able to see all the volcanoes and mountains around, the sight there is just spectacular. The only down point is that it gets crowded, especially during holidays and weekends. You’ll also be able to see the very active Genung Semeru, a 3676 meters high volcano and the highest peak in Java.
The legends of Gunung Bromo
Legend has it that the Tengger Crater was dug up by a giant who wanted to impress a princess.
Later a Hindu King and his wife, who couldn’t conceive, ask help from the god of the volcano. The god agreed, they had 25 children, in exchange, the god asked for the sacrifice of their youngest child. The queen refused, but her son sacrificed himself to preserve the kingdom.
Locals are highly superstitious even today and you’ll see inside the crater a lot of packaging, flowers, food… it’s not trash, it’s offerings to appease the wrath of the Volcano. You will see a lot of people selling flowers to throw into the crater. Local Hindus hold a ceremony every year called Kasada, to celebrate the volcano, a lot of offerings are made and people pray for good harvest and success in life.
How to arrange your trip to Bromo:
The easiest solution is to stay in Malang and arrange the trip from there. You’ll have to hire a motocross or a jeep to go, there’s the sand desert to cross. Some locals go with scooters but I don’t advise it.
You’ll have to leave around midnight and you will be back around noon the next day. I went with Rovy from Moto East Java, you can reach him on his what’s app (+62 851-0503-0747). He’s really nice and a good driver. Driving in the sand desert into the crater with a motocross is really adventurous and funky, it can even be a funny experience if you’re not scared.
It gets really, really cold, around 2 degrees Celsius especially when your driving on the motocross or waiting for the sunrise. You’ll have people renting winter jackets at the viewpoint if you need.
You can also book a combined tour of Bromo and Ijen from Yogjakarta, with food, accommodation, and transportation included. Some operators also offer transportation on to Bali after visiting Ijen instead of going back to Yogja.
Check out some of the combined tours you can take:
Gunung Bromo entrance fee
Note that the entrance fee to visit Mount Bromo for foreigners is 317 500 IDR on week-ends and 217 500 IDR during the week.
What to wear when visiting Gunung Bromo
If you go watch the sunset: warm winter clothes (gloves and a jacket are essential), especially if you go on a motocross.
If you go there during the day, to visit the crater, it’s pretty hot, so light clothes. Keep in mind that it’s really dusty, you might want to pack a mask.
How to visit Gunung Bromo without a tour :
If you want to get to Bromo on your own and stay there, you can take a train or bus from Surabaya to Probolinggo and then you’ll have to take a mini-bus to Cemoro Lawang, the starting point to explore Gunung Bromo. Be careful there’s a lot of scams going on in Probolinggo. For example, if you arrive by train and you take a cab to the bus station, instead of taking you to the real one the driver will take you to a private bus company office, or at the bus station they would tell you that the only way to reach Cemoro Lawang is by chartering a private car.
Once in Cemoro Lawang there’s not a lot of accommodation to choose from, check in advance as the prices can really climb up during peak season.
From there it’s only a 40 minutes walk to the Bromo crater. If you want to avoid the crowd and save money, there are plenty of nice viewpoints to watch the sunrise from around Cemoro Lawang (you won’t have to hire a 4WD this way). The view is less spectacular but still a nice experience. The next day you can move on directly to your next destination but it may be better to spend an extra night to rest, you’ll be tired.
Related articles to help you plan your trip:
- Sulawesi travel guide
- Adventures of a lifetime in Kalimantan
- Indonesia: everything you need to know to plan your trip
- Travel items to help you save space
Other activities you can do while in Java:
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