The most active volcano in Indonesia
Here we are on the last stop while in Java before leaving to the island of Bali, visiting this spectacular national park. Never before we’ve come across a place where to see such impressive volcanoes and so many on a birds eye view, with 2 of them active. Not even in Central America we’ve seen it this way, only coming close Guatemala with Lake Atitlan with the view of 3 at once. The most active in the whole of Indonesia, Mount Semeru, meaning Great Mountain, is like a Swiss clock and every 20 minutes or so it releases a cloud of steam and smoke. Mount Bromo, in the other hand, is constantly releasing a white cloud of smoke. Just for the fact of having such incredible view in front of you is quite unique hence why such a great tourist attraction not only in the region but the entire country with so many national and foreign tourists coming to admire.
Basically, take any Indonesia travel brochure and you will see a picture of this place. Another of the must do in the “list of places to visit before you die”. No wonder why. It really paid off all the hassle we experienced to get here to the point I would not mind in doing it all again to see it one more time.
Unfortunately getting here from Surabaya is not an easy nor fast task. If you decide to go on the cheap, then your only option is by bus and will set you up to at least 4 hours per way. In the other hand, the best you can do is to rent a car with a driver. This is what we did and worked perfectly! Not only that saved us plenty of time, we also arrived in great comfort and secured, while the driver waited for us as much time as we needed there. Please ask me if you need the contact of the driver who took us there or drop me a comment in this post and will provide the details to you; he is more than happy to have as many recommendations as possible since after all, this is his job.
For more information about the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park check the Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Indonesia’s currency is the Rupiah (IDR). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
How to get there
The nearest biggest city is Surabaya, where you should make your base for visiting the national park and surroundings. This is how we planned and it worked really well and it is after all the way how every tourist wishing to visit Bromo most likely will do.
An ideal way to come here is as how I explained above by renting a car with driver in Surabaya and being independent on your own to manage the time as you like. You can also rent a car by yourself and drive on your own, but of course, renting a car might not be the case for everyone (I, in fact do not drive, and this was not optional to us this time).
Although it is possible to come here by public transportation, there is a huge downside: the time invested, hassle and that you will only be able to visit one or two points in the whole day. I strongly advice you to pay the extra and have a driver to take you everywhere. Plan around IDR 800000, or search for a day tour package as this is another good option widely available from Surabaya and even as far as from Jogjakarta. In any case, if public transportation is your preferred choice, then this is how you should do:
From Surabaya Bungurasih bus terminal (also known as Purabaya) get on a bus to Probolinggo which is the nearest biggest town to the National Park, this ride will cost you IDR 25000 and will take around 2.30 hours. Once there you will need to change to a mini-bus (green and blue) for the route Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang where the entrance to the National Park is. This minibus runs only upon capacity, this is, once they fill up they go and are IDR 30000 per person, unless you pay for the empty seats remaining, then the driver will go earlier. As you see, converting IDR 800000 to your local currency means this is not really a lot of money for having a private driver taking you around everywhere, and if this is split into 2 or more people it means can get even cheaper than taking the 2 buses explained before.
Once you arrive at the gate to the national park in Cemoro Lawang, the car cannot proceed any farther and must park outside. From here you have 3 options. The free one, walk your way down to the Sea of Sand and up Mount Bromo crater. Although it does not seem that much, it is in reality a very hard way as you will be walking in sand. Heavy winds sometimes create clouds of sand and you will surely end up covered in dust. If you think you can go by walking to the viewing points then go ahead, but you will need at least 3 hours from the entrance of the national park.
A second option, the most widely used by tourist especially foreigners is renting a 4×4. This will set you up to IDR 450000 and they will take you to the base of Mount Bromo and the viewing point.
The last option and to be honest the thrillest and better one is by motorbike. The local drivers will offer you the ride and negotiate a price. In our case we paid IRD 150000 per person and that was an incredibly awesome experience! They also took their time to take us to the viewing point which is around 45 minutes ride non-stop, and then to the base of Mount Bromo and back to the entrance to the park.
Entrance fee to the national park
Once you reach the base of the National Park you will need to purchase an entrance permit. Avoid contact with any other person than the ones at the ticket booth as otherwise they will try to get more money from you. The current cost is IDR 217500 if coming any day Monday to Friday, or IDR 320000 if on the weekend. If you are on a tour and they ask you to pay the money in advance, make sure to get a receipt of this otherwise hold on paying this until you are at the entrance gates.
What to see and how to plan your visit
- Mount Bromo Crater Upon reaching the entrance to the National park at Cemoro Lawang and after the viewing point where the sellers are there starts the path leading down to the Sea of Sand and towards the Poten Temple and base of Mount Bromo. Either you can freely make the way on foot, or as explained above, by renting a 4×4 or on a motorbike.
- Sea of Sand All around Mount Bromo is this desert like empty area full of sand and volcanic ash.
-Poten Temple Tenggerese Hindu temple located right in the Sea of Sand. Seems surreal to be there alone in the rather deserted landscape at the foot of Mount Bromo.
- Mount Pananjakan Without doubt the most privileged vantage point of view. Also known as Viewpoint 1. From here you will have the unparalleled views of the entire National Park and all the volcanoes in the front of you. The only way to reach this is by 4×4 or a motorbike. I could not imagine anyone walking all the way up here from the entrance of the national park as it will take at least 3 hours if no more, and considering the steep hike.
Since the largest city nearby is Surabaya, the chances that this will be your base are almost guaranteed. Therefore and on the same note I described this for Surabaya travel guide, I leave the same information here below:
Being a city of this size, the second in population in the entire country, and also one of the most important in culture and education, business and finance; then the choice is really vast. Searching for a good deal was not difficult, yet if for the other places we’ve been before so far in Indonesia the fare was somehow lower, in here was a bit higher. A good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers.
We decided, as for any of the hotels in this entire trip, to go for something really nice and unique, and we definitely did not go wrong as we selected one of the top hotel in the city. Our choice was the historic Dutch colonial Majapahit, located on Jalan Tunjungan number 65, which is one of the main roads through the middle part of the city, just few meters northwest from the Gedung Grahadi hence walking distance to the old town and most of the city’s sights. This 5* property was built by the Sarkies Brothers family, the same ones who opened the other Southeast Asia top hotels: Eastern & Oriental in Penang, Malaysia, the Raffles Hotel in Singapore and the Strand in Burma.
With all the facilities you would ever need in a splendorous colonial architecture; a great size outdoor heated pool with tropical gardens inside the many courtyards and very professional and caring staff. An enormous top quality breakfast. Large rooms very well kept and equipped up to date and standards and very clean with really comfortable big beds. We definitely enjoyed every moment we spent at the hotel not to mention how good we relaxed after such busy days sightseeing at the pool day and night.