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Climbing Mount Bromo Indonesia - Ummi Goes Where

Home to 147 volcanoes, Indonesia may be one of the most volatile places on Earth, but on the plus side, it is blessed with spectacular landscapes that my own country (Malaysia) lacks. Luckily for us Malaysians, Indonesia is just a few hours’ flight away if we suddenly crave some volcanic adventures.

One of the most famous volcanoes in Indonesia is Mount Bromo, an active volcano located in East Java (the island next to Bali). The volcano, which is part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, is 2,329 meters (7,641 ft) above sea level. It lies in the middle of a huge sand-filled crater called the ‘Sea of Sand’, along with 4 other volcanoes.

Climbing Mount Bromo guide for beginners - Ummi Goes Where?
Credit: Go See Orbis

Best Time to Go

The National Park is open to visitors all year round. However, the best time to visit is during the dry season, which is from April to October. Bearing in mind that this is an active volcano, it is best to check with the Bureau of Meteorology before visiting.

How to Get There

The nearest airport to Mount Bromo is Juanda Airport in Surabaya (SUB). It is the second busiest airport in the country, with frequent flights to Jakarta and other major Indonesian cities, as well as some direct international flights including Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Hong Kong, and Taipei.

From Surabaya, you can either take a private taxi/car all the way to Cemoro Lawang (the nearest village to Mount Bromo), or take public transports to Probolinggo:

By Bus

If you’re from Surabaya Airport, take the DAMRI Airport Bus to Bungurasih (a.k.a. Purabaya) bus station. The ticket costs Rp 25,000 (as of January 2020). And from there, take a Patas express bus to Bayuangga Bus Terminal in Probolinggowhich will take about 2 hours, depending on traffic, and cost around Rp 30,000.

Probolinggo Bus Terminal - Climbing Mount Bromo | Ummi Goes Where?
Bayuangga Bus Terminal, Probolinggo. Credit: Masha Climbing Blog
Outside Bayuangga bus station, you can take an angkot (minibus) to Cemoro Lawang for Rp 35,000 per person. The minibus will only go once it is filled with 15 people or when someone pays the full price (Rp 450,000 for the 15-seat bus). This wait can sometimes take up to 2.5 hours.
 

If you arrive after 16:00, it can be difficult to fill up the entire minibus, and you may have to negotiate with the group. It is possible to get the whole minibus for Rp 300,000. However, if you’re the only passenger, it might be cheaper to get a private car instead. The journey from Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang should take about 1.5 – 2 hours.

Minibus Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang | Climbing Mount Bromo | Ummi Goes Where?
Minibus to Cemoro Lawang. Credit: Musafir Kehidupan

By Train

Probolinggo is on the line between Surabaya and Banyuwangi, with several trains a day in each direction. The journey from Surabaya takes around two hours, while the journey from Banyuwangi takes around five hours.
 
Once you arrive in Probolinggo train station, take a bemo (shared taxi) to Bayuangga bus terminal, which is 10 kilometers away. The official fare for a bemo ride is Rp 5,000 per person. At the entrance of Bayuangga bus station, get the minibus to Cemoro Lawang.
 
Bemo Probolinggo Cemoro Lawang | Climbing Mount Bromo | Ummi Goes Where?
Bemo. Credit: Sahabat Lokal
 

From Cemoro Lawang to Mount Bromo 

Most people stay overnight in Cemoro Lawang to climb Mount Bromo before sunrise. Mount Bromo is a 45-minute walk from the village. You can also rent a motorbike or a 4×4 jeep. Alternatively, check with your hotel to see if they organize group tours.

What to Bring

  • Warm jacket, especially if you’re climbing in the morning before sunrise. In any case, the village in Cemoro Lawang is also quite chilly, if you’re spending the night there.
  • Raincoat, if you visit during the rainy season.
  • Flashlight. The trail can be extremely dark before sunrise.
  • Hiking shoes, preferably, but I survived with strapped sandals.
  • Water and snacks. There are few vendors in the national park.

    How Fit do You Have to Be?

    Although Mount Bromo is 2,329 meters high, don’t let this scare you. You won’t actually be hiking 2,329 meters. The base from which you will begin your trek is already high above sea level. Depending on your fitness level, the actual trek to the summit should take only about 20 – 30 minutes.

    Climbing Mount Bromo Indonesia - Ummi Goes Where?
    This is the terrain you will have to hike.

    You don’t need to have prior hiking/mount-climbing experience to hike Mount Bromo. The hike is not difficult although the sandy slopes can make it a little tiring, as your feet keep sinking into the sand. If you’re as unfit as I was, you might have to scramble on all fours at some parts.

    There are villagers will offer their horses to take tourists to the top of the volcano, but I urge you to think carefully before taking up on this offer. Carrying a full-grown adult to the summit can be really tough on the horse.

    Climbing Mount Bromo - Ummi Goes Where?
    Horses to take tourists to the top.

    Mount Bromo Entrance Fee

    Before entering Cemoro Lawang, you will need to pay a conservation fee of Rp 10,000 to go inside the village.

    The entrance fee for Mount Bromo National Park is as follows:

    • Indonesian: Rp 10,000/person
    • Foreign (Weekday): Rp 220,000/person
    • Foreign (Weekend/public holiday): Rp 320,000/person

    My Experience Hiking Mount Bromo

    The Journey

    Climbing Mount Bromo beginners guide - Ummi Goes Where?

    I visited Mount Bromo in May 2011, just a few months after it erupted. The trip was unplanned. My original destination was Bali, but since flying directly to Bali from Kuala Lumpur was a little beyond my budget, I decided to fly to Surabaya instead, and continue overland to Bali.

    It turned out I had an extra day to spare, so I tried to fit in a side trip to this famous volcano. From Surabaya airport, I took a bus to Bungurasih and another one to Probolinggo. It was past noon when I arrived and there was no other passenger available to share a minibus with, despite waiting for almost an hour.

    I was hoping to continue my journey to Bali that very evening, and not wanting to wait much longer, I finally decided to take a motorbike taxi. The 1.5-hour journey felt much longer on a motorbike, because I wasn’t used to being on one and kept asking the driver to slow down at sharp corners.

    Climbing Mount Bromo - Ummi Goes Where?
    On the motorbike taxi to Mount Bromo

    There were a lot of sharp corners on that winding uphill road. The motorbike made weird sounds every time it braked. Several times, it almost skidded into the ravine as we tried to make way for trucks and vans that seemed to come out of nowhere. I wasn’t even given a helmet.

    As we ascended, the air gradually got cooler. The view that accompanied us managed to melt away some of my anxiety. Green, misty valleys and terraced rice fields were dotted with farmers with their legs knee deep in the mud. There were kids running around in the small village we passed by.

    The last stretch of the road was the narrowest and steepest before we reached the parking area. Upon arrival, I was already greeted by the view of Mount Bromo. The looming hulk of the volcano looked ominous against the grey sky. Its mouth was still continuously spewing ash and smoke since the eruption earlier that year.

    Climbing Mount Bromo beginners guide - Ummi Goes Where?
    How cool is that?

    There was a Hindu temple that seemed abandoned. Everything was covered by inches of grey volcanic sand. I didn’t see any other hiker, as most people usually only climb during sunrise and sunset to get the best photos.

    Climbing Mount Bromo Indonesia beginners guide - Ummi Goes Where?
    At the temple
     

    The Climb

    We then began our climb. Every now and then, the volcano would make thunderous rumbling sounds, followed by a spray of ashes that would rain on me. According to my guide, these ‘mini eruptions’ are to be expected after a major one, much like aftershocks following an earthquake.

    Apparently, there used to be a proper walkway and steps leading up to the crater rim, but they were all buried in ash after the eruption. The ground we stepped on was soft from ash that hadn’t settled. My feet kept sinking and slipping with every step I took. It certainly didn’t help that I was only wearing sandals — I had packed for the beach, not the mountains.

    After just a few minutes, breathing became difficult. I don’t know if that was because of the altitude or because I was plain unfit. Still, I made it in under 30 minutes.

     
    Climbing Mount Bromo Indonesia - Ummi Goes Where?
    The steps, half buried in ash.
    Climbing Mount Bromo Indonesia - Ummi Goes Where?
    Can you see the tiny horse at the bottom?

    Thick grey smoke emanated from the deep crater, so we were only able to see a few meters ahead of us. My guide and I only stood at one spot. You could actually walk all the way around the crater, but with no safety railing in sight, I’d rather not.

    Climbing Mount Bromo Indonesia - Ummi Goes Where?
    Visibility was poor.

    This was how it looked like inside the crater:

    Climbing Mount Bromo Indonesia - Ummi Goes Where?
    Couldn’t see anything because of the smoke.

    Suddenly, I felt a drop of something wet on my arm. It was black. Before I knew it, there were more and more. For a moment there, I had no clue what was happening. What was this black liquid? I heard the rumbling sound again but realized that this time, it was really thunder. I also felt the wind getting stronger and colder.

    It had started to rain — a few fat drops in the beginning, which quickly turned into a torrential shower. The rain was black because it had to go through the ash clouds that were hovering in the air. It was practically raining mud!

    We hurried down and found the motorbike covered with a thick layer of mud. After wiping the seat with our bare hands, we made our way down the winding path back to the village. My guide had lent me his jacket as I only had a blouse on, which was already drenched.

    Climbing Mount Bromo - Ummi Goes Where?
    Look at my sorry state
    Climbing Mount Bromo beginners guide - Ummi Goes Where?
    RIP, new jeans

    We stopped at the nearest guesthouse to wait out the rain before heading back to Probolinggo, where I was to take a bus* to the easternmost part of the island, close to Bali.

    *That bus ride ended up being a harrowing experience for me. The story was featured on Zafigo. Click here to read it!

    Additional Tips

    • Although East Java is rich with natural attractions, its tourism infrastructure is still pretty much underdeveloped. Getting around by public transports takes a lot of time and effort. I do not recommend taking public transports if you have a tight schedule, or a plane to catch.
    • Probolinggo is rife with scammers who would try to rip you off at every chance they get, especially if you don’t look like a local. I’m a Southeast Asian who could speak Bahasa with a passable Indonesian accent, and still almost got scammed.
    • The view of Mount Bromo is best seen at sunrise. This means waking up at 3:30 a.m. Be prepared with warm clothes and a torchlight.
    • Organized tours by bus or jeep are available, but climbing Mount Bromo is easily doable on your own.
    • Another popular option is to climb Mount Penanjakan. The viewing platform offers magnificent views of the caldera, but gets busy with tour groups in the morning. However, most of the tour groups leave soon after the sunrise.
    • Mount Bromo is very popular among local tourists and school students. Time your visit so it doesn’t coincide with local holidays.
     

    Have you been to Mount Bromo? Share your experience in the comments section below.

    Posted in Adventure, Indonesia

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    26 Comments

    1. Fas

      Pernah pergi ke Gunubg Bromo ini semasa pelancaran penerbangan pertama ke Surabaya. Saya cover utk Majalah Wanita, Utusan masa tu… nak naik ke atas kita orang kena bangun awal kul 3 pagi dah gerak dan rasa oxygen pun kurang waktu utu sbb tinggi. Tp satu pengalaman yang cukup indah…

      • ummi

        Wah, best la kak Fas. Kira fully sponsored la, ya? Pukul 3 pagi memang the best time to hike, supaya boleh tengok sunrise kat puncak. Saya pun terasa jugak oksigen kurang masa tu. Semput. 😆

    2. Zharif Azis

      Mount bromo is in my wishlist to go. Unfortunately border tutup pulak sebab covid. Nanti dah selamat, ingat nak ke sana. Anyway, thank you for all the details. Sangat terperinci. Suka !!

      • ummi

        Hmm sama la, dah berapa banyak plan dah kena cancel ni, disebabkan Covid. Anyway, glad you liked the article. Nanti kalau ada plan nak ke Bromo, jgn lupa refer balik ya, kat artikel ni 😁

    3. adianiez AIDA

      satu2nya gunung yg aida da naik is Gunung Dato’ @ negeri sembilan. tu pun sebab kursus dan wajib naik gunung tu lulus hu hu hu hu… therafter, tak pernah da daki gunung, ummi.
      but my husband = hikers. done gunung kinabalu. semenanjung ni pun byk gunung dia dah tawan.
      wow! a great journey ni, ummi. gunung berapi. experience gini bukan selalu diperolehi. meskipun unplanned, tak jadik ke bali, but yg ni much better kot than bali 🙂

      • ummi

        Saya pun sebenarnya takde la kaki hiking sangat. Kadang2 je, tu pun kalau view cantik. Yg kat Malaysia, saya pernah naik Kinabalu dgn Irau je. Bromo ni first volcano. Actually bukan tak jadi nak gi Bali, tapi on the way nak ke bali, singgah kejap Bromo. 😄

      • ummi

        Ya I’m sure tempat ni ramai Malaysian tourists sebab ada direct flight from KL to Surabaya. And the whole of Indonesia, in general, is very popular especially for Muslim Malaysians.

      • ummi

        Ada tu nanti. Rezeki masing2, kita tak tau kan. 🙂 Saya pun skrg ni mampu throwback travel yang lepas2 je. In the meantime, I hope you check out the other stories on my blog.

      • ummi

        Thank you so much, Veronica! I’m working on more articles now. If you don’t want to miss out on my latest updates, please consider subscribing or following me on social media. I think it would be really cool if you took your daughter to travel with you. It would be a great mother-daughter bonding session 😍

    4. ienaeliena

      wah bestnya pergi Bromo..tengok member pergi cantik je gambar view dekat atas..alahai kesiannya mud rain pulak time tu…tapi pengalaman yang unik jugak kan..kat malaysia xde mud rain 😀

      • ummi

        Hehe ya, memang unik sangat. Masa kena tu memang miserable la tapi nak tergelak pun ada sebenarnya. Apa pun, mmg pengalaman yg tak dapat dilupakan.

      • ummi

        Betul, Indonesia memang sangat indah dengan gunung berapi dan pulau2 yang mencecah berbelas ribu, walaupun kawasan2 ini kebanyakannya rawan bencana.

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